STEP ONE - GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Many times when I meet an individual, and when they know what I do professionally, they will ask me a question along the lines of "so do you think it's a good time to buy bank stocks?" or "should I buy long bonds or short bonds, what's the best rate you can get?"
I always think, "how can I answer that for you when I'm not deeply familiar with your unique set of circumstances?"
What are you trying to accomplish? What is most important to you? What is your family situation? What are your work/business/activity goals/concerns etc.? How can we address all those areas with the appropriate amount of risk and highest certainty of achieving the desired outcome?
What makes me different from many advisors is that my skill level and experience enable me to comprehend those with more complex situations than most. For me the more "moving parts" an individual or family has the better. This allows for more opportunities to realize immediate and on-going "easy wins" through comprehensive thinking and integrated strategies. The benefits produced generally include tax savings, effective investment strategies, and the peace of mind that comes from being listened to.
STEP TWO - PERSONAL WEALTH SPREADSHEET
Do the math.
Many clients have commented to me how much they value having all their financial resources, current and expected, mapped out onto a personal wealth spreadsheet. For many this one page view answers their primary question, "will I have enough?" or "how much income can I expect?" or "how much will I be able to give?".
I used to use financial planning software for clients. I don't use them anymore as even the best programs are not flexible enough for an individual with multiple resources and an assortment of objectives. They are good for relatively simple cases where you just want to enter a few numbers and punch out a cookie-cutter result.
But what happens next year? Everything changes over time. Most plans have to be completely redone. My method maintains the history and shows how behavior patterns are shaping the future. The benefit from this unique part of the process is a progressively growing confidence and certainty about your financial big picture and the ability to ask, “what if…?”.
STEP THREE - SELECT INVESTMENT STRATEGIES
When good comprehensive thinking is applied first, and the "easy wins" have been rooted out where available, the optimal investment strategies become obvious.
My toolbox is full. I consider a variety of specific investment strategies for clients seeking liquidity, security, tax-advantaged income, growth, non-correlated asset classes, tax shelters, individual stocks, ETF’s, etc.
We focus on creating excellent portfolios of strategically combined private investment managers.
What are the advantages to you of using a privately managed service?
- It is fee based: Investment decisions are based on merit; transaction commissions are not an issue.
- Due Diligence: CIBC Wood Gundy Investment Consulting Service ä (ICS) investment managers must pass a stringent systematic review process. They are continually monitored by a highly qualified due diligence team. This provides you with the peace of mind that you are working with excellent managers whose performance and capabilities are closely scrutinized.
- Customization: If you are a corporate insider, or otherwise wish to exclude specific securities from your managed portfolios, ICS enables personal portfolio customization. Furthermore, the tax effects of your portfolio are uniquely yours. These are benefits not available through mutual funds or ETF’s.
- The fee is generally tax deductible for non-registered accounts: Management expenses charged internally on mutual funds and ETF’s are not available for deduction against current income for non-registered portfolios. Commissions charged on transaction-based accounts are also not available for deduction against current income. These costs do reduce your capital gain, but only 50% of capital gains are taxed. A fee-based service generally enables a full deduction against current income for non-registered accounts. This is especially valuable if you are in the top tax bracket. You should consult with your tax professional regarding your specific situation.
What process was used to select your equity managers?
What is the system and frequency under which they are monitored?
Does your process benefit from the strength of over $110 billion in assets under management and the access that provides to a wide variety of the best and brightest equity managers?
STEP FOUR - IMPLEMENTATION
One of my favorite quotes is, "all success in life is follow-through". Isn't that so true? If we never act on our ambitions, goals, dreams and plans nothing ever happens.
I hired a consulting firm to interview ten of my most valuable clients in order to be mroe clear on what I did well and where I needed to improve. They came back with three consistent observations; (1) I was able to integrate a complex combination of assets at a level they had not seen before, (2) I applied innovative strategies, and (3) I was able to inspire confidence in them to implement those strategies.
I believe that successful implementation happens when you have thought things through and the way forward is clear and sits well with one's common sense. We all need to know that those areas or objectives that are most important to us are properly addressed and understood. Being content that you are using the best tools available helps too.
The depth and experience of our team's administrative professionals provides an implementation experience that is as seamless as possible.
STEP FIVE - EVALUATE RESULTS
Aside from the standard firm-based reporting, our customized results tracking begins at the end of the third month from where we started. Here we get together to review the early progress and to ensure the different strategies are being properly implemented. At this point we provide a custom binder with tabs for the personal wealth spreadsheet, results tracking, all accounts, outside assets such as real estate, stock options, etc., Wills, Power of Attorney, insurance policies, and taxes. We currently call this "the Black Binder". It may be a little old school, but it works.
A few years back I was able to motivate a client to completely follow through on this concept. With our help he put together a comprehensive binder covering not just his assets with us, but all those he had elsewhere. He even followed through on getting a new Will done. Sadly, he passed away the next year. In a subsequent meeting with his lawyers and trustee, the trustee leaned forward to me and said, "Grant, I loved the black binder, it was all there". When you think about it, shouldn't we all have our financial affairs this well organized? Do you?
Results tracking is customized for each client. Expectations versus what is realized is defined and recorded. The personal wealth spreadsheet is updated as the years that pass are shaded to grey and the sharpening forward view is adjusted accordingly.
STEP SIX – REVIEW AND ADJUST STRATEGIES
Life never stands still, and things often happen unexpectedly. So we adjust. But when you are clear on what the destination is, it's easier to make adjustments. How can you otherwise?
Our life experience changes with time. Work, family, health, investments, income, etc. all vary unexpectedly. The best strategies to move forward also change.
Our investment process benefits from a 20 person due diligence team, with over $110 billion under management, who monitor our selected private investment managers on a constant basis and make adjustments as needed.