If there had been a costume for an investment banker when Bill Healy was a child, he probably would have worn it every year for Halloween. The budding investment manager knew what he wanted to do from a young age, and while other kids were reading comic books, he was reading the business section of the newspaper. Then, after counting down the days, he finally opened his own brokerage account on his 18th birthday, and a few years later he was the youngest in his rookie class at Canada’s largest bank-owned brokerage firm. Now, 23 years after entering the business, he serves as a managing partner and the chief investment officer at Patrimonica Asset Management Inc., where he draws upon more than two decades of experience to advise entrepreneurs, former professional athletes, entertainers, and corporate executives whose portfolios average more than $10 million.
Healy learned the ropes at TAL, Guardian, and McLean Budden, where he served on investment committees, defining policies and overseeing third-party managers. He later participated as a team member in the management of a successful mutual fund. In those positions, Healy enjoyed serving private as well as institutional clients, from First Nations members to foundations to pensions. “I’m very fortunate to have gained experience in so many segments and a deep understanding of the investment industry,” he says.
Unlike many of his colleagues, though, who began their professional careers after their undergrad degrees, Healy “did it the harder, unconventional way” by completing his academic career and starting a family while working his way up in the industry at the same time. That route helped him combine lessons learned from academia with those learned only from hands-on asset management.
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Marketing McLean Budden’s investment funds in Europe as a portfolio manager took Healy to Britain, Switzerland, and Belgium, where he discovered a passion for family offices. “I became envious of the person on the other side of the table,” he says. “I knew my future was in the family-office model.”
Around the same time that Healy began contemplating this, Sun Life offered to buy out McLean Budden’s minority shareholders. “This was a game changer,” Healy says. But he was uncertain how his career would evolve under a new regime, so he elected to resign and start Patrimonica on his own, opening its doors in 2012.
“I wanted an environment that is independent and objective, where I’d be free to advise high-net-worth clients with solely their best interests at heart,” Healy says. That’s the concept he and his founding partner, Diane Henry, have put forward with their firm. They’ve developed a truly holistic and integrated wealth-management practice with financial-planning, accounting, tax-reporting, and estate-planning services.
As head of investments, Healy ensures that clients’ portfolios are aligned with their objectives and managed optimally with respect to risk tolerance, inherent costs, and tax efficiency. “Defining a policy and constructing a portfolio is like building a bridge,” Healy says. “You need a good plan, quality materials, solid execution, and proper maintenance. Otherwise, you run the risk of not achieving your objectives.” To Healy, proper maintenance is a critical component of the risk-management process. Portfolios need more than just an effective launch; they must be regularly monitored and rebalanced—or even occasionally revised—as markets evolve and circumstances change.
Healy’s experience comes most into play when he’s researching and interviewing managers. Although he and his team subscribe to an industry-leading database, he does more than simply look for high returns and low risk. “The qualitative side is the present and the future, while the quantitative is history,” he says. “It’s about getting to know the key individuals in the firm, the culture and team dynamics, and how much skin they have in the game to evaluate how well they practice what they preach.” Dynamics within firms can change over time, and good investment officers adjust accordingly.
Healy has turned his lifelong fascination with financial markets and investing into a blossoming investment business. He experienced the crash of 1987, the Asian crisis, the tech wreck, and the credit crisis. “I’ve seen both good times and bad times, and I’ve seen investment fads come and go,” he says. “With this relatively broad perspective, one should always remain humble and consider what could possibly go wrong. I learned very early on that overconfidence can lead to disaster.”
Each firm Healy has worked for has had its own investment philosophies, values, and approaches. These, together with his experiences, have shaped his convictions. And by putting his clients first and ensuring their assets are managed the same way he manages his own, he has built a recipe for success as a trusted financial advisor.