Steps You Should Take When Selecting An Investment Manager
Are you looking to work with an independent investment manager, one who has the skills and expertise to look after your or your family’s investments and manage them for you? Many people are embarrassed or even scared to talk about wealth management with an investment manager—but working with a financial professional, or even simply setting up an introductory call to speak with someone, could help ease your financial stress.
The key is to start talking… but there are a myriad of options and working out which manager is the best fit for you can be daunting. Here are questions you should ask before, during and after your introductory investment consultation with a manager to help you make this important decision.
Before Your Introductory Investment Consultation
This may seem counterintuitive, but before selecting an investment manager, you need to have an idea of what your investment needs and goals are, as this question will be asked. While there are managers that are appropriate for common situations (generalists, so to speak), there are also managers who specialize in meeting specific investment needs, such as providing a monthly stable stream of cash flow for retirement or to fund philanthropic goals.
Most managers are available for an introductory investment consultation, during which each party can explore whether the other is a good fit with regard to such factors as minimum account size, types of investments managed, the manager’s level of experience, and your investments needs and goals.
Here are some basics to think about prior to your initial meeting:
- What are your investment needs and goals?
- How much time do you have to meet the goals, if applicable?
- Do you have income needs from the investments?
- Do you have preferences as to what types of investments are used to meet your goals? These can include equities (e.g. common stocks, preference shares), fixed income (e.g. bonds), and more.
- Do you have preferences as to the type or size of companies to invest in?
- Do you have preferences as to the geographical location of your investments? For example, do you only wish to invest in Canada?
During Your Introductory Investment Consultation
Once you have considered these questions , you may wish to consider the following due diligence questions to ask during your initial meeting:
- What is the investment manager’s investment philosophy—the investment manager’s set of beliefs and principles that guide his or her decision-making process?
- Has the manager’s investment process been consistent over a considerable period of time? How long have clients stayed with the investment manager?
- What types of investments will your portfolio comprise? Is the portfolio customized for you—or will you and another client have the same portfolio? What is the active share—i.e. what percentage of stocks in your portfolio will be different from those in the generic benchmark index?
- What is the frequency and type of communication between the manager and its clients? Can you speak directly to the individual portfolio manager who is making fundamental decisions regarding how your money is invested and managed?
- Is the investment manager transparent about how research is conducted? Where is the investment research coming from—is it in-house?
- Is the investment manager transparent about fees? Ensure that your portfolio manager explains clearly how the fees work and that there are no unexpected additional fees, such as entry and exit, lock ups, and special charges.
- What is the minimum account size the investment management firm would require for a private client?
After Your Introductory Investment Consultation
Prior to moving forward with additional consultations or a decision, it is important to go over the investment manager’s qualifications and registration status, as well as conduct more research on anything you are unsure of after the meeting.
The Bottom Line
In short, there are two elements to consider when selecting an investment manager—the “product”, and the “service”.
The value of the “service” comes from an investment manager regularly monitoring your portfolio, providing advice on rebalances, assessing portfolio risks, and communicating regularly with you.
The value of the “product”, on the other hand, arises from an investment manager applying his or her investment methodology and underlying research to help you actually reach your investment needs and goals. This requires the investment manager to be disciplined in an approach that has produced consistent and reliable results through various market conditions, and is the real value of what you are paying for. Unfortunately, most firms invest far more in sales and marketing than in proprietary investment research, or the “product.” Make sure your chosen firm prioritizes research over sales—possibly one of the key advantages of working with a boutique or independent investment management firm.
This content is provided for general informational purposes only and does not constitute financial, investment, tax, legal or accounting advice nor does it constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities referred to. Individual circumstances and current events are critical to sound investment planning; anyone wishing to act on this content should consult with his or her financial partner or advisor.