Chippingham Financial Group

Building a Comprehensive Retail Investment Platform

Chippingham Financial Group (CFG; TSX; 26) in its current form has been around for about 12 months, but during this short period of time, the firm launched a full lineup of investment products to serve the Canadian investor. The products include equities, fixed income and bonds, registered accounts such as RRSP, RESP, RRIF, TFSA, mutual funds, professionally managed portfolios, and commodity futures trading. The firm is a Type II. Introducing Broker through National Bank Correspondent Network for equity trading and RJ O’Brien & Associates Canada for Commodity Futures Trading. This amalgamation of services creates a perfect environment for any retail or institutional investor who wants the ability to invest freely within a single investment platform, and who wants access to a wide range of products and services.

CFG acquired Kernaghan Securities in November 2012, the original firm was only licensed for securities trading and portfolio management. Since then, the team has been hard at work, adding options trading, institutional trading, commodity futures trading, and leveraged loan products, creating a holistic investment environment that offers every investment product available — a very unique proposition to the Canadian investor. In order to provide better service to its clients, the firm became a member of the Toronto Stock Exchange under the number 26.

The Canadian Business Journal spoke with the founders of Chippingham Financial Group, Gary Ng and Sepoy Wong, and Sam Collins, President and Chief Operations Officer, about the firm’s unique ability to provide the whole of investment products to the Canadian investor.

Where does the name Chippingham come from? “The Chippingham name comes from my parents’ first place of business in Nassau, Bahamas. It is also the place where I learned the principles of hard work, integrity, and respect which now forms the core of Chippingham’s business philosophy. We work harder, smarter, and faster than our competition to bring unsurpassed value to our clients and brokers. Chippingham also happens to be a place in Britain which is designated as a ‘market town’, where people come to buy and sell, which is very appropriate for our business since at the end of the day all investors are essentially doing just that,” says Wong.

“What is exciting about what we are building here at Chippingham is that we are singularly focused on serving the client. We feel that many firms have forgotten that their sole reason for existence is the client and because our message is so clear, investors and traders in response are coming in droves. We also want to service the clients by providing them with all the suitable products to meet their objectives. That’s another differentiating factor for us in investment services, as most firms focus on a single product (mutual funds, etc.),” says Ng.

Thanks to the broadest possible investment product offering and a very clear philosophy Chippingham has been achieving exponential growth; what started with three people 12 months ago has now sprouted today to over 35 employees and investment professionals; and by continuing to innovate, CFG is aiming to be the preeminent retail investment business in Canada.

CFG is affiliated with National Bank Correspondent Network (NBCN) and RJ O’Brien & Associates Canada (RJ O’Brien). NBCN offers CFG’s private clients access to new issues in large and mid-cap markets combined with the Bank’s award winning research, and RJ O’Brien offers commodity clearing services and futures trading.

“Our clients’ accounts reside with NBCN, so that certainly adds to the clients’ comfort level, and we have access to everything a broker at National Bank Financial would have access to, including research, syndication and new issues, and any product available at the bank. In addition, through RJ O’Brien, commodities is quickly becoming a significant value proposition to our clients and brokers,” says Collins.

Privilege to Serve the Client

According to Ng, the investment industry has gone awry, with clients not receiving timely and thorough customer service. CFG challenges this by building not only strong relationships between the firm and its clients, but also focuses on strengthening the relationship between the broker and the back office.

“The philosophy we have created in our back office is that it is a privilege to serve the broker, and we have carefully cultivated an environment where head office is extremely sensitive to the needs of our brokers. One simple example of this is when brokers call the back office, our people actually answer their phones. This may seem like a trivial point but for us, a call going to voicemail is considered a failure. We strongly believe that by providing the best quality back office support to our brokers will allow, in turn, our brokers to pass on that quality to our clients. Very simply, we cannot let a broker down, because if we do, the broker will also let the client down, and we refuse to let the client down,” says Ng.

Chippingham’s head office is in Toronto while the owners, Ng and Wong, reside in Winnipeg. Over the last year, the firm has grown from one office on 200 Bay Street in the heart of Canada’s financial district to a total of seven offices spread across Vancouver, Calgary, Winnipeg, Ontario and New Brunswick. With this exponential growth comes the challenge of acquiring talent, cultivating this talent, and moulding the firm’s culture. CFG continuously works to raise the knowledge of its staff, to provide an unsurpassed quality to their clients, and maintain the growth.

“We are constantly undergoing evolution and mitosis through improvement. What we are cautious of is avoiding the theory of ‘groupthink’. As a management team, we are in constant contact with each other using our wonderful technology but by also being physically separated we can continue to bring a fresh and innovative prospective to our firm. By cultivating an environment of thinking outside the box and seeing different perspectives, our team is able to come together and create some very exciting and innovative solutions for our brokers and clients. We think holistically, always thinking of the big picture, while striving to keep all of our parts interconnected,” says Ng.

Canada has a strong banking system, and the independent firms generally seem to be following the banks when it comes to strategies and advice. CFG is different, and the firm creates original strategies that are able to compete and challenge the investment strategies of the banks. The goal is to become a niche player that attracts those who like entrepreneurial and free thinking enterprises, enterprises that offer a new outlook and new ways of growing wealth.

With all the investment products lined up for the customer, the company continues to grow. The firm added nearly 3,000 new client accounts, growing its portfolio by nearly 1,000 per cent in past 12 months, and many new clients ready to switch towards the CFG advantage. Chippingham Financial Group was also recently recognized in an industry survey as the fast growing independent financial firm in Canada.

Ng disagrees that the company can’t sustain this growth. While the past year was about setting up the business and its offerings, he expects the growth to continue. “Canada is a large and diverse country, and I am very positive about the industry. Opportunity exists for us at every corner and I expect us to grow at this pace for many, many years.  We have a great team, and there is no reason we can’t grow like this year over year. But to be clear, Chippingham isn’t bothered about trying to be the biggest. Our aim is on being the best and this is measured by our ability to deliver quality and value each and every day to our clients, brokers, and traders.”