Investment manager Stephen Jarislowsky set to retire from firm

MONTREAL – Stephen Jarislowsky, one of Canada’s best-known and most outspoken investment managers, is preparing for retirement by stepping aside as chief executive of the firm he founded 57 years ago.

Jarislowsky Fraser Ltd. manages about $37 billion, so changes at the firm could unsettle some investors.

The firm said Jarislowsky, 87, will remain chairman of the board for a time and management will be headed by a committee of senior executives.

“Our decision to focus on lean, effective and empowered committees reflects our confidence in our people and their deep market and management experience,” Jarislowsky said in a statement.

“Jarislowsky Fraser and its entire team of portfolio managers and research analysts remain committed to the disciplined, low-risk, bottom-up approach that the firm has taken throughout our 57-year history.”

The firm will announce additions to its investment team in the coming months, he added.

The executive committee will be headed by Montreal-based Pierre Lapointe, who has been with the company 27 years and has been a member of the executive committee since 1995.

Margot Ritchie, at the firm’s office in Toronto, will also be a member of the executive committee. She has 32 years of industry experience, including 20 years with Jarislowsky Fraser.

Other people joining the committee that oversees the firm’s management are Erin O’Brien, current chief compliance officer and chief financial officer, who becomes head of operations, and Chris Kresic, who joined the company two years ago.

Two senior members of the firm, Len Racioppo and Marc Trottier, have announced they’ll resign effective at the end of November. Racioppo is president and chairman of the investment strategy committee while Trottier is a member of the executive committee.

Frequently compared to Warren Buffett, German-born Stephen Jarislowsky is a billionaire investor who has been outspoken about business and political decisions in Canada and has not shied away from criticizing companies or some mergers and acquisitions.

Jarislowsky Fraser prides itself as being “totally independent, with no corporate affiliations,” the company said in a statement.

It follows a conservative investing philosophy that has not changed since it began as an investment research firm in 1955 and began to advise individual investors in the 1960s.

“We construct diversified, high quality portfolios that are designed to achieve long-term growth with minimal risk. This approach has been particularly effective in minimizing the volatility prevalent in today’s global markets,” it stated.