Jamaica | Mar 7, 2023

GraceKennedy launches GK Mutual Funds

Al Edwards

Al Edwards / Our Today

Reading Time: 4 minutes
GraceKennedy’s Group CEO Don Wehby. (Photo: Contributed)

GraceKennedy has formed a number of strategic partnerships recently, which have seen it expand its offerings and fully embrace digital strategies.

Last month, it formed an alliance with Scotia Group Jamaica to compete in the general insurance space with ScotiaProtect.

Now it has formed a partnership with Trinidad and Tobago Unit Trust Corporation (TTUTC) to launch GK Mutual Funds, which will consist of three funds, namely:

1. GK US Dollar Income Fund

2. GK Jamaican Dollar Money Market Fund

3. GK Jamaican Dollar Income & Growth Fund

This really signifies the coming together of two regional players. As GraceKennedy Group CEO Don Wehby prophetically put it, “GraceKennedy’s former chairman, Carlton Alexander, is famously known to have once said, ‘What is good for Jamaica is good for GraceKennedy’ and today I will also say, ‘What is good for the Caribbean is good for GraceKennedy’.”

From left: Steven Whittingham, deputy CEO, GKFG; Nigel Edwards, executive director, TTUTC; and Don Wehby, GK Group CEO, at the launch of GK Mutual Funds at the AC Hotel in St Andrew on Monday (March 6). (Photo: Contributed)

TTUTC manages the equivalent of US$3.75 billion in assets in Trinidad and GK Capital manages over J$14 billion of institutional assets in Jamaica, making them combined a considerable player in the mutual funds space.

Some might say there are already too many operators on the mutual fund landscape in Jamaica. As at December 2022, there were eight players, 67 funds and J$309 billion in assets under management. So, how can GK Mutual Funds differentiate itself and be a winner?

Deputy CEO Steven Whittingham took that on at last night’s launch.

“In response, I’ll simply share the story of Tesla for context. In 2003, when Tesla was formed, there weren’t many markets more mature than the global car manufacturing market. There were dozens of well-established players. In 2022, less than 20 years later, Tesla’s market capitalisation was more than the market cap of the top 12 legacy automakers – Toyota, Volkswagen, Mercedes, BMW, GM, Ford, Stellantis (Fiat Chrysler and PSA), Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Nissan and Renault – combined.”

From left: Steven Whittingham, deputy CEO, GKFG; Jo-Anne Julien, chair, TTUTC; Patsy Latchman-Atterbury, managing director – GK Capital Management; Nigel Edwards, executive director, TTUTC; and Don Wehby, GK Group CEO, at the launch of GK Mutual Funds at the AC Hotel in St Andrew on Monday (March 6). (Photo: Contributed)

“As a mutual fund business, our success will be built on a foundation of:

“1. Talented asset managers

“2. Robust risk management

“3. Strong corporate governance

“4. Industry leading customer service

“5. Market forward product development.”

So, why did Grace and TTUTC form this partnership? What brought them together?

According to Wehby, forging strategic partnerships is vital to the success of any business.

“It certainly has been one of the secrets to our longevity at GraceKennedy. We have several international partners, but what is so meaningful for me about this particular partnership is that TTUTC is a fellow Caribbean-based company, with a shared outlook and shared values.”

From left: Sekou Mark, chief investment officer, TTUTC; Kerri-Ann Mew, legal officer, GKFG; Dawn Seepersad, general counsel & corporate secretary, TTUTC; Deyson Scott, chief sales and marketing officer, TTUTC; and Gregory Hines, VP – business development and principal investments, GK Capital Management, at the launch of GK Mutual Funds at the AC Hotel on Monday (March 6). (Photo: Contributed)

“The core values of the Trinidad and Tobago Unit Trust Corporation – integrity, respect, performance excellence, leadership and robust corporate governance – align with our own GK values- honesty, integrity and trust. These values are the fundamental principles that drive our respective teams’ success to the benefit of our customers, our communities, our countries and our Caribbean,” Wehby added.

Nigel Edwards, executive director of TTUTC, (which was formed over 40 years ago), added: “We at TTUTC are no strangers to blazing new trails. But we’re also conscious of the need for regional coordination and cooperation. And what we were looking for we found in GK: a partner whose commitment to thoughtful, measured engagement with the needs and ambitions of its clients matched our own.

“Our total funds under management stand at the equivalent of US$3.75 billion, an order of magnitude larger than the collective total size of the current Jamaican mutual fund market and comprises the investments of over 600,000 unit holders. You can rest assured that we are well equipped to make this partnership with GraceKennedy an extraordinary one.”


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