Alberta wealth manager urges leadership, eschews trendy products

Wed Jan 30, 2013 3:44pm EST
Email This Article |
Share This Article
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
| Print This Article | Single Page
[-] Text [+]

* Says too many asset managers follow the crowd, play to niche markets

* Managing client expectations key to long-term success

* Sees opportunities in corporate bonds, emerging markets, Europe

By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Comparing wealth managers who exploit niche markets to tobacco companies who make "light" cigarettes, the head of investment at Alberta's largest bank said it is time the industry started leading investors rather than feeding them trendy products.

"Far too many firms are cranking out whatever advisers and clients are asking for at the moment, and we've ended up with thousands and thousands of funds, most of them are quite mediocre," said Sheldon Dyck, president of ATB Investor Services, the wealth management arm of ATB Financial, Alberta's state-owned bank.

"To me that's like making light cigarettes - you're doing it because it will sell and you're filling a market niche. But are you actually doing the right thing for people who are counting on you to be a professional and give them advice and steward their money properly?"

The rant against fellow Canadian wealth managers who churn out investment products in response to consumer demand may not win Dyck a lot of friends in the industry, but he says he does not care. He believes he has a fiduciary duty to the bank's 635,000 customers and growing the C$8 billion ($8 billion) in assets under management is the priority.

The refusal to follow industry trends cost ATB some clients when Dyck did not buy into the run-up in income trusts a decade ago. But he said the long-term performance of ATB's Compass Portfolio Series, debuted 10 years ago, proved that customers were wrong, and the attrition was "temporary."   Continued...