Insights From The Globe And Mail Advisor Forum: Strengthening Investor Relations

Bernice Cheung

How should financial advisors prepare their clients’ portfolios for an upcoming economic shift? What will the evolving wealth management industry look like in the future? These are just some of the many questions that experts in the field explored at last week’s Globe and Mail Advisor Forum: Strengthening Investor Relationships

On behalf of the Environics Research Financial Services team, Minjung Koo and I attended the event to engage in a discussion with experts, including keynote speaker Dr. Gary Shilling – the famed economic consultant and investment advisor, ranked by MoneySense as the third best stock market forecaster, right behind Warren Buffett.

a cautionary note was emphasized throughout – a prediction that a recession will likely hit in Q4 of 2019

Positioning for risks and opportunities (panel discussion)

The first panel discussion of the day included Chief Economist & Strategist at Gluskin Sheff + Associates Inc. David Rosenberg and President & CEO at Women in Capital Markets Camilla Sutton. While the discussion focused on a range of topics, a cautionary note was emphasized throughout – a prediction that a recession will likely hit in Q4 of 2019, and advisors should prepare client portfolios accordingly.


Adapting to thrive (panel discussion)

The second panel was a great conversation on the future of the industry. Panelists Rona Birenbaum, Founder of Caring for Clients; Albert Tseng, Founder of Moonspire Social Ventures; David O’Leary, Founder of Kind Wealth; and Susan Silma, Head of Regulatory Business Practices at Sun Life Financial Investment Services highlighted the increasing importance of ESG (environmental, social and corporate governance) and SRI (socially responsible investing), CRM and disclosing information in everyday language, as well as the female and Millennial investor segments. All of these factors are contributing to major changes in the financial advisor landscape, and the panel concluded that wealth managers who neglect them will be losing out.


Global drivers in focus (keynote presentation)

With his keynote presentation, Dr. Gary Shilling described the analysis that led him to conclude that a recession is coming, placing the odds of one occurring at 2/3, with a 1/3 chance of a soft landing. The prediction, according to Dr. Shilling, is based on economic indicators such as:

  • Several revised down predications of world GDP growth from the IMF.
  • Stagnant real wages among G7 countries over the last decade.
  • Slowed economic growth in China due to the impact of a trade war with the U.S.
  • Federal concerns about deflation (as consumers wait to buy products at cheaper prices, inventories begin to stockpile; Japan is an example of such an issue).
  • The potential of stock prices causing an overexaggerated economic downturn (when the dot-com bubble burst, for example, GDP only declined 0.3%, while NASDAQ declined a whopping 73%).

He concluded his presentation, saying “Cash can be a very good investment sometimes” – a statement that holds especially true in such uncertain times as these.

Our overall takeaway from the forum was that awareness and flexibility are becoming more and more critical – not only to manage an investment portfolio, but also to thrive in our current business environment. As the topic of the second panel discussion suggests, those who can adapt under any circumstance will be the ones able to ride big wave of the future.

It was an extremely insightful experience, learning from the economic experts at this discussion; and we’re always excited for opportunities like this that enable us to better take the pulse of the industries we serve. As we strive to be forward-thinking when understanding our clients’ needs – be they financial institutions, advisors or investors – we continue to engage outside industry experts.

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