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Ask Brian Friedman, the president of Jefferies Financial Group Inc. JEF-N, what separates his Wall Street investment bank from a host of U.S. and Canadian rivals, and he talks about “structural depth.”

Ask Mr. Friedman what that depth actually looks like, and he highlights the company’s investor conferences.

But all banks stage these events. This week, for example, everyone who is anyone in mining will be in Miami for BMO Capital Market’s 33rd annual metals, mining and critical minerals conference. In March, CIBC Capital Markets will hold a retail and consumer company showcase in Toronto for the 27th consecutive year.

The difference between these gatherings and the events Jefferies stages is scope. BMO and CIBC cast a broad net, inviting companies from a variety of sectors. Many Jefferies events are far more focused.

Last year, the company held a conference titled Spotlight on ReCommerce. It only featured retailers selling used goods. The spotlight shone bright on companies such as Savers Value Village Inc., which has 153 thrift stores in Canada, as the company went public in a US$400-million debut led by Jefferies and three other banks.

In March, Jefferies holds an insurtech conference in New York showcasing tech companies serving the insurance industry. In April, there is a radiopharma summit in Manhattan, for companies producing drugs based on radioactive isotopes.

“Jefferies is known for sector expertise, around the globe, and that’s what we are excited to offer to Canadian clients,” said Mr. Friedman in a recent interview. He said Jefferies differentiates itself from other global investment dealers by diving deep on the sectors it covers. In Canada, the company will focus on industries such as tech, health care, financial services and energy.

Canadian entrepreneurs who operate in sectors that Jefferies covers – including narrow fields such as insurance software or radiopharmaceuticals – value U.S., Asian and European insights when they are working on financing, acquisitions or the sale of their companies, said Mr. Friedman.

CEOs and institutional investors are increasingly demanding specialized knowledge from their bankers, Mr. Friedman said, and Jefferies is hiring and training its people to meet this demand.

Last fall, Jefferies made a splash in Canada by hiring 45 professionals at a time when deals were drying up and rival banks were laying off staff. Most of the bankers came from the Canadian arm of Barclays PLC. Mr. Friedman said his company has consistently taken a contrarian approach to expansion by hiring during market downturns.

Bruce Rothney, who previously worked at Barclays, Royal Bank of Canada and Goldman Sachs Group Inc., now runs Jefferies’s team in Toronto. Jefferies also landed former Credit Suisse Canada CEO Ron Lloyd as deputy chair and signed up John Manley, an ex-deputy prime minister and a former finance minister, as its Canadian chair.

The challenge for these new hires, many of whom cover several domestic sectors, is evolving from “bankers who are generalists to bankers who represent all of Jefferies’ specialists,” said Mr. Friedman.

That’s a familiar journey for Mr. Friedman, who started his career working across industries as a lawyer at corporate law powerhouse Wachtell Lipton Rosen & Katz LLP before joining Jefferies in 2001.

Jefferies new team includes five bankers in Calgary. Jefferies has one of the largest U.S. energy teams, based in Houston. Mr. Friedman said the company built a team in Alberta to increase its share of cross-border takeovers and the financing work that will come with the transition to a zero-emission economy.

A number of European investment banks, including Barclays and HSBC Holdings PLC, have lost clients in the Calgary market after deciding to stop servicing Alberta’s oil-sands producers over concerns with their carbon emissions.

In Toronto, Jefferies built an equity sales and trading team backed by a local group of analysts who cover domestic stocks. John Aiken, former head of research at Barclays, is leader of the group and covers banks, and other financial institutions. Mr. Friedman said Jefferies’ strategy is to offer a full suite of banking services in major markets.

Several Wall Street rivals, including Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, assign coverage of Canadian companies to analysts based in U.S. cities.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article incorrectly said that Barclays closed its Calgary office. This version has been updated.

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