Prized veteran team splits for boutique

April 18, 2007 | Last updated on April 18, 2007
3 min read

One of Canada’s biggest names in the advisor industry has pulled up stakes and switched firms, has learned. Thane Stenner, CIBC Wood Gundy’s top producer in British Columbia, has left the bank and joined GMP Private Client as managing director.

Leaving behind the “T. Stenner Group” brand name, Stenner’s entire nine-person team — including senior partners Rod Bower and Rory O’Connor — is making the move and the group will be rebranded as Stenner Investment Partners, subject to regulatory approval.

“My partners and I, along with our team of professionals, are truly honored and excited about joining the GMP Private Client Partnership,” Stenner said. “The entrepreneurial culture of GMP is one that will resonate well with our successful clientele, many of whom have created significant wealth by being disciplined business owners, and want to ensure they not only preserve their wealth, but continue to enhance it for their families, related entities and communities.”

Those clients made Stenner’s team a coveted prize — while the list includes just 40 client families, they represent over $1 billion in assets, either under direct management or externally. Stenner Investment Partners will continue to require a minimum asset base of $10 million.

Sources say Stenner’s group was the target of the recruiting efforts of several other firms, including RBC, HSBC and Goldman Sachs.

But Stenner ultimately was impressed with GMP’s institutional, block trading and mergers and acquisitions connections to the mid market — companies between $50 million and $1 billion in market cap. Many of his clients have companies that fall in that category. These companies are publicly traded or private and may need capital raising requirements over time, or a buyer. His clients “are going to go through succession planning or will want to sell their businesses,” he explained.

O’Connor, a director of GMP noted: “Once you have achieved a certain level of expertise in the wealth management field, you want to continue striving to find the very best investment opportunities and wealth management strategies in the marketplace for your clients. After significant due diligence in the field, we concluded that GMP Private Client was an excellent longer-term fit for our clients.”

“We hadn’t been looking to do this, but over the course of time we’ve been approached by probably every major firm on the street,” said Rod Bower, also now a director of GMP. “We wanted to be proactive and make sure that we were in a position to provide the best service and offering to our clients over the long term. This would have evolved over a period of probably three years.”

The move may prove smoother than it would have been in the past. In January, the B.C. Court of Appeal issued a decision affirming IDA-registered advisors’ right to contact clients if they leave their firm for another. The ruling allows advisors to take with them a list of their own clients but prohibits them from taking contact information for their colleagues’ clients.

“We were aware of that decision but it had no bearing [on our decision to leave CIBC],” Stenner said. “But it did validate that clients cannot be owned. Neither the advisors nor the firms involved in the transition own the clients. The clients are the ones who decide where and who they want to deal with.”

Stenner made his name with Merrill Lynch Canada, which was bought out by CIBC and folded into its Wood Gundy division. Stenner has built his team’s practice by focusing on the sophisticated wealth management needs of Canada’s wealthiest families, foundations and corporate entities.

Industry sources note that “golden handshake” packages used to retain Merrill Lynch advisors into the CIBC umbrella ended in January 2007.

Filed by Steven Lamb, (04/19/07)