AGAWA Partners

Who We Are

History

The AGAWA partners have a long history as practitioners of pension fund investing. We have over 50 years of cumulative experience working as fiduciaries and principal investors in meeting a pension promise. We know that paying a pension requires the delivery of absolute investment returns. We have concluded that the best way to deliver more consistent long-term absolute returns is through better portfolio construction and the application of business cycle insights.

We work together with select, like-minded client practitioners to accomplish this objective.


The Partners

Jacques Demers

Chairman & Managing Partner

Jacques brings to AGAWA over forty years of experience in investment, law and pensions, both in Canada and globally. Jacques co-founded one of Canada’s most respected business law firms, Meighen Demers (now integrated within Norton Rose Fulbright), and pioneered a number of “first-of-a-kind” corporate and project financings and infrastructure-related investments. A private investor since 1987, Jacques was an initial investor in Cashway and Porter Airlines, among others.  He served, between 2008 - 2015, as a member of the Senior Executive Leadership team of Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System (OMERS) and President & CEO of the OMERS fund’s strategic investment division, OMERS Strategic Investments, where he managed a $3 billion portfolio for OMERS and $500 million portfolio for its investment partners and led a number of innovative, strategic investment initiatives for the OMERS fund, including the USD$12.6 billion Global Strategic Investment Alliance infrastructure fund, OMERS Ventures program and Airports Worldwide. Jacques is a respected speaker on investment, legal, and policy matters. He has addressed institutional investor gatherings in Asia, Europe and the USA; including the United Nations Session on Financing Sustainable Ocean Development in New York, the Roundtable Japan in Tokyo, the Sustainable Ocean Summits in Halifax and Hong Kong, and the Ocean Economy and Future Technology Conference in Muscat.

Education

UNIVERSITÉ LAVAL
Bachelor of Laws, 1976

MCGILL UNIVERSITY
Studies in economics, history and philosophy, 1971-73

Activities & Affiliations

  • York University, Board of Governors Member

    • Chair, Investment Committee

    • Chair, Pension Board of Trustees

  • Sovereign Wealth Fund Institute, Advisory Board Member

  • World Ocean Council, Board of Directors Member

Professional Designations

  • Barrister & Solicitor, Law Society of Ontario

  • Avocat, Barreau du Québec


James Donegan

President & Managing Partner

James has over thirty years of investment experience in the pension management and investment dealer industries. For the last twenty-one years he worked as an investor in public market roles at OMERS.  From 2007 - 2015 he was President of OMERS Capital Markets and ultimately responsible for all publicly traded investment portfolios including equity, fixed income, currency, hedge funds as well as all aspects of risk management.  He was a member of the OMERS Executive Senior Leadership team.  In his role at OMERS he implemented a complete separation of portfolio Alpha and Beta in the capital markets portfolio, established the process of risk budgeting and created the risk-balanced approach to managing portfolio Beta that will be the investment strategy pursued by AGAWA.

Education

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
M.A., Economics, 1984

CARLETON UNIVERISTY
B.A., Economics, 1983

Activities & Affiliations

  • IIROC, Independant Director

  • Archdiocese of Toronto, Investment Committee Member

  • Sterling Maple Corporation, Chairman

Professional Designations

  • Chartered Financial Analyst

  • Chief Compliance Officer


Robert Weston

Partner, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Bob has over thirty years of experience in institutional investment management. Bob spent six years with OMERS as Senior Vice President responsible for developing and securing co-investor relationships to invest with OMERS in selected asset classes.  Prior to OMERS, Bob spent eleven years as Managing Director of the Toronto office of State Street Global Advisors (SSGA) building this institutional investment manager to over $40 billion in assets under management. Prior to SSGA, he spent fourteen years with the Toronto office of Bankers Trust Company as Vice President Capital Markets and earlier, Vice President Corporate and Government Finance. 

Education

UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA
M.B.A., Finance, 1973

UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA
B.Comm. (Hons), 1971

Activities & Affiliations

  • Benefits and Pensions Monitor, Editorial Advisory Board Member


Cary Blake

Partner, BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Cary Blake brings three decades of senior level investment management expertise to AGAWA having previously worked at Vanguard Canada, RBC Global Asset Management, Barclays Global Investors and State Street Global Advisors.  His extensive experience includes business development and client servicing in both the institutional and retail client segments.  Additionally, Cary has extensive portfolio management, trading and product development experience during which he was responsible for the management of assets in excess of $50 billion, with a focus on Exchange Traded Funds, derivative based strategies, and global multi-asset class strategies. Cary has served as a director of the Canadian ETF Association, Habitat for Humanity GTA, and Black Hills Estate Winery. 

Education

IMD
Executive Leadership Program, 2006

UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA
B.Comm., 1987

Activities & Affiliations

  • La Bouche Rouge (Paris), Advisory Board

Professional Designations

  • Chartered Financial Analyst


Elliott Airhart

Partner, Head of Global Business Cycle Research

Elliott has nearly twenty years of investment experience, fifteen of which were spent in public market roles at OMERS. Those roles included Portfolio Manager of a large external funds portfolio; co-manager of a business cycle-oriented multi-asset class portfolio; leadership of the Capital Market Research team that provided all investment groups with general insights into the nature and character of business cycles and the associated long-term drivers of asset class returns; and, within the Risk Management group, conducting research that broadened the understanding of short-term business cycles as part of long-term secular ones. His work on business and secular cycles led to the creation of an annual Secular Outlook that laid out a five-year expectation for economic and market developments.  He was a voting member of both the Asset Mix and Global Allocation Committees.  As well, he conducted the research that led to the implementation of an economic-risk balanced asset mix of the kind that will be pursued by AGAWA. Elliott continues, in his role with AGAWA, to pursue research into both business cycle developments and leading indicators of economic growth and inflation.

Education

UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO
PhD Candidate

UNIVERSITY OF WINNIPEG
B.A., Psychology, 1974

UNIVERSITY OF MANITOBA
B.A., Political Science, 1972