Mawer and the Community Connection

L-R: Mawer Investment Management: Andrew Johnson (Institutional Portfolio Manager), Michael Mezei (President) and Craig Senyk (Vice Chairman, Institutional Portfolio Manager).

A few members of Mawer Investment Management’s team recently spoke with Tina Barton (Manager, Partnerships, Community Foundations of Canada) about Mawer’s community interests, why they are involved with the conference, and some of their own initiatives in the philanthropic space. Here’s what they had to say:

How are you connected to the 2017 Conference and our community foundation network?

At Mawer, one of our brand tenets is “Do the right thing,” which is very much how we think of your work. We do this for investors; community foundations do this for communities. In many cases our investors are the people in our community, so our work is of mutual benefit. If we do a good job in our role as investment managers, community foundations will have more assets to do their great work across Canada.

What ideas, energy and contributions are you bringing to the 2017 conference?

As we are all involved with foundations as volunteers, fundraisers, and supporters of causes that resonate with us, we bring an energy and enthusiasm for philanthropy. As a firm, we serve many foundation and endowment clients and are able to offer a wealth of knowledge around investment management for these clients. And on the culture and leadership development front, we look forward to sharing ideas that we hope will help make individual foundations stronger.

 What exciting or innovative activity are you presently doing in the philanthropy space?

In addition to Mawer’s partnership with Community Foundations of Canada, there are several initiatives we’re proud to be involved in. These include:

  • Supporting SAIT’s Centennial Celebration which includes SAIT’s Centennial Baby— the first child born in a Calgary hospital on Oct. 16, 2016 (SAIT’s official birthday) will receive a scholarship and registration to SAIT summer camps
  • A featured partnership with Beakerhead to promote innovation, learning by doing, and the intersection of art and science
  • Sponsoring the arts via the National Music Centre’s Silent Auction and Gala
  • Hosting the Calgary and Toronto Jamborees for Charity, benefitting different charities each year
  • Participating as the headline sponsor of Barney Bentall and the Grand Cariboo Express in support of Classroom Champions, which matches Olympic athletes as mentors to students in under-served communities

What would you like to share with community foundations about Mawer?

Our “Be Boring, Make Money” investment approach helps us to provide our clients with financial peace of mind, which then allows them to spend their time doing what they do best. For our community foundation clients, this means helping to remove the worries and stress around their investment portfolio, which allows them to focus on making our communities better places to live, work and play.

With 23 years of experience managing foundations and endowment clients, 115 current foundation clients with $3.2 billion in assets under management, our continued focus is to invest the money saved by our clients in what we believe is the best use of that capital. The better we do this, the more community foundations can leverage these resources. That is one of the reasons we, as a firm, donate 10% of our fees back to not-for-profit clients.

At Mawer we are committed to holding our industry to a higher standard because we think there is much room for improvement, e.g., high fees, poor performance, lack of disclosure and conflicts of interest.  We hope to connect with the community foundation movement by educating members on our investment approach and best practices in the financial industry. We also want to learn what members want from an investment manager so we can better serve them in the future.

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