Most of the time when advisors or the topic of financial advice appears in the media, it’s to shine a light on those who have taken advantage of their clients and bilked them of their assets, or to point out the “outrageous” fees that advisors charge for services.
There’s very little to provide balance and demonstrate the difference advisors can make in people’s lives.
It’s with that spirit in mind that The Globe and Mail, in partnership with SHOOK Research, introduced the inaugural ranking of Canada’s Top Wealth Advisors this year.
For the first time, investors across the country can look to a list of the best 150 advisors, chosen in a method of the highest integrity. At the same time, it provides the thousands of advisors in Canada a standard to which they should hold themselves and aim to achieve.
Here are 10 articles that captured the journey in getting to, and celebrating, Canada’s Top Wealth Advisors in 2021:
There has been no widely available way for investors or the investment industry to see what excellence in financial advice looks like in this country. That’s why the Globe and Mail, in partnership with SHOOK Research, launched Canada’s Top Wealth Advisors. “Choosing a financial advisor can be difficult for investors who are looking for personalized service combined with industry expertise. This new ranking will help Canadians understand what excellence looks like in this field,” says Garth Thomas, managing director, business and financial products, at The Globe.
Investors now get advice from robots, Reddit users, and beyond. But it’s hard to beat expertise based on experience and wisdom. To that end, here’s the inaugural list of the country’s most effective 150 wealth advisors. SHOOK Research developed the ranking, which is based on in-person, virtual, and telephone due-diligence meetings and a ranking algorithm that includes client retention, industry experience, review of compliance records, and firm nominations. Neither The Globe nor SHOOK Research received compensation in exchange for placement on the ranking.
Being a trusted source of calm during a financial storm is just one way Canada’s Top Wealth Advisors provide value to their high-net-worth clientele. And, given that the 150 advisors on our list manage more than $100-billion in investment assets, there are clearly plenty of Canadians who are happy with the specialized services these professionals provide. “Our clients rely on us for so many things – not just the investment piece,” says Mary Ellen Byrne, vice-president, portfolio manager and investment advisor at TD Wealth Private Investment Advice in Halifax. “Everything is interconnected. They want to know about when to take CPP and OAS, and if it’s going to get clawed back. It’s not just stock picking.”
Five of Canada’s Top Wealth Advisors – Alexandra Horwood at Richardson Wealth Ltd. in Toronto; Elizabeth Petticrew at BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. in Vancouver; Maglan Naidoo at Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management in Edmonton; Maili Wong at Wellington-Altus Private Wealth Inc. in Vancouver; and Jay Smith at CIBC Wood Gundy in Toronto – discuss their approach to managing clients’ assets.
All the advisors in the ranking – regardless of where they are in the country or at which firm they run their businesses – are creating value for their clients by having shifted their practices away from just stock picking to a more holistic wealth management approach that includes investment, tax, legal, business and estate planning, and even philanthropy. In addition, these advisors are also approaching their work more like therapists, applying behavioural economics to their relationships with clients to keep them on track with financial goals.
Like any good academic, Jay Smith, first vice-president and senior portfolio manager at CIBC Wood Gundy in Toronto, who has a Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Toronto, did some research during the pandemic-driven stock market drop early last year. He found that in the past eight pandemics, the market bottomed at the top of the first wave and was significantly higher a year later. “I said, ‘I doubt this will be any different. So, the worst thing you can do is sell,’” he recalls. “Plus, we have great companies with great growth and great earnings that aren’t going to fall apart. And they’re going to be around when the pandemic is gone.”
There are only 17 women in the inaugural ranking of Canada’s Top Wealth Advisors – a reflection of the low female representation in the investment industry overall. Karen Harrison, senior vice president and portfolio manager with the Harrison Group at Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management in Calgary, says many women don’t even consider entering the profession. Nevertheless, she wants women to know their gender won’t limit their career potential. In fact, she believes the opposite is true. “We connect on a different level with our clients than maybe the men do, and that’s a really wonderful thing,” Ms. Harrison says.
The COVID-19 pandemic has led Canada’s Top Wealth Advisors to embrace technology to maintain client relationships and overall productivity. That’s leading to some permanent changes in the way they interact with clients and staff and how they manage their businesses. “How we serve clients has changed,” says Darcie Crowe, senior vice-president and portfolio manager with Crowe Private Wealth at Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management in Vancouver. “We still provide individualized advice, but we have adopted more digital practices in how we interact with clients. Those technologies [such as videoconferencing] are now accepted widely.”
Equity markets are on a historic bull run and likely have more room to roam – although not without dips, corrections, and even a short-lived appearance of a bear along the way. That’s largely the view of four of Canada’s Top Wealth Advisors. Todd Degelman at Wellington-Altus Private Wealth Inc. in Saskatoon, Rob Tetrault at Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management in Winnipeg, Shawn Jerusalim at CIBC Wood Gundy in Toronto, and Nader Hamid at iA Private Wealth in Pointe-Claire, Que., shared the strategies they’re using to capture equities’ upside while managing their risk, too.
Dealing with investors’ emotions during market turbulence takes trust, communication and a solid plan
Advisors know that investors’ emotions can run high when markets get volatile, and guiding clients during these times is especially important now as more are growing concerned about a pending market correction. Some of Canada’s Top Wealth Advisors say the key to keeping clients’ emotions level is to have a strong relationship based on trust, constant communication, and a solid portfolio structured to weather market storms by focusing on the long term.
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