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Former money manager gets some outside help

Investor Duncan Stewart says it's better to have someone else manage your money.

Duncan Stewart, 48

Occupation

Research director at a consulting firm.

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The portfolio

Includes shares in Canyon Services Inc., American International Group Inc. Family Dollar Stores Inc., Live Nation Entertainment Inc., and Chartwell Retirement Residences.

The investor

From 1993 to 2004, Duncan Stewart was an award-winning portfolio manager specializing in technology stocks. Currently, he is the research director covering the technology, media and telecommunications industries for a large consulting firm.

How he invests

"I learned that although I could do a good job investing other people's money in a large basket of 30 to 40 stocks, when it came to my own investments, I did much less well," Mr. Stewart says. So he decided to turn over all of his investments to his wife, Barbara Stewart, a discretionary portfolio manager at a wealth management firm.

"If you have time to do the research on a diversified basket of stocks and the discipline to be prudent, you may be able to 'roll your own,' " Mr. Stewart declares. Otherwise, it's better to have someone else do it for you, he believes.

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"Yes, hiring a professional adviser costs money in fees. But I look at my own case, and the fees I pay are one-tenth – maybe even one-hundredth – of what it would cost me in hours of time to do my own research and portfolio management."

The approach of the wealth management firm is the same value-oriented and capital-preservation strategy Mr. Stewart used when he was managing money. But the firm's managers look at a wider range of investments and, as a result, his portfolio includes securities he would never have thought to buy.

"I have a hunch that even if I did spend all that time doing analysis and stock selection, I still wouldn't match what my investment counsellor achieved on my behalf."

Worst move

In the old days, he loved his stock market orphans too much, doubling down on unpopular small-capitalization stocks that never recovered – such as Inex Pharmaceuticals Corp.

Best move

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"Outsourcing the management of my portfolio."

Advice

For many people, do-it-yourself investing may not make sense since it comes with the cost of time lost to more rewarding activities. Moreover, an adviser can present them with ideas they would not typically consider, and make sure they are not going overboard in the risk department.

Special to The Globe and Mail

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