Vice President, Portfolio Management
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I’ve fallen in love with my career path as a Senior Portfolio Manager as our
fund is the first Canadian fund to actually offer institutional like investment
research at incredibly low fees, complete with industry leading transparency and
honesty. Previously, Canadians were at the mercy of their banks and/or financial
services advisors, whom often were massively overcharging their clients the moment
the pen ink dried. Too frequently there would be little to no candor in the reporting
practice, and to this day Canadians are largely without have the reporting tools
or transferred knowledge on how to calculate the fees they’re paying for their investment,
and often lack true transparency on how their products are actually performing.
The Crown Molding
In 2005, our fund’s Managing Director left CEO of what was then a $80 billion AUM fund to start a new fund with a mission that couldn’t be clearer. That mission is now the painting on the crown molding in our office – “to level the table in favor of investors of all income brackets by offering Canada’s best investment products with the clearest reporting practices at industry leading affordable rates.” This mission instantly shocked the industry. That same year, he recruited Canada’s brightest fund managers to join him.
As a member of our MD’s mission, I love my job as our fund is actively disrupting portfolio management by offering laser-like investment focus to individual investors and their families. To deliver on these promises, our fund uses specialty money managers who ordinarily would only be available to foundations, endowments, pension funds and very wealthy high net individuals, but because we pool all of our clients’ assets we are able to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars to these managers who then treat our funds AUM as if they are servicing one investor – not 3,000 clients.
My passion is real. In fact, I’m very fortunate to be what’s likely in the minority – that is, part of a small segment of Canadians who wake up and actually look forward to going to work.
Of my responsibilities, what really drives me is crafting the strategy that will change the dynamic for our business by educating customers on a one-to-many relationship and helping Canadians take action on their wealth. For many Canadians – after their mortgage – investment fees are the second largest family expense. Our firm has a real chance to radically change the industry and see the results of these actions on an incredibly massive scale.
Inertia < > Portfolio Management
I'm always thinking about that. It’s a big challenge because - for one thing - ironically enough, it’s difficult to educate the people to take the right actions. In many respects, I consider inertia to be our greatest competitor. As somebody once said to me, ‘inertia has its own sense of momentum.’It could be with banks, or with cable or phone packages, people are still subscribing to these services even though they know that there might be better solutions out there. People are inclined toward inertia and typically don't shop around. Funny enough, people will go out of their way to save two cents on a liter of gasoline, but they won’t spend half that time thinking about whether they’ve got the right asset mix, or the right investment relationship. Frankly, it’s mind blowing.
I spend the other half of my day on mano a mano business development. Given my network and industry expertise, I remain very active in client meetings, new accounts and general client services. Our firm was specifically built to change the landscape for the mass affluent for generations to come. Specifically, our practice is focused on targeting the midlife professional for whom the bulk of their net worth is locked in their primary real estate. These clients may send their kids to private school and have a net worth between $250K - $999K. For this bracket our firm provides the best services available – and frankly, they don’t have that many options. People who have a million plus have a lot of options, and we do have clients with millions invested, but like I said: We’re really here to change the asset management landscape for the mass affluent and not the high net worth.
My Advice to Future Portfolio Managers Based On 25+ Years of Experience
Being able to network in a purposeful and meaningful way can be the most important skillset you can ever learn! Start today and take action by both taking and giving back to your network. And, as soon as you start, never stop.
My most memorable mentor once told me “if somebody, somehow - whether it's a family member, a random LinkedIn connection or even a friend of a friend offers to help – just say yes and follow up.” You couldn’t imagine how many times I’ve done this to obtain opportunities that normally would be reserved for people that are just in the right place at the time. If you don’t have a strong enough network of these influencers, then start seeking these opportunities today and never stop building.