Mark Yamada on mentorship

By Melissa Shin | September 19, 2011 | Last updated on December 5, 2023
2 min read

Mark Yamada is president of PUR Investing. He has dedicated more than 30 years to professional money management. Yamada developed the first web-based investment management system using exchange-traded funds and launched the service in Canada. PUR Investing Inc. is a software development firm registered as a portfolio manager that combines technology with investment expertise. Yamada is passionate about increasing diversity on boards, and creating an equal playing field for advisors.

Q. Why are these issues important to you?

A. It’s important because we’re not taking advantage of the full panoply of skills out there. We need to get rid of some of the biases [stereotyping risk profiles based on gender, for example], and we need to bring new skill sets to the table.

Growing up as a minority, my dad always said, “You have to be twice as good to get half the credit.” And unfortunately women have been in that category. As a portfolio manager you’re always playing the percentages. You’re trying to get the odds in your favour. So when we were having people cover us from Wall Street, we knew the women had to work harder. So we would always request the women cover our account.

I didn’t particularly care about advancing men or women; it was advancing the cause of my organization, and getting a better portfolio. Women still form the significant minority in the professional ranks of the investment management business. Going with the percentages, they’re probably a bit better on average.

Q. What do you see as the future of the industry, and how will women advisors fit into that future?

A. As passive investing becomes more popular, the role of the advisor will change from picking one hot mutual fund to constructing a portfolio that will meet long-term goals, and then addressing the other needs that the client has.

Concentrating on the relationship is going to be more important. But this is not what men do particularly well. By and large we like the investing side. Whoever can solve personal financial issues and create value for clients is going to win. Whether it’s a woman or a man doesn’t really matter.

Q. What are your views on mentorship?

A. It’s important to understand the way the game is played. It is not a meritocracy out there. The reason one gets on a board of directors, for example, isn’t because one demonstrates good governance and ethics — the record of boards is abysmal. It’s networking. It’s not just who you know, but what those people are willing to do for you. There are givers and takers in all aspects of life. Learning to be a giver can be an important lesson, not just for women, but for everyone.

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Melissa Shin

Melissa is the editorial director of and leads Newcom Media Inc.’s group of financial publications. She has been with the team since 2011 and been recognized by PMAC and CFA Society Toronto for her reporting. Reach her at You may also call or text 416-847-8038 to provide a confidential tip.