Interview with Vincent Delisle, CFA, Managing Director, Portfolio & Quantitative Strategy; Head of Equity Research, Quebec, Scotia Bank
|A native of Quebec City, Vincent Delisle has become a key figure in the finance industry. Today he is Head of Equity Research for Quebec and Managing Director, Portfolio & Quantitative Strategy with Scotiabank Global Banking and Markets. His team’s mandate is to develop the recommended global asset allocation and stock market strategy for institutional clientele and the ScotiaMcLeod wealth management network.
Vincent began his career in Quebec City, initially as an analyst with Gestion Jean-Claude Dorval, then as a securities lending trader with Savings and Investment Trust. In 1997 he moved to Montreal to join Desjardins Securities as a portfolio strategist, an expertise that he carried to Scotiabank in 2004.
He holds a bachelor’s degree in finance from Université Laval and has been a member of CFA Institute since 1998.
When did you begin your career, and what was your first job? Was it the position you were hoping for?
Upon completing my studies at Université Laval, I was hired by a pension fund consulting firm as performance analyst. In my next job at Savings and Investment Trust, I learned a tremendous amount. For example, I handled securities lending in 1994 and 1995, just prior to the referendum, when the price for short selling Quebec bonds had shot up. The firm was subsequently sold to Laurentian Bank, which gave me the chance to trade bonds and publicly traded securities. I believe that it was this opportunity that led me where I am today. At the time, I was also commuting between Quebec City and Montreal on Monday evenings for the CFA exam preparation courses.
Did you follow a specific career plan? How often have you changed employers or jobs within the same firm? What was the main reason for those changes?
I was able to follow my career plan because each new job or employer allowed me to learn and progress. For example, when I arrived at Desjardins Securities, my objective was to become involved in portfolio strategy, so I waited for the right opportunity. The time I spent at Desjardins also enabled me to be part of the firm’s growth. When I started there, we served individual clients exclusively; we began building an institutional clientele in 2001.
Tell us more about the position you currently hold. Did you encounter any major obstacles in your career path? What do you enjoy most about your job?
As chief strategist, I lead the portfolio strategy team at Scotiabank, where our mandate involves developing the global asset allocation and stock market strategy for an institutional clientele and the Bank’s wealth management network. We are not economists; we manage model portfolios whose performance is closely monitored. When I arrived at Scotiabank in 2004, I replaced a more experienced analyst, so I had to establish my working style in the early years to gain the confidence of clients both internally and externally. I have to admit that something clicked when I started putting myself in the shoes of a portfolio manager. This perspective greatly facilitated my approach when working with clients, and it’s an aspect of the job that I particularly like. We can become immersed in the intangible facet of the research work we do, so the 60% of time spent with clients enables us to gain feedback and new ideas.
What skills do you believe someone needs in order to succeed in your area of expertise? What sort of impact has the CFA designation had on your career path?
You definitely need excellent communication skills, both verbal and written. A theoretical or academic background helps, but ultimately you have to be able to synthesize ideas and make them effective and understandable. There’s no question that the CFA designation has helped propel my career. In the early 2000s, studying the CFA curriculum allowed me to enhance my knowledge after earning my university degree.
How do you view the career possibilities in your sector? What recommendations would you have for someone setting out in this field?
The financial research sector is going through profound change, especially with the new regulatory environment in Europe. Buy-side management firms have grown considerably and increased their in-house research. So to continue to add value for client-investors, I would advise anyone wanting to enter the research sector to focus on differentiating themselves. They should identify the added value they bring to the table that sets them apart from everyone else.
A typical day for Vincent, chief strategist at Scotiabank
Interview conducted October 10, 2017 by Jean-Pierre Cadorette, CFA and Frédéric-Bouchard Labonté, CFA