Thanks to the Leith Wheeler scholarship, the power of
education is something I will share with my community.
The experience I had in the Ch’nook Aboriginal
Management Program will not only benefit me, it will
also impact those who I help in my everyday work.
In 1986, Murray Leith Sr. (BCom ’63) was one of three Sauder graduates who founded the UBC Portfolio Management Foundation (PMF) program.
Today, the company Leith co-founded in 1982, Leith Wheeler Investment Counsel Ltd., has grown from managing $200 million to roughly $18 billion in assets. And the PMF program has become an incomparable training ground for investment professionals now employed across the globe.
Out of that early genesis, it’s no wonder the PMF program and West Coast firms like Leith Wheeler share common roots.
“It’s one of those symbiotic relationships,” says Bill Dye (BCom ‘85), Head of Canadian Equities, and a longstanding volunteer with the PMF Client Committee. “But it’s not just a Leith Wheeler phenomenon; it’s a Vancouver phenomenon. The PMF has helped the industry, and the industry has helped the PMF.”
With respect to that long-standing association, Leith Wheeler donated $200,000 toward a much-needed increase in Bloomberg terminals for Sauder’s finance students.
“Our conversation internally was about how important it is to have access to cutting-edge technology, tools that our portfolio managers use every day, and help build a better understanding of how financial theory is applied,” says Jim Gilliland (BCom ‘93), President & CEO, Head of Fixed Income.
Partners at Leith Wheeler, many of whom are Sauder alumni, will also share their experiences with students through hands-on workshops and training sessions planned for the new Bloomberg lab.
“Hopefully, as Sauder grads are approaching the job market, they can really set themselves out—not just because they have studied with some of the top faculty in the world, but because they will also have a taste for how practitioners use financial data in their day-to-day work,” says Gilliland, the new Chair of the school’s Faculty Advisory Board.
“We’ve all felt that due to our Sauder education we’ve had some great opportunities and this was an ideal way to give back to the next generation of graduates."
Since 2012, Leith Wheeler has also supported student awards through the school’s Ch’nook Aboriginal Management Program. The company has over a dozen Aboriginal clients across the country.
“As a firm, we tend to be a good fit for First Nations and Aboriginal communities,” says Gilliland. “It’s our size, our ownership model and our attention to environmental, social and governance issues. We’re also deeply committed to investor education, so communities can make the best decisions on behalf of the trust funds they’ve been tasked to oversee.”
When it comes to hiring future staff, Gilliland says the firm’s focus on foundations, endowments and Aboriginal clientele tends to attract students who are interested in “giving back.”
“The initiatives we pursue really align for Sauder graduates who have a social aspect to their job search,” he says. “Our number one priority is still investment management, but we find that some of today’s grads are looking for a greater purpose—integrating a social conscience into their life and career right at graduation, which is really wonderful.”
The Leith Wheeler Investment Research Lab opened for students in the 2015/16 academic year.