TITLE: Vice President and Senior Investment Counsellor, BMO Harris Private Banking

CITY: Vancouver


BOOK: over $400 million

MINIMUM ASSETS: $2 million


Wealth preservation is of utmost importance, but I don’t completely steer toward capital preservation. On average, our portfolios
comprise 45% fixed income, including federal, provincial and corporate bonds, and preferred shares; and 55% high-quality stocks.

We stick exclusively to publicly traded vehicles. If we want real-estate exposure, we buy REITs; for infrastructure exposure, we buy companies in that sector. Stocks are a relatively inexpensive way of gaining direct exposure. More importantly, we can add and remove exposure at a moment’s notice.

When to buy

Even high-quality companies aren’t immune to market sentiment. In fall 2011, equities declined by 20%. But the fear was completely speculative, and we used it as an opportunity to buy high-quality stocks like Canadian banks and energy companies that had lost major market value. Similarly, when we see periods of unsustainable growth, we recognize they won’t last. Gold and silver reached all-time highs last spring; then momentum waned, and we trimmed both.

Cast a wide e-net

My most effective marketing tool is a daily market-update e-mail that goes to approximately 2,000 people. It started 12 years ago, and goes to existing and prospective clients, colleagues, and various business leaders.

Every morning, I research events impacting the markets—through feeds such as Bloomberg, BNN, and our research site—and distill that into two short paragraphs. It keeps me front-of-mind. When clients or colleagues have a question, they come to me first.

Prospects often come to me months or years after I’ve built a rapport through this e-mail. The head of a realty firm, who’s been receiving the e-mail for years, called to ask if I’d speak to his employees about the markets. Then they started forwarding my e-mails to their own clients. I now have three clients at this firm, and a speaking engagement to an audience of those clients’ clients.

Kanupriya Vashisht is a freelance journalist and writer based in Toronto.