Calgary group aims to make city a global finance centre
By Gina Teel, Calgary HeraldOctober 30, 2009
Calgary - already a key hub in energy finance - wants to position itself as a global leader beyond oil and gas.Photograph by: Dean Bicknell, Calgary HeraldCalgary - already a key hub in energy finance - wants to position itself as a global leader beyond oil and gas.
Over the next five years a new advisory committee loaded with financial sector heavyweights will leverage Calgary’s cachet as an energy capital to bolster its status as a global financial centre among other industries.
The Financial Sector Advisory Committee will focus its efforts on diversifying Calgary’s capital market base to attract global firms to the city to do more than just energy transactions, officials said Thursday.
The goal of the nearly two-dozen member committee, a collaboration between Calgary Economic Development and industry leaders, is to educate and to help facilitate the growth of the financial service sector, said George Gosbee, executive director, Macquarie Capital and committee co-chair.
“The financial service sector right now is predominantly based off of the backbone of the energy sector and what we would like to do is grow it from just energy to other industries,” he said following an event in Calgary to introduce committee members.
Positioning Calgary as a global financial centre is one of several goals arising from the 10-year Calgary Economic Development strategy.
The formation of the committee is an important first step to achieving that goal, said Bruce Graham, president, Calgary Economic Development and committee co-chair.
“We believe there’s significant opportunities for Calgary to leverage the existing capital investment that is coming into this region and going out of this region,” he said.
Gosbee said the committee would also like to grow what’s called ‘assets under management’ in the city to the tune of $200 billion, excluding AIMco (Alberta Investment Management Corp. is represented on the committee.)
Having a strong buy side, or assets under management, in the city attracts a lot of companies to come looking for capital, and in turn awareness to the city, he said.
“To have $200 billion when there’s a company around the globe that needs to raise money, if it’s Boeing or McDonald’s, they’ll visit Calgary,” Gosbee said.
“You can’t buy better publicity for a city than having CEOs of companies around the world come to your city looking for capital or advice,” he said.
Among the committee’s goals are attracting a head office of a multinational bank, for instance.
However, the wealth of experience the financial service sector has in the transaction-dependent energy patch alone lends itself to plenty of other industries, Gosbee said.
In the near term, Graham said the most obvious opportunities would be taking small positions and getting a foothold in the investment banking side.
As to whether the committee envisions seeing a national bank headquartered in Toronto relocating to Calgary, Graham said a more likely scenario would be for a bank to expand its presence here because of the unique opportunities.
(All Canada’s major banks maintain western head offices here, he noted, making Calgary the banking centre of Western Canada.)
“I’m not anticipating that this is about moving a head office or a bank out of Toronto. It may be having a stronger footprint of those institutions here in the west," he told reporters.
The financial service sector already has a big footprint in Calgary, he said, employing more than 22,000 people.
Over the past 10 years, 80 per cent of the financial service sector jobs created in the province were occurring in Calgary.
Mayor Dave Bronconnier said financial services is vital to any growing economy and a key step to harnessing future growth for the city.
“When you look at the expertise that exists in the Calgary marketplace, it’s something that we want to leverage and use that to strengthen the economy in southern Alberta,” Bronconnier said.
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Exciting! Let's hope it bears fruit.