Of Hand Made Carpets and Independent Investment Advice

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I am just back from a Mediterranean cruise. One of our stops was in Istanbul Turkey. As many have on a tour of Istanbul, I went to the hand woven carpet presentation and was wowed by the time, care and pure craftsmanship that went into making these carpets.

The owner of the company was presenting and I noticed I did not hear an accent. I am terrible at knowing accents, but I did notice a lack of an accent. It turns out this gentleman went to school in Etobicoke and University in Toronto before going back to run the family business. Watching North Americans being pitched by their own accent was interesting.

I learned more than I ever imagined about carpets. He was able to make those in attendance understand that the personal touch is needed to produce great long lasting carpets. These hand made carpets will last for generations.

At dinner that night a woman at my table was a retired American living in California. She started asking about my business. She is frustrated because the close personal relationship she had with her investment advisor turned in to an “investment factory”. I pointed out that unfortunately Canada is on the same trajectory.

They lied

She searched and moved her nest egg to another firm who guaranteed they did not work that way. She states that they lied.

She was at the carpet demonstration and was able to clearly see that, like machine produced carpets, she has been forced into the equivalent in the investment market. Like these machine made carpets she knows her investments will not last and does not meet her needs.

She compared the investment pitches she has endured to what the carpet store owner stated that his industry is combating: machine made knock-offs from other countries that said “hand made in Turkey”. It diminishes their industry and does not meet the needs of the buyer. If makes it almost impossible for the carpet buyer to find true hand made Turksih craftsmanship.

Are Independent Advisor’s Extinct in the United Sates?

She said that all of the American advisors and their firms claim they will personally invest her money exactly to her individual needs. There is no way to differentiate these pitches from real independent advisors. 

She has decided that "if American independent advisors are not an extinct breed yet they should be put on a protected species list." (I love how she thinks)

Her Question

“How do I find an investment advisor who delivers the equivalent of a quality hand made Turkish carpet?”

Not coincidently, as soon as I got back in Canada I read that ScotiaMcLeod has cut its number of advisors. I worked there for years and I know many advisors who were let go. Many are advisors who truly care about their clients and have done a great job for them, some for decades.

I have written about the loss of Independent Advisors several times in past blogs and there is much more to come. That loss of independence is one of the major reasons that I left the bank owned brokerages.

I reached out to a few who were ‘downsized’ and they told me that many advisors who were let go, in spite of running very large practices, were not investing the way the bank wanted. This is not to say these advisors were not investing correctly for their clients’ best interest, just not the way the bankers want.

On April 28, 2016 Tim Kaldaze of the Globe and Mail wrote an article "ScotiaMcleod cuts deep"  and hit the nail on the head when they published that ScotiaMcLeod’s focus is the same as the other banks and stated:

“The growing emphasis on fees and book size has also raised questions about the quality of advice offered to clients and whether advisers are rewarded for looking out for their best interests.”

Well said.

It’s all about the bank operating more effeciently by decreasing their offering and service. It wasn’t well masked in the following email sent to the Globe and Mail (quote from the same April 28, 2016 article):

“As part of our total wealth strategy to provide more integrated and tailored advice to our clients, we are making some changes to better align all of our wealth management services and operate more efficiently in each of our markets,” a spokesperson wrote in an e-mail.

Your Independence Matters

Terry McIntyre is an independent investment advisor with Manulife Securities and can be reached at: 905-846-9060, ext.3838, email: Terry.McIntyre@manulifesecurities.ca or website: www.terrymcintyre.ca