You've probably seen TV ads in which a clear-eyed Trimark mutual fund manager sees the potential in a Finnish tire company or an Irish crumpet maker. Tye Bousada was one of those clever folks in real life--until January, when he quit as lead manager of the $6-billion Trimark Fund. It was another blow to British-owned AIM Trimark Investments, which has recently lost several managers. What's more, Trimark co-founder Bob Krembil, who sold the firm in 2000, is a big backer of Bousada's new outfit, EdgePoint Capital Partners.
Are you the guy in the Finnish tire ad?
No. The ad represented everyone doing those things. But the company in the ad, the one looking across the Russian border, is Nokian Tires, and the Trimark Fund did own its shares.
So why are you leaving Trimark now?
I spent a dozen years at the Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan and Trimark studying some of the best business owners and operators around the world. You look for the ingredients that make these companies great. One day, you wake up and say you want to take a stab at building one of these companies. It happened to me between Christmas and New Year, so I came in and told the company.
Wasn't this disloyal to the firm?
I'm 36, so I've spent about 25% of my life so far at Trimark, which works out to about nine years. All I focused on was adding value for the stakeholders. When you're responsible for $6 billion to $7 billion of other people's money, you owe an obligation to come forward and say, "I've made up my mind." You can't stay if you've decided to do something else.
But aren't you kicking Trimark when it's down?
I certainly didn't look at it that way. They have many good people left, and it's a solid company. There is an enormous amount of bench strength.
What kind of culture do you want to create at EdgePoint?
The Canadian [investment management] industry has become, in large part, sales- and marketing-driven. But as I look at the world's best investment shops, they're investor-driven. I think there is an opportunity for more companies like that in Canada. EdgePoint will always be owned and operated by investment professionals.
Yet you were a soap salesman once, weren't you?
Before I got into the industry, I spent three years in sales at Procter & Gamble. I can't remember being a soap salesman as much as I remember being a diaper salesman. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, but I was spending all my spare time reading annual reports and investing what little money I had. One of my friends said, "You could make a profession out of this." Eventually, Teachers gave me a shot. I started as a junior analyst and worked up to portfolio manager over three years. Then Bob Krembil called and said, "Do you want to come to Trimark?" It was like Michael Jordan calling and saying "Do you want to play for the Chicago Bulls?"
What's the biggest lesson you learned at Trimark?
It comes from observing some of the great portfolio managers, who seemed to have an emotional band that was extremely narrow. They would never, ever experience high highs when things were going their way, or experience low lows when they weren't. They would learn from both.
Are you going to create a company with significant impact in the industry?
I hope I can make a large enough impact to take care of my family. Quite frankly, that's my No. 1 goal, as well as being professionally fulfilled. My wife and I have children aged 7, 5 and 3.
Won't it be tough to launch in chaotic markets?
I am not trying to time the market, but I would rather start up in a chaotic period because there are enormous opportunities compared with a time when everything is rosy. It's better to be buying when everyone else is filled with fear than when everyone else is filled with greed.
In 10 years, what do you hope to be?
I hope to be managing money for people, with other managers that I like, trust and admire. That's for the next 25 to 30 years. After all, it's in my blood. I've been involved in business since I was 13, when I sold Glow Sticks at a country fair. It was a massive failure, but I learned a lot. --
© 2007 The Globe and Mail. All rights reserved.
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