“All too often investors are looking for return, but what they really need is an advisor who is transparent in the fee structure, objective in investment advice and decisions, and an advocate. We help our clients with the perspective on the markets. We have to be the voice of caution in the bull market; we have to be the voice of calm in the bear market. That’s what the name ‘Viewstone’ stands for. We are transparent and objective investor advocates.”
— John Tabet, Founder
John Tabet is an independent financial advisor through Industrial Alliance Securities, a full service brokerage firm in Canada. John Tabet and the Viewstone Partners team provides financial and investment perspective to affluent investors, but the company does not simply focus on the bottom line of creating returns to its clients, rather it uses a holistic approach to the clients’ needs, focusing on creating balanced, profitable portfolios that address clients’ current financial reality, as well as future goals and objectives. To achieve this, the company utilizes integrated and innovative investment strategies that preserve and build wealth.
Viewstone Partners builds strong relationships between the advisor, the investor, and the investor’s other key professional financial (tax and legal) advisors.
Viewstone Partners recognizes each investor’s unique goals, circumstances and background, as well as attitudes towards risk, preserving capital and building wealth with strong drive to risk management. This approach creates a strong foundation for a multi-generational wealth accumulation.
Viewstone Partners provide this kind of advice having over 66 years of collective investment and financial services experience, with advice spanning across investment management, insurance portfolio construction, general wealth and financial advice, and helping clients make wise financial decisions.
The Canadian Business Journal spoke with John Tabet, Principal and Senior Financial Advisor, about the firm’s view on the investment industry, and what the firm does differently to manage risk, and profit its clients.
“I started in the industry in 1989. I have held roles as an equity and bond trader for a bank-owned brokerage firm. I worked on behalf of investment council firms who manage portfolios of high net worth clients. In 1999, I was educating brokers and planners about the then still new notion of index investing and fee-based investing. As I criss-crossed the country I had tremendous pushback from these firms and advisors — they didn’t see the value. That is when I decided to make the change from product sales to providing financial advice. I took the chance and became an independent advisor as a fee-based advisor to clients in 2000,” says Tabet. In March, we re-branded the business to Viewstone Partners.
The firm believes that it is the clients who have to take responsibility and assess whether Viewstone Partners is a suitable investment firm for their needs.
Viewstone accepts clients who want to work and be engaged in the investment process on a relationship basis. “We are looking for a certain dynamic with our clients — a dynamic that tells us that we can work with them over the long term. We want to work with our clients over their lifetime, so the understanding of the relationship and the way we work together need to be mutual.”
“I’m more interested in a client who may have not have large sums of money but shows fiscal responsibility – earning more than spending, rather than a client with large income who spends more than s/he earns, and shows history of volatile investment decision making. We want a client whom we can work with, educate and inform; a client we can turn into a better investor, because when we make better investors, we make better clients,” says Tabet.
Discussing the changes in the investor dynamics after the 2008 financial crisis, Tabet sees the main change in the investors’ perception of the cost of investing.
“Prior to the crisis, people were willing to invest and there never was a real eye towards the cost of investing. Since then, we see more and more commentary of the cost of investing and the impact of this cost on the investors. That’s why we now see growth in exchange traded funds – and index funds — because they are not as expensive to invest in compared to the traditional mutual fund.
“There also has been a significant reassessment of the landscape — looking at the managers who can manage in the down markets, and the managers who cannot. Everybody’s portfolio went down in 2008. Those who held on and were invested in quality managers, their portfolios recovered very quickly – I would say 12 to 18 months. Those managers that were not as strong in managing risk are still in the process of recovery,” says Tabet.
Good Product Managers and Client Advisors
According to Tabet, it is the Product Managers who take a cynical view of the best case scenario who outperform in the long term. “These managers
neither believe the hype at the top of a market, nor the doom-and-gloom at the bottom of a market. They are able to use different sets of lenses, asking,
‘What are the underlying values of investment in this business; what’s the cash flow, how do the managers of these businesses manage risks, and how does the business structure its finances?’ Good managers are able to assess the business value in a more thorough way.
“A good Client Advisor is able to look at the Product Managers and do the same thing. We have a risk-adverse investment strategy, looking for longer trends from a Product Manager, looking at their long-term track record of risk management,” says Tabet.
The firm works with managers that are good at assessing risk, investments that offer reasonable valuation, and ask reasonable fees. As to the markets, Tabet and his associates are starting to look towards the investments in the U.S. with some excitement. “We were completely out of the U.S. market for eight years, but we started to increase our allocations into the U.S. in the past 18 months. What we see is a gradual and sustainable recovery in the U.S. markets. We are looking at multinational companies — companies with significant brand presence in North America that have an opportunity on a global scale in the developing world, whether it’s Latin America, Asia or even Africa. Companies (such as Heinz, P&G or Unilever) are selling more product into these developing markets,” says Tabet.
The markets may be taking the Viewstone Partners’ investments around the world, but the three values behind the firm will remain constant well into the future: transparent fee structure, objective investment advice, and investor advocating. Perspective, foundation and teamwork are what set John Tabet and the Viewstone Partners team apart.
www.viewstone.ca | Twitter: @jtview1