October 28, 2021 By: David Pett
Blake and Judy Goldring remember their late father, C. Warren Goldring, ahead of his posthumous induction into the Investment Industry Hall of Fame

Remembering a Titan

12 min read

Blake and Judy Goldring remember their late father, C. Warren Goldring, ahead of his posthumous induction into the Investment Industry Hall of Fame.

To hear Blake and Judy Goldring talk about their late father is to know how much they loved and looked up to him. And why wouldn’t they? He was the epitome of success and his influence on their lives was greater than any other man they’ve known.

But it’s not the long list of accomplishments that stands out most to me in their recounting of C. Warren Goldring’s legacy as co-founder of AGF Management Limited. Instead, it is what he stood for and how he treated others that makes the greatest impression.

“He was a very humble person and we admired him immensely,” says Judy, while Blake, sitting beside her in one of AGF’s boardrooms in Toronto, nods in agreement. “It’s a quality that is often lost when people become successful, and he always remembered his roots and didn’t take his success for granted.

To be clear, these aren’t just the sentiments of a devoted son and daughter. To anyone who knew him, Warren without question ranks among Canada’s most respected business and philanthropic leaders of the past 50 years. His posthumous induction into the Investment Industry Hall of Fame this month is only further proof of his considerable lifetime achievements.

Born and raised in Toronto two years (almost to the day) before the stock market crash of 1929, his early years were marked by the Great Depression and deeply influenced by his parents' ardent support for the community they lived in. His father (Blake and Judy’s grandfather), Dr. Cecil Charles Goldring, made a particular impression as Toronto’s director of public education during the 1950s, and he was one of eight individuals who founded the charitable organization that would go on to become the United Way in Toronto.
Warren Goldring and Allan Manford
Ken Gray, Allan Manford, Bruce Sutherland, C. Warren Goldring

But Warren wasn’t one to rest on his family’s laurels. As a teenager, he was the quintessential student athlete, starring both in the classroom and on the gridiron for the Lawrence Park Collegiate Panthers. In his 20s, he went on to reach the heights of higher learning as a graduate of the London School of Economics. Of course, those accomplishments were only steppingstones on the way to more, including important stints at the beginning of his career with brokerage firm Fry & Co. and with Sun Life Assurance Company. Later, he helped to draft the Kimber Report, a set of recommendations from the Office of the Attorney General that remains at the heart of securities legislation in Ontario.

“I remember reading about the Kimber Report when I was in law school and realizing my dad was part of the committee that wrote it,” Judy says. “Until then, I’m not sure I really appreciated the scope of his influence on the financial industry.”

Warren’s philanthropy, meanwhile, was just as impressive. Alongside significant contributions over the years to organizations such as the United Way and World Wildlife Fund Canada, he sponsored the Goldring Chair in Canadian Studies at the University of Toronto and supported the Canada Institute at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington and the C. Warren Goldring Annual Lecture of Canada-U.S. Relations.

Still, Warren’s crowning achievement was most obviously AGF, the asset management firm he co-founded with Allan Manford in 1957 and quickly built into a mutual fund powerhouse. AGF now boasts more than $41 billion in global assets under management and celebrates 65 years in business this coming April.

Blake describes his father as a “man of action,” but says Warren’s impact on the firm’s growth had just as much to do with his foresight and commitment to innovation. At the time the firm’s namesake American Growth Fund was launched, for instance, the idea of investing in a managed portfolio of stocks and/or bonds was hardly mainstream, and Canadians who did have exposure to financial markets mainly owned domestic assets and nothing more.

“He was a real visionary,” Blake says. “He was constantly surveying where the industry was headed next and was ahead of his time when it came to investing in international markets. And not only with respect to our flagship fund. AGF was also the first Canadian firm to offer an All-China fund and we were among the first to launch an Asia fund. In addition, we were active in Europe back at a time when some people may have gone there for vacations, but most weren’t looking at it as an investment opportunity.”


The second oldest of Warren and wife Barbara’s five children, Blake took over from his father as AGF’s chief executive officer in 2000 and learned firsthand what it means to run a successful business – while never losing sight of the importance of family and friends. It’s a balanced approach to life and business that he got from his father, and Blake recalls two stories that stand out during our conversation as testaments to his dad’s firm sense of priorities.

The first, as Blake tells it, took place on a family vacation to Portugal in 1971. Just as they were about to pile into a bright orange Volkswagen van and drive south to the Algarve from Lisbon, Warren received an urgent call from one of his colleagues back in Toronto. As it turned out, AGF’s stock was plummeting on the news that U.S. President Richard Nixon was severing the link between the U.S. dollar and gold as part of his broader economic plan.

“I was only 13 years old, but I remember how dire it all seemed and my dad explaining to me that some people who had invested in the American Growth Fund were worried about the underlying value of the companies it owned,” Blake says, noting his father’s colleague wanted him to fly home immediately.

“His response was something to the effect of ‘I can’t change the U.S. President’s mind and if you can’t hold the fort while I’m on vacation with my family, we may have much bigger problems to deal with when I do get back.’ That might sound harsh, but my father always had great faith in the people he worked with and wanted to empower them as much as possible. At the same time, he clearly wasn’t willing to sacrifice his time with us, either.”

Blake shares another story, about Warren’s 60th birthday lunch at the revolving restaurant near the top of the CN Tower in Toronto. This was on Oct. 21, 1987, two days after Black Monday, the worst one-day selloff in equity market history.

“We rented an airplane to fly around the Tower with a banner saying, ‘Happy 60th, Dad. Love, the Kids,’” Blake says. “All the while, you can imagine the anxiety he was feeling given all the tumult that week. You’d never know it, though. He wasn’t going to miss that lunch and we watched this plane go round and round at least five times, if not more.”

Judy also remembers that birthday lunch fondly, but she has her own stories of Warren, both as a father and as a mentor during the early part of her career. She says his impact on her professional future was almost instant once she started working at AGF during summer break as a teenager.

“I worked in the mail room, also in accounting and even tried my hand at the trading desk,” she says. “But what I remember most about the summers I worked here growing up was how much Dad loved his work and how passionate and proud he was of AGF. I knew then that I wanted to be a part of it when I got older.”

That wasn’t a given, Judy adds. Despite what some might believe, it was never pre-destined that Warren’s kids would succeed him at the firm, and both she and Blake earned their stripes elsewhere before joining AGF. Even then, Judy jokes, her father wasn’t the one who hired her. It was Blake who finally did.

“I said to him after three years in a private law practice, ‘Dad, I’m ready to join AGF,’ and he said, “We don’t have any need for in-house counsel and never will — it’s too expensive.’ Fortunately for me, securities regulations only continued to grow more challenging over the next few years and soon enough Blake was the one who brought me in. And the rest, as they say, is history.”

50th Anniversary Cake Cutting
W. Robert Farquharson, C. Warren Goldring, Blake C. Goldring and Judy G. Goldring

Nowadays, as AGF’s President and Head of Global Distribution, Judy finds herself right in the thick of the business, playing a key role on the executive team led by Kevin McCreadie, AGF’s CEO since 2018, and on the Board of Directors, chaired by Blake. She believes AGF operates in a much different environment today than it did when her dad was in charge, but one thing that hasn’t changed since then is the company’s adherence to the virtues that he held most dear.

“Whether it’s our seminal move into alternative assets during Blake’s time as CEO, or our current expansion into private credit and venture capital under Kevin’s leadership, it has always been an imperative that we continue to innovate just as our father did,” Judy says. “It’s the right thing to do for the company, and it’s the right thing for our investors.”

Blake agrees wholeheartedly, and he’s pretty sure Warren would, too.

“We’ve had a lot of great people work here through the years, but the group we have today, starting from the executive management team right down through the rest of the organization, has a great sense of unity, drive and purpose,” says Blake. “If our father was alive today, he would be absolutely thrilled and cheering us on. That was just his nature.”


Ultimately, Warren Goldring was the kind of man that people, even 11 years after his passing, still can’t say enough good things about. He left an indelible mark on his family, his friends and his community, all while building a reputation as one of the Canadian investment industry’s true titans. A Hall of Famer, indeed. Only a child’s love for their father may be more obvious than that.
50th Anniversary Cake Cutting
The Goldring Family

David Pett is Director, Investment Communications. He serves as editor of the AGF Perspectives blog and hosts Inside Perspectives, AGF’s podcast on financial markets and investing.

The commentaries contained herein are provided as a general source of information based on information available as of October 20, 2021 and should not be considered as investment advice or an offer or solicitations to buy and/or sell securities. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy in these commentaries at the time of publication, however, accuracy cannot be guaranteed. Investors are expected to obtain professional investment advice.

The views expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of AGF, its subsidiaries or any of its affiliated companies, funds or investment strategies.

AGF Investments is a group of wholly owned subsidiaries of AGF Management Limited, a Canadian reporting issuer. The subsidiaries included in AGF Investments are AGF Investments Inc. (AGFI), AGF Investments America Inc. (AGFA), AGF Investments LLC (AGFUS) and AGF International Advisors Company Limited (AGFIA). AGFA and AGFUS are registered advisors in the U.S. AGFI is registered as a portfolio manager across Canadian securities commissions. AGFIA is regulated by the Central Bank of Ireland and registered with the Australian Securities & Investments Commission. The subsidiaries that form AGF Investments manage a variety of mandates comprised of equity, fixed income and balanced assets.

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