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Anson Funds: Canadian Equity Hedge Fund Explores Cultural Frontiers in Texas

Canadian Equity Hedge Fund

For multinational companies to be successful, a strong understanding of culture nuances in each country where their branches are is critical.

As professor Erin Meyer recounts in the Harvard Business Review: “[A] company’s culture is often a key driver of its success. Let’s look at L’Oréal. Confrontation and open disagreement are a strong part of its corporate culture. As one manager put it, ‘At L’Oréal we believe the more we debate openly and the more strongly we disagree in meetings, the closer we get to excellence, the more we generate creativity, and the more we reduce risk.’

“Yet in many important growth areas for L’Oréal, including Southeast Asia and Latin America, that attitude is in direct opposition to a cultural preference for group harmony. A Mexican employee explained, ‘In Mexican culture, open disagreement is considered rude, disrespectful, and too aggressive.’ An Indonesian employee said, ‘To an Indonesian person, confrontation in a group setting is extremely negative, because it makes the other person lose face. So it’s something that we try strongly to avoid in any open manner.’”

For Anson Funds, a hedge fund with offices in Toronto, Ontario and Dallas, Texas, the cultural differences are less apparent. Centered in two of North America’s major financial hubs, Anson Funds’ Ontario and Texas offices have been operating for well over a decade and grown significantly over the years.

There are many practical advantages to being present in Texas. With a state GDP of $1.77 trillion annually, low unemployment, a skilled labor pool, more than three million thriving small businesses, and relatively simple state laws and regulations, the business environment is ideal. Not to mention, everyone from manufacturing multinationals to high-tech companies have noticed.

As CNET recently reported: “Tech and Texas have become intrinsically linked. It’s no coincidence that the so-called Texas Miracle, which refers to a decade-long period of economic expansion after the Great Recession, has continued as technology companies relocate or expand in the Lone Star State. The companies include the likes of Tesla, Oracle, Hewlett Packard, Apple, Google and Amazon.”

Since co-founding Anson Funds, Chief Investment Officer Moez Kassam, has sought to cultivate a bold culture at the firm. He has always believed in the aphorism, “Go big or go home” and this spirit has been well conveyed from Toronto to Dallas. Of course, this shared ambition may not come as a surprise because “everything is bigger in Texas.”

Both offices work seamlessly together on a daily basis and have formed a strong connection leading to a close-knit community. Anson Funds prides itself on this relationship and expects new bonds to be formed across borders between its professionals moving forward. This team dynamic is bound to lead to success in more than one way.

Meyer agrees: “The first imperative when managing a clash between a corporate culture and a national one is understanding the relevant dimensions along which those cultures vary. Are decisions made by consensus, or does the boss decide? Are timeliness and structure foremost in everyone’s mind, or is flexibility at the heart of the company’s success? Only after you’ve figured out where the pressure points are can you make plans for dealing with them.”

Anson Funds’ team dynamic avoids what Meyer describes as a common stumbling block: “It’s natural to feel trust and empathy for those we see daily and those who think like us. We eat lunch together. We laugh together at the coffee machine. It’s hard to feel the same bond with people we don’t see regularly, especially when they speak an unfamiliar language and have experienced the world differently.”

Of course for Anson Funds the problem of an unfamiliar language doesn’t exist between Texas and Ontario. Even more, the differences are usually exciting to discover, whether it’s a rural cattle drive or the famous Texas barbecue! 

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