by Tom Bradley

We’re reporting back. In a post on June 23rd, we nudged our readers and clients to vote for Steadyhand in a poll that the Globe & Mail’s personal finance columnist Rob Carrick was doing. The question was: Who are Canada’s most trusted financial brands?

Rob announced the results recently and we are grateful to be among the few firms listed. In his informal poll, TD Bank and RBC topped the list of most trusted financial firms, with Wealthsimple and EQ Bank scoring well with younger voters. Then there was a list of smaller firms that garnered votes. Steadyhand was mentioned along with two investment firms we hold in high regard, Mawer Investment Management and Vanguard.

Thank you to everyone who participated in Rob’s survey. Your continued confidence in Steadyhand is enormously appreciated. We are a small firm serving roughly 4,000 clients across five provinces (with thousands more readers of our blog). When we started designing Steadyhand 16 years ago, we accepted that we couldn’t buy clients’ trust, nor could we ask for it. We had to earn it over time.

We set out to do that by developing a business model that was client friendly. With every decision we made, we asked the question: Is it good for our clients? As a result, we are a firm that does a whole bunch of big and little things that we hope will engender trust ... over time. Here’s a partial list.

  • We are fiercely independent: 14 of our 19 employees are owners.
  • 92% of our team’s financial assets are invested alongside our clients in the Steadyhand funds. We call it ‘co-investment’ and publish the updated number every September.
  • We don’t pay commissions or bonuses based on sales targets and asset gathering.
  • We consistently answer our phones with diligence and enthusiasm, whether markets are good or bad.
  • We charge low fees that get lower with time and as household assets grow. There are no free iPads to attract new clients; our longstanding clients always get the best deal.
  • Fees are reported on each quarterly statement, in percentage and dollar terms. Most of our clients pay lower fees than our published rates.
  • Clients’ investment returns (after-fee) are reported each quarter.
  • We use as little industry jargon as we can.
  • We explain openly and thoroughly why we change fund managers.
  • If it's better for a client, we regularly recommend placing short-term cash elsewhere to earn a higher return.
  • If we’re bearish, we say so (even if it’s bad for marketing).
  • We’re outspoken about industry practices and products that are not in the best interests of investors.
  • We don’t offer a new product for every market fad.
  • We’ve never been fined by our regulators.

These are some of the reasons that Morningstar, a global research firm, called Steadyhand the “Posterchild of a good steward”. If we’re missing something that resonates with you, we’d love to hear it.

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