- APRIL POTTER
MICHAEL LEBLANC, CIM®, FCSI®, AIFP™, Sr. Portfolio Manager The LeBlanc Group, Canaccord Genuity Corp
“Connect with us and simplify your financial life.”
Director, Wealth Mamagement and Senior Portfolio Manager, CIM, AIFP, SRI, AND FCSI Michael LeBlanc believes in the value of one-on-one financial planning that extends beyond investment advice. Michael’s financial planning strategies are powered by personal goals and designed to achieve long-term success. Michael, a seasoned Portfolio Manager and Advisor, assists multi-generational families, individuals and business owners with the support of his team, The LeBlanc Group.
Raised in Shediac, New Brunswick for the early part of his childhood; Michael moved to Ontario in his teens to attend high school and later attended McMaster University, majoring in the sciences. Despite his roots on the East Coast, he felt a pull to go even further west and eventually moved to British Columbia where he began his career in finance. During this time, he also returned to school to pursue an executive MBA and settled in North Vancouver to start a family.
Michael’s first role was at National Bank Financial where he advised individuals and business owners out of their Vancouver and Burnaby offices. Michael became one of the youngest Advisors accepted into the bank’s Portfolio Managers program, working for them from 1998 until 2006. He joined Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management in the spring of 2006.
“In 2006 I wanted to branch out beyond the bank model,” says Michael. “I have nothing negative to say about it, it’s a model and it obviously works for the banks because it is successful. But I wanted to be able to provide bespoke solutions and advice without any bias or perception of bias. Most banks have internal products and internal advice, I prefer to offer an independent approach, free of any perception of internal pressures. So, I made the move to an independent firm.”
The LeBlanc Group Team
The LeBlanc Group advisory team provides clients with a “superior level of service,” leveraging the expertise of many Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management global specialists. Michael’s team blends a broad spectrum of skills and financial literacy together to create customized plans for their clients. Each team member has a specific area of interest that adds value to the Leblanc advisory experience.
“My assistant Louvie Ronse has been with me for about 17 years,” says Michael. “She’s our primary contact for clients and takes care of all account administration. Sofiia Salimova joined us in 2019 as a Business Development Associate, moving into an Associate Advisor role, with a focus on communications. She is an essential driver of the educational pieces we put out on our social media channels. Ann Jackson is our Financial Planning Specialist who creates detailed financial plans for our clients, checking to ensure all bases are covered. Taxation, risk, and a holistic view that is key in a quality financial plan.”
Michael says his team’s key objective is to work with people to achieve their financial goals.
“We are at the core of every financial plan that we create,” explains Michael. “I am often asked, “what’s the best stock tip” and my answer is always – show me your plan. I don’t advise without a clear understanding of what the goal is. Too many people try to build investments without a defined goal plan and that’s where money can be lost. First you set goals, then you build the investments to back them up.”
Mike on Money
The LeBlanc Group website can be accessed via a unique and clever memorable url: mikeonmoney.com. The link directs visitors to a section of the website that connects to Michael’s YouTube channel where financial literacy videos range in topic from Portfolio Management 101 to Cryptocurrency. In the months since the pandemic began, Michael and his team have diligently kept clients educated and informed about money matters. A newsletter, social media and educational videos have all served as touchpoints for LeBlanc clients.
“I was drawn to the financial services industry in the late 1990s at a time when a movement began to educate people about the investments they were making,” explains Michael. “In the 90s there was a big seismic shift towards education. The role of an Advisor wasn’t just about investing it was about helping people understand how to achieve a better risk/return. Despite this, I found a lot of my colleagues continued to focus solely on the “high-risk investing” approach. People weren’t really made aware of risk and which types of investments carried which types of risk. So, I made it a focus of my career and started to have a lot of success with educational workshops. I began educating people about what it means to invest for specific goals – with a key focus on the risk aspects of investing.”
After joining Canaccord Genuity, Michael discovered that the importance of client education was creating an essential cultural shift within the organization.
“At Canaccord Genuity I found an entrepreneurial environment where ideas on how to help clients were welcome,” explains Michael. “Advisors have the freedom to tailor their client offering while helping them achieve goals – instead of just trying to bet on a particular market. Of course, we’ve switched to virtual education since the pandemic began and it has been very well received. We have a weekly live update and post specific “deep dive” educational videos on YouTube.”
Chemistry, Computer Science and Tactical Investing
Risk is a necessary part of investing, but it doesn’t have to make investing uncomfortable. Michael’s career trajectory has come with its own set of risks. He admits that despite his background in the sciences, he was not a big fan of spending all his time in a chemistry lab and wanted to find a career path that would help him interact with people instead.
“When I began my education in Science I was majoring in chemistry,” says Michael. “I wasn’t interested in a career that would keep me in the lab and by third year I decided to minor in computer science because I thought it would be the next big thing. Unfortunately, almost immediately after leaving school, both computer languages I learned became obsolete. I learned an important lesson about adaptability and was fortunate to be able to take my analytical mind to the financial world where I could have a career helping others.”
Michael’s career in finance has borrowed some of the skills he learned as a student of science. He believes that his early educational background has made him a stronger observer of the trends and market fluctuations that make investing speculative in nature.
“For example, how I look at the “past performance” of investments,” explains Michael. “I tend to put a lot more due diligence into understanding the “why” behind performance trends. I take the time to identify multiple risk factors and identify opportunities to enhance risk managed returns. Many will focus on a buy and hold strategy, arguing that missing the best days in the market will negatively impact your returns. Instead, I focus on removing the worst days in the market, because if you remove the worst days of the market in a long-term strategy, you are more likely to outperform. When risk begins to rise, we might take some risk off the table, be tactical and strategic.”
For Michael, tactical investing is all about risk aversion – when it makes the most sense.
“We try to find risk adverse ways of taking advantage of growth for our clients,” explains Michael. “But we also want to be very tactical in our efforts in order to protect people from losses – because losing money is much harder to recover from than missing out on a few high risk opportunities.”
Philanthropy and a Positive Outlook
Michael says that living in Vancouver has its perks. You don’t have to “book three days off” to spend time biking, skiing, hiking, exploring nature and doing any of the “million” things that this diverse region offers within a short drive. A father of two, his family often travels to Whistler to ski and enjoys many recreational pursuits together. He believes that staying active, maintaining a positive outlook and keeping an open mind about new opportunities is very important today.
“You know, there are a lot of things going on these days which can seem scary,” says Michael. “Looking at the news cycle can be very depressing, but at the same time if you look past most of the fires and look through everything that's going wrong – we’re also experiencing a massive shift in culture and society. People are doing things differently and it’s creating a lot of new opportunities.”
New Opportunities for Growth
Michael does not discount a future where global investing will continue to become a bigger part of the equation. “I’ve advised clients to look outside of our Canadian borders,” explains Michael. “Canada is a great place to invest, but it’s a smaller piece of the global pie. Some sectors are shrinking while other technologies and opportunities replace them. Even though we are biased to want to look for Canadian companies to invest in, the rest of the world is a bit ahead of us in some areas, so I do believe in global investments. Obviously, it’s much more diversified to look outside of our own little own little wedge of the world.”
New opportunities for growth are always on the horizon. Michael believes that investors need to keep an open mind about where the investments of the future may be.
“On the investment front, people may assume these new opportunities are all happening in tech,” says Michael. “But innovation is happening everywhere. The hospitality industry, personal services like fitness, business and retail – if you look at who is thriving, you can see that they’ve made a shift. We’re experiencing one of those tectonic shifts that can change the way businesses do things. If you look beyond the negative news reports, there are a lot of opportunities available to investors. People are doing exceptional things during a time of unparalleled adversity – and that’s the positive take away.”
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.
Michael LeBlanc, Senior Portfolio Manager, CIM
Director, Wealth Management Canada
Canaccord Genuity Corp.
609 Granville Street, Suite 2200,
Vancouver, BC V7Y 1H2
604 - 661 - 7839