Vice President and Investment Consellor, Anthony Benson has more than 16 years of investment and wealth management expertise. He believes in building partnerships with Canadian business owners and their families to “identify and optimize purpose-driven investment goals that meet their unique needs”. Anthony worked with ATB Financial for more than 13 years and has recently made the switch to BlueSky Investment Counsel. Prior to joining ATB Financial in 2008, he spent four years working as a Portfolio Analyst for Investment Planning Counsel in Toronto.
“The role of connecting with clients has always been in the fibre of my DNA,” says Anthony. “At the age of 10, I helped my grandparents with their small business in every way I could. My secret weapon was to smile at everyone whether they were interested in buying or not. My grandfather recently passed away at the age of 105, while helping him operate his corn-mill business I learned the essence of cash-flow management. I also learned how critical it is for the survival of a business."
Education is important to Anthony who believes in consistently adding to his tool kit as an Investment Counsellor. He earned his Bachelor of Commerce in Finance and International Business from John Molson School of Business at Concordia University in Montreal. He was awarded with a Golden Key Award which is given to students who are high achievers. Around 2004 Investment Planning Counsel came knocking at his door, beginning his journey in wealth management. Anthony has also obtained a Master of Business Administration and a postgraduate degree in Business Administration from the University of Wales in the United Kingdom. Since graduating, he has added 12 professional certificates to his credits including the Fellow of Canadian Securities Institute and Chartered Investment Manager designations. Anthony also has 7 designations with Global Academy of Finance and Management, and he is currently a Fellow in good standing.
Four years later his background was in demand at ATB Financial, so Anthony joined the ATB Investment management team. As a member of ATB Financial’s Wealth Management Division, Anthony was a Senior Solutions Analyst. During his tenure with ATB, total assets under the administration grew from $3.5 billion dollars to approximately $18 billion dollars. He also helped manage the flagship investment program Compass Portfolio Series. He later transitioned to the role of Senior Financial Advisor. He was fortunate to help many Albertans generate wealth and exceed their financial goals.
Over the years, to help investors and business owners achieve success, Anthony has developed 6 “tenets” that should be observed: less is more, have a simple and realistic plan, focus on what you can control, understand your risk tolerance, stay the course through any/all market cycles and eliminate personal bias when making financial decisions.
A Solid Foundation at Home
Outside of the office Anthony is a father of two who loves to spend quality time with his family. He and his wife Akosua are always happy to serve their community when opportunities to volunteer and contribute present themselves.
“I have an incredible opportunity to be the foundation for my family,” explains Anthony. “I have two wonderful daughters each with different aspirations, they keep me going every day. It’s interesting to see them grow, but the beauty is that they are the type of people who when things are not going well for a friend, they drop everything to go and help. For me as a father, these are values you want to pass on to your kids. I have a wonderful wife who works as a healthcare professional and manages a team of nurses. At home I say I’m the company and they’re the board of directors, whatever they tell me to do – I do – and my life would not be the same without them.”
When Anthony is not devoting his time at home to his family, he is passionate about sports. He is dedicated to Alberta’s two NHL teams, enjoys football and has recently found an interest in basketball given the excitement surrounding the Toronto Raptors.
“I have a deep passion for sports, especially hockey,” says Anthony. “We live in a country where winter weather dominates for 6 to 9 months of the year so I’m an avid supporter of the Edmonton Oilers and the Calgary Flames. I also have a unique appetite to follow football as well. Basketball has recently caught my attention.”
A Cup of Coffee Could Change Everything
Anthony knows that a second opinion can make a world of difference. In about the same amount of time it would take to have a cup of coffee, he can show an investor how to do things differently. Successful investing means that sometimes goals need to shift or adapt to find appropriate investing solutions that meet individual wealth needs.
“When the markets turn as volatile and as confusing as they have been since the Covid-19 pandemic began, the most patient investors may come to question the wisdom of the investment plan they have been following,” explains Anthony. “At BlueSky Investment Counsel we've seen a lot of difficult markets come and go. We can empathize with people who find the current market environment troublesome and disturbing. We would like to help if we can, so we offer a cup of coffee – and a second opinion. We will listen to your story and ask you to outline your financial goals. We will review your portfolio with you. If we think your Investments are well suited for your long-term goals (despite the current market), we’ll tell you so. If, on the other hand, we think some of your Investments no longer fit with your goals we’ll explain why and recommend alternatives. Either way, the coffee is on us.”
Anthony’s practice is limited to families and business owners who have significant investable assets. However, he is willing to work with Canadians who are the right fit but do not meet the minimum investable asset requirement and have the ability to grow beyond a million. He is committed to his clients and passionately devoted to their financial success. He believes that the right Investment Counsellor is the one who inspires the most trust. Anthony knows that your family must have faith in your investment plan - and the person giving you the advice to execute it.
The Oracle of Omaha
When asked why a client should choose to work with him, Anthony prefers to answer with a short story about American investor and billionaire business tycoon Warren Buffet:
“In 1957 when Warren Buffett the “Oracle of Omaha” was just starting out, he was referred to a wealthy family in Omaha named Davis,” explains Anthony. “This would be the first really important client he would have outside of his own family. So, he made his presentation and left, and the Davis's did not know what to do or make of him. Buffet was 27 and kind of odd-looking, and the family just kept talking back and forth - but they could not decide what to do. Finally, Mrs. Davis spoke up and said, “I like everything about that young man.” That was it, he was in - it may not seem very scientific but that is the way I would like to be chosen – inspiring trust. The best counsel I can give you is to trust thyself and choose your Counsellor the way the Davis's decided to hire Warren Buffett. You will sleep sounder, live longer and make better decisions together.”
Joe Murphy and the Importance of Wealth Management
Anthony also recalls the story of NHL player Joe Murphy, a former number 1 draft pick in the 1970s who ultimately ended up homeless and living on the streets of Kenora. Anthony believes that we can learn a lot from Joe’s story. He works with professional athletes and people with a lot of wealth to manage. He uses Joe’s story to help drive home the point that having a lot of money doesn’t equal security – it’s what you do with that wealth that matters most. Joe Murphy lost everything, but if he’d had the right investment plan, process and an investment counsellor to guide him, his story may have had a different outcome.
“The distance between the penthouse and the outhouse is a short one,” says Anthony. “My challenge is to help professional athletes lengthen that distance. Life is a series of storms and at the end of the day, it’s important to know how to weather them and not end up like Joe Murphy. My calling is to help clients build and grow wealth, to have discipline, to think about the future, to invest in investment solutions that work and to diversify. My challenge is to help make the complex simple – especially with the professional athletes I work with.”
Nothing but Blue Skies
A unique opportunity presented itself to Anthony during the Covid-19 pandemic. After parting ways with ATB Financial, an offer to join BlueSky Investment Counsel came to him and he considers the marriage of his skills and background with this new opportunity a “match made in heaven”.
“I am managing the Western part of Canada,” explains Anthony. “Growing the business on a corporate level while also growing my own client’s wealth. For me, the excitement of this new role is that it allows me to help clients discover their goals and guide them to the right solution. I can help a client rebalance their wealth accordingly while reinforcing patience and the tenets of financial success I believe in. As investors we are living in an era of unprecedented opportunity. For example, if you are seeking to build wealth you have opportunities today to buy solid businesses at a reduced price. This unprecedented market opportunity may not happen again in our lifetime, taking advantage of it now could make a difference in the lives of future generations through wealth transfers. Follow my 6 tenets of success and if you’re patient, you will eventually reap the benefit of rewards.”
The right financial advice is essential to keeping the wealth you have built – Anthony’s forte is providing crucial advice in crucial moments.
“The way I manage money is simple, it starts with the client,” adds Anthony. “Money is a tool to live life, life is what we have to live. If a client really has a vision and the patience to execute it can result in a true reward in return. Having discipline is key, 90% of your investment will come from asset allocation and I spend a lot of time explaining that global diversification is important. As Canadians we have an incredible opportunity to source good and sustainable returns with minimal risk globally.”
Carbon Neutrality and the Future
“I have a passion for farming,” says Anthony. “I believe in farming that is mindful of helping the environment that we live in. I also believe in sustainability and reducing our carbon footprint. As Canadians we are blessed with natural resources – we did not ask for it, it was given to us. Both pre and post Covid-19, we have been developing new ways of doing things that reduce our carbon footprint. I’m proud to say that ATB Financial saw the light more than 10 years ago and the wealth division started working from home to reduce our footprint.”
Carbon neutrality and a better way for the future is a big part of Anthony’s investment philosophy.
“At the end of the day, in Canada and in Alberta, it’s going to take an incremental effort to reduce our footprint. Post-Covid, most of the stimulus that will be happening will be in areas of greener technology, greener sustainable development and so forth. As an individual I believe change starts at home. You must think local and act global. If I cannot substantially reduce my carbon footprint in Canada, I can do it elsewhere to compensate for the emissions here and help from a global standpoint to build a better future. This flows into my investment philosophy as well, as companies that I invest in on behalf of clients (or select for clients) work towards sustainability and reducing their carbon footprint too.”
Anthony’s “proven process” begins with truly understanding a client’s story before discussing how to achieve financial goals. Understanding a client’s need for climate action can be an important part of this process.
“Part of every client’s story is to uncover what it is that they are investing for. What are their aspirations and goals?” Anthony explains. “My process allows me to ask questions about whether their goals include the environment or maybe a focus on how food is being produced. We have many conversations that inform their plan and how they invest. Understanding my clients helps spark ideas and helps me to educate them. Together we can make a better decision that they cannot make on their own. Decisions not only to drive their wealth but ultimately, if they wish to, reduce their carbon footprint.”
“My ultimate goal is to help anyone who is driven to succeed, driven to excel, and driven to accumulate meaningful wealth over time,” explains Anthony. “That’s my life work and that’s what I’m here to do.”
April Potter is a veteran writer with expertise in financial services including nearly 15 years in debt restructuring. April has written for multiple online publications on a variety of subjects and offers a range of social media. Also a painter, her background in finance is balanced by her artistic endeavors.
ANTHONY BENSON, MBA, CIM, FCSI, FGAFM, MFP, CWM, CPM, ChFM VICE-PRESIDENT & INVESTMENT COUNSELOR
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