Investment advisor and portfolio manager

Years in the industry: 17
Years as a PM: 10
Industry accreditations: CIM, CFP, FMA
Typical clients: Small business owners, professionals and retirees

Marking a decade as a portfolio manager this year, Steve Nielsen has developed a keen sense for the markets and how best to navigate them. This means always having one eye firmly on the downside. “I approach each year the same way – expecting at least one market correction, so I make tactical asset allocation adjustments based on seasonal or technical patterns that I feel warrant these changes,” he says.

That’s in the short term, but portfolio managers need to prioritize long-term needs. Along with his co-manager at Milestone Asset Management, Shawn Boos, Nielsen’s long-term asset allocation is driven more from a full business cycle perspective and only changes significantly when US recessionary risk rises to a certain level. “We have developed our own gauge for this, called our Milestone Recession Risk Composite,” Nielsen says. “This is made up of 10 underlying leading indicators to keep our recessionary risk judgment an objective one.”

This proved particularly useful in early 2016 when equity mutual fund outflows were at an extreme level. According to Nielsen, the composite kept him from lowering risk assets, which greatly benefited him over the remainder of the year. Looking at US fundamentals currently, he remains cautiously optimistic. “At this point in time, we believe we are still in a secular bull market that began in 2009 and still has room to go,” he says.

In terms of fixed income and alternatives, he subscribes to the methods of the Yale Endowment and its asset allocation. That means using real assets and alternative strategies alongside traditional asset classes.

When it comes to the changing regulatory environment, Nielsen is fully behind anything that improves standards and provides more information for investors. “We have fully embraced the new CRM2 reporting standards and would have liked to see them come into play long ago,” he says. “We still believe that there could be further improvements to both fee disclosure and reporting to clients, and would like to see that openness continue, especially on the fee disclosure side.”

“I approach each year expecting at least one market correction, so I make tactical asset allocation adjustments based on seasonal or technical patterns”

Company Information

  • Milestone Asset Management (Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management)
  • #207, 322 – 11th Avenue SW Calgary, AB T2R 0C5

Contact Information