Whether it’s Bay Street, Wall Street or Granville Street, the staff of Beacon Securities is equally at home.
As one of the few regionally-based investment dealers, Beacon Securities specializes in retail investment services, as well as institutional sales and trading. The company employs 20 people in its Halifax office and has another 20 staff in regional offices across Canada, including Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver and other parts of British Columbia.
Not only is Beacon Securities one of the only, and oldest, independent investment firms of its kind in Nova Scotia, but it’s also one of the more successful family businesses. Investment professional Lonny Holland started the business in 1988, after years of working in the financial industry at a regional and national level. Four years ago, his son Daniel Holland returned to Nova Scotia to join his father’s business as executive vice president. Now the goal is to grow the company across Canada and expand its offerings to clients.
Daniel Holland says his father still works at Beacon Securities part time and plays a strong role in managing the company. Daniel is continuing the tradition of offering a full range of investment services to clients and investment companies.
“We offer our clients a full-service investment team and we’re not limited to pushing specific products. We also have a research and analysis arm that collects data and research about Nova Scotia and Atlantic companies to provide to institutional investors,” he explains.
Beacon Securities also specializes in institutional fixed income and equity sales and trading, with a particular knowledge of the Atlantic region and the investment potential here. Beacon’s institutional equities division provides investment advice on Nova Scotia and Atlantic-headquartered companies listed on the stock exchange.
“Our niche is knowing what’s going on in the Atlantic market. We work closely with fund managers who want our take on specific companies as investments. We also connect institutional and private investors with investments here and in the rest of the world. We believe we have a perspective that helps national investors understand the region,” Holland explains.
Daniel Holland has lived all over the world, but chose to return to Nova Scotia because of its quality of life and manageable size. He spent his school years in Halifax and at boarding school in Ontario, followed by an undergraduate degree at McGill University. After graduation, he worked for McGill doing marketing and business development, mainly for its alumni products. He went on to open the Montreal office for the Halifax-based Information Technology Institute (ITI), for which he did a lot of sales and recruiting in Toronto and Ottawa.
Holland then moved to the United Kingdom, where he worked for the Bank of Montreal in sales and trading on the international money markets, and later RBC Dominion Securities, in equity sales of research on Canadian-listed companies to European fund managers. He got his MBA from INSEAD, near Paris, and then re-entered the workforce back in London as a management consultant, focusing on implementing strategic programs for large organizations.
It was at this stage that Holland recognized the need to get traction in his career. He wanted to become a partner in a business and start working toward more work-life balance. He knew it was time to return to Canada.
“It cost a lot of money to live in London and I was commuting 45 minutes to an hour each way for work. There came a time when I wanted to own a piece of the business in which I was working. I wanted to have my own house and I was fed up with spending all my money just to live. I decided to move back to Canada, but I wasn’t sure where I wanted to be.”
Holland organized meetings in Toronto, Montreal and Halifax to explore business opportunities, but it was the offer from his family business that captured his attention.
“It just felt right. I saw an opportunity to come home to Nova Scotia and take up the torch, to expand and promote the business my father had built. I jumped at the chance to be part of running the company and to take it to the next level.”
Holland moved back to Canada and took his bicycle out to British Columbia. He cycled across the country before returning to Halifax to start work at Beacon Securities.
“The first step when I got here was to determine a strategic direction for the company and to explore new areas within the financial sector where we could expand. My goal is to be able to be a broker of good ideas in business and capital.”
Holland says Beacon Securities is already known for providing top quality advice on investment grade companies in Atlantic Canada. The company mainly deals with more established investments, but as Beacon grows he wants to do more work with private companies that are looking for private equity to take their operations to the next level.
“We want to help the promising, smaller companies in Nova Scotia, and throughout the region, find the financial support they need to grow and diversify into solid investments.”
Holland says he intends to keep diversifying the company and expanding its offerings and employee base. “We’re like a three-legged stool. If market conditions means that one leg is not as strong, the other legs support the weight.”
Holland lives with his wife and young daughter in downtown Halifax. He walks to work every day and regularly take to his bike to cycle the roads in the outskirts of the city.
“I spend my free time doing things I enjoy, not commuting. I still feel connected here. I’m one flight away from most major cities, so I can be where I need to be for business and to visit friends.”
Holland says he tells the Nova Scotia story to anyone who will listen.
“I explain that we’re a national investment dealer, with headquarters in Nova Scotia. Being outside the main financial centre means you’re not always following the herd. We’re removed from the frenzy so we see things others might not.”
He truly believes being in Nova Scotia is an advantage, and Beacon’s clients echo that sentiment.
“We’ve had clients tell us working with Beacon Securities is the same as working with a company just across town. They see us just as much.”
So, when it comes to working Bay Street from an office on Granville Street, Holland confirms the decision to base his business in Nova Scotia is truly worth the investment.