lawyer; president of the Canadian Bar Association, New Brunswick branch


Woodstock, N.B.


late 50s

I’ve been investing for:

about 25

I plan to retire:

about 10 years

Investable assets:

enough to retire in 10 years

How long I’ve had an advisor:

about 25 years (various bank advisors)

Years ago, I briefly played the stock market and made money on a food services stock. But that was a short dalliance. My MO is to avoid risky investments, and instead choose GICs, Canadian cash accounts and mutual funds. So my biggest investment lesson didn’t occur until the recent financial crisis, when market forces hit my mutual funds hard. The lesson? You can lose a lot of money in a short period—even with a conservative portfolio.

At the time, I held mutual funds at two different banks. My mutual funds at one bank had greater losses, so I withdrew my account. No one tried to persuade me to stay. I’d had a few different advisors there, but my account got lost in the shuffle.

Now, the bank with the better-performing funds holds all my investments. Were the funds at this bank better, or did this bank just get lucky? I don’t know; I didn’t have time to investigate. But when I saw the difference in performance, I had to act.

Banking on good service

I’ve had a few different advisors at my chosen bank, too, but I’ve always received good, consistent service. I meet with my advisor every one to three years to discuss my investments. I don’t have time to watch my portfolio; that’s what my advisor does.

I like having all my investments in one spot, so my advisor sees my whole financial situation. He takes an active role in suggesting investments and encouraging debt reduction.

It hasn’t been perfect at my bank. One of my advisors once presented my quarterly statement, saying, “You lost a lot of money this quarter.” That seemed unfair and accusatory, because no action on my part caused the losses. Get your facts straight, I thought. But I attribute the comment to poor communication or personality differences.

Over the years, I’ve had other advisors come knocking. Some were on their own; others were affiliated with big companies. I knew they wanted my money, but they didn’t offer anything
in return.

Sure, they’d promise superior service compared to my bank, but where was the evidence? Only numbers talk. Their repeat visits were an unwelcome interruption to my busy days. The bank offers service and good performance, and that works for me.

by Michelle Schriver, assistant editor of Advisor Group.