Investment counsellor and chair of Investment Committee

Years in the industry:
Years as a PM: 12
Industry accreditations: CFA, CFP
Typical clients: Entrepreneurs and professionals; average portfolio size of $4 million

Many portfolio managers cite convincing clients to relinquish control over their personal finances as a major challenge, and Sean Lasko of Manulife Private Wealth is no different. “Wealthy entrepreneurs and professionals have made their wealth by being intimately involved in their businesses and being in control of the decision-making process,” he says. “For discretionary investment management, the client is being asked to give up that control.”

Not surprisingly, this can be a difficult process, but eventually the merit of having an expert guiding your investment strategy becomes clear. The majority of Lasko’s clients are highly successful in their chosen fields, and many achieved that success by taking risks. When it comes to their portfolios, however, a different mindset takes hold. “Although most of these individuals have experienced high double-digit annual returns on equity within their businesses,” he says, “they are typically quite satisfied with lower returns on their investment portfolios as long as the risks are adequately managed.”

One area where clients’ expectations have changed is with technology – as the world becomes increasingly  digital, wealth management isn’t immune to the pressure to evolve. “Investors are certainly demanding a more client-friendly online experience,” Lasko says, “where they can find the information they want to see, when they want to see it.” This means providing a platform where the client can log in and view daily updates on = holdings, transactions and performance numbers, as well as access quarterly statements and tax information with the click of a button.

This makes for much more clued-in clients, which in turn means conversations with portfolio managers are a lot less one-sided. In Lasko’s case, these discussions normally involve him outlining his global approach to investing. “On the fixed-income side, we are lightening up our exposure to global bonds,” he says. “We are focusing on fixed-income securities with shorter maturities and duration, with an overweight tilt to corporate bonds versus governments.”

When it comes to stocks, high valuations in North America mean Lasko has adjusted his portfolio weightings accordingly. In reducing exposure to US stocks, he has shifted toward international markets, mainly in Europe and the Far East. Real estate is another focus, and a great income source in this low-interest-rate era. “We own and operate commercial real estate properties throughout the world valued at over $21 billion,” Lasko says. “These private asset classes exhibit low correlation with public markets and offer stable income to yield-hungry investors.”

“Investors are certainly demanding a more client-friendly online experience where they can find the information they want to see, when they want to see it”

Company Information

  • Manulife Private Wealth
  • 250 Bloor Street East | Toronto, Ontario

Contact Information