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Som Seif, 34: from entrepreneurial 'itch' to $6-billion investment house

Som Seif, President and CEO, Claymore Investments, Inc., Toronto.

Claymore Investments, Inc.

Each year, Caldwell Partners International chooses 40 Canadians who were under 40 in the past year to honour for their outstanding achievements. Click here to learn more about the program, and find more winners in the list below.

Som Seif started talking with an American client about building an independent investment house in 2005. Today, he is president and CEO of Claymore Investments, Inc., with more than $6-billion in assets under management.

After graduating from the University of Toronto as an engineer in 1999, Mr. Seif went into investment banking at RBC Dominion Securities. He was good at it and was a young guy moving up through the company, but it wasn't quite what he wanted.

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"I always wanted to be an entrepreneur. I had this itch inside of me," he says.

"I gave myself a 'put,' as I call it," he adds, referring to a financial tool that involves a limited-time option to sell an asset. "I said, 'If I wake up when I'm 30 and I'm still working at RBC, I either have to be on my way to being CEO or I'm resigning that day.' I always used that as my put protection against being complacent at the firm."

He beat his deadline by three years. At 27, he founded Claymore Investments. The company, at the time, was just him and his laptop, working out of his house.

"The industry was one where I felt there was a lot of room for innovation and improvement," he says. The idea was "to create a better investment management business focused on the client with cheaper, low-cost, intelligent solutions."

What the company created was a system of exchange-traded funds (ETFs) that use the sort of disciplined approach found in indexed funds, but with some of the advantages of active management. And they've consistently out-performed the indexes, Mr. Seif says.

When he isn't busy with Claymore, he can often be found in a swimming pool. Mr. Seif is a competitive water polo player who trains three to four times a week and coached the University of Toronto team for several years. He also sits on Sunnybrook Hospital's Cancer Campaign Cabinet fundraising committee and has co-chaired the Art Gallery of Ontario's Massive Party fundraising event.

More winners:

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  • Karen Bakker, 39
  • Keith Bilous, 39
  • Leonard Brody, 39
  • Naman Budhdeo, 38
  • Michael Burns, 39
  • Craig Campbell, 34
  • Norie Campbell, 39
  • Jody Campeau, 39
  • Cody Church, 39
  • Brian Coombes, 36
  • Matthew Corrin, 29
  • Frederick Dryden, 39
  • Dominic Giroux, 35
  • Deirdre Horgan, 38
  • Kyle Jeworski, 36
  • Nicholas Johnson, 38
  • Dr. Kirsten Johnson, 39
  • Kevin Li, 39
  • Stewart Lyons, 37
  • Muhammad Mamdani, 39
  • Andy McCreath, 35, and Christian Darbyshire, 35
  • Calvin McDonald, 39
  • Duke McKenzie, 35
  • Glori Meldrum, 37
  • Michele Mosca, 39
  • Suresh Narine, 39
  • Sean O'Reilly, 36
  • John Poulos, 36
  • Andrew Reid, 34
  • Gregory Roberts, 38
  • Angela Santiago, 39
  • Bradley Schwartz, 39
  • Leerom Segal, 31
  • Som Seif, 34
  • Natasha Sharpe, 39
  • Andrew Smith, 38
  • Steve Sousa, 39
  • Marie-Pier St-Hilaire, 33
  • David Vocadlo, 37
  • Nolan Watson, 31
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