Friday, December 4, 2009

Who is Qtrade, anyway?

When the news was announced Wednesday of Meritas’ merger with Qtrade, that’s the first question that came to my mind. I googled Qtrade, and discovered that they were the top rated on line brokerage. Rob Carrick said “The little independent from out west beats the big boys of Bay Street yet again. The story here is that Qtrade is relentless in scoping out the best innovations of its competitors and nimbly adopting them.” Sounds good so far.

I asked around, and people in Vancouver told me ‘They have a great reputation, but I don’t know much about them’. So I called Scott Gibner, CEO of Qtrade Financial Group, and asked him how they came to merge with Meritas. ”Both our firms got started in 1999-2000, so we grew up at the same time. We were always aware of Meritas’s mandate, and their growth. We have a number of relationships with credit unions, and that was a significant driver in our search for a socially responsible mutual fund partner.

“When we first started talking to the people at Meritas, they kept stressing that they had a pure SRI mandate and they weren’t interested in anything else. We said ‘Listen guys, we know that. That’s why we’re here.’”

Qtrade Financial Group provides wealth management services to financial institutions, among them credit unions, trust companies and financial planning companies. Qtrade Fund Management (QFM) offers a family of mutual funds, as well as managed portfolio solutions. “We plan on growing the SRI component. We have a very large need for it." continued Mr. Gibner. “Gary Hawton is the Chief Investment Officer of QFM because the SRI component is going to be pervasive throughout the offering.”

At this point, QFM has six wholesalers, primarily supporting the credit union system. But as the firms integrate, that number will grow.

Mr. Gibner was unequivocal in his support of SRI. “SRI should be part of everyone’s portfolio. It’s certainly part of my portfolio” Given the wishy washy views of some firms in the SRI space, that’s music to my ears. Welcome Qtrade!

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