Although today’s multi-enterprise corporation – the longest continually-running, family operated business in Canada – has flourishing operations in agriculture and food processing, financial services, energy exploration and property management, it all started over 150 years ago with one man’s pioneering spirit.
Despite beginning dedicated to the agricultural business since 1857, James A. Richardson made the farsighted decision to move into investment securities in the 1920s. Although the Firm’s stock brokering business was started just before the Depression, it was one of the few that remained while others floundered. Richardson utilized both his private wire system and his radio broadcasting network to promote the brokerage.
In 1939, James A. Richardson passed away suddenly at the age of 54 and his widow, Muriel Richardson succeeded him as President. The first woman to head a large corporation, she set the standard for all who followed.
Within three months of Mrs. Richardson’s presidency, Canada was at war for the second time in 25 years. Under her administration, the Firm assured the job security of any personnel volunteering for military service and lent its expertise in a number of war efforts including operating pilot flight training schools, JR grain personnel were loaned to new government departments to assist in the distribution of agricultural commodities to the allied forces, JR financial services personnel were actively involved in the sale and marketing of War Victory Loan Bonds and JR personnel lead a national effort collecting clothes for families in need overseas.
When the war ended, Mrs. Richardson once again put the needs of her personnel first, instituting a pension plan years in advance of other Canadian companies. Later, she would also put a group insurance plan and other employee benefits into place.
Muriel Richardson may have been continuing the work her husband started, but she left her own mark on the business, particularly in the rapidly-growing Securities Division. Her respected leadership even led Maclean’s magazine to recognize her as “The Shy Baroness of Brokerage.” In 1981, she was posthumously inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame – the first woman to ever receive the honour.
Financial Services Come Full Circle
By 1966, the brokerage business began operating as Richardson Securities of Canada and extended operations to 35 branches in Ontario, the Maritimes and other provinces. International offices were opened in U.S. cities such as New York and Chicago while expansion reached as far overseas as Geneva, Frankfurt, Hong Kong and the Caribbean.
A merger formed with Greenshields Inc. in 1982 created Richardson Greenshields of Canada, at the time the country’s largest investment dealer in terms of national and international presence. Many changes followed, including the transfer of headquarters to Toronto and the adoption of a highly-successful employee share purchase plan. As a result, Richardson Greenshields became one of the most coveted assets in the securities industry, and in 1996, was sold to a major Canadian bank.
Proceeds from the sale were re-invested in new ventures, such as energy. As a result of these new ventures, the Richardsons realized a need in the market for improved family wealth management.
Building upon this legacy of experience, James Richardson & Sons, Limited celebrated its return to Canadian financial services with the successful launch of Richardson Financial Group in 2003. At that time, Richardson Financial Group consisted of two distinct operative companies: Richardson Partners Financial Limited, recognized as a leader in serving the comprehensive wealth management needs of Canadian entrepreneurs and their families; Richardson Capital Limited, a private equity firm partnering with Canadian companies to transition and develop growing businesses.
In 2009 Richardson Partners Financial merged with GMP Private Client to form Richardson GMP, a powerful new wealth management firm. One of the most trusted and respected names in Canadian financial services, the Richardson family’s proven history in wealth management is reinforced by GMP Capital Inc.’s culture of innovation, entrepreneurship and experience in Canadian capital markets. Richardson GMP provides access to Investment Advisors who are amongst the finest investment professionals in Canada delivering exclusive wealth management and innovative investment services.
Today, with $30 billion under management and offices coast to coast, Canada’s most successful families and entrepreneurs are entrusting their wealth to the care of Richardson GMP.