Toron AMI International
Asset Management

Toronto, Ont.

Team members: 43

Assets under management: $4 billion

Number of households: 200+

Have you ever tried to think like a horse? John Welch of Toron AMI International Asset Management has. And it’s worked to his benefit.

In fact, just like a racehorse, he’s focused, driven and keeps his end goal in mind.

And he uses these qualities when networking within equestrian circles, a subculture that’s known for having numerous events and fundraisers. One event he supports is Polo for Learning, which raises money for childrens’ charities.

Welch, who is a horse owner, says it was a good fit as many of his wealthy clients are also avid riders and owners.

At a 2012 event, he purchased a table for 10 for $600, and invited clients and prospects. It was held at an equestrian facility near Port Perry, Ont., and included a polo match, auctions and lunch.

As a bonus, Welch brought two-time Olympic rider Jacqueline Brooks, and says his guests loved the opportunity to meet her. Welch adds he knows her personally because he co-owns the horse she rides in competition: D Niro, a 15-year-old Swedish Warmblood gelding.

At another event this past October, Welch spent $800 on a table for his invited clients. The event was held in Cedar Valley, Ont., and he met a prospect who was invited by the organizers. Welch has had two follow-up meetings and expects it to lead to business.

At these events, he keeps the conversation social and doesn’t discuss finance. “[It’s about] networking and relationship-building, not [selling].”

But he did once get a seven-figure referral to another horse-lover as a result. “The return far outstripped costs.”

Welch is serious about the sport, and his contributions have been recognized: he and his wife Anne were named 2012 Dressage Canada Owners of the Year. (The International Equestrian Federation defines dressage as “the highest expression of horse training,” where “horse and rider are expected to perform from memory a series of predetermined movements.”)

Stuart Foxman is a Toronto-based financial writer.