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Fred Lum/The Globe and Mail

Yet another senior real estate analyst is leaving Bay Street, with Heather Kirk deciding to step away from sell-side research.

Ms. Kirk, who joined BMO Nesbitt Burns as a managing director in 2013, has worked in capital markets for two decades, with experience in both investment banking and research. Before BMO she had worked at National Bank Financial in Toronto and Montreal.

The move echoes a similar exit by former CIBC World Markets analyst Alex Avery, who left sell-side research in 2017. Since leaving the Street he has joined H&R REIT's board of directors. Similar ventures are expected for Ms. Kirk.

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The latest departure comes amid uncertainty for the research arms of investment banks around the world. New rules implemented by the European Union, known as the Markets in Financial Instruments Directive (MIFID), are designed to make European markets more transparent. One major initiative is to put a price on research.

Historically, research departments were funded through sales and trading commissions paid by the asset managers who read reports and talk to analysts. However, it was hard to tell precisely how the revenues were split up. To fix this, European regulators now require asset managers to budget separately for research and trading.

It still isn't clear just how dramatic the impact will be – if there will be much of one at all. The new rules have been implemented an ocean away, so Canada may not notice much difference.

However, there is already chatter that big asset managers with Canadian arms, such as Fidelity Investments, could revamp their global operations and eventually demand Canadian investment banks operate in a similar manner as the EU.

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