Jarislowsky Fraser co-founder steps down as CEO

Stephen Jarislowsky will step down as CEO of Jarislowsky Fraser, the money management firm he co-founded almost six decades ago.

Mr. Jarislowsky, 87, will remain chairman of the Montreal-based money manager and “begin to transition out of his responsibilities” as CEO as he nears retirement, the company said in an e-mail dated Monday.

Also, Pierre Lapointe was promoted to chairman of the executive committee, replacing President Len Racioppo, who chairs the investment committee, who will leave Nov. 30.

Mr. Jarislowsky has been one of Canada’s most vocal advocates for better governance. After co-founding the Canadian Coalition for Good Governance with Claude Lamoureux in 2002, he championed the creation of a national securities regulator and fought to trim CEO compensation at companies from Manulife Financial, the country’s biggest insurer, to auto-parts supplier Magna International. He also pushed Canadian banks to separate the posts of chairman and CEO to improve accountability.

“If you look at the major corporate governance trends in Canada, one of the chief architects of all the changes you’ve seen in the last few years is Stephen,” said Mr. Lamoureux, former head of the C$117 billion (US$117 billion) Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, Toronto. “His persistence is one of the reasons banks started separating the posts of chairman and CEO, and other companies followed. He thinks an independent board adds value.”

Mr. Jarislowsky isn’t giving interviews Tuesday, his assistant, Janice Burnett, said by telephone.

The company, which runs about C$37 billion ($37.2 billion), remains “committed to the disciplined, low-risk, bottom-up approach that the firm has taken throughout our 57-year history,” Mr. Jarislowsky said in the statement. “In the coming months, the firm will announce additions to its investment team to strengthen the committee approach and to ensure succession at all levels.”

The announcement marks “the first step and by no means the final step of this transition,” Mr. Lapointe said in a telephone interview. “Mr. Jarislowsky is removing himself from the day-to-day operations, but he remains chairman and a very big shareholder, and he manages several accounts. He is still busy, and if he can stay healthy I think he’ll do this as long as he possibly can.”

Jarislowsky Fraser is abolishing the positions of CEO and president, Mr. Lapointe said. “We’re basically making the executive committee a little larger and more responsible for the day-to-day operations,” he said.

Fund managers Erin O’Brien, Margot Ritchie and Chris Kresic will join the executive committee, Jarislowsky Fraser said. The committee “remains empowered with the overall management of the firm,” according to the company.