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RENALDO SAIKALI, Senior Wealth Advisor, Portfolio Manager, ScotiaMcLeod, Ottawa, Ontario


“Advice Worth Banking On”

For Portfolio Manager Renaldo Saikali, investing has always been more than just a job. It’s a passion — and a pastime.

"It’s my version of the newspaper in the morning,” he laughs. “I’ll probably do this until I’m 90. Whether I’m still talking to clients then is a different story, but I’ll always trade stocks.”

It’s this interest that drives him to do right by his clients with the hands-on, active approach to managing money that sets him apart from the competition.

“The first thing I do in the morning is look at my stocks,” he says. “Has anything changed today? Is there a trade warranted? If there’s a stock that’s fallen I have to make a decision on whether I’m flipping it out that day or not. That’s the first thing I do, even when I’m on vacation.”

After spending his morning combing through stocks, Renaldo meets with clients in person or over video call for reviews and bi-monthly catch-ups. He sends regular updates for transparency and education and his calendar is booked out a year in advance, the office kept humming by his six person team. Afternoons are spent on research, where delving into the specifics of a company is as important as digging into its financials.

“It makes every day exciting, knowing a little bit about everything,” he says. “It’s just interesting to learn about every industry out there. From crypto - to healthcare".

A former accounting major, Saikali took an interest in finance in his third year of business school. Before that, he wanted to be a tax lawyer (“like Tom Cruise, in The Firm,” he admits with a smile) until the draw of finance pulled him in a different direction. Still, this foundational knowledge of a company’s books is what underlies much of the work he does.

“Accounting is so important,” he says. “We look at the cash flow statement more than anything, the balance sheet especially. In the last year we’ve been focusing on companies with low to no debt. If you have a highly indebted company right now, they’re toast, especially if that debt comes due in the next 3 years. That’s going to bury a lot of companies. I don’t want to own any of those stocks.”

And he doesn’t. When it comes to the specifics of the portfolio he manages, Renaldo does just as much ‘weeding out’ of poor quality stocks as he does finding high performers. Cash flow is key, he says, and when it comes to dividends, more is always better — except when these increases are financed through debt.

“You would be surprised how many companies borrow money to pay out their dividend,” he warns. “You don’t want to buy that.”

It’s this kind of detailed, all-in approach that helps his portfolio continually outperform the market index. Which, he says, is no accident.

“Nobody should ever be paying someone to put their money in an index fund. You can do that for free,” he says. “After three years, five, ten, you have to be ahead [of the index]. Otherwise, what are you doing?”

Setting yourself apart — and beating the average — is something Renaldo learned from years of experience.

“My first role was at Altamira, a mutual fund in Toronto, and I was exposed to the institutional side of fund management,” he says. “We had a chance to sit weekly with the portfolio managers, and that was the time where I thought you know what, I’d love to do that.”

“I started my CFA, but after a couple of years I was just too impatient — I was really passionate about managing money and picking stocks, so I left to pursue another route, which was doing portfolio management on the retail side.”

For this, Renaldo started with Charles Schwab, a financial advisory company based out of the United States. He began building a book of business that served him well until the dot-com bubble burst and Charles Schwab sold off its Canadian assets to Scotia McLeod, who welcomed him with open arms.

“From the beginning [at Scotia] I knew I had to build my own portfolio like the portfolio managers did at Altamira. They were award winning fund managers there, so I did learn a lot from them. In my first few years, I played with different factors when choosing stocks, backtesting how my formula would have worked over the last decade. I did that for a year with my own money, and then invited my clients to take part.”

“It worked very well and it beat the market, so they were happy. We trimmed stocks when they went up, we bought stocks that were lower, we’d sell complete stocks out that had earnings downgrades, we saved some downside, essentially. Then I started to build on it, and I expanded from there.”

Although his performance over the years has been stellar, Renaldo insists that the most important part of his business is his clients.

“We pride ourselves on client service and planning,” he says. “I don’t rely only on performance — it’s my close number two — but it’s definitely about service. Explaining what I’m doing, educating my clients, and keeping them updated on what’s going on. My portfolio is the same as all my clients' portfolios, so I own the exact same stocks as everyone else. If I sell their Microsoft, I’m selling Microsoft.”

When it comes to swings in the market, Renaldo rides them out alongside his clients. And after over twenty years managing money, he knows how to keep a level head.

“I don’t change my formula,” he says. “No knee jerk reactions. Stay the course. My metrics will tell me if I need to go to cash and I’ll cash some things out, but have I ever gone all cash? No. There’s always a place to make money.”

It’s this commitment to transparency and accountability that keeps clients from calling him in a panic, even in frothy economic times.

“Manage money well and they’re not making those kinds of calls,” he admits with a grin. “But also, it’s really scheduled here. My team is amazing. I know who I’m going to call every day for the next year, regular appointments scheduled like a dentist. So my phone doesn’t ring –- unless they want to make a deposit or withdraw."

When he’s not in the office, Renaldo prefers the adrenaline rush of getting out into nature. He enjoys downhill skiing and mountain biking, tackling both with the same kind of mental agility he applies to his work.

“On a bike going down a mountain, you need to look ahead, know what’s coming. It’s a lot of that quick thinking. Dodging this, dodging that. That’s stock picking.”

Married to his high school sweetheart and a father of three, Renaldo is looking forward to watching his children grow into careers of their own. His daughter is in her second year of University studying sciences, and although his middle child has taken an interest in managing money, he’d like to see him try out different aspects of the finance industry before joining in the family business.

“This business is not going anywhere,” he says. “It’s here for them if they want it.”

From the detailed management of his portfolio to the staff who keep his office running at an organized clip, Renaldo has built a career around transparency, authenticity, and client care.

“The returns don’t hurt,” he says, “But I don’t hang my hat on them. It’s the service we provide that really makes us different.”

And that’s advice worth banking on.

Kristen Campbell holds a BA (Hons) in Political Science from McMaster University and spent a year in the University of Calgary's MA Political Science program before completing her BComm in Accounting. She enjoys blending her research & financial background with her passion for telling stories and creating content that's as fun to read as it is to write.

Renaldo Saikali, B. Comm, CIM,

Senior Wealth Advisor, Portfolio Manager

Scotia Wealth Management / Scotia McLeod

505 March Road, Suite 300

Kanata, On. K2K 2M5

613 - 271 - 6614


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