James Osler, Origin Merchant Partners, Principal

James Osler, Class of 1993

“It (U of T MBA in Professional Accounting, now MMPA) was a good eye opener and taught me how to assess risk, solve problems effectively, and gave me a credible foundation for a variety of potential business careers.”

Head Shot OslerJim Osler is a Principal at Origin Merchant Partners, an investment banking boutique he co-founded in 2011 with a group of senior banking professionals including a fellow alumnus of the program, Andrew Muirhead.   In less than four years from its founding, Origin Merchant Partners completed over two dozen transactions across a variety of industries, clients and borders making it one of Canada’s most successful independent M&A practices to start up in recent years.  “In a complex financial and business environment, clients’ need trusted, high calibre investment banking advice and services that are free of competing products and interests,” notes Jim.

Jim has spent the last 20 years advising clients on large public and private M&A and financing transactions and credits his University of Toronto degree in opening up this career in finance.  After completing an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree at Queen’s University, Jim looked for career opportunities in the Toronto financial district and liked the notion of combining the weight of an MBA in Professional Accounting (now MMPA) with the practicality and experience of a professional services co-op.  Earning honours at the University of Toronto’s MBA in Accounting allowed him to do just that. “In the midst of a recession, employers weren’t tripping over one another to hire English Lit majors,” Jim notes, “while the program gave me an opportunity to gain both valuable technical and practical experience.” 

Working at Ernst & Young during his work terms gave Jim a solid start in the financial services industry.  “It was a good place to learn how to assess risk, solve problems effectively, and gave me a credible foundation for a variety of potential business careers.”  Ernst & Young offered Jim a full-time job upon graduation where Jim earned both a CA and a CFA designation.  At Ernst & Young, Jim worked on assignments with the general corporate audit, taxation, forensic, and litigation-support groups, before moving into the corporate finance group where he gained exposure to corporate advisory and financing business. 

After completing the CA qualification period, Jim explored job opportunities with investment banks and accepted an offer from CIBC World Markets working in their corporate finance group covering diversified industrial and consumer products and services companies.  “It was a great time to join CIBC,” says Jim, “the business was in transition, and CIBC was being rebuilt into Canada’s leading investment bank by an entrepreneurial team of bankers willing to support young professionals and reward creativity and strategic thinking.”  Jim became a Managing Director in the Mergers & Acquisitions Group, one of Canada’s top-ranked advisory practices, where he worked on transactions such as Invesco’s $2.7 billion purchase of Trimark, the $1.9 billion Fording Coal transaction, the hostile defense of Mackenzie Financial and subsequent $4.1 billion sale to Investors Group.

In 2005 he left CIBC to start up and run the M&A team at Genuity Capital Markets, one of the most successful investment banking start-ups in Canada in the last 30 years.  Jim ran the M&A group at Genuity until the sale of the firm in 2010 to Canaccord Financial, and advised clients such as Kraft Foods, Sears Canada, UE Waterheater Income Fund, the Province of Ontario.  Jim left the merged CanaccordGenuity in 2011 to start up Origin Merchant Partners.  “At CIBC, Genuity and now at Origin I have been fortunate to work in dynamic organizations where the focus can be on clients and building a strong and growing advisory practice around unbiased, creative and high quality advice.”