A special thank you to Randall Howard, Verdexus portfolio investments, who stepped in as guest speaker when Drew Green, Indochino, was unable to attend. Randall is a senior serial technology executive committed to building the leading technology firms in Canada. Randall shared several critical take-way point for the evening:
Focus: When Randall and the founding group of his succesful tech buddies donated a large sum of cash to get Communitech off the ground, they did not have any idea how big it would get. Randall said, "It took a group of committed individuals to make the technology industry thrive in Canada."
Important Partners on the Journey: By coincidence, in the room was the investment banker who figured out a new financial structure to raise the capital for Randall's first tech company. The banker was a Waterloo engineering graduate too. There were many Waterloo graduates in the room. They certainly have figured out the secret sauce for producing winners. Randall emphasized how the profesionalism of the banker made the big difference in his career.
Giving back: Having reached the heights of success in his business life, Randall is now focussed on giving. He has won Angel Investor of the Year which really underlines how seriousy he takes helping the emerging Canadian entrepreneurs. Randall is particularly interested in social impact investing and along with his corporate and university board responsiblities, he sits on boards of arts and drama groups too.
The Fourth Revolution: The theme of the evening was the next stage of techology. Julien Favre, UBS, shared with our guests the white paper on the theme of this year's World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland, on January 20-23. The white paper is entitled Extreme automation and connectivity: The global, regional, and investment implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.It outlines:
A brief history of the four industrial revolutions that have taken place since the late 18th century.
It also explores the potential economic and investment consequences and likely regional winners and losers.
A few years ago, I began to hear about the democratization of investing into private equity. It was recognized that the earnings can be significant. Allowing the grandmother investor, for example, to put money into privately owned companies in the same way the public stock market allows, will have a way to go.
Currently, one way that was created to allow the average joe to invest with minimal knowledge is by going into your bank and selecting mutual funds. They show up on your bank app and give a pretty reasonable return.
Using the TFSA account, the average person could also invest into a startup but maybe (probably) lose their investment as the risk is so high at such an early stage.
So although we do have some democratization of the investment opportunities, the Canadian retail banks do offer their mutual funds which are a great start, the fees are hidden and do take a significant chunk of the returns.
We will come back to mutual funds and other investments where you can get started. In the meantime, one of my favourite motivational coaches, Tony Robbins, has put out a book on Money. In it, one his themes was about - surprise - democratizing investments. I liked his message:
Think about the four main elements that impact our quality of life: our relationships, emotions, health, and money. The most difficult one for many people to manage—and a frequent source of widespread confusion and anxiety—is the money.
2015 is the year that will change.
The One Big Idea for 2015 is the democratization of financial services, which means that for the first time, everyone will have access to the unbiased advice and education they need to make confident, informed decisions about money and investing. Everyone will be able to find knowledge, tools and insights to help them achieve their financial goals.
The current financial system is opaque, complex, and designed to enrich and reward those on the inside. Average investors are so in the dark when it comes to the system that most don’t know just how much they don’t know.
For example: how is your financial advisor compensated? Do they have a legal duty to put your interests first, or are they primarily paid to distribute products? If you’re like most people, you don’t know.
When you sell your company and all of a sudden, you have millions to invest, it can make you quite giddy. All of a sudden, your long last relatives will appear on your doorstep asking for a loan or an investment. Your niece will want you invest in her new app which is "brilliant". Suddenly, you can access wealth manages who need you to have more than $2million to open an account. These wealth managers are the elite of financial planners.
Financial planners advise clients on how best to save, invest, and grow their money. They can help you tackle a specific financial goal—such as giving you a macro view of your money and the interplay of your various assets. Some specialize in retirement or estate planning, while some others consult on a range of financial matters. At the very least, they should find out about your family.
Don’t confuse planners with stockbrokers — the market mavens people call to trade stocks.
Financial planners also differ from accountants who can help you lower your tax bill, insurance agents who might lure you in with complicated life insurance policies, or the person at your local bank urging you to buy their off the shelf mutual funds.
Anyone can hang out a shingle as a financial planner, but that doesn’t make that person an expert. They may tack on an alphabet soup of letters after their names, but CFA (short for certified financial planner) is the most significant credential. A CFA has passed a rigorous test on the specifics of personal finance. CFAs must also commit to continuing education on financial matters and ethics classes to maintain their designation. The CFP credential is a good sign that a prospective planner will give sound financial advice. Still, even those who pass the exam may come up short on skills and credibility. As with all things pertaining to your money, be meticulous in choosing the right planner.
Their firm is important. Some small planner make you pay dearly. They are smart but you end up paying more as they still have to place orders for your portfolio and they will have to pay a fee and pass that along to you.
Our research with the owners and CEOs of private companies and their private equity partners illustrates that there are three leverage points for investors to impact the trajectory of the business:
Strategy and strategic contacts,
Loewen & Partners provides investors with a window of meaningful involvement in a portfolio company that goes far beyond the typical boardroom interaction. It allows a private equity partner to rapidly come up to speed on the key issues within the firm and help leverage the potential of the firm.
Click on who we are to get some background on our partners. To explore the RED™ process in detail, go to what we do.