Moez Kassam: Exclusive Interview with a Leading Investor/Philanthropist

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Toronto investor Moez Kassam is recognized within Canada’s financial sector as one of its leading hedge fund managers and entrepreneurs. Through another lens, he is recognized for his active participation with charities in the realms of healthcare and marginalized communities.

For Kassam, business and community are inexorably connected. Prosperity affords business professionals opportunities to give back and make a difference in the lives of real people.

Tell me a little bit about your background and how you ended up choosing your field.

Moez Kassam:
When I was a student at Bayview Glen School, my class placed in the top three schools in the TD Stock Portfolio Challenge for Ontario. This is where my interest in finance began. I went on to attend the University of Western Ontario, and later earned a Master of Business Administration degree with a concentration in finance from the London Business School.

Outside the classroom, I was eager to apply everything I had learned in real-world situations to real markets. In 2007, I co-founded Anson Funds, where we currently manage assets of about $1.4 billion. I am gratified that Barron’s and Bloomberg have both chosen us as a top-performing fund throughout the years. Anson Funds has also remained in the Top 10 Equity Long/ Short Hedge Funds list by BarclayHedge for two consecutive quarters. I believe these accolades have really put Anson on the map as one of the most prominent hedge funds in Canada and beyond.

How do you differentiate your firm from others in your field?

Moez Kassam:
At Anson Funds, we have a unique approach to investing. As a hedge fund, we continually fine-tune the balance between risk and opportunity for each of our sophisticated clients. We focus on three investment strategies: classic shorts, value longs and special situation investments. Those strategies shape the firm’s flagship fund, Anson Investments Master Fund, or AIMF.

But investment strategies are only as good as a firm’s knowledge base and the talent of the investment team. We are tireless in researching companies, securities, other investments, and in discovering opportunities that may have been neglected by other investors.

Knowledge alone won’t always make you money. A refined form of knowledge is needed, which is really wisdom. Basically, that is knowledge which has been tempered with spot-on judgment. And frankly, that is more of a trait or a learned skill than something that can trained in a classroom. You need to have a feel for trends, what is going on in the wider economy and society, and an over-the-horizon view of things.

That’s why you’ll see us networking with companies and businesspeople, engaged with thought leaders and top financial professionals. We don’t sit passively in front of a computer screen all day — we are active and highly involved with the community.

We know that philanthropy is very important to you and your family. Tell us about some of the charities that are special to you.

Moez Kassam:
We try hard to make a positive impact throughout Canada and across the globe, using The Moez & Marissa Kassam Foundation, which my wife and I manage.

From the start, our foundation has supported organizations that impact these primary areas of focus: food and shelter, healthcare and research, youth development and engagement, immigration, and arts and culture.

One example of an important healthcare initiative is the $2.5 million donation our foundation made this year to the Sinai Health Foundation. The gift will allow Sinai to bring its world-leading women and infants program to communities across India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka through the launch of a new fellowship program.

The program will recruit Moez & Marissa Kassam Fellows, who will be selected for an opportunity to learn from experts in the Frances Bloomberg Centre for Women’s and Infants’ Health at Sinai Health. The goal is to have these trainees take their expertise back to their home countries to strengthen neonatal services in their communities.

Similarly, we donated $1 million to the Michael Garron Hospital last year, and also actively support the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, SickKids VS Limits Campaign, the Canadian Foundation for AIDS research, and Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Regarding food and shelter, our foundation actively supports Community Food Centres Canada, The Fred Victor Centre, The North York Harvest Food Bank and Homes First.

We are also passionate about our involvement with Canada’s immigrant communities. Our efforts there enable first and second generation Canadians to succeed in business and society. Our support of organizations like Institute for Canadian Citizenship and Windmill Microlending help these groups prosper and thrive. We understand the needs of these communities, because we have lived their experiences and shared these dreams ourselves. We are deeply invested in their success.

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