Leith Wheeler opens Toronto office but CEO to stay based in Vancouver

Wealth-management company oversees $16.4 billion in assets 

Leith Wheeler CEO Jim Gilliland plans to continue spending the bulk of his time at his firm's Vancouver office | submitted

One of Vancouver’s largest employee-owned investment management firms has opened an office in Toronto but intends to keep its headquarters and its focus in Vancouver, according to its CEO.

Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel hired investment-management veteran Marcel Leroux last fall and is basing him at the new King Street West office, which opened last week.

CEO Jim Gilliland told Business in Vancouver February 29 that he expects the Toronto office to increase in size to five employees within the next four years.

That compares with about 70 employees in Vancouver and five employees in the Calgary office, which opened in 2010.

Gilliland will continue to spend the lion’s share of his time in Vancouver.

“We’re frequently on the plane to go meet our clients but having an office in Toronto will allow us to do a better job of serving our clients there,” Gilliland said.

Clients who own about 40% of Leith Wheeler’s $16.4 billion under management are based in Ontario, Gilliland explained.

“The decision to open an office in Toronto was a pretty easy one in that we’ve built up a pretty significant client base, particularly in the private client and foundation areas,” he said.

“It really helps to be in the community for client servicing.”

While Leith Wheeler is regulated by the British Columbia Securities Commission and it manages funds for private clients and institutions, it does not have a brokerage licence. That means that its advisors interact with a broad range of broker-dealers who execute trades on behalf of clients.

Vancouverites Murray Leith and Bill Wheeler founded the company in 1982.

Odlum Brown, which has just under $10 billion under management, is the largest Vancouver-based, employee-owned brokerage. Its CEO, Debra Hewson, discussed her company's business model with BIV earlier this month.