Why did you move to British Columbia?
Well, let me say I love Alberta and have many clients and friends
that live here. I also regularly travel back and forth between my
Richmond office and to Alberta for business. I lived in Calgary
between 2008–2013 and I just found that I started doing more
and more business in BC that it literally made sense to move.
It is really as simple as that, especially since I had an office there.
However, one compelling reason for moving was that BC was
attracting a lot of Chinese immigrants who made a lot of money
in real estate in China, cashed out and were coming to Canada
looking for investment opportunities. They were typically well
established and did not need to work. More importantly, they
were very interested in private market investments and could
meet during normal business hours, which I preferred, rather than
working at nights and on weekends.
What was your biggest challenge in getting started in the
financial services industry in Canada?
Although many of the skills of an Engineer are compatible and
transferable to the investment industry, one of my biggest
challenges was confidence in myself. I feel it is my role to
educate my clients on both the opportunity and risks associated
with private market investments. It was a steep learning curve
to educate myself so that I could offer quality representation to
my clients. I believe the more I can learn, the more I can share
with my clients to help them not just make money, but more
importantly, suitable investments.
What should individuals consider when looking at joining an
Exempt Market Dealer?
Well, the private capital markets have changed a great deal since
the industry became more regulated in the fall of 2009. I think
people looking at joining an EMD should look at the leadership
team at the dealer. That is critical. Just like any business must
have a strong management team, it similarly applies to a dealer.
The senior management team must have a diverse set of skills
and experiences. It’s nearly impossible for one individual to set
the dealer’s vision, meet the requirements necessary to manage
a compliant business, review the product offerings, support the
sales team and communicate effectively with clients.
Also, I think that it is important that your EMD invests in
itself and its people. For example, this year my firm, Pinnacle
Wealth Brokers, added some very experienced professionals
to our team and expanded the firm into wealth management
by becoming registered as a Portfolio Manager (PM) and
Investment Fund Manager.
Wes Mills joined Pinnacle in February 2015 and is Pinnacle’s
Chief Investment Officer. Wes formerly worked at Scotia Asset
Management for over 27 years and has a breadth and depth of
knowledge and experience that will allow us to provide more
wealth management services for our clients, including managed
accounts. Wes will also be the portfolio manager for a new
private/public diversified income fund we are working on, which
the firm hopes to launch in the Fall of 2015.
Pinnacle also added Brian Koscak this past summer as our new
President and General Counsel. As you know, Brian was former
the Chair of the PCMA and is now a Vice Chair, but was also a
senior partner at a large Bay Street law firm in Toronto where he
practiced securities law with a focus on private placements and
securities and compliance for registrants such as EMDs.
I believe that these two additions, along with Darvin Zurfluh,
our founder and CEO, and Lloyd McDonald, our VP of Business
Development, Pinnacle is best positioned now for further growth
to support a large and growing firm.
What are your clients looking for when they are discussing
investments with you?
Since the sub-prime mortgage crisis caused a significant market
correction in 2009, my clients have been focused on yield
generating investments. I’ve been in the industry for quite some time
and the concept of private equity and private market investments is
not new to my clients. However, I do see a trend where my clients
have a desire to create a diversified portfolio of investments that do
not rely solely on returns from the public markets.
My clients are also aware that there is a correlation between safety
and yield and they challenge me to look for investments that will
allow them to reach their goals. Once again, I feel it is important
that you have great confidence in the work that is done by your
EMD to review products, but I would recommend that you spend
the time to educate yourself on the products and ask your own
questions as a secondary method to protect your clients.
You’re recognized as being one of the top professionals in
the Private Capital Markets. What has led to your success?
I think that most of the people who are successful likely have
three common qualities: confidence, focus and hard work. I need
to feel confident in my EMD and my own personal knowledge so
I can manage the needs of my clients. As a professional in this
industry for over 10 years, confidence is key.
I think that it is important
that your EMD invests in
itself and its people.