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Pat Chiefalo at BlackRock's Toronto office on Feb. 11, 2016.

Chris Young/CP

A top executive and long-time veteran of the country’s exchange-traded fund industry is leaving BlackRock Inc. later this week.

Canada’s largest ETF provider announced in an internal memo that Pat Chiefalo, head of iShares Canada, will depart the company on Feb. 5.

BlackRock spokesperson Maeve Hannigan told The Globe and Mail in an e-mail the company has not yet named a replacement. Mr. Chiefalo could not be reached for comment.

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Mr. Chiefalo joined BlackRock Canada in 2014, when ETFs were still in their infancy and not widely known among retail investors. He later took over as the sole head of iShares Canada in 2017, when ETF veteran Warren Collier moved into a global role.

Over the span of his career, Mr. Chiefalo has played an integral role in the growth of ETFs in Canada. Prior to joining BlackRock, he spent five years leading the ETF research team at National Bank Financial and became known as one of the top ETF specialists in the country.

He also spent six years in equity research at both Scotia Capital and Merrill Lynch as lead equity analyst, as well as several years on the derivatives desk for Merrill Lynch, a division of Bank of America.

In recent years, BlackRock Canada has been fighting to maintain its leading market share in the Canadian ETF industry. BlackRock used to control more than 80 per cent of Canada’s ETF assets, but as more asset managers joined the fray, its position dwindled to 36 per cent, as of Dec. 31, 2018, according to research by National Bank Financial.

In 2019, BlackRock Inc. boosted its presence by teaming up with Royal Bank of Canada to form a rare partnership between Canada’s largest bank and the world’s largest asset-management firm to collaboratively sell ETFs.

Today, there are 39 ETF providers in Canada managing $260-billion assets. Together with BlackRock, RBC iShares now manages more than $80.4-billion in ETF assets – just less than 31 per cent of the Canadian ETF market.

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