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Rod Heard

Our purpose is to empower investment professionals to improve their clients’ experiences and outcomes. Our vision is to be Canada’s preeminent liquid alternative provider. The lasting impact we want is to elevate the acumen of Canadian investors. We behave collaboratively (high-performance teamwork is our standard), authentically (genuine in our communication, bringing our personality to work and being collegial), inclusively (embracing people of all races, genders, religions, ages and secular orientations and believing in the power of diversity), and curiously (questioning the status quo), while promoting a win-win-win mindset (our clients, our clients’ clients, and us).

Tell us about yourself?

I tend to think I have had three careers, which makes me something of a generalist. My first career was in consulting, first focusing on environmental clean-up and then moving into strategy and governance for early-stage technology companies. My second career was as an executive in a publicly traded oil and gas services and technology company. Although I was CFO for a period, most of my career was focused on commercial activities like marketing and sales. I would consider my move into financial asset management at SmartBe Investments as my third career. I became interested in this industry in the latter part of 2017 when my business partners and I identified an opportunity to bring some innovative investment strategies to Canadian investors.

If you could go back in time a year or two, what piece of advice would you give yourself?

When starting a business, it is important to balance your conviction in an idea with the realities of what the market is telling you.

What problem does your business solve?

We help diversify Canadians’ investment portfolios with unique products that have typically only been available to institutional investors. Diversification is one of the core ingredients to long-term success.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

We are passionate about creating a win-win-win relationship between investors, advisors, and asset managers. We do this by delivering low-cost access to innovative strategies that have been proven around the world but have yet to hit the mainstream in Canada.

What is your magic sauce?

At SmartBe Investments, we partner with a select group of asset managers to provide investment professionals proven and reliable alternative investment options. In doing so, we hope to empower advisors with the tools, knowledge, and support to construct more efficient portfolios, enabling them to enhance their clients’ wealth management experiences.

What is the plan for the next 5 years? What do you want to achieve?

Our vision is to become the preeminent liquid alternative asset managers in Canada. Job one is to get through the start up phase and start generating income. We are constantly searching for other like minded asset managers who can benefit from our experienced national sales team. We intend to continue to focus on our core factor products and increase our shelf by adding to the liquid alternative mix. The investment world is rapidly changing, and the old model of stock picking is shifting to a more sophisticated, evidence-based, strategic portfolio construction and management. We intend to stay at the forefront of innovation through education and trust.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?

Sales, sales, sales. Covid-19 was certainly a challenge. We also had to terminate our first fund due to changes to the US regulatory environment. That was a big blow and cost us about 18 months.

How can people get involved?

The best way to learn more is to visit our website, listen to our podcasts, attend a webinar, or engage on social media.