Interviews and Reviews

Francois-Xavier Morency – Lessons from a Private Investor

francois xavier morency lessons from a private investor

Founder & Partner of MP Ventures & Trusts 

About Francois-Xavier Morency

Morency is a seasoned professional with international experience in business development and equity investments. He is currently a private investor and family trustee at MP Ventures & Trusts and a shareholder for GNPNL.CA. He has successfully developed and managed complex international businesses—both in transportation and engineering. He holds a degree in chemical engineering from Université de Sherbrooke.

Francois-Xavier Morency is the recipient of a number of awards including multiple Schlumberger awards. In addition to his rich experience in business development and management, Mr. Morency is also a sommelier who holds the Advanced Wine Certificate from both the International Sommelier Guild and the WSET.

Describe how you got into private investment?

I had a successful career in the corporate world and got a start advising entrepreneurs in my field of expertise. It naturally grew from there. There were a few attempts that did not allow the portfolio to grow, but eventually, it became more sizable. These companies and opportunities are still evolving. Ultimately, being comfortable with your style of investment and your desire for involvement orient your choices. The work I do now as a trustee, bequests a much more conservative approach than the one I had in the early days. 

Tell us why you started MP Ventures & Trusts

MP evolved out of BHP Consulting. BHP was created as a vehicle for a few specific businesses. Not all start-ups succeed but some do, and this led us to create this new company. Our offering with MP is coordination and management (as trustees) of small trusts on behalf of select families. We use a collaborative effort for families that might want to use something other than large firms. We prefer a very personalized service and an extremely discreet approach. We kept the private investment side out of necessity, but also to explore select opportunities for said trusts, should they arise and fit the investment risk profiles.

Where did your passion for investment come from?

I am a late bloomer in the investment field and still very much humbled by how vast it can feel. I am an engineer by formation, so math comes easy. Managing businesses made me aware of the different components required for success – but more importantly what can derail a business, and what can make it stagnate. As my career progressed, I have been more and more exposed to the intricacies of business financing. I discovered a real passion for it. As time passes and opportunities arise, it becomes self-fulfilling! 

What is something unique about the brand that sets you apart from your competition?

Our main differentiator for the trusts is our communication style. We spend time understanding the family dynamics and the personalities of each of the stakeholders involved (or at times the ones not involved!). The mechanics of the trusts are just that, but where we offer something unique is our ability to map and navigate such family dynamics. We are very pragmatic and deeply believe that these financial planning tools are efficient in how they are deployed, not merely in their existence.

Name the top two or three lessons you learned from your experience as a family trustee

The first one is discretion. In addition to potential public opinion, there can be many stakeholders in a Trust, and managing how information flow must be done with great care. Each situation is different, and this is where long management experience comes in handy. The second goes hand in hand with discretion: it is communication. We are not afraid of intricate family situations. How, when and if to communicate at all is key to keeping a high level of appreciation for the family Trust(s). Lastly, our clients are generally conservative, and we like this. We see trusts as a defensive financial tool and act accordingly.

What is a unique tenet/component of your business that sets you apart?

We focus on communication with stakeholders. The mechanics of the trusts are important but predictable. People and their relations to family money might require a more nuanced approach. We spend time understanding and mapping stakeholder relations with a view that having a good perspective might help ensure smooth distributions. We might discover that maintaining total peace is not possible and managing it might be necessary. This is where our personalities and our management experience are valuable. Overall, our business model makes it so that we take a few clients. They are well taken care of.

Name a necessary skill that is crucial to be successful as a family trustee

Excluding trustworthiness, I think that lateral thinking is a key one. There are many factors to take into consideration over the rhythm of the years. Our clients normally don’t want to manage the Trust (or cannot e.g. testamentary)- as opposed to not having the  knowledge to do so. That is where a broad view allows alignment. Having non-conflicted trustees threading the needle and being aware of every stakeholder helps achieve the intended goals, even if there are external influences along the way.

What is a strategy that helped you expand your business?

We take a bit of a contrarian approach to expansion and prefer to keep it small (…for Trust management). The equity side is grown prudently, mostly by using our relationships in the community. We prefer to aim for less returns in exchange for lower risks and this conservative approach is working for us. 

What motivates you to continue doing what you do?

As a trustee, I find the combination of legal, accounting, tax, investment, and stakeholder management fascinating. It stimulates my curiosity: there is always another layer to peel. It also carries great Accountability, which I find fulfilling. Lastly, it helps me establish good relations with a few people – this suits my personality best.

Anything that you are currently working on that you would like to share?

We are finalizing the marketing website for MP Ventures and Trusts. It should be ready in the next quarter. We look forward to this piece being done. As part of the trust’s management of the business, we are considering offering services as testamentary executors for select customers but are still undecided for now. We see at times that unwinding an estate has some of the same fiduciary duties as being an inter-vivo) trustee, so it might be relevant for our customers. Otherwise, we concentrate on doing well what we are managing: this is a project in itself!

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