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Asset manager Leith Wheeler opens in Calgary Add to ...

For the first time in 30 years, Vancouver-based asset manager Leith Wheeler is expanding outside its home province and opening up shop in Calgary.

That isn’t to say that the firm doesn’t already have clients outside Vancouver, because it has big accounts in Toronto and Calgary. It's just that Leith Wheeler doesn’t have a physical office in those cities. Plus, the majority of its clients are institutions or pension funds, whereas the Calgary office will be used to expand the private client side of the business.

Of the roughly $10-billion Leith Wheeler manages, about $9-billion is for instiutional and pension funds. The firm has actually stopped taking new money on that side because, as senior vice-president Jon Palfrey put it, once you get too big, “you can be a victim of your own success.” At some point, he adds, your holdings can “end up looking like the market.”

For that reason, private clients are the firm’s growth driver, and they take on families with more than $500,000 in investable assets for discretionary accounts. (They also have funds for people with less money to invest.)

To staff the Calgary office, Leith Wheeler hired people away from rival asset managers. They will now work with the Vancouver team to make portfolio decisions by committee, so that both groups get a say.

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