AGF: Celebrating 65 Years
Author: Blake C. Goldring
April 18, 2022
April 18, 2022, marks the 65th anniversary of AGF Management Limited (AGF). We’re proud, excited and thankful to celebrate this occasion. Our longevity is a testament to many things, such as our history of innovation, our disciplined investment approach and our unwavering commitment to our clients. But perhaps most of all, it stands as a testament to the outstanding efforts and contributions of our employees. None of our success over the decades would have been possible without their efforts, and for that we’re truly appreciative.
I wanted to mark our anniversary by capturing some of the milestones in the evolution of our firm; if I come across as a little boastful it is because I feel intense pride in the people I work with, our clients, and our industry, which has blossomed over the past six-and-a-half decades.
It all started back in 1957, when my father, C. Warren Goldring, and his business partner, Allan Manford, had the innovative (at the time) idea to pool the funds of Canadian investors to allow greater access to the U.S. equity market. Their fund – named the American Growth Fund – became the very first U.S. equity fund for Canadian investors, and its initials, AGF, were adopted as the firm’s name.
AGF as an organization is rooted in innovation, with a global mindset and a steadfast commitment to delivering for our clients – principles that ring as true today as they did 65 years ago. The launch of the American Growth Fund encapsulated this perfectly: as an industry first that enabled Canadians to easily invest beyond our borders, it was, by definition, innovative and international in focus – and its success continues to this day to help our clients achieve their financial goals.
But AGF’s global vision didn’t stop there. Under the leadership of my father and Mr. Manford, as well as Bob Farquharson, our longest-serving employee and current Vice-Chair, AGF led the way into international markets, adding Canada’s first-ever Japan fund to our product lineup in 1972.
In 1973, Warren Goldring was named President of the company giving him the opportunity to demonstrate great vision, leading by example and inspiring those around him to greater success.
And this leadership was needed as the 1970s proved to be a turbulent time in the markets. Against this backdrop, AGF innovated once again by launching another industry first: the AGF Money Market Fund, which served as the perfect antidote to the understandably cautious investment temperament of the times.
The 1980s ushered in a post-stagflation boom, and AGF’s AUM doubled – and then doubled again – from 1984 to 1986.
In 1987, I joined the firm and immediately set my sights on global expansion to capitalize on this momentum and lay the groundwork for future growth. By the mid-nineties we’d expanded our footprint with operations in Europe and Asia.
In 1997, I took on the role of President and in ‘98 I hired Judy Goldring as in-house legal counsel, and she now serves as our President and Head of Global Distribution. That same year, AGF strengthened its global posture with a strategic acquisition in the U.K. private client space.
When the new millennium started, I succeeded my father as CEO and set forth on further diversifying our business to broaden out our client base. Through additional acquisitions, we built out our domestic private client business and demonstrated our commitment to sustainability by adding a fund with one of the longest track records in sustainable investing to our product lineup. This jump-started our journey into responsible investing and the consideration of ESG factors across our investing platform.
Following the Great Financial Crisis, AGF’s evolution – one that continues today – kicked into high gear.
In the first step toward our thoughtful leadership renewal, Kevin McCreadie, who now serves as CEO and Chief Investment Officer, joined us as President and CIO in 2014. That same year, we continued to broaden our offerings and client base by launching our private alternatives business.
In 2017, we established AGFiQ, our quantitative investing platform, and continued our legacy of bringing forth innovative products to meet the needs of investors by launching a suite of unique ETFs.
In 2018, we announced a leadership transition as I took on the role of Executive Chairman, Kevin McCreadie took the reins as CEO while retaining his Chief Investment Officer duties and Judy Goldring was elevated to the role of President, with the added responsibility of Chairing the firm’s Sustainability Council to provide oversight on our policies and programs related to sustainability matters.
Our leadership team has continued to demonstrate our commitment to innovation and serving our clients through the years as we’ve invested in key areas of growth and accelerated our digital transformation – which enabled us to continue serving clients effectively when the pandemic took hold in 2020 and has revolutionized the way we engage with them today.
One of the key areas in which we’re continuing to invest is private alternatives, which we believe can be key components in portfolios for all investor types, providing diversification benefits and reduced volatility to help investors achieve their goals. Building out further this business is a key strategic initiative for AGF and we look forward to effectively securing our place as an alternatives provider of choice in the years to come.
Importantly, our efforts in support of our clients are complemented by our commitment to our colleagues. While employee support has always been central to our success, it took on even greater importance during the pandemic. Throughout it, as our CEO, Kevin McCreadie, has often said, we’ve centred our compass on our employees’ health and well-being, from awarding additional mental health days to adding targeted support programs for working parents and their families. I’m proud that our leadership team has led with empathy and understanding, working tirelessly the past two years to advocate for and engage employees, advancing our culture.
Our efforts on all these fronts have not gone unnoticed. We are honoured to have been recognized by our industry in the past year for being a digital innovator and an employer of choice, as well as for delivering consistent, strong risk-adjusted investment performance despite all we’ve endured.
In fact, we’re proud of all our efforts and successes over the past 65 years – and we’re thankful for all those who’ve contributed to them. As we welcome the opportunities of the next 65, we remain focused on innovative thinking, leveraging discipline to deliver consistent results and demonstrating responsibility today for a sustainable tomorrow. And we’re very excited to do it all from our new head office at Toronto’s iconic CIBC SQUARE, which we will move into later this year, while embracing the hybrid work model of the future.
Of course, our business highlights only tell part of AGF’s story. We have a rich history of giving back, and in the next installment of this series, we’ll document our commitment to our communities, as well as our forward-looking sustainability focus.
Blake C. Goldring is Executive Chairman at AGF Management Limited.
The commentaries contained herein are provided as a general source of information based on information available as of April 13, 2022 and are not intended to be comprehensive investment advice applicable to the circumstances of the individual. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy in these commentaries at the time of publication, however, accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Market conditions may change and AGF Investments accepts no responsibility for individual investment decisions arising from the use or reliance on the information contained here.
AGF Investments is a group of wholly owned subsidiaries of AGF Management Limited, a Canadian reporting issuer. The subsidiaries included in AGF Investments are AGF Investments Inc. (AGFI), AGF Investments America Inc. (AGFA), AGF Investments LLC (AGFUS) and AGF International Advisors Company Limited (AGFIA). AGFA and AGFUS are registered advisors in the U.S. AGFI is registered as a portfolio manager across Canadian securities commissions. AGFIA is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland and registered with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission. The subsidiaries that form AGF Investments manage a variety of mandates comprised of equity, fixed income and balanced assets.
® The “AGF” logo is a registered trademark of AGF Management Limited and used under licence.
About AGF Management Limited
Founded in 1957, AGF Management Limited (AGF) is an independent and globally diverse asset management firm. AGF brings a disciplined approach to delivering excellence in investment management through its fundamental, quantitative, alternative and high-net-worth businesses focused on providing an exceptional client experience. AGF’s suite of investment solutions extends globally to a wide range of clients, from financial advisors and individual investors to institutional investors including pension plans, corporate plans, sovereign wealth funds and endowments and foundations.
For further information, please visit AGF.com.
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