Christine Arruda – Bridgehouse Asset Managers
- Written by: Kate Gardner
- Produced by: Zachary Brann & Cherie Scott
- Est. reading time: 4 mins
When Brandes Investment Partners changed its business model in 2013, company leaders knew they needed to hire someone to build a legal function that could support it.
With a legal and business background, as well as experience working in investment management, Christine Arruda developed a legal strategy for the firm’s Canadian operations, Bridgehouse Asset Managers. She did this as the firm went from not only selling its own investment funds but to developing retail and private investment funds for other investment firms as well.
“We are providing an independent platform for Canadian and global investment managers with institutional roots to bring retail mutual funds and private investment funds to market,” says the vice president of legal.
Brandes, which was founded in 1974, is based in San Diego and has entities with offices in Toronto, Milwaukee, Dublin and Singapore. According to Arruda, Bridgehouse Asset Managers, for which she oversees legal, regulatory and compliance matters, is one of very few independent asset managers in Canada.
“There’s been a lot of consolidation within our industry, so remaining independent has really been our focus,” she says. “It’s allowed us to continue expanding as we have.”
When an investment firm wants Bridgehouse to develop a product (a fund that can be invested in), Arruda works with Bridgehouse’s executive management and product team on all aspects of the fund formation and organization. This includes negotiating the terms of the business agreements, structuring the fund and bringing the product to market.
Once the fund and business relationship are established, she develops the legal and regulatory framework of the product to ensure it’s compliant with Canadian laws and regulations. She also works closely with the firm’s institutional team on the distribution of funds to investors, providing client agreements and ensuring ongoing regulatory requirements are met.
Many of the firm’s clients are institutional investors, she says, but Bridgehouse also works extensively with investment advisors and dealers who make investment funds available to retail investors.
Bridgehouse’s first sub-advisor under Brandes was Sionna, which joined the firm in 2006. Since then, Bridgehouse has added several sub-advisors managing funds under their brand names, including Lazard in 2013, GQG Partners in 2020, Allspring in 2022 and T. Rowe Price in January 2023. When Arruda spoke with Vanguard in February, the firm was finalizing a deal with Nuveen.
“These are prominent Canadian and global investment managers that want to offer funds in Canada and we’re the outlet for them to do that,” she says. “Our momentum has really picked up recently because of the brands we work with and the efficiency with which Bridgehouse can bring investment funds to the market.”
In addition to structuring new funds, Arruda oversees the legal and regulatory matters that arise, including executing amendments and mergers, as well as implementing due diligence, sales and marketing oversight. She’s Bridgehouse’s chief compliance officer and is responsible for developing and maintaining the firm’s regulatory compliance program and processes.
Arruda says there have been many regulatory changes over the past two years, with new client focused reforms having the biggest impact on the industry. Created by the Canadian Securities Administrators and implemented by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada and the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada, the reforms ensure more protections for investors.
“Having strong compliance ensures that the firm is not only meeting its regulatory requirements, but that it remains ethical,” Arruda says. “And as we continue to expand, being compliant allows us to more easily answer questions of prospective sub-advisors and maintain the confidence of our business partners and investors.”
Supporting her community
Outside of work, Arruda uses her legal skills in a different capacity. She was recently elected as president of the Hellenic Canadian Lawyers’ Association, an organization she’s been involved with since 2021.
The association, which comprises lawyers of Hellenic or Greek descent, works to promote legal education and advocacy in the Hellenic Canadian community and lend support to issues affecting the community. Arruda has been involved in the group’s Access to Justice initiatives, through which she and other members provide legal education and make resources available to people who otherwise may not have access.
“I’ve been involved in the Hellenic Canadian community since I was young,” Arruda says. “It’s great to share our knowledge with our community, especially young people.”
The association works closely with law students and awards several scholarships each year. Education has been important in Arruda’s life—she earned her Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Toronto, her MBA in strategic management from Wilfrid Laurier University and her law degree from Western University.
While in law school, Arruda worked for UBS Global Asset Management on legal and compliance matters. She then worked for a boutique law firm before joining Bridgehouse in 2014. Now, after nine years, she’s preparing for what’s next. She announced in February that she was leaving Bridgehouse for a legal position at another firm in the industry.
“I’ve found the work I’ve done here engaging and meaningful,” she says. “We’ve been able to take on complex projects with everyone around the table. I’m so grateful for the opportunities I’ve had here and feel incredibly fortunate to have worked with such an ambitious, talented and gracious team.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Winter IV 2023 Edition here.
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