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Streetwise Aviso Wealth hires former Scotia Wealth Management executive as chief investment officer

Independent wealth manager Aviso Wealth Inc. has hired former Scotia Wealth Management executive John Bai as its chief investment officer with an eye to boosting its socially responsible investment arm, NEI Investments.

Mr. Bai was appointed executive vice-president and CIO of both Aviso Wealth and NEI Investments, the company announced Wednesday.

In his role, which began May 6, Mr. Bai is responsible for the strategic direction of the firm’s investment approach and philosophy, including its asset allocation process and subadviser research.

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He replaces Daniel Solomon, who moved on from the organization at the end of March.

“John brings tremendous experience in the asset management landscape in Canada and particularly as someone who has worked in a vertically integrated organization, where you have both distribution and manufacturing,” said Fred Pinto, senior vice-president and head of asset management at NEI Investments.

“Given that we are looking to expand our footprint as a key wealth management organization, this experience is invaluable – specifically as we look to drive growth through our credit union partners.”

Aviso Wealth recently celebrated its first anniversary after Credential Financial Inc., Qtrade Canada Inc. and NEI Investments joined forces in 2017 to launch an independent wealth management firm. The combined entity positions the credit union industry (which includes more than 300 of the member-owned co-operatives in Canada) to compete more aggressively with some of Canada’s largest financial firms, including the Big Five banks.

Aviso, the Portuguese and Spanish term for “advice,” is jointly owned by Desjardins Group and a limited partnership composed of five provincial credit union centrals and CUMIS Group Ltd. Desjardins and the limited partnership each hold a 50-per-cent stake.

CUMIS is owned by Central 1 Credit Union and Co-operators Life Insurance Ltd. Combined, Aviso Wealth has more than 500,000 clients across the country with approximately $60-billion in combined assets under administration and management. NEI Investments manages approximately $8-billion in assets.

Prior to joining NEI, Mr. Bai held senior executive roles at Scotia Wealth, HollisWealth and Goodman and Company Investment Counsel Inc., where he worked closely with the financial adviser community in Canada and research investment teams.

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“The investment landscape is changing, and the role of the chief investment officer has to change as well,” Mr. Bai said in an interview. “It’s no longer just about running [investment] models and optimizing risk scenarios. Never before have investors had so much choice in their investment options for their retirement dollars, so the CIO of the future needs to engage with their investors.”

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