1. Tell us about your background and what made you gravitate towards the private markets?
In 2014, I decided to leave my role at Manulife Bank, and pursue “self employment”. At that time, I was working with Financial Advisors across the country, educating them on the power of incorporating banking services into their businesses as a way to further wrap their arms around their clients and provide a wholesale, one stop solution for them. As I began to explore the opportunities in the market, it became clear to me that there was a large need for the alternative options that are provided to the clients, via our industry. I believe at the core of my business is the genuine desire to help clients diversify away from the volatility of the public markets. We have fabulous options now for clients to invest in, as well as access to wonderful Portfolio Managers who further provide excellent options for clients to limit their public market exposure. And those portfolio managers (Lonsdale Newport for example) allow me to continue that concept of wrapping up the client in a manner where we can assist with all their investable assets, where that is suitable.
2. What are some of the biggest changes you have seen since you started?
Initially, perhaps the largest change was the regulatory change that allowed the “eligible” investor to participate in our marketplace. That certainly opened the opportunity for private capital to a wider audience. But perhaps more importantly, was the continued growth in the scrutiny and due diligence of not only the investments but the people offering the investments. If our desire is truly to “help” investors, the concept of also protecting them from an unscrupulous operator, must be high on the list as well. And finally, I believe the investment companies themselves have taken on a greater responsibility to be good operators. We now have truly excellent and reputable firms offering investment opportunities to clients where we truly have an expectation of a good result. Perhaps it is simply a matter of the maturing of the space we are in, that is attracting better options for our clients. And happy clients, earning a positive (as advertised) return, grow our business with referrals. The biggest change in my business personally, is learning to work with others for referrals versus trying to do the business on my own. Once I understood the concept of farming versus fishing, my business really grew. I could catch one fish at a time or farm with many other advisors and reap a crop of investors from each.
3. What is the one thing you want someone unfamiliar with this space to know?
Perhaps the most important message we need to get out is that “everybody can” and perhaps, almost everybody should own a little piece of Private Wealth in their portfolio. It does seem like there is a barrier around our offerings, where the public perceive that “this can’t be something I can access”. Perhaps they feel it’s the domain of the ultra wealthy still. But we offer an excellent option for diversification particularly inside a TFSA or RSP where the client is simply holding the investment for growth over several years pre-retirement. Almost always the cost of holding our investments inside a registered account is less than at a major financial institution. And this is a benefit that is now accessible for the majority of the investors we will encounter. Starting with a piece of their registered accounts, will lead to further investment opportunities via their cash accounts or perhaps corporate accounts.
4. What are your ‘go to’ features that you look for when completing KYP on a given product for suitability consideration?
a) Cost of Capital
c) Business Plan (Item 2)
For me, the first and foremost consideration is “don’t lose the capital”. I look for entities that have a track record, where the investment is underpinned by some hard assets or other form of security and where the management team is someone with whom I would invest my personal money. The cost of capital is a smaller consideration but that (in our firm) is dealt with by our Due Diligence Officer. If the cost is too high, the investment is rejected for our firm. Management is something that is important to me and I can say that before I place business with a firm, I personally will have had a face to face with someone from the management team or ownership.
5. Share something interesting about yourself that most people don’t know.
Ah well…..we don’t want to give away too many secrets here do we? I did spend a number of years in the music industry where Nashville was like a second home. There are tons of fun memories of those days but one that sticks out was dinner and Christmas carols around the tree with one of The Eagles and his wife at a private home. Or perhaps watching the funeral of President George H Bush and seeing an artist perform a song that the President had personally requested, being sung by someone who I’ve had dinner with in their home. OK…..that’s enough LOL.