AGF looks to advisors to help boost sales

By Doug Watt | May 10, 2004 | Last updated on May 10, 2004
3 min read

(May 10, 2004) AGF Funds is beefing up its executive team and refocusing on the advisor channel in an effort to reverse the fund company’s recent sales slump. AGF is combining its sales and marketing group and has hired Randy Ambrosie, formerly of HSBC Securities, to lead the new division.

It’s the first major executive shakeup at AGF since 1996 and comes in the wake of two years of net redemptions. AGF led all fund companies in net sales in 2001, but suffered after Brandes — which managed AGF’s best-selling International Value Fund — pulled out to form its own fund company in 2002.

AGF had the largest net redemptions among Canadian fund firms in both 2002 and 2003, according to fund researcher Investor Economics. Despite the decline on the sales side, 74% of AGF’s assets were above the median in the year ending March 31, 2004, and 33 of the company’s 53 funds were either first-quartile or second-quartile performers.

“We have so many excellent performance stories and we have a marvellous record of achievement in the portfolio management area,” AGF president Blake Goldring said this morning in a meeting with and Advisor’s Edge editors. “We’re at the point where we want to tweak our message, let advisors know what is available and how we can help them build their business.”

“There has been a disconnect between performance and sales,” Ambrosie concedes. “We have quality products, the performance of our funds is really quite spectacular and we’re still in net redemptions.

“We have a great team but we need to understand better what advisors want,” he adds. “We have to tell advisors we are there for them and that we have a world-class array of products and that we are going to support that with world class marketing and sales.”

Ambrosie was North American sales director at HSBC, heading up the firm’s brokerage force in the U.S. and Canada. He began his career at Nesbitt Thompson, moving into management at Midland Walwyn, then Merrill Lynch and CIBC Wood Gundy.

As part of the new focus on advisors, AGF has hired former Cartier Partners president Dan Richards on a six-month contract. Richards left Cartier after overseeing the firm’s acquisition by Dundee Wealth Management to return to the consulting world.

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  • “Dan’s going to help us do some analysis within the advisory channel to find out what’s working and if we’re meeting the needs of the advisor,” says Ambrosie. “He understands that market well and can help us.”

    AGF is also reviewing its popular “What are you doing after work?” consumer advertising campaign, with the suggestion that it might be time to retire, or at least revamp, the award-winning promotion.

    “The after-work program has been very effective,” says Ambrosie. “But we need to look at how those things add value to advisors and their clients.”

    “Brand is very important and we’ve achieved great recognition in that area,” adds Goldring. “It’s one thing to win awards for the brand, but it’s time to demonstrate that we also have the products and services, the whole package.”

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    Doug Watt