James Burron has left AIMA to start a new alternative investments association.

Burron’s last day with AIMA was Friday, after more than six years with the organization. As first reported by HFM Week, he’s launching the Canadian Association of Alternative Strategies and Assets (CAASA) with Caroline Chow, a former AIMA associate who left the organization in December.

Originally, the two intended to break off from AIMA to work for a fund, Burron tells Advisor.ca. But they decided to form the new organization instead. “We just loved the association side,” he says.

Burron characterizes the new association as “complementary” to AIMA. He says 50 potential members have reached out, 21 of which have committed to join. The latter group includes investment managers and service providers, along with global firms and CIOs of major companies, he says.

While AIMA has a Canadian office, it’s headquartered in London and was founded by a group of European managers in 1990.

As a result, “We’ve had [AIMA] members say there should be a Canadian organization,” Burron says. When asked what makes CAASA unique, he says, “Having a group that is of Canadians and for Canadians first and foremost enables its constituents the freedom to create solutions and engage in dialogue as appropriate nationally and within the distinct market segments.”

An AIMA spokesperson said in an emailed statement: “James did a great job in growing our Canadian membership, launching the AIMA Canada Investor Forum and developing many Canada-focused programs and activities in recent years.” The organization is working with its local executive board and plans to appoint a new general manager “as soon as possible.”

Next steps

Running a not-for-profit association like AIMA involves working with portfolio and hedge fund managers to address their investment and distribution challenges, and looking at trends in the real estate, private equity and lending, and alt fund space, Burron says. His work with CAASA, which will also be a not-for-profit, will involve more of the same.

He and Chow will take the opportunity to “ask members what they want” as they build the association, including their desired committees. “At AIMA, we had 12 committees with 100 meetings per year,” with members from the distribution, back-office, legal and fund management sides, he says.

CAASA is still working out how the new association will be structured and what will be offered to members. “We put together a budget over the weekend and we’ll go from there,” Burron says. It will have an advisory board and a number of subject-matter committees, “constituted and mandated over the next short while.”

Over the next year, he says, they’ll work on building the organization while monitoring investment trends and regulatory developments. This includes the CSA’s proposal for alternative investments, part of NI 81-102 (in the works since 2016), which aims to develop a more comprehensive regulatory framework for publicly offered alternative funds.

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