In September, we were one of a small group of portfolio managers who were invited by Blackrock iShares to attend a due diligence conference in San Francisco. Blackrock is the world’s largest Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) provider, with over US$4.2 trillion in assets under administration. As we use ETFs extensively throughout your portfolios to provide superior, cost effective diversification in different asset clas-ses, this was an excellent opportunity the meet the iShares team. We met with the CEO of iShares Global ETFs as well as portfolio strategists, iShare Creation teams and the creators of their risk assessment algorithm called “Aladdin”. When managing funds that span the globe, in multiple asset classes (including stocks, bonds, gold, and commodi-ties) and in multiple currencies, all trading 24 hours a day throughout different time zones, it quickly becomes very complicated. Blackrock runs their entire $4.2 trillion asset base through the Aladdin risk algorithm every day to ensure that what you own tracks the mandate of that particular ETF. That level of due diligence gives us a high level of comfort when using iShares within your portfolios.
In October we attended a conference held by National Bank Correspondent Network (NBCN), our new custodian/back office provider. As almost the entire former TD Wa-terhouse (TDW) team that we dealt with previously transitioned to NBCN, it was an opportunity to put faces to the voices we have been dealing with. We also came to hear NBCN’s vision of the future. With the takeover of TDW, NBCN now has over $110 Bil-lion in assets under administration. In comparison, TDW had only $35 Billion under administration at the time of the sale to NBCN.
In most respects, the transition has been a smooth one, with the assets transferring seam-lessly to the NBCN platform last June. That said, change can be frustrating… both for you and for us. For instance, we have received a number of client calls wanting help reading the NBCN account statements, as the format is different from what they were used to with TDW. On the inside of this Foresight Winter edition, we aspire to helping you understand your new monthly NBCN account statements. However, please feel free to contact us if you would like further clarification on reading your statements.
For us, we had to learn new systems and procedures, as well as adjust our internal sys-tems to the different reporting format in the monthly account statements. Quite frankly, NBCN’s technology platform is superior to that of TDW, and NBCN has committed to spending $20 million in fiscal 2015 to further enhance their clients’ and portfolio man-agers’ user experiences. We will give them credit: they provided a four hour open floor platform for those present to discuss the shortcomings of the system… and it was an animated and passionate discussion. What impressed us was their commitment to focus on what they needed to do to better our collective experience.
We wish you a happy and restive Holiday Season with friends and family