I began writing this blog in January 2015 because I thought that I might be able to offer an out of the mainstream perspective to the world of wealth management, portfolio strategy, financial markets and global economics.
I eat, drink and breathe this stuff 24/7 (except, perhaps when I have been on the ice, which as a goaltender, demands total focus or the team playing in front of me may not be so thrilled but may also explain my "defensive" nature).
To be totally upfront, it is a way to stay in front of our clients as well (because, for those interested or on the financial literacy "learning curve", it is hopefully helpful and relevant) and from the feedback I get, it appears to be appreciated.
My opinions are developed from over 35 years of trading, risk management and assisting families with building appropriate investment strategies to ensure that they achieve their long term goals.
I have learned a great deal in that time and I have also learned that not everything is as it may appear or others want you to believe. Behind most mainstream investment advice is a sale whereby the seller will financially benefit from their own advice. I like to think that over the years, I can sniff out those who have ulterior motives, but unfortunately, it is not an exact science.
At High Rock, we are building a business that we hope offers a new type of transparency, where we are only trying to sell our experience. Our clients (old and new) are a testament to that and obviously, they appreciate it and they trust us.
Trust is a difficult thing these days and it should be. In the investment industry where there are many levels of financial literacy, many at the client level are without even the rudimentary elements:
We had to gently tell an elderly woman (for whom we offered a wealth forecast free of charge, with no obligation) that she would likely run out of cash next year. She has no interest in selling her home or her cottage. Emotionally attached to both, she stated outright that she was not prepared to do so. She also had outstanding credit card debt that was on a card administered by the same bank where she held her RRIF (Registered Retirement Income Fund). Nobody at that institution had picked up on the fact that she was paying outrageous interest rates on the credit card debt and earning (after fees and costs) virtually nothing on her RRIF.
Do we want her as a client?
Of course. Will she have to pay us a fee? Yup (otherwise we wouldn't be in this business for long). However, we would also help her manage her affairs to ensure that her net worth (well over $1,000,000) was providing her with the best possible lifestyle that she could have (and definitely at a lower net cost than she was paying her bank!) and working harder at getting her better and prudent risk-adjusted returns (in her investment strategy) than she was getting from her current mutual funds.
It pains me to see how people get taken advantage of because they put such faith in financial institutions (where, by the way, I have spent a reasonable part of my career) that have been around for such a long time that they get automatic trust when they actually can do such a horrible job (and folks who do not know any better get taken advantage of).
So readers, thank you for "listening" and hopefully understanding (and keep asking questions). Financial literacy is not an exciting topic at the cocktail party or the dinner table, but people do need to know that there is a new and better way to guard against being taken advantage of and it is not a huge leap to contemplate a well-constructed plan. So talk it up!
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Scott Tomenson,CIM Managing Partner, Chief Investment Strategist