A life lives on
In all the shuffling involving Onex Corp. and RBC Wealth Management, an important element is getting lost. The name of the former investment firm, Gluskin Sheff + Associates, is disappearing even though it’s at the heart of this deal. Onex bought Gluskin Sheff from the founders, Ira Gluskin and Gerry Sheff, for $445 million in 2019 and made the team of financial advisors part of Onex.
That deal didn’t last long. Four of the Gluskin, Sheff stalwarts were recently preparing to move to RBC. Rather than let them go, Onex decided all of the forty-one people at the firm should be allowed to go to RBC. Are you with me so far? Then, in the most inexplicable part of the whole transaction, according to the Globe and Mail, Onex said RBC didn’t have to pay anything for picking up the entire crew. How this make sense I do not know.
My real point about this is that I want to salute Ira and Gerry, who have long since retired. I never met Sheff, but I did interview Ira Gluskin a few times and he was one of the oddest and brainiest people I’ve ever interviewed. I was ushered into a boardroom for one of our sessions so I took the seat to the immediate left of the head of the table. I assumed Gluskin would take the top chair. Instead, he walked down the other side of the table and chose the last seat of a dozen about ten meters from me.
As if that weren’t crazy enough, he slid down so far I could barely see his curly-haired and bespectacled head above the table. He was, however, articulate, and enjoyed making wry remarks about specific players on Bay Street as well as the business community in general.|
But such views will not be his main legacy. Instead it will be the philanthropy of Gluskin and his wife, Maxine Granovsky Gluskin. Their first major donation was for the 1994 showing of French impressionists at the Art Gallery of Ontario from the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia. Their gift was a reputed $1 million. The couple has since made bequests to the University of Toronto, the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the United Way, among many others. So Ira, I’m sorry to see the fabled firm’s name disappearing, but your name will live on in the community. And I’m sure that’s how you’d rather have it.