On July 23rd, five days after he went missing on Lake Joseph, the body of GMP Capital co-founder Brad Griffiths was recovered by divers. Adam Adamou, who knew Griffiths since the early 1990’s, says Griffiths passing closes a certain chapter in the development and evolution of Bay Street.
I’m not sure that I’m the right person for this article. While I’ve known Brad since the early 1990’s, Brad was not an easy person to really know – at least to those outside of his inner most circle of dearest friends and family members. While Brad had many, many friends on Bay Street and in corporate Canada, I always believed that many of these friends were familiar with one version of Brad, the carefully crafted and well-tuned charismatically affable Brad Griffiths that had his smile always on and your first name embedded in his mind as if you’d been friends forever.
There were other versions of Brad, however.
There was the the highly competitive Brad, that as far as I’m concerned re-launched the “bought deal” and the “special warrant” into the Canadian market. This Brad is the one that I was most familiar with since first meeting him at his then start-up of a firm that proudly carried his name, circa about 1994. Brad was a fierce competitor and during his prime, he was the best investment banker that I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with or against. He was unbeatable, and for the most part, irreplaceable.
When he left GMP in 2000, even though I worked for a competitor at the time, it was like watching Wayne Gretzky move to the Los Angeles Kings; the move made sense for a number of reasons for both parties, but it just didn’t feel right. Even in the post-GMP era, Brad was a tough competitor, and one of the personal highlights of my career was scooping the lead in a “bought deal” that was all but done by Brad’s partners at MGI Securities back in 2005. I did it by using some of the lessons that Brad had taught me over the course of my career. This really isn’t a big deal, but to me, going head to head against Brad on a deal, and scooping the lead from him, was something that I was tremendously proud of at the time, and still am.
Brad was also a mentor to many of the younger up-and-coming members of the Bay Street community. Whether you worked at a buy side fund or even at a competing dealer, Brad provided leadership by example, and a whole slew of successful traders, bankers, analysts and corporate CEO’s owe a measure of their success to Brad’s words and acts of wisdom and courage.
The deepest and most intimate levels of Brad Griffith’s life and personality were kept private and available only to his closest friends and family members. However, I saw glimpses of this part of Brad on very rare occasions: sometimes vulnerable, sometimes troubled, often compassionate and caring – but this door would often close before I could pierce the image that he wanted to promote professionally. I never made it into that small group of people, and I’m fine with that. The lesson here, to be blunt, is that our jobs are competitive and dynamic and often full of bull manure. It’s right and good for us to be protective of our closest relationships and to keep our work persona at a distance from them, protected and secure, a touchstone that grounds us during difficult times and keeps us grounded during times of elation.
I hadn’t talked to Brad in person in well over a year at the time of his sudden passing, and at times I’d go even longer between meetings, drinks or discussions with him. But now that he’s gone, it feels like a certain chapter of the development and evolution of Bay Street has closed forever… It was a chapter that I enjoyed immensely, and now that it’s ended, I’m not sure that the rest of the book is worth reading.
Rest in peace Brad. You will be missed.
Adam E. Adamou