Transition at Baskin Wealth Management
When I started Baskin Wealth Management in 1992, on my 40th birthday, I knew I was taking a risk. My previous career in law, banking and venture capital had made me comfortable in the financial services world, but I had never managed money for individuals, and I had never traded securities in public markets for paying customers. I also knew that a huge proportion of new businesses fail. I hedged my bets by keeping my teaching job at the Michael DeGroote School of Business in Hamilton, and by doing consulting as my main line of business. When Barry Schwartz joined the firm in 2000, he was employee number three, and we were managing a grand total of around $25 million. Scott Mazi joined us in 2004, and Rob McDonald became our Chief Operating Officer in 2017. Together, as partners, the four of us have grown the business. Today we are managing more than $2 billion for more than 1,000 families in nine provinces (if anybody has friends in PEI, we’re interested!).
Our course we didn’t do it alone. We have been extraordinarily fortunate in having a great team of very hard working and dedicated employees. Each of them has contributed to our success.
I believe that an important element of our approach to wealth management has been in making the business personal. Every one of our clients has easy access to an owner of the firm. Every one of the owners has an in-depth knowledge of our clients, our portfolio holdings and our process. None of our clients ever has to talk to an answering machine, deal with a robot, or wait more than a day for an answer to an email or a phone call. We know our clients, we know their families and we know their goals and their hopes. We have never believed at Baskin Wealth Management that one size fits all or that a machine can make better decisions than a human.
After almost thirty years, and as I enter my 70th year, my partners and I have completed transactions that will lay a firm foundation for the next twenty or thirty years. We have taken steps to emplace a solid and durable succession plan that will ensure that each client will continue to receive the high-touch, high-knowledge service that has built our business.
As of August 31st, Barry Schwartz is the largest shareholder of the firm. He will continue in his role as Chief Investment Officer and will be one of our four Directors. Scott Mazi is now the 2nd largest shareholder, and he also will be a Director and continue as our Executive Vice-President, Portfolio and Relationship Management. Rob McDonald will continue as our Chief Operating Officer and will become a Director. I am now the 3rd largest shareholder. I will be serving as Chairman of the Board, as well as President. As part of our transaction, and likely of interest to many of you, I have agreed to work at the firm at least until my 75th birthday, in June, 2027, health permitting.
Perhaps the most important and exciting part of the transition has to do with our next generation of management, who have now become our next generation of partners. The following five long-time employees have now become partners of the firm, increasing the size, diversity and strength of our ownership base.
Benjamin Klein, CFA, CFP, joined the firm in 2013 and serves as a Portfolio Manager and one of our two financial planners.
Sithikone Songvilay is our Head of Operations and Technology services. He has been an important part of Baskin Wealth Management since 2007 and ensures that all of our software and hardware systems provide timely and accurate information to our employees and clients.
Melanie Tellis is our Head of Client Services and is responsible for a team of six employees. She came to us from TD Waterhouse in 2013 and has been instrumental in ensuring that our back-office processes are efficient, accurate and timely and that we deliver a high touch level of service to our clients.
Gordon Thomas is our Head of Trading. Since he arrived in 2015 our trading platform has expanded in size and complexity. Gordon supervises a junior trader and is responsible for all securities transactions.
Ernest Wong, CFA is our Head of Research. Since 2016 he has been a key component in all our equity selections and plays a crucial role in the monitoring of all our investments.
The American novelist Norman Mailer wrote: “There was that law of life, so cruel and so just, that one must grow or else pay more for remaining the same.” At Baskin Wealth Management, we have chosen to grow, one client at a time, one employee at a time. The time for us to transition to a new partnership has come. We have embraced the opportunity to strengthen our firm through change. We are confident that you will welcome these changes as we go forward together.
David Baskin, Chairman and President
Barry Schwartz on BNN – September 30, 2021
The Canadian Investor Podcast – September 23, 2021