The big boss of Jarislowsky Fraser, Maxime Ménard, is making the jump to Fiera Capital to lead the Canadian activities and those of private management of the Montreal asset manager founded by Jean-Guy Desjardins.
The appointment of Maxime Ménard as President and CEO of Fiera Canada and Global Private Banking positions him favorably as Jean-Guy Desjardins’ designated successor.
“We must consider Maxime as a serious candidate for my succession,” says Jean-Guy Desjardins in an interview.
The financial entrepreneur who will turn 80 this fall seems to have found his successor, which could reassure some investors wondering who could possibly take over.
Maxime Ménard, 48, had been president and CEO of Jarislowsky Fraser since 2018. He had worked for more than 20 years for the firm, which became a subsidiary of Scotiabank since its acquisition by this financial institution six years ago.
Maxime Ménard leaves the management of a firm whose assets under management amount to 55 billion to go to Fiera Capital where the assets under management are almost three times higher.
He now joins the executive committee of Fiera Capital, where four members of this committee had been identified in the past as potential successors to Jean-Guy Desjardins.
Maxime Ménard and Jean-Guy Desjardins met two years ago, but their wives knew each other before that.
Maxime Ménard and Jean-Guy Desjardins got to know each other while working on a common business project.
“I discovered an intelligent guy with a leadership personality and great interpersonal skills. A guy capable of a lot of creativity and initiative with a very strong entrepreneurial side having been with Stephen at Jarislowsky for 20 years,” says Jean-Guy Desjardins.
There are two important dimensions to the responsibilities entrusted to Maxime Ménard. Fiera’s Canadian operations are by far the largest part of the company with $115 billion in assets under management and 350 employees. In addition, Jean-Guy Desjardins entrusts him with full responsibility for private management clients.
Maxime Ménard says he is “very excited” at the idea of being able to continue to convey the values of a founder and to work with Jean-Guy Desjardins, whom he describes as a “builder”.
“The perseverance and resilient side of an entrepreneur stimulates me a lot,” he says.
Jean-Guy Desjardins hopes that Maxime Ménard will be able to bring new business opportunities with his relational side, a network of contacts made up of institutional investors, financial intermediaries and private management clients.
Fiera Capital stock has lost more than 30% of its value in 2023. Despite the stock’s recent rebound, the dividend yield is still hovering near the 14% mark.
Given the nature of the business, when the market declines, the value of Fiera’s assets is expected to decline, putting pressure on the stock’s value. But there is more.
Organic growth has been affected by an asset flight since the departure of star manager Nadim Rizk, who left Fiera during the pandemic to strike out on his own.
Jean-Guy Desjardins returned to the helm of Fiera Capital last January to replace Jean-Philippe Lemay.
Upon his return to the helm, he agreed with the other members of the board of directors to hold office for a period of three years. In theory, he still has two years left in charge.
His return shined the spotlight on the successive departures from senior management in recent years, from Jean-Philippe Lemay to Sylvain Brosseau, including Vincent Duhamel and Anik Lanthier.
To explain the return of Jean-Guy Desjardins to the position of CEO, it was notably mentioned that the board of directors anticipated turbulence on the macroeconomic level and that, in this context, it was preferable to have at the helm a person with a lot of experience and who has an in-depth understanding of the economic environment, monetary policies and all of Fiera Capital’s investment strategies and operations.