Canso Investment Counsel Ltd & the Military Colleges

E3161 Victoria Edwards met up with 22350 Nicolas Desjardins to discuss Canso Investment Counsel Ltd and the RMC Foundation.

e-veritas: What is your academic and career background?

Nicolas Desjardins: I am a Portfolio and Risk Analyst at Canso Investment Counsel Ltd., which specializes in corporate bond management and currently has $10 billon in assets under management. I have a Space Science degree as well as a Masters in Physics from RMC. I served as an AERE Officer and with the Canadian Space Agency before leaving the CF. I did a Masters in Finance at Sherbrooke University and I just completed all three exams of the Chartered Financial Analyst program.

e-veritas: Canso, which was founded in 1997 by 11623 John Carswell, who recently donated 100k to the RMC Club Foundation, attributed to the Class of 1978 account.

Nic Desjardins: John and Kim Carswell, through their holding company, are donating $100,000 of units in our new closed end fund, the Canso Select Opportunities Fund (CSOF) to the RMC Foundation. This is in recognition of the Class of 1978’s 35th year since graduation.

e-veritas: What will the Canso donation fund?

Nic Desjardins: John Carswell will be requesting that the money be attributed to the Class of 1978 account but that the income from these units be used to fund the rugby program. If and when his Class decides on a purpose for its fund, the capital can then be used for this purpose. The CSOF is a closed end fund listed on the TSE.

e-veritas: 11623 John Carswell  is a member of the New Eighteen Society; the RMC Foundation greatly appreciates the generosity, commitment and support of their top donors.

Nic Desjardins: John graduated from the Royal Military College with a Bachelor of Arts (Commerce) and served as an Air Force navigator. He then earned an MBA degree from Queen’s University in 1985. John was awarded a CFA charter in 1988. He began his investment career at Mutual Life of Canada in 1985 where he was an Investment Analyst in the Private Placement and Corporate Debt area. He then moved to TAL Investment Counsel Ltd. in 1988 where he was Vice President, Fixed Income, responsible for credit analysis and specialty fixed income products. In 1992, John then moved to Foyston, Gordon & Payne, where he was the Partner responsible for fixed income and preferred shares. He founded Canso Investment Counsel Ltd. in 1997.

e-veritas: Management of the RMC Club Foundation portfolio is governed by our Investment Advisory Committee (IAC) which is comprised of a number of Ex-Cadets including 15673 Joe Morin (RRMC 1986), a partner at Canso.

Nic Desjardins: The careful, prudent but effective investment of these funds is therefore a mission critical function for the Foundation. Management of the Foundation portfolio is governed by our Investment Advisory Committee (IAC). Joe Morin is Vice President and Director of Research at Canso Investment Counsel and formerly a credit analyst with BMO and S&P. Joe graduated from the Royal Military College with a Honours Bachelor of Arts (Economics and Commerce) in 1986 and served as an officer in the Canadian Navy. He subsequently earned an MBA degree from the University of British Columbia in 1995.

Joe has held various positions in private lending, credit management and credit research in the past number of years including Export Development Canada, Nortel Networks, and Standard & Poor’s. Prior to joining Canso, Joe was a Director of Corporate Debt Research at BMO Capital Markets responsible for covering the Canadian telecom, cable, media, retail, real estate and credit card ABS sectors. Joe joined Canso in May 2009 as Director of Investment Research and is responsible for coordinating all Canso investment research activities. Joe was awarded his CFA charter in 2011.

e-veritas: Canso directly manages the bond portfolio for the RMC Club Foundation

Nic Desjardins: Canso directly manages the bond portfolio for the Foundation as this is our primary business line. The firm has over $10 billion under management and has considerable pricing power which benefits the Foundation. We buy all Foundation bonds at institutional levels. Canso also administers the other portfolios under the guidance of the IAC and receives direction from the IAC on all trades. Notably, Canso does not charge the Foundation for any services. The majority of the RMC Foundation’s investment portfolio is held in trust as endowments.

The mission of the RMC Foundation is to secure and deliver the funds necessary to enhance Excellence in the attraction, education and training of the students of the royal Military Colletges.

e-veritas: Can Military College alumni invest as private investors with Canso?

Nic Desjardins: Yes, our business is the fundamental valuation of financial securities and the management of investment portfolios. The CSOF offering is currently available as a new issue by most Canadian investment dealers and people can buy it through their Investment Adviser.