CI Financial appoints former McKinsey partner Kurt MacAlpine as new CEO

09 August 2019 3 min. read
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CI Financial, Canada’s largest independent fund manager, has selected Kurt MacAlpine as its new chief executive officer. MacAlpine was formerly a partner at management consultancy McKinsey & Company, where he led the North American asset management practice.

Toronto-based CI Financial provides global asset and wealth management services, offering mutual funds, multi-manager funds, and hedge funds, among others. The company had approximately $177 billion in fee-earning assets as of July 31, 2019.

Wealth managers like CI, however, have been facing intense pressure in recent years, with big banks encroaching deeper into the space, low-cost ETFs gaining in popularity, and robo-advisors muscling in as well – forcing wealth managers to cut fees in the process.

Since its peak in 2014, CI’s shares have slipped 45%.

The company has, as such, sought out new blood to help preserve its position as a leading wealth manager while setting itself up for growth in the future.

Kurt MacAlpine, CEO at CI Financial

Kurt MacAlpine joins the company from WisdomTree, a New York–based global asset manager and ETF fund sponsor, where he spent four years as executive vice president and head of global distribution. In the role, he oversaw global client-facing functions (distribution, business development, marketing, data intelligence, client solutions), as well as the majority of the firm’s international business.

In his time at WisdomTree, MacAlpine diversified and globalized the business, and helped transform its data intelligence function – partnering with IBM Watson on predictive analytics, building a new advisor solutions program, and redesigning client coverage.

Prior to that, he spent nine years at McKinsey, where he was a partner and leader of the North American asset management practice. In the role, he managed global consulting teams working in the wealth management industry on issues related to strategy, distribution, marketing, M&A, and product development.

MacAlpine holds an MBA from Queen’s University and a bachelor of commerce from St. Mary’s University.

"Kurt brings to CI a powerful combination of strategic thinking, innovation, and operational experience across diverse aspects of the wealth and asset management business, both in North America and globally," said David Miller, director of CI and chairman of the board's governance, HR, and compensation committee.

"The Board is confident that his deep industry knowledge, proven leadership, and experience in developing and executing growth-oriented strategic initiatives will ensure that CI remains a leader in a rapidly changing business environment."

CI also tapped MacAlpine because of his experience leading digital transformations within the industry. "Kurt has worked with some of the largest asset managers in the world and has a thorough understanding of the industry, best practices and new developments," Miller added. "In particular, Kurt is familiar with using digital strategies to enhance efficiencies and build new services and businesses, a key plank in CI's strategic plans."

As part of its digital strategy, the company has in the past two years acquired a majority stake in robo-advisor Wealthbar Financial Services and BBS Securities, which provides an advanced digital brokerage platform.

"As a large and independent firm with global reach, CI is well positioned to take advantage of the many opportunities in asset and wealth management,” MacAlpine commented. “CI holds a strong and diverse portfolio of businesses and I look forward to working with the CI team to lead the company through the next stage of growth and development."

MacAlpine replaces outgoing CEO Peter Anderson on September 1, 2019. Anderson, who held the top job for three years, announced earlier this year that he would be retiring no later than mid-2020. He will stay on at CI in the short term to assist with the CEO transition, according to a company statement.