When Business Builder checked in with Mathieu Bouthillier late on a Friday, he was gearing up rather than down. “I was noting a few last-minute items to pick up for tomorrow.”
The next day would mark his first triathlon. Given that he’s a father of three who had recently launched his own independent portfolio management firm, it sounded like a very full plate. But he likes a challenge. “I am an entrepreneur,” he laughed. “You need to have that kind of drive!”
An early interest in finance
Mathieu’s career stemmed from a keen interest at a young age. “I’ve always been passionate about the markets, and more broadly about economics. The concept of investing has always interested me.”
When he was still a teenager, Mathieu discovered the stock market after an uncle mentioned his investments. Mathieu was fascinated. “I was always picking up the daily paper and checking out stock quotes.” His parents signed for him to open his first trading account because he was still too young to do it himself.
Mathieu’s curiosity and love of knowledge, combined with his deep interest in the subject area, motivated him to pursue his studies in finance, through to an advanced degree.
Building on this strong educational foundation, Mathieu fashioned a multi-faceted career. He gained experience in a variety of roles, from institutional research to portfolio management, and working with a variety of assets, from European equities to emerging market debt instruments.
Path to independence
Mathieu’s diverse experiences and breadth of perspective culminated in a bold vision: an independent, unbiased and educated investment approach. “I wanted to be able to leverage my expertise in research and analysis and my breadth of experience to help people achieve their financial goals.”
At a large organization, this vision would be difficult if not impossible to achieve. In the wealth management divisions of Canadian banking institutions, for example, stocks are sometimes limited to a pre-determined list, which would typically be large cap stocks. Bond inventory available for trading may be in short supply. As for more exotic discretionary strategies incorporating options and warrants, it’s mostly impossible, and certainly frowned upon.
Mathieu added, “The trend that I have witnessed across the industry is that advisors streamline their clients’ books so that they all have similar portfolios that are simple and safe. But there are lots of opportunities in the stock market for those who can see beyond these traditional models.“
“In the brokerage and institutional worlds, you’re going to be restricted in terms of products and mandates.” he explained. “Independence offers opportunities for creativity.”
Mathieu was methodical in his preparation to go independent. He and his wife had conversations about the implications for their family, given the financial and time commitments. “You don’t do this job to have extra time, that’s for sure! I knew it would be intense from the get-go.”
Mathieu carefully considered potential business partners, another essential element of independence. “The ‘due diligence’ process was lengthy but worthwhile; every option has its merits. Finding a good custodian was very important, for example. I wanted to have a place where my clients feel comfortable. NBIN is a good partner.”
He immersed himself in research on the logistics required. “The more you dig, the more you learn and then the more you need to adjust and prepare.”
Throughout the process, Mathieu remained focused and determined. “My motto is, ‘Do what you must.’ If you need to take an extra course, do it. If a compliance task requires extra effort, do it. Don’t leave stones unturned.”
The benefits of independence
After over a year of being independent, Mathieu hasn’t looked back. When asked what he likes best about his new chapter, Mathieu mentions flexibility.
A skilled researcher with international contacts from previous roles overseas, Mathieu has created equity strategies that offer clients something unique, and selects a portion of the investments based on his own research, backed by external research specialists. He also offers B2B consultancy service in the fields of portfolio management and quantitative financial analysis.
As a business owner, Mathieu is involved in operational functions of the business. He particularly enjoys the marketing aspect. “I am doing a lot of marketing through information because it’s a good way to inform my audience. They see that I am serious about what I’m doing and it brings credibility to my firm.”
Words of wisdom
For Mathieu, there’s no question that going independent was the right choice. When asked what piece of advice he would give to others exploring the option, he offers three.
1) Have a reason why
“That reason is likely part push, part pull. And one of the two is probably not good enough. At some point, things will fall into place, and you’ll have the right amount of both.”
2) Be confident
“If you’re not confident, you won’t take the risks that you must take as an entrepreneur. In the end, it’s a business and you need to stay focused and invest, not only for your clients, but for your own business.”
3) Differentiate yourself
“The entrepreneurial journey is about becoming who you are and what you want to be. If you have a good story to tell, you can effectively differentiate yourself. It’s like being a restaurateur…you don’t need to copy the other restaurants. You need to be who you are, and if you are good at what you do, you will thrive.”
Are you thinking about going independent? Contact NBIN today to learn more about independence.