Edmonton downtown, James Macdonald Bridge and the Saskatchewan River at night
© mirco1 / 123RF Stock Photo

Edmonton-based CWB Financial Group (CWB) is set to acquire iA Investment Counsel Inc. (iAIC) from Quebec City–based iA Financial Corporation Inc. (iA). iAIC provides financial planning and wealth management services under the brand names T.E. Wealth and Leon Frazer & Associates.

The acquisition will expand CWB’s wealth management presence and investment offerings for high-net-worth families across Canada.

“It’s really a strategic fit, which is key for us,” Chris Williams, CWB’s associate vice-president, investor relations, said in an interview. “Our current wealth business is mostly in Alberta. With operations in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal, the acquisition of iAIC will help us expand across the country without a bunch of duplication in Alberta.”

CWB will add approximately 140 employees and $6 billion in assets under management (AUM) when the transaction closes.

“The focus of our company is on small- and medium-sized businesses, so we are trying hard to offer a full-service solution for all of our clients across Canada,” Williams said.

CWB clients will also benefit from broader and more complex investment counselling services through T.E. Wealth’s focused capabilities in corporate financial education. Both Leon Frazer and T.E. Wealth are established Canadian private client firms, founded in 1939 and 1972, respectively.

Marie-Annick Bonneau, who works in investor relations with iA Financial, told Advisor’s Edge that the sale of T.E. Wealth and Leon Frazer would allow iA to focus its network of independently owned investment advisory practices.

“We believe we will be more successful if we focus our strategy exclusively on our independent advisor distribution network,” Bonneau said. “We are confident that our iAIC clients will be well served by CWB.”

The transaction is set to close in early summer, subject to regulatory approval. The deal will close for approximately 1.3% to 1.4% of the acquired AUM.

In Q1 2020, CWB moved its wealth management business under Stephen Murphy, its executive vice-president of banking, “to integrate our client offering of banking and wealth services,” president and CEO Chris Fowler said during CWB’s Feb. 27, 2020, quarterly earnings call. “CWB has a unique opportunity to add value at every stage of a business owner’s journey from managing cashflow today to building wealth for tomorrow,” Fowler said.