Cardinal Capital feathers a new nest

By Renée Alexander | April 5, 2012 | Last updated on April 5, 2012
3 min read

After building up its assets under management to $1.6 billion over two decades from its home office in Winnipeg, the brain trust at Cardinal Capital Management decided it was time to expand.

With 150 client families in Calgary—the epicenter of the red-hot oil and gas economy—the decision for the investment and wealth management firm was easy.

“We think there are excellent growth opportunities that we could take advantage of if we have boots on the ground rather than flying in to meet people,” says Tim Burt, Cardinal’s president and CEO.

“Alberta is a great market within Canada for our kind of business. There are obviously lots of high-net-worth clients in Calgary and Alberta,” he says “It’s a rapidly-growing economy. We’ve already got a lot of clients based in Calgary, so it made sense as our second location.”

It may seem odd for a firm in Winnipeg to have so many clients living two provinces away but Tim Burt says there’s a logical explanation.

“Some were referred to us by advisors in Winnipeg that had clients in Calgary, some were referred to us by advisors that work with us in Calgary and some were Winnipeggers that moved to Calgary,” he says.

Knowledge of the market was also behind Cardinal’s decision to wait until it could find the right person for its new office rather than parachute somebody in from head office.

Flying the Cardinal flag in Calgary are Kim Gibson, formerly of Fauth Financial, and assistant Kelly Wood. They bring Cardinal’s employee total up to 37.

Emily Burt, Cardinal’s vice-president of marketing and communications, says Gibson is a “great cultural fit” with the company.

“He believes our philosophy and he wanted to make a switch from the mutual fund world,” she says.

Cardinal has acquired the necessary building permits and just hired a contractor to develop a 900-square-foot office space in Calgary and the hope is it will open as early as June 1. In the meantime, Gibson and Wood are working out of a temporary office.

Tim Burt says he expects Cardinal will double its Alberta asset base—currently $80 million—in the next five years, possibly sooner.

“There’s a lot of opportunity to build out our presence in that market. It’s easier to do if we have a presence in the city,” he says. “Our people have an office they can go to; they won’t have to meet (clients or prospects) at a hotel anymore, which can be awkward. We look like we’re more serious doing business with an office in Calgary.”

Cardinal is an investment manager that employs a value dividend growth strategy whether it’s building portfolios for individual clients and institutions or managing pension money and various pooled products. It has some U.S. mandates, some Canadian balanced and bond mandates, but the firm’s bread and butter remains the Canadian equity space.

Approximately half of its AUM is institutional money, but the company’s goal is to grow the private client side of its business, which builds separately managed portfolios of stocks.

A client needs a portfolio minimum of $500,000 to work with Cardinal. Roughly 70% of Cardinal’s assets come from investors in Manitoba.

While the company doesn’t have any immediate plans for further expansion, its CEO mused about potential opportunities in Ontario.

“We might look at Oakville, Mississauga or London, but not Toronto,” Burt says.

Renée Alexander