What's in a name?

What's in a name?

What OSC levels an order against Wealth Stewards Portfolio Management Inc. Another advisor with a similar name makes the best of a bad situation.
 
Ongoing since last June, the securities regulator issued an order January 23 in the matter of Wealth Stewards Portfolio Management Inc. (WPMI) and Sushila Lucas pursuant to subsection 8(4) of the Securities Act and Rule 9.2 of the OSC Rules of Procedure.
 
At the time the OSC suspended the registration of Wealth Stewards indefinitely, suspended the registration of Sushila Lucas as the ultimate designated person (UDP) and chief compliance officer (CCO) for three years, and suspended the registration of Lucas as an advising representative for a period of six months. In addition, Lucas was required to complete the Partners, Directors and Senior Officers Course (PDO) and Conduct and Practices Handbook Course (CPH) before reapplying for the various registrations.
 
Fast forward to the present.
 
The decision, which was first rendered on June 13, 2014, has been stayed several times over the last seven months. At first WPMI looked to sell its business and clients but that’s fizzled out. It will now wind down operations and Lucas’s suspensions will begin as of January 1, 2015.
 
This comes to a relief for Toronto-based Wealth Stewards Inc. who have the unfortunate bad luck of sharing a similarly sounding corporate name. WP reached out to Managing Director Paul Tyers for a little commentary on the matter.
 
Most importantly his company’s been aware of WSMI since 2008. Back then it decided not to pursue legal actions because the costs would outweigh the benefits. Besides, according to Tyers, “Most of the business activity that’s gone on with that company’s been in Alberta.” That’s not to say Tyers and the rest of his firm are happy about the situation.
 
Has there been any damage in terms of client retention and business development?
 
“Not that I know of,” says Tyers. “Of course it’s what you don’t know. Could there have been people who had a look and backed off as a result? That’s entirely possible. But you can’t put the genie back in the bottle.”
 
Interestingly, what was more frustrating to Tyers as this played out was the potential for WSMI to be sold and the name living on indefinitely with no potential recourse. Fortunately, it looks like WSMI is simply going to disappear into the annals of history, never to be heard from again.
 
The lesson for advisors?
 
Don’t worry about the things you can’t control. What’s happened to Tyers’ business is an unfortunate set of circumstances but they’ve handled it professionally and that’s what counts in the minds of clients.