A lesson a client taught me

Not that long ago I received this note from a long time client:

“I was accustomed for 50+ years to expect to make a decent income next year, and the year after that, etc.. But after retiring, I realized that I will never again earn any income from my work. That is quite a scary feeling to adjust to. Post retirement, my sole source of feelings of safety is reliance upon you as my advisor, to look out for my interests.”

I’ve been thinking about what he said — and, most importantly, the meaning behind those words ever since; Read More »

Are You Doing Everything You Can to Keep Your Data and Assets Safe From Cybercriminals?

We recently asked investors to share their concerns regarding their finances and investments. Cybercrime was high on the list. It’s a valid concern. Hardly a day goes by where we don’t read or hear about a security breach somewhere in the world. But what is not always discussed, is what that represents.

A recent report from the latest Economic Impact of Cybercrime report by the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies and McAfee, estimates that cybercrime may now cost the world almost US$600 billion a year — with financial institutions being a prime target.

The threats of phishing, ransomware and software vulnerabilities are real and they’re here to stay. Criminals are getting smarter and more sophisticated every day. But the same can be said for cybersecurity Read More »

The Minute the Subject of Investing Comes Up, the Conversation Turns to Fees

That’s okay, I get it. It should be a completely transparent process. You should understand what you’re paying and why. You should understand what you’re getting in return; and therein lies the problem.

For some reason, we seem to have difficulty ascribing a value to the knowledge, experience, expertise and advice an Investment Advisor provides. Maybe it’s just too intangible, not black and white enough — I don’t know. All I do know is, the fairness and validity of fees are endlessly questioned and debated — which, as I said at the top of this blog post, is fine.

But here are some thoughts I think bear at least some consideration, thoughts I think are worth adding to Read More »

Talk To Me

Thanks to a 24-hour news cycle, more cable channels than any of us will ever have time to watch, the Internet, social media and search engines, there’s a ton of information out there, on just about every subject you can think of, including everything to do with money — wanting it, earning it, saving it, losing it, investing it, spending it, sharing it — you name it, somebody’s writing about it.

Everyone, it seems, has an opinion, lessons learned, tips, suggestions and how-to’s and wants to share Read More »

How advisors can really help investors

About a year ago I wrote a post about how the investment industry got it wrong when, in the years of double-digit returns, performance was the way in which we chose to measure and distinguish ourselves — rather than on the real value we provide — actually counseling clients.

Recently I came across an article — The Winners’ Game — written in 2011 by Charlie Ellis. It’s as relevant today as it was then.

Ellis, for those of you who might not be familiar with him, is an American investment consultant knownRead More »

There’s no shame in being wrong

Don’t know about you, but I’ve never met or read about anyone who’s never been wrong about anything, even experts and the most savvy among us.

Yet we’re always hesitant to talk about those instances. We’re eager enough to discuss our successes but aren’t as willing to open up when things don’t go exactly as we’d hoped, planned or expected — regardless of what it is — a hiring choice, a business decision, a purchase, a relationship, an Read More »

The responsibility for investors’ success does not rest solely with advisors

A while back I attended a seminar put on by the Rotman School of Management. The speaker was Mo Lidsky, a well known investment professional and author. One of the books he’s written, “Partners in Preservation: How to Know Your Advisor is Truly Protecting Your Wealth” is one I’ve read and recommend.

During the question period that followed his presentation, someone in the audience asked: “How would I know when I meet somebody that they’re an advisor I’d want to have?”

If you’re thinking that asking about how long they’ve been in business, their investmentRead More »

Think only the uber-wealthy need estate and trust experts? Not necessarily …

Oh, it’s a common misconception. I hear it from clients, people I know and even strangers all the time. “I don’t have that kind of wealth. I’ve made my brother or my best friend of 40 years or my accountant my Executor. I know them, I trust them, they’re perfect. It’s fine.”

And if your estate is straight forward and requires little more than distributing funds to your beneficiaries, you could be right. But if you’re worth at least $1 million, and yourRead More »

It’s The Value You Get Beyond Returns That Deserves Your Attention

I’m always fascinated when I overhear people talking about investing. Most of the time they’re strictly focused on performance. Frankly, it’s short sighted, but the truth of the matter is that’s the way it used to be.

For decades, when so many of us were enjoying consistent double-digit returns, all we talked about was performance. Ads for investment advisory firms and mutual fund companies concentrated solely on the numbers. “Performance” was how we positioned ourselves, how we Read More »

Periods of Uncertainty Don’t Have to be Stressful

As I reflect back on the year just passed, with its turbulence, uncertainty and angst — and look ahead to 2017 and what it might bring — I can’t help but think of one of my favourite quotes, from John Kenneth Galbraith: “We have two classes of forecasters: Those who don’t know and those who don’t know they don’t know.”

2016 was one of those years that left a lot of us scratching our heads. It was a year that didn’t make sense. It started off rocky and investors were pessimistic and fearful. Yet Read More »