PH&N Institutional is among Canada’s most established institutional asset managers, and has a long-standing reputation for distinctive active management and industry-leading service.1
In order to help institutional clients in their search for yield, PH&N Institutional began offering innovative, alternative strategies: market neutral and active extension equity strategies (2011), direct lending (2012), and diversified absolute return strategies (2013).
PH&N Institutional was amalgamated with RBC Asset Management Inc. to form the Canadian asset management division of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), known as RBC GAM.
In addition, BlueBay Asset Management LLP (BlueBay) of the U.K. was acquired by RBC and joined RBC GAM, expanding the latter's global presence. BlueBay's expertise in highly specialized asset classes is reflected in their more than 10 years of steady growth through a range of markets. This acquisition provided a significant competitive advantage to PH&N Institutional's global fixed income offering.
PH&N Institutional was acquired by RBC, a widely held financial services company (RY) listed on the Toronto and New York stock exchanges. By that time, PH&N Institutional had become one of Canada's leading independent investment management firms, with about $70 billion in assets under management for institutions, non-profit organizations, private clients, and mutual fund investors.
PH&N Institutional launched into the 21st century with enthusiasm, demonstrating a renewed commitment to delivering relevant investment solutions to clients. The firm acquired new expertise in global equity markets when it helped found Sky Investment Counsel Inc. in 2004 and, a year later, acquired BonaVista Asset Management Ltd. Socially responsible strategies were implemented in 2002, and emerging markets equities were added to the firm's offerings in 2009.
Transparency – a hallmark of the firm – means understanding and explaining why and how developments happen. PH&N Institutional was among the first managers in Canada to invest heavily in investment performance attribution analysis – computerized systems that clearly attributed sources of successes and failures in investment portfolios and whether those developments were random or generated by specific manager behaviours.
PH&N Institutional began offering long bond strategies and liability-driven investment (LDI) approaches in 1992, and services dedicated to Aboriginal communities in 1996.
PH&N Institutional formally established the PH&N Institutional Fixed Income desk in 1984. Through the use of the latest academic research to identify relatively undervalued bonds among a massive universe of seemingly generic fixed income securities, PH&N Institutional redefined fixed income investing, then further demonstrated leadership in understanding and redefining "risk" in the realm of high-yield bonds and other forms of non-traditional investments.
The use of cutting-edge technology helped define PH&N Institutional's approach. In the 1980s, PH&N Institutional was one of the first money managers in Canada to employ desktop or personal computers (powered by Intel 186 chips – state of the art at the time!) to screen for emerging investment opportunities. When the tools didn't exist, PH&N Institutional built them in house, and employing distinctive investment techniques became a hallmark of the firm.
The founding partners were pioneers, putting Western Canada on the map for independent investment management. When it came to investing on its clients' behalf, PH&N Institutional favoured growth companies when value investing was the accepted norm among the investment elite. Indeed, PH&N Institutional was an early adopter of utilizing earnings momentum, earnings surprise, and relative strength to uncover successful companies that could also become successful investments. While building its investment reputation, PH&N Institutional also became known for its ethics and transparency. With below-average fees and above-average performance, the firm grew at an enviable pace. Protecting itself from hubris was rooted deep within the culture from day one, a culture based on humility with an unwavering focus on operating in the best interest of clients.
In the 1970s, PH&N Institutional began to offer fixed income strategies and also began to develop a specialization in mortgage investing. The firm was instrumental in helping found a commercial mortgage intermediary to act as a direct lender for PH&N Institutional fixed-income accounts, helping us control the quality of the mortgages sourced for our clients.
PH&N Institutional broadened its strategy offering to include Canadian equities in 1967, adhering to a GARP (growth at a reasonable price) approach.
PH&N Institutional was founded in Vancouver by Art Phillips, Bob Hager and Rudy North, and soon joined by Dick Bradshaw. The founding partners set out to create a different kind of investment firm. In those days, investment management was primarily the domain of insurance companies and brokerage firms. The former offered limited investment options and with the latter, clients could face high commission costs generated through unnecessary portfolio turnover. The firm offered a somewhat different approach: active investment management, transparency, and modest fees based on portfolio assets, so clients knew what they were paying for in their portfolio. The first strategy offered was U.S. equities.
1Phillips, Hager & North Investment Management (now known as PH&N Institutional) was named a 2020 Greenwich Quality Leader in Canadian Institutional Investment Management Service (details available here). Greenwich Quality Leaders are distinguished for providing the industry’s highest-quality service as determined by Canadian institutional investors. We have been recognized as a Greenwich Quality Leader for the past seven years.