Your 2023 Website Spring Cleaning Checklist

Does your website need a refresh? Are you dealing with lengthy load times, missing meta-tags or dated messaging? Even a few minor issues could be cluttering your website performance. Making some small tweaks can make a big difference in optimizing user experience and attracting investors. Check out our checklist to help spring clean your website:

  • Define your goals: Your website is a powerful tool. If you are an issuer undergoing a capital raise, your goal might be lead generation. If you are an asset manager, you might use your website more for informational or brand awareness among advisors and retail investors. Keep your goals in mind when reviewing your website analytics.
  • Leverage analytics: Review your website metrics to understand and benchmark its performance. Evaluate your website audience to see where visitors are coming from, how long they stay on it and what pages they tend to go to. Your analytics can tell if you are attracting your target investor audience, and what content is resonating most. If you don’t know where to find the analytics you need, you can start by Googling “Google Analytics.”
  • Refresh your content: Apply the insights you get from your analytics to update content that speaks specifically to your target audience. This will help decrease your Readers prefer easily accessible information, so you might want to change how your content is laid out by making your website’s hero banner a conversion superhero. Take inventory of high-performing content (the stuff that is most viewed or shared) and move it to the home page to increase engagement. Having a user journey and distinct call-to-action will also increase engagement and conversion.
  • Revitalize SEO: Search engine optimization (SEO) is an important step in your cleaning process. It makes it easier for your target audience to find you. Here are a few technical items that are often overlooked:
    • Broken links: Remove any that go to removed pages with error messages.
    • Meta descriptions and alt-text: All pages should have meta-descriptions. Alt-text shouldn’t be too long or too short. This is a great place to insert keywords to improve your overall SEO rating.
    • Page speeds: Reduce page speeds to one to three seconds to increase user retention. You can eliminate any code that isn’t being used to increase your website’s speed.
  • Leverage plug-ins: Tools like Imagify for image compression can free up a lot of time, enhancing your website performance.
  • Maintain regularly: Websites are meant to be kept current and should be frequently updated. Find a cadence that works for you to update your website and stick to it.

Looking to improve your web metrics or create content optimized for search? Ext. Marketing can help you develop targeted web content to help boost your conversion rates. Check out our web design services or contact us today at

5 Tips For NexGen Pitchbooks

There’s no doubt the last few years have fundamentally changed how we communicate. The global pandemic, restricted mobility and the necessity of remote working environments have fuelled expanded technology applications. With fewer in-person interactions, people have become more comfortable with virtual meetings and pitching on online platforms, including Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

While more meetings are happening online, the financial services industry is still quite traditional, and so too is its preference for printed pitchbooks. The result can be challenging because pitching in person is quite different from an online pitch. You can make eye contact and detect body language in-person to gauge interest, but capturing and retaining a potential investor’s attention online is much harder.

If you are looking to elevate your pitchbooks to the next generation (NexGen), consider these five tips. And remember, a great pitchbook is important to every hedge fund manager’s success because great pitchbooks always tell great stories:

1. Tell an exceptional story

When considering a pitch, today’s investors need context – the “why,” “what” and “how” behind who you are as a fund, organization and team. Investors are looking for a solid narrative that differentiates you from the many pitchbooks that cross their desks – and screens – every day. Strong storytelling can help them see your potential more effectively, resulting in a stronger connection with you.

2. Clean and clear content

Investors don’t have time to dig around for what they need. Great pitchbook stories are tied together in ways that make sense. Designing them as intuitively as possible starts with a smart page-flow supported by a strong narrative. Cut down on copy to get right to the point and organize your hierarchy of information so your audience can more easily follow along.

3. Capture attention

Most people, including potential investors, are visual learners and will be better able to digest your content if it is illustrated creatively. So go ahead and slide some design tricks into your repertoire, allowing you to bring your pitch to life. Here are some design tips you can start with to keep investor attention on screen:

• Keep your visuals simple and clean, while tying them into the rest of your brand and marketing materials. Stick to one graph per slide.
• Use large fonts in dark colours. Avoid copy that is too small or light, as this will be too hard to read on a screen.

4. Use bold colours

Take advantage of brighter colours that you might not typically use. They might not print as well, but they can be ideal in a digital format. You can also use shades of colours to create a deeper visual experience. Shading allows for a sophisticated monochromatic approach.

5. Size matters

Most pitchbooks are 8.5×11 (the size required for printing). Instead, consider designing your pitchbook using a 16×9 aspect ratio, which is optimal for online presentations.

Creating an effective NexGen pitchbook – one that connects with your investor audience in a clear, compelling way, will always come down to how succinct, relevant and readable your message is. Telling a story that’s simple, logical and genuine is a great place to start.

Whether you are an issuer, hedge fund or private equity firm, it’s never been more important to have a great pitchbook help tell your story. Contact Ext. Marketing at to get started on your NexGen pitchbook.

Redesign or overhaul? Some tips for extending your visual brand’s longevity.

Although logos are generally considered the entirety of a company’s brand, they are actually really more of the tip of the iceberg. A well-designed logo is important, but a brand’s visual identity includes much more. If you are contemplating a brand redesign, consider how a more holistic approach can add value and longevity to your overall brand.

Your logo is only the beginning

Your logo and visual identity system go hand-in-hand. A strong logo makes it easier for your target audience to recognize and remember your brand. But a less cohesive visual identity system can undermine a good logo. Since a logo (even a great one) is only part of your overarching brand, it can be equated with a poorly articulated visual identity.

What is a visual identity system?

A visual identity system is a collection of graphics, colours, fonts, icons and imagery that includes your logo in your brand guideline. When used and deployed consistently, these guidelines become the visual identity associated with your brand. Your logo is the first impression your audience sees, while your visual identity system is the personality behind your brand and logo that reinforces your message. Read about the importance of creating clear brand guidelines.

Best practices for creating a resilient visual brand identity

To ensure your brand is resilient over the long term, here are a few tips from Ext. Marketing’s creative team:

  1. Do some upfront work
    Brainstorm with your internal team to share your company’s vision and what you are hoping to achieve by creating a strategy document.
    • Research logos and visual identity systems that you like (and why) to guide your creative team.
    • Look at competitors and other creatives to see how they are being perceived compared to how you want to be seen.
  2. Bring ideas back to the strategy document
    • The first step in creating a logo starts with a meeting between you and your designers. Before the designers can visually represent the brand; they need to understand your organization’s vision and personality.
    • If you want a logo that stands the test of time, think beyond immediate timeframes, and focus instead on where you want to be in five years.
    • Your logo’s value should address all key strategic elements.
  3. Try to avoid design fads
    Some recent trends in design include “retro” concepts or gradients that might look great now, but they could quickly date your brand.
  4. Accessibility is key
    People need to clearly see your logo. How discernible is it? Does it stand up with contrast checkers, across all mediums? Read more about the importance of accessible design.

Time for a redesign?

If you think your visual identity does not ideally encompass your brand personality, strategy, or your company has evolved and your logo is no longer an accurate representation of your company, this might be the right time for a redesign or refresh. This is especially true if your logo looks dated, or if there are technical issues and it doesn’t perform well either digitally or in print.

Although you can choose to completely redo your logo, a thorough logo or visual redesign could mean you’ll lose your hard-earned brand equity and recognition. You might want to do a refresh to elevate your logo, rather than a complete redesign. Or you might keep the logo as-is, and update the visual identity system for a brand refresh (while maintaining your brand equity).

Brilliantly designed marketing material – whether it’s a brochure, website, pitchbook or anything else – doesn’t just happen. Developing stunning visuals that truly differentiate brands requires design thinking, or a strong methodology for developing creative ideas.

Whether you are an emerging manager kickstarting your brand or an established firm ready for a redesign, Ext. Marketing is the financial services marketing and brand consultant that can help your investor-focused brand succeed long-term. Contact us today at to get started.


An interview with Cesar Lugo, Managing Director, Digital, Ext. Marketing

From the growing influence of TikTok to the emergence of AI-powered chatbots, the digital landscape has quickly evolved over the past year. To help us navigate the digital noise, we spoke with Ext. Marketing Digital Managing Director, Cesar Lugo (CL), to identify which trends demand further exploration. He shared with us why establishing a clear digital strategy can help companies easily navigate these changes and generate the best-possible business outcomes.

Q: How can a defined digital strategy help a company respond to emerging trends in technology?

CL: The digital ecosystem is vast and constantly changing. It’s easy to get swept up in the latest trends, without having a complete understanding of the problem you’re facing and the key drivers that will generate the desired outcome. Your digital strategy should include an audit of your current digital touchpoints, assets and tools; short-, medium- and long-term objectives; success measures; and a digital roadmap that can keep you on track.

A digital strategy is more than just a one-off project or a one-size-fits-all approach. It should reflect a long-term commitment to using digital tools to achieve your business objectives. Defining this foundational framework allows you to make strategic decisions about these emerging trends.

Q: What digital marketing and social media activation trends should companies be aware of heading into 2023?

CL: Here are some trends I believe will be game changers we should all be watching:

  • Individuals 45 years old and younger are turning to social media platforms rather than traditional search engines to find the information they need. There’s evidence of the same growth in buying and shopping on these social media platforms.
  • It is all about TikTok these days. There were nearly 1 billion active users in September 2022, which is impressive growth from 700 million users in July 2021.1 It will be important to stay up to date on U.S. regulations in the coming year, as lawmakers continue to scrutinize this platform.2
  • Short-form or ”snackable” videos are still crucial for driving views and generating richer engagement on social media. However, long-form content is making a comeback with the 25-and-under crowd.
  • Artificial Intelligence has grown in relevance in the tech industry, with expectations that it will grow by 23% from 2023 to 2028.3 ChatGPT is just the latest revolution worth exploring. This AI-generated natural language processing tool crossed one million users within one week of its November 30, 2022, launch.4 Spoiler alert: all these solutions will need human involvement to ensure quality and accuracy.
  • The metaverse, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and Web3 are on the horizon. Depending on your industry, these technologies might help your company grow in the future. We recommend you monitor the progress and adoption of NFTs and Web3 within your industry.

Q: How can companies capitalize on those opportunities in 2023?

CL: Most of these emerging trends could be very important to the success of your company. If your digital efforts need to catch up, now is the time to roll up your sleeves and develop a strategy. Establishing an effective digital ecosystem will provide you with the foundation to determine how these trends can benefit your business.

Whether you are increasing brand awareness, generating leads or raising capital, it is important you remember that your digital strategy should be diversified across digital platforms and mediums, and include regular A/B testing to determine whether or not you are achieving your business goals.

Q: What advice or takeaway do you want to leave companies with?

CL: It is important to be nimble and agile so you can respond to change. Digital spaces can open avenues and create a broader perspective on available opportunities, changing circumstances and even better ways to operate.

Contact us today at to start developing your digital strategy and to respond to the key emerging technology trends of 2023!

1 TikTok reveals U.S., global user growth numbers for first time (

2 TikTok has become a global giant. The US is threatening to rein it in | TikTok | The Guardian

3 2023: The Year of AI? A Closer Look at the Statistics and Trends in Artificial Intelligence | Deccan Herald

4 ChatGPT Statistics for 2023: Comprehensive Facts and Data (

Notes: From an Ext. perspective – these are trends we recommend you watch.

10 reasons why hedge funds need a great pitchbook

Whether you’re an established or emerging manager, a stellar pitchbook summarizes the most compelling reasons to invest in your fund, and forms the foundation of your sales and engagement strategy with stakeholders.

If you’re in the process of launching a fund or looking to revamp your marketing efforts, here are the biggest reasons why you need to create the best-possible pitchbook content and design.

1. Highlights the opportunity

Great pitchbooks clearly define the market areas your fund is focused on, support the opportunity through stats and figures and emphasize why now is the time to invest.

2. Sets your fund apart

There may be a long list of distinguishing factors, but honing in on the most appealing competitive advantages that your fund brings will enhance your pitch to investors.

3. Showcases the team

Investors want to see that there is relevant professional experience backing everything up. Effectively highlighting career accomplishments, expertise and high-level skills is essential.

4. Underscores your philosophy

Your overall process is driven by a distinct set of beliefs, otherwise known as an investment philosophy. This should be sharply outlined and served as the rationale for how you will succeed.

5. Breaks down the process

Piecing together all the vital components of the approach – e.g., sourcing, screening, investment selection, etc. – in a compelling investment process is critical to helping investors understand how you’ll generate returns.

6. Tells your origin story

Every hedge fund has a story. Whether it is founded upon a particular investment belief, driven by leadership’s illustrious skillset or represents a “meeting of advanced minds” – sharing this with investors will convey a strong foundation.

7. State your mission

Pitchbooks are a chance to succinctly communicate your commitment to investors and how you’ll consistently deliver results – through a concise mission or value statement.

8. Plug your culture

Perhaps it’s through collaboration, debate or proprietary research – sharing what makes your work environment unique and how you come up with great investment ideas is worthy of mention.

9. Emphasize your track record

If you have a solid track record, then sharing it is a given. Great pitchbooks isolate the most appealing aspects of performance history – through a creative design and persuasive content.

10. Call out potential

If you’re growing or launching your fund, you may not have a track record to share. But you can still call out performance from previous roles or professional accomplishments that directly lend to potential performance ahead.

If you would like to begin planning, writing and designing an amazing pitchbook, we can help. Contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or

Pandemic marketing lessons that are here to stay

We have learned many marketing lessons during the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are four key strategies that are likely to remain.  

1. Social distancing … is the new norm

Work from home, shop from home, do pretty much everything from home. It is a pre-pandemic trend that accelerated dramatically during lockdowns. Are we all more introverted than we thought? Whatever the case, we’ve become more comfortable with digital life. Not only digital shopping but attending virtual meetings and online conferences, taking continuing education courses, working from home – you name it. Doing it online has become the new norm.          

Clients have become accustomed to the time and location freedom provided by online transactions. So, keep developing tools that ease digital communication. Also, leverage customer relationship management (CRM) technology to obtain good digital intel on your contacts, as you may have fewer opportunities for in-person face time in the future.

2. Temperature checks … for your clients

We’re not talking about taking the temperature of your clients’ foreheads. We’re suggesting you take the “temperature” of your clients with surveys and conversations.

As business moves online, what you lose in face time you can more than make up for with “digital” time. By leveraging email, social media, webinars and virtual meetings, you can more efficiently manage your day.

You can survey clients formally via digital survey tools or informally during meetings by simply asking them what they want.

Surveys can address broad issues such as client satisfaction or target more specific areas of your business. It’s also valuable to capture information shared in informal conversations. These talks can sometimes bring nuance or a different answer than surveys alone. The insights you glean can help you develop an updated, or more highly refined, marketing strategy.

3. Clean and disinfect … your marketing strategy

To remain successful, marketing teams had to re-examine their marketing strategies in 2020 and 2021. While stressful and time consuming, most firms benefited from the changes. Some even reimagined or refined who they are.

Events weren’t cancelled, they went online. Print materials went digital. Digital became more interactive. Marketing teams became more selective about where, when and how they advertised.

Read more on B2B marketing trends.

4. Monitor your health … your marketing health that is

Going digital makes everything trackable. That’s not news. But it’s vital to embrace it like you will embrace your friends when lockdowns end.

Track data and use Google analytics to measure interest and key performance indicators. And then measure your success.

Having data at your fingertips will help you identify what’s working and what’s not, and adjust your plans accordingly. Most importantly, you can see when something is going right and lean into that success going forward.

Looking to take your marketing out of a creative lockdown? Ext. Marketing has the expertise you need. Contact us today at or 1.844.243.1830.

Why do I have to create key messaging?

Key messaging helps you articulate the core message you want to convey and hones your story, so your marketing is focused on the right story for the right audience. It also succinctly describes what it is about your firm that sets it apart from its peers, and ensures everyone in your organization is telling the same story.

This is especially important for financial services firms, which typically offer abstract or hard-to-explain products, operate in an industry that people find intimidating and face the unfortunate challenge of being perceived as overvalued.

Here are three reasons to create key messaging:

1. People don’t know what you do

While the above statement may not be entirely true, we think it’s good to act as though it is. “Distilling your story so it is short, authentic and memorable is key,” says Laurie Lupton, Ext.’s Vice President of Accounts and Client Strategy. “Understanding how you differentiate yourself from your competition is critical too.”

“We often work with incredibly talented people running successful businesses. Yet their websites and pitchbooks, for example, may not clearly tell their story. Key messaging describes what you do succinctly so your clients and prospects will understand what you do,” says Lupton.

2. People in your firm may describe what you do in different ways

If your business is being described to others in multiple ways, it can cause confusion and lost opportunities. After running many key messaging projects, Lupton says she’s no longer surprised when she hears a client say, “I’ve never thought of that before,” or “I wasn’t expecting that, but you’re right.”

As your business evolves over time, your marketing can become stale. What or who you were five years ago, might not be who you are today or what your business may evolve into in the future. “If you don’t know how to articulate what you do,” says Lupton, “how will anyone else understand it, let alone purchase your product or service?”

3. Marketing is easier once you complete your key messaging exercise

Your key messaging is the framework for all your marketing, from websites to brochures, pitchbooks and social media posts. If you’re ever in doubt about something you’ve written or designed, you can refer to your key messaging and ask yourself if you’re delivering on its promises. It acts as a “source of truth” to help you stay true to your brand and messaging.

To create effective key messaging, you need to confirm your goals, outline the framework you want to work in, interview key stakeholders and separate the wheat from the chaff (not everything you uncover will be useful). You then need to integrate the messaging across your marketing.

Looking for help with your key messaging?

Ext. Marketing has developed a framework we’ve refined over many years and projects. Our experience plays a crucial role in identifying gaps and drawing out the best insights for the future success of your firm.

Contact us today at or 1.844.243.1830 to learn how we can provide you with the support you need.

Get noticed on a budget: Key marketing strategies for fintech start-ups

The financial technology (“fintech”) industry has been growing at a breakneck pace. In such a competitive space, getting noticed as a start-up can be tricky. Here are three key ways to help you stand out from the crowd.

1. Define your value proposition

Think about it, write it down, revise it. Repeat. You understand what your company does and how it makes your clients’ lives easier, but can you distill all that down into a single, easy-to-understand sentence?

Putting the value proposition right into your tagline can help potential clients understand what you do immediately. For example, Wealthsimple uses, “Do money right: Powerful financial tools to help you grow and manage your money.” Shopify uses, “The platform commerce is built on.”

A strong pitch serves as the entrée for a longer, more detailed conversation about the benefits of your products and services. It ensures that when potential customers think of your company, they will have a clear idea of the often-complex nature of your work.

Another benefit? Your employees will better understand the vision and focus of the company, which will help them conduct business activities from sales to recruitment to investor relations.

2. Identify your key audiences

Fintech is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Customers will have different goals and present distinct challenges to achieving those goals. This can be a benefit to you as a marketer. It allows you to zero in on those individuals or companies with problems that your products are well positioned to solve.

Identifying your key audiences should be an ongoing process. You can take advantage of digital tools to find out who has been visiting your website, reading your LinkedIn posts and leaving comments.

Once those key audiences are identified, you need to determine the best ways to reach them, be it through owned media (your website, blog, social media posts), earned media (where you inspire others to share your posts) or bought media (purchased ad space or advertorial content). Each channel has unique benefits and costs, but all can be useful in getting your message out to the right people.

3. Leverage social media

Maintain a strong website and social media presence, and create blog posts to share your current thinking or research. Leverage your technology advantage. Industry-specific and tech-savvy mainstream media are hungry for stories about technology. By making them aware of what you’re doing, your offering may become a future headline.

With the growing importance of social media (such as LinkedIn) and community-specific forums (such as Reddit), the concept of engagement has evolved. While generating sales is still your goal, it’s also important to engage customers by building a community around your industry, your products and the people who use them.

Sharing great ideas or expertise via social media is a cost-effective way to introduce your company to new customers and maintain relationships with existing customers. Your posts will more likely be shared if they are thoughtful, timely and relevant to issues your potential clients are facing.

Also, the more you engage with prospects and customers, the more you will learn about them and the better you will be positioned to serve their fintech needs. Looking for marketing support in launching your fintech company?

Ext. has the expertise you need. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or

Your virtual meeting playbook

Virtual meetings are becoming the new norm. These best practices will help you run great meetings from anywhere, while leaving your clients with a positive impression.

Look your best

  1. Get ready for your close-up. Position your camera so that it’s just above your head. If you are using a laptop, put it on a stack of books.
  2. Light ’em up. Avoid being backlit as your face will be shadowed, and put a lamp slightly behind your screen.
  3. Dress for success. If you wouldn’t wear it in a client’s living room, don’t wear it now.
  4. Buy a better camera. The cameras on older computers generate a grainy image. Given that you may be conducting many virtual meetings from now on, an upgrade may be a smart investment.
  5. Let the sheet shine. A simple piece of white paper placed on the desk between you and your camera will improve your lighting and enhance the video. Give it a try – you’ll be surprised.

Meet better

  1. Clean your room. If you’re working from home, clean up the room behind you. Having nice art and/or bookshelves behind you is always a good choice.
  2. Share your screen. Augment your message with sharply designed slides. These will help focus your client’s attention, plus they give you a break from being on camera for an entire meeting.
  3. Don’t avert your eyes. Eyes tend to drift off-screen, especially when people are speaking off the cuff. You can better hold people’s attention by keeping your eyes on the camera or on the faces of the people you are meeting with.
  4. Questions, so many questions. Set aside more time than usual for questions – your clients will likely have lots of those. And they will appreciate you addressing their concerns over a medium that they might not be all that comfortable with yet.
  5. Mind the gap. Leave 30 minutes between meetings to ensure you don’t get backed up. While this might result in a less productive day, you can justify it knowing your clients are getting the extra attention they deserve.

Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or for any of your marketing questions.

ESG marketing about to face new scrutiny as SEC cracks down on greenwashing

Marketers love talking about ESG, but with regulators starting to examine investment managers’ policies, it’s more crucial than ever that claims align with reality.

ESG (an acronym for environmental, social and governance) investing is reshaping the investment industry, if not the entire world. And now, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is looking to reshape ESG.

Marketers are often called on to shape the messages that articulate ESG. What does it mean? Why does it matter? What do we do differently? Given the scope of the SEC’s approach, marketers’ work will be affected.

What’s happening – All eyes on ESG marketing messages

ESG issues such as climate change and diversity are driving everything from political agendas to corporate policies to your neighbours’ investment decisions. As such, many ESG investment products are coming to market.

Following in the footsteps of European regulators, the SEC is scrutinizing investment managers’ ESG claims. The SEC wants to know the standards that managers use to classify their ESG funds. The SEC is focused on the hype – and it wants to know if what marketers are saying is accurate.

Third parties are also reviewing managers’ claims. One recent study found that a number of climate-themed solutions are not living up to Paris Agreement goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions. While this study was limited and may have had gaps in its analysis, for marketers the point is clear: the messages you take to market will be viewed by many different parties.

What this means for you – Accuracy and authenticity rule

Marketers should be aware of the potential perils when their messages do not align with the investment policy and process. ESG is a broad label. It’s important that regulators do not think marketers are using vagueness to mislead investors.

Disclosures: Must reflect what’s actually occurring within the strategy. If not, financial and reputational risks may develop.

ESG issues: Make them crystal clear. If your fund is aligned with the Paris Agreement, explain how. If it focuses on governance issues such as diversity on boards, provide details.

The good news is that marketers, and the firms they work for, are staying ahead of change. In fact, they are taking leadership roles. In Canada, a recent Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) ESG-related roundtable discussed emerging issues in the ESG space. Enhancing ESG-related disclosure was at the top of the panel’s priorities.

In Europe, the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation requires ESG funds to classify themselves according to a specific framework. While this type of requirement may be further down the road for North American funds, it’s time for marketers here to prepare for the future.

Marketers need to work closely with product specialists to build a deep familiarity with ESG investment processes. This collaboration will help identify the data needed to back up their marketing messages.

With those relationships in place and the data in hand, marketers can ensure their messages are accurate and authentic, which will further help their messages resonate in the market.

Learn more

Looking for support in refining your ESG messaging? Ext. has the expertise you need. Contact us today at 1.844.243.1830 or

Monday morning briefing: AMC shares wilder than anything on screen right now

Back in 2020, Bill Ackman launched Pershing Square Tontine Holdings SPAC and raised over US$4 billion. A couple of attempted deals fell through, but now it appears Pershing may be closing in on a deal to purchase 10% of Universal Music Group from Vivendi SE before it goes public. While the deal hasn’t been finalized, it could be massive if it does go through. It would value Universal Music, which is the world’s largest publisher of music, at US$40 billion.

Economic/industry news

Canada’s economy grows 5.6%, annualized, in the first quarter: Economy grew at 5.6% annual rate in first quarter of year, Statistics Canada says

Canada’s unemployment rate rises to 8.2% in May: Canada suffers second labour market setback ahead of reopening

The U.S. economy adds jobs in May, unemployment rate falls: U.S. added 559,000 jobs in May, vs 671,000 estimate

According to BlackRock’s Fink, rising inflation could be a cause for concern: BlackRock CEO Larry Fink sees potential for ‘big shock’ from inflation

Reasons for hope

WHO authorizes use of Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine globally: China’s Sinovac shot cleared for wider global use by the WHO

Setting sail: 1st cruise ship sails through Venice since start of pandemic

New cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. plummeting: COVID cases in U.S. fall to levels not seen since March 2020

Adapting your business

Most leaders want to develop intelligent systems: Eight in ten leaders want intelligent systems success in five years but the time to start blueprinting is now

Strong collaboration with tax preparers can generate referrals: How advisors can impress tax preparers to get referrals 

Pros and cons of crowdfunding vs. angel investors: Crowdfunding vs. angel investors for early stage startups

Clients are asking about cryptocurrencies: Advisors’ interest in crypto assets rising: FPA Survey

Pandemic caused many to change their estate plans: TD Wealth survey finds COVID-19 had major impact on estate planning

Remote work could have lasting impact on businesses: Working from home may revolutionize businesses

Chart of the week: AMC shares wilder than anything on screen right now

Shares of Redditt-darling AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. had a wild ride last week. Attaining the “meme stock” moniker, shares of AMC surged as retail investors piled into the stock. And this action wasn’t isolated to North American investors, as people from all over the world joined in. But significant volatility hit the company’s share price on June 3, when AMC took advantage of its elevated share price to sell 11.6 million shares and raise about US$587 million. By the end of the week, the share price was up 84%. Let us know what you think.
Used with permission of Bloomberg Finance L.P.

News and notes (U.S.)

Hedge funds receive inflows of US$12.47 billion in April: Money continues to pour into hedge funds as investor interest remains strong

Bob Doll joins Crossmark Global Investments as CIO: Bob Doll joins faith-based investment firm

Will family offices be impacted by rising inflation?: Is inflation the biggest threat to family offices – scenarios to navigate

Mutual fund sales and performance over the past two weeks: Mutual funds scorecard: June 1 edition

News and notes (Canada)

Trying to replicate an annuity through a mutual fund: Purpose Investments tries wooing retirement savers with new annuity-like fund

Title protection in Ontario likely coming in the first half of 2022: Title protection in Ontario on track for 2022

Accepting deposits in real-time: Questrade introduces Instant Deposit to allow investors to fund trade accounts in seconds

Desjardins agrees to purchase Hexavest: Desjardins buys Montreal boutique firm Hexavest

For financial marketing and investment commentary help, contact us at 1.844.243.1830 or

Monday morning briefing: Litecoin, meet gravity

It appears that every company engaged in the streaming business is looking for ways to increase content, and spending billions to do so. Amazon agreed to purchase MGM Studios for US$8.45 billion. This will give Amazon access to MGM’s catalogue of films and TV shows. Amazon, which steams shows and movies through Amazon Prime, is hoping the deal will help the company compete against other streaming behemoths like Netflix and Disney, which both have massive pipelines of in-house content.

Economic/industry news

Core PCE prices rise 3.1% year-over-year: A key U.S. inflation gauge rose 3.1% year over year, higher than expected

Second estimate confirms sharp growth in first quarter GDP: U.S. GDP expanded at unrevised 6.4% rate in first quarter

How supply chain issues negatively impact consumers: Supply chain shortages are blocking multiple industries. Here’s what it means for you

The economic recovery in emerging markets could lag, stalling the global recovery: IMF head warns of ‘ricochet impact’ of uneven global recovery

The number of cryptocurrencies rises: The number of cryptocurrencies almost doubled since 2019 and hit over 5,300

Reasons for hope

The vaccine rollout in Canada is progressing: Half of all Canadians have had one COVID-19 shot; full reopening still months off

Mild symptoms of COVID-19 could produce antibodies, which may give long-term immunity: Good news: Mild COVID-19 induces lasting antibody protection

Vaccines, reopenings and social gatherings may make it a fun summer for backyard barbeques: Grill makers are ready for a busy summer of maskless backyard BBQs

Adapting your business

Statistics Canada predicts 25% remote work hours post pandemic: Remote work habits are likely to outlast the pandemic in Canada

The opportunities and challenges for investment professionals in a hybrid work model: How remote work is changing the industry and advisors

Bringing private markets to retail clients: This new fund structure helps retail clients access private markets

Maintaining high standards helped this hospitality business thrive during pandemic: How this hospitality business not only survived, but thrived during the pandemic

How different generations define wealth: What ‘wealth’ really means to 4 different generations

Chart of the week: Litecoin, meet gravity

Another cryptocurrency that has come under pressure in recent weeks has been Litecoin. Considered the silver to Bitcoin’s gold, Litecoin was launched in 2011 and is quite similar to Bitcoin, but with some key differences. For example, Litecoin can confirm transactions faster than Bitcoin and has lower fees. Litecoin is the official cryptocurrency of the Miami Dolphins NFL team. And, according to BeInCrypto, over 2,000 online vendors already accept Litecoin as payment. The price of Litecoin rose 183% from the end of 2020 to its high on May 7, 2021. But these gains have pared back in recent weeks along with other digital currencies. Given its age and ability to remain within the top ranks of cryptocurrencies, some believe Litecoin has staying power. Let us know what you think.
Used with permission of Bloomberg Finance L.P.

News and notes (U.S.)

Strong performance pushes hedge fund assets to new record: Hedge funds surpass $4 trillion in assets

More hedge funds looking at cryptocurrencies: Hedge funds look to increase crypto exposure

Going green: Private equity has been slow to go green, but that may be changing

The ongoing interest in sports from PE firms: On the podcast: Private equity’s sports play

Canadian Bitcoin ETFs may prove useful for Bitcoin applications in the U.S.: Bitcoin ETF backers see Canada fund’s slump as reason to believe

News and notes (Canada)

Regulator focuses on unregulated crypto trading: OSC begins crypto crackdown

Labour productivity rising: Labour productivity leaped 3.8% in the last quarter of 2020

Younger investors looking to manage investments on their own: Survey finds 10% of Canadians plan to leave their advisor

SPAC to take Canadian steelmaker public: Steelmaker Algoma Steel to go public in SPAC deal

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Monday morning briefing: Ford finds a new outlet

JPMorgan Chase & Co. is committed to improving the employer-sponsored healthcare market. After exiting a joint venture with Inc. and Berkshire Hathaway Inc., JPMorgan launched Morgan Health in another attempt to help improve employee benefits and health equity in the U.S. The company is focused on new innovations, and is testing this new offering within JPMorgan itself. If it works, the company will expand Morgan Health to other businesses. JPMorgan is hoping that its focus on testing new innovations based on its own employees’ needs will help drive further meaningful solutions.

Economic/industry news

Canada’s inflation rate higher than expected: Canadian consumer prices climb at fastest pace in a decade

Retail sales in Canada rise 3.6% in March, but April sales may fall: Retail sales in Canada reverse gains in April amid lockdowns

Fed appears to be thinking about tapering: Fed minutes: Economy remains far from FOMC goals

SPACs are set to become more popular in Europe: As the US SPAC boom cools, Europe’s is just heating up

Bitcoin may be close to a top, according to some fund managers: Fund managers say ‘long Bitcoin’ is the most crowded trade in the world

U.S. yields may continue to rise: An outlook for U.S. yields

Reasons for hope

Determining if mixing vaccines will be helpful: Preliminary results from Spanish study suggest mix and matching vaccine doses may increase antibodies

Kickstarting restaurants will help the economic recovery: Reviving food services sector key to economic recovery

Adapting your business

McKinsey looks at workplace issues as we come out of the pandemic: COVID-19: Implications for business

Asking employees to rest: Companies are battling burnout by giving employees more vacation days-but will they take them?

Bringing digital asset SMAs to advisors: Dynasty launches first crypto options for its advisors

Most Canadians want to go back to work with a hybrid model: Workers in Canada want to get back to the office, KPMG says

Chart of the week: Ford finds a new outlet

Ford Motor Co.’s Ford F-150, the best selling vehicle in Canada and the U.S., is going electric. Ford unveiled a prototype of the electric F-150, named Lightning, on May 20. The truck will have all the power of its gas-powered version and still tow up to 10,000 pounds. Ford also agreed to a joint venture with SK Innovation Co. Ltd. to produce battery cells and modules.

The company is not only battling old rivals in the race to electric, but relatively newer entrants such as Tesla Inc. Since the beginning of 2020, the stock price of Ford has significantly underperformed Tesla’s. As Ford makes significant inroads in the electric vehicle space, can its share price growth catch up? Let us know what you think.
Used with permission of Bloomberg Finance L.P.

News and notes (U.S.)

Strong demand for hedge funds during the first quarter: Investor inflows hit USD9 billion as hedge funds see trade volumes surge in Q1

PE looking to capitalize on exits: How private equity plans to cash in on the COVID-19 recovery

Helping teens build strong financial habits: Fidelity rolls out no-fee investing accounts for teens

Mutual fund sales and performance over the past two weeks: Mutual funds scorecard: May 19 edition

News and notes (Canada)

Ninepoint launches new ETFs: Ninepoint launches three ETFs on NEO

Is space an issue for Canada’s real estate market?: The second-largest country in the world is running out of land

Canadians find opportunities in U.S. stocks: Canadian investors continue U.S. stock-buying binge: StatsCan

Those under 35 are more willing to bid above asking to purchase a home: Younger homebuyers more willing to fight bidding wars: survey

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Monday morning briefing: Elon bails on Bitcoin

Athletes continued to rake in big bucks in 2020 despite the pandemic. The highest paid athlete in 2020 was Ultimate Fighting Championship star, Conor McGregor, who earned US$180 million, according to Forbes’ list of the Top 10 highest-paid athletes. Despite the pandemic hindering many sporting events, including the Olympics in Japan, sports returned to television. That said, most events had few to no in-person attendees. In earning much of their income through endorsements and other sources, athletes are understanding a key financial pillar: diversification.

Economic/industry news

U.S. inflation rate exceeds expectations: Inflation speeds up in April as consumer prices leap 4.2%, fastest since 2008

U.S. retail sales miss forecasts in April: U.S. retail sales unchanged in April

Diversify by industry, not country, according to a new study: Why investing by country is the wrong way to approach equity portfolios

Higher inflation may help value stocks: Why rising inflation may help sustain value’s recovery

Global IPO activity is surging in 2021: The IPO market is booming

Reasons for hope

Hopeful for more reopenings and social interactions by the fall: Trudeau’s ‘one-dose summer’ pitch raises hope for reopening plan

A look at reopenings around the world: When will international travel return? A country-by-country guide to coronavirus recovery

Celebrating our nurses: Former COVID-19 patients surprise their front-line heroes on National Nurses Day

Adapting your business

Better perception of asset managers who have a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion: The ‘hidden competitive advantage’ that sets apart consultants’ favorite asset managers

Tips to manage your start-up costs: 8 strategies for lowering your startup costs

Protecting privacy and anonymity in crypto transactions: Protecting your Bitcoin transactions

Understanding and preparing for client-focused reforms: What KYP reforms mean for advisors

Advisors need to know these important ESG trends: Three key ESG trends advisors need to be aware of

Chart of the week: Elon bails on Bitcoin

The price for Bitcoin came under pressure last week as the massive amount of electricity required to mine Bitcoin caught the public’s eye, as well as the attention of billionaires and policy makers. U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen voiced concern about the impact this mining is having on the environment. According to the Cambridge Bitcoin Electricity Consumption Index, mining for Bitcoin uses more energy than the energy required for some countries.

Now Elon Musk, previously a proponent of Bitcoin, has chimed in and expressed concern about the environmental impact of Bitcoin. Tesla has suspended the purchases of its vehicles using Bitcoin. The company will maintain its Bitcoin holdings and will not sell any until the environmental impact of Bitcoin is minimized. The news sent the price of Bitcoin spiraling down on May 13, hitting its lowest level since February, before paring back some of those losses. Can Bitcoin regain confidence and become more energy efficient? Let us know what you think..
Used with permission of Bloomberg Finance L.P.

News and notes (U.S.)

It’s been a strong start to the year for hedge funds: Hedge funds are on a roll with strongest Jan-to-April returns in 20 years

Interest in SPACs may be waning: SPAC mania gives way to ‘meh’ as ETFs drop toward all-time lows

It’s not a Bitcoin ETF, but at least it says “crypto”: First ETF with ‘Crypto’ in name starts trading Wednesday on NYSE Arca

Cryptocurrency under custody keeps growing at Gemini: Gemini surpasses USD30bn in crypto under custody

News and notes (Canada)

CI acquires a San Diego-based RIA: CI acquires US$5.1B San Diego-based RIA

Sterling Mutuals adding ETFs to its lineup: Sterling Mutuals adds ETFs to product shelf

Canadians concerned about the housing market: Freaked-out Canadians open to rate hikes to cool hot housing market

FSRA wants a central database of title-users: FSRA updates title reg proposal

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Monday morning briefing: All Doges go to heaven … or, at least, the moon

A big congratulations to ext.’s very own President, Richard Heft, and Head of Content, Andrew Broadhead on their new book, The Ascendant Advisor. The book is now available on Amazon and uses content marketing and communications strategies to help financial advisors succeed in a post-pandemic world. This is an important subject for Richard and Andrew, who have dedicated their careers to helping advisors and financial services institutions’ convey their message and stories to clients. This is definitely a must-read for industry professionals. 

Economic/industry news

Canada’s unemployment rate rises to 8.1% in April: Canadian economy lost 207,000 jobs in April, unemployment rate rises

The U.S. economy adds fewer jobs than expected: April’s expected hiring boom goes bust as nonfarm payroll gain falls well short of estimates

The Bank of England keeps its key rate steady at 0.10%: Bank of England slows bond-buying, sees economy bouncing back more quickly

Pension assets rebound strongly: The pandemic hit public pension funds hard – but now they’re better funded than they’ve been in years

Jim Grant’s thoughts on whether or not the Fed can contain inflation: Can the Fed contain inflation? Jim Grant says don’t count on it

Reasons for hope

Pfizer vaccine now deemed safe for teens: Children 12 and older now cleared to receive Pfizer vaccine: Health Canada

As India struggles, some companies stepping up to help: UPS donates $1 million in COVID aid to India, joining corporate giants including FedEx, Google and Amazon

Moderna to ramp up vaccine production later this year and next: Moderna will make up to 3 billion vaccine doses in 2022

Adapting your business

How to help employees who have suffered mental health issues in response to the pandemic: Employers brace for COVID’s mental health fallout as workers return

Don’t stop trying to achieve your goals: Stop stopping 

Some tips to develop a strong cybersecurity network: The 6 things small businesses need to know about security 

How to build employee loyalty: How to motivate staff (besides splashing money around)

The importance of understanding client personalities: Want your advice to stick? Consider your client’s personality

Chart of the week: All Doges go to heaven … or, at least, the moon

Add Dogecoin to the list of cryptocurrencies soaring higher in 2021. What is Dogecoin and how has it become so popular? Dogecoin was started as a bit of joke, and was named after a popular meme. A major difference between Dogecoin and some other digital coins is the ease in which miners can find Dogecoin, and there is not a finite supply. People such as Elon Musk and Mark Cuban have shown interest in the crypto, while Gemini, the crypto exchange founded by the Winklevoss twins, will soon allow trading of Dogecoin. Its price has risen more than 13,000% since the beginning of the year, now making it the fifth largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization. What’s next for this “memecoin?” Let us know what you think.
Used with permission of Bloomberg Finance L.P.

News and notes (U.S.)

Using technology to raise operational standards: Raising the bar for startup technology partners

Private equity makes a big splash in the digital media industry: Buyout of AOL, Yahoo signals PE’s biggest bet on digital media 

Private equity firms don’t see SPACs as competitors: Private equity firms aren’t worried about SPACs anymore 

Prepare to wait a bit longer for the first Bitcoin ETF in the U.S.: SEC delays Bitcoin ETF approval

Mutual fund sales and performance over the past two weeks: Mutual funds scorecard: May 5 edition

News and notes (Canada)

Investing in strong companies that are focused on climate change: Manulife launches climate-focused funds

Canadian ETFs post strong inflows in April, particularly crypto ETFs: Crypto ETFs hit $2.5B in AUM in April

Seeking growth through acquisitions: Wealthsimple eyes acquisitions after US$610M funding round

Some Canadian CEOs slow in acting on climate change: Canadian CEOs lag on climate change action

Demand for commercial properties in Canada is rising: ‘Stronger’ commercial leasing environment emerged amid COVID: RioCan REIT CEO

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Monday morning briefing: Copper climbs

As vaccines are rolled out and a return to more normal conditions become a reality, the hard hit global travel industry received some positive news last week. A report noted that the European Union may soon begin allowing U.S. tourists who have been fully vaccinated to visit Europe this summer. The same situation is developing the U.K., which might also begin opening its borders to American travelers this summer. This, of course, is highly dependent on continued progress made to curb the spread of the pandemic.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provided guidance to cruise operators that they can soon begin sailing with customers again. This is all welcome news for an industry that was particularly hard hit by the pandemic.

Economic/industry news

The Fed holds its policy rate steady: Fed holds interest rates near zero, sees faster growth and higher inflation

U.S. GDP expands 6.4%, annualized, in the first quarter: U.S. recovery gains steam as spending fuels 6.4% GDP growth

A look inside the American Families Plan: Here’s what’s in Biden’s $1.8 trillion American Families Plan

Retail sales in Canada rise 4.8% in February: Retail sales climbed in February ahead of third wave: StatsCan

Does bad weather impact investment decisions?: Even the most ‘sophisticated’ investors have rainy days

Reasons for hope

Americans can remove masks in some outdoor gatherings: Vaccinated Americans can go unmasked outdoors, gather indoors

Helping Canadians book their vaccine appointments: Having trouble booking your shot? These volunteer ‘vaccine hunters’ want to help

U.K. workers are beginning to return to the office: Almost half of U.K. office workers are back at their desks

Adapting your business

Understanding client vulnerability: How dealers can protect vulnerable clients

Embracing a flexible schedule: Manulife CEO embraces flex schedules, unhurried return to office

Building a portfolio for the very long term: How to build a portfolio that outperforms for a century

The financial planning industry is more important than ever: An inflection point for advice and planning

Helping people with their financial well-being: How well-being drives a future financial planner

The underlying motivation of investment managers: The best managers aren’t in it just for the money

Chart of the week: Copper climbs

The price of copper surged higher last week, reaching its highest level since 2011 and approaching the US$10,000/tonne mark. Strong global demand, along with supply concerns, have been pushing the metal’s price higher. Copper is often used as a barometer for global economic conditions, given its vast range of uses, particularly for industrial goods. Copper is used in things like electrical equipment, building construction, vehicles, etc.

And copper prices might have room to climb. Governments continue to announce plans to become more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. Given copper is used in renewable energy systems, while also helping to reduce CO2 emissions and the amount of energy required to produce electricity, its value should continue to grow. Could prices advance to all-time highs? Let us know what you think.
Used with permission of Bloomberg Finance L.P.

News and notes (U.S.)

Hedge funds trail other investment firms in incorporating ESG factors: Hedge funds off the pace on ESG integration, new bfinance investor poll finds

Blackstone reaches record quarterly profits in Q1: Blackstone posts highest profit yet, powered by growth-equity and SPAC deals 

Understanding the good and the bad of the new Ad Rule: The SECs ad rule: New strategies, new risks

JPMorgan to give its wealthy clients access to Bitcoin: JPMorgan preparing to offer Bitcoin Fund to wealthy clients: report

News and notes (Canada)

Serving business-owner clients: Canadian Western Bank sets sights on HNW entrepreneurs

A drop in labour force participation could stall the economic recovery: Fraser Institute: Canada’s aging population will reduce labour force participation, slow economic growth

No change in Canada’s AAA rating from S&P: S&P maintains AAA rating on Canada despite historic deficits

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Monday morning briefing: Are NFTs the next Beanie Babies?

Could a higher capital gains tax be on the way in the U.S.? Bloomberg News reported U.S. President Joe Biden may propose an increase to the capital gains tax from 20.0% to 39.6% on the wealthy. Adding this to the 3.8% tax charged on investment income will take the total tax on investment income for the wealthy in the U.S. to 43.4%. This would make the total percentage of taxes paid by wealthier Americans on investment income greater than the highest tax rate they pay for both wages and salaries.

The proposed change is expected to be announced this week along with the release of further details about the American Families Plan (“AFP”). Higher taxes on investment income are expected to support some of the spending of the new AFP, while the impact the new capital gains tax rate might have on equity prices is still an unknown.

Economic/industry news

The BoC eases its bond purchase program: Bank of Canada keeps rate on hold, sees brighter economic outlook

Canada’s consumer prices rise 0.5% in March: Annual pace of inflation leaps higher in March to 2.2%, Statistics Canada says

According to Fidelity, traditional portfolios are changing: Advisors drift away from traditional portfolios, Fidelity says

The U.K. Treasury and BoE are exploring a digital currency: UK to explore issuing its own digital currency amid bitcoin boom

Could value outperform growth over the next 10 years?: Vanguard sees value trouncing growth by 5%-7% annually for next decade

Reasons for hope

Protecting UN peacekeepers: India donates 200,000 COVID vaccinations to protect UN peacekeepers around the world

On pace to reach President Biden’s 100-day goal: COVID cases, vaccinations remain elevated as U.S. nears Biden’s 200 million goal

Adapting your business

Study finds employees may be more productive working from home: Yes, working from home makes you more productive, study finds

Zoom fatigue is setting in, particularly among younger employees: 64% of younger employees suffer anxiety from excessive Zoom meetings, study finds

How to network in the current virtual environment: 4 ways to effectively network today

Planning a return to the office: How to plan a seamless transition back into the office

Canada’s fintech industry is thriving: A growth spurt for fintechs

Chart of the week: Are NFTs the next Beanie Babies?

Interest in non-fungible tokens (“NFT”) has exploded in recent months. An NFT is a digital piece of artwork, video, trading card or other digital good that can be bought and sold across the blockchain network. Many companies involved in the digital space are hoping to access this new market. Hall of Fame Resort & Entertainment Co., a sports, entertainment and media company focused on professional football, recently partnered with Dolphin Entertainment Inc. to create an NFT that will allow fans to buy and sell professional football content. The stock prices and trading volume of both companies initially surged higher before pulling back. The partnership, and continued investor interest, demonstrates heightened enthusiasm for anything and everything NFT. What does the future hold for NFTs? Let us know what you think.
Used with permission of Bloomberg Finance L.P.

News and notes (U.S.)

Management and performance fees may rise this year: The biggest alternatives firms will make more money from fees in 2021

Hedge funds taking a larger position in the VC space: How hedge funds are leading the race to stake startups

M&A activity in the RIA space began to cool in the first quarter: RIA M&A activity pulling back from record highs, DeVoe says

Mutual fund sales and performance over the past two weeks: Mutual funds scorecard: April 21 edition

News and notes (Canada)

Asset managers purchasing ESG boutiques to access this burgeoning space: Canadian asset managers targeting ESG boutiques

Total assets in mutual funds and ETFs increased in March: Mutual fund sales outpace ETF sales in March

The OSC studied the experiences of self-directed retail investors: Many DIY investors shun advice as too expensive

A fee war is underway between the Ether ETFs: An Ether ETF isn’t even launched and already there is a fee war

A look at some of the highlights from the Canadian federal budget: Tax highlights from Budget 2021

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Monday morning briefing: Coinbase arrives … to mixed reviews

Walmart Inc. has taken a major step in its plan to create a more efficient delivery network to challenge, Inc. Walmart now has a position in Cruise LLC, an autonomous-vehicle company. Cruise’s majority shareholder is General Motors Co. Walmart will be begin testing grocery deliveries in Scottsdale, Arizona, this year.

Large e-commerce companies are looking to control the entire sales ecosystem, meaning from warehouse to customers’ doorsteps. Walmart expects fewer customers will visit its physical locations in the future.

Economic/industry news

U.S. inflation rate rises to 2.6% in March: Consumer prices rise more than expected, pushed by 9.1% jump in gasoline

U.S. retail sales jump 9.8% in March: Rebound in U.S. economy gathers steam with surge in retail sales

China posts strong year-over-year growth: China’s economy grows by a record 18.3% in the first quarter

ESG investing requires the human touch: Goldman Sachs says humans beat algorithms when it comes to ESG

Has the earnings boom arrived?: The earnings boom is here

Reasons for hope

Pfizer increases vaccine shipments to the European Union in Q2: Pfizer boosts second-quarter EU vaccine supply by 50 million

J&J vaccine pause not slowing down the U.S. vaccine rollout program: U.S. vaccination pace picks up as officials say Johnson & Johnson pause won’t slow rollout

People preparing for a better post-pandemic future: People are optimistic the end of the pandemic is near – and they’ve laid the groundwork for a better future

Adapting your business

Get your business ready for the coming rush of customers: How to scale your team for the impending customer surge

How to be “politely persistent”: 10 ways to be politely persistent

Crafting a great client e-newsletter (featuring Richard Heft): You’ve got mail

It may be time for a recharge: Pattie Lovett-Reid: WFH fatigue grows as pandemic enters year two

Protecting retirees’ portfolios from inflation: How financial advisors are protecting retirees from inflation

Chart of the week: Coinbase arrives … to mixed reviews

Coinbase Global Inc. went public on April 14, and it didn’t take long for the company’s market capitalization reach US$100 billion as investors rushed into the stock  … before quickly pulling back. It was reported ARK Investment Management purchased almost US$250 million worth of the company’s stock on the first day for some of its funds.

Coinbase provides a platform for investors to buy, sell and store digital assets, and is an extremely popular cryptocurrency exchange in the U.S. Coinbase earned a revenue of US$1.3 billion in 2020, with Bloomberg estimating that its revenue will grow to US$4.7 billion in 2021. Could this listing give cryptocurrencies even more legitimacy in the investing universe? Let us know what you think.
Used with permission of Bloomberg Finance L.P.

News and notes (U.S.)

Putting the SRI into macro hedge funds: How macro hedge funds can do more to embrace SRI

Ellie Rubenstein building her own PE firm focused on responsible food companies: Carlyle family dealmakers stake out new ground with food portfolio

The SEC is paying close attention to SPACs: Regulators ramp up scrutiny of SPACs

New applications for Bitcoin ETFs keep getting filed with SEC: Bitcoin ETF drumbeat gets louder as eight issuers file with SEC

News and notes (Canada)

Capitalizing on the clean energy investing trend: Canadian ETF providers look to capitalize on clean energy theme

Offsetting large companies’ carbon footprints: Proposed ETFs from Evolve will offset carbon footprints of large companies

Fundata Canada introduced its new Fundata ESG Ratings: New Fundata ESG Ratings can help build RI portfolios

The Canadian federal government provides a loan and an investment in Air Canada: ‘Holy cow’: Feds take stake in Air Canada as airline lands $5.9B in aid

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Monday morning briefing: Coherent crypto or Ethereum delirium?

What a day for the BlackRock U.S. Carbon Transition Readiness ETF, which recorded a massive US$1.25 billion of inflows in its first day of trading last Thursday. The ETF invests in companies on the Russell 1000 Index that it expects to thrive in a low-carbon environment.

BlackRock CEO, Larry Fink, a big advocate of environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) investing for some time, has been demanding change from corporate CEOs. It is, therefore, not surprising that BlackRock’s new ESG product is so highly valued by investors. ESG ETFs attracted record inflows in 2020, and their popularity has continued thus far in 2021. According to Refinitiv, ESG funds should experience another year of strong inflows, with “social” becoming a key theme in ESG investing this year.

Economic/industry news

Canada’s unemployment rate falls to 7.5% in March: Canada adds 303,000 jobs in March, unemployment rate falls

The Fed is not moving on policy anytime soon: Fed officials say easy policy will stay in place until economic ‘outcomes’ are achieved

ESG funds have outperformed since the start of the pandemic: Here’s more evidence that ESG funds outperformed during the pandemic

A crypto ATM machine is coming soon to a location near you: At least one crypto ATM is installed hourly, total global machines to reach 20k in two months

Reasons for hope

Some vaccines found to be effective against the California variant: 2 vaccines in use will be effective against variant of COVID-19 identified in California, Duke finds

Opera singers helping those suffering from shortness of breath as a result of COVID-19: How opera singers are helping people with ‘long COVID’

IMF believes government spending to support economic growth during the pandemic will result in tax revenue: IMF says controlling virus can raise US$1 trillion in tax revenue

Adapting your business

Preparing to thrive after the pandemic: The secret to business survival in today’s tough market

Fidelity planning to boost hiring: Fidelity to hire 1,000 financial planners in 2021

How financial advisors can become a go-to resource: How to establish yourself as the alternative

Launching a membership program: Best Buy starts paid membership program to rival Amazon, Walmart

Chart of the week: Coherent crypto or Ethereum delirium?

While much attention has been paid to Bitcoin over the past few years, Ethereum has been gaining in popularity more recently in the cryptocurrency space. Ethereum is a blockchain network that carries Ether. This rise in popularity has prompted preliminary filings from Canadian ETF companies in an effort to launch Ethereum ETFs. The price of Ethereum has exploded thus far in 2021, and rose approximately 159% over the first quarter. Similar to Bitcoin, the rise in the price of Ethereum has been in response to increased interest from institutional investors.

Ethereum has benefited from other factors as well. Visa has begun settling its cryptocurrency transactions using the Ethereum network, while billionaire Mark Cuban has also stated his support of Ethereum. The largest difference between Bitcoin and Ethereum is the ability for developers to build applications on the Ethereum network, which they can’t do on the Bitcoin network. One question is which one will gain the most traction and be more widely adopted? Let us know what you think.
Used with permission of Bloomberg Finance L.P.

News and notes (U.S.)

Hedge fund investing in new technology is focused on alternative data: Amid the pandemic, hedge funds grapple with investments in new tech and alternative data

Financial firms join forces to create crypto trade group: Fidelity, other investment firms form crypto trading group

U.S. ETFs posted record inflows over the first quarter: U.S. ETF inflows set new record in first quarter

Mutual fund sales and performance over the past two weeks: Mutual funds scorecard: April 7 edition

News and notes (Canada)

CI launches the CI Bitcoin Fund: CI GAM launches Bitcoin mutual fund

There’s growing interest among investors in active ETFs: Canadian ETF investors get active

What the C.D. Howe Institute hopes for in the next federal budget: ‘Wrenching adjustment’ awaits feds if debt is unchecked: C.D. Howe

A national securities regulator appears unlikely: Shuttering of national securities regulator came as no surprise to industry

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Monday morning briefing: SPAC your bags, we’re hunting for acquisitions

There was big news for the cannabis industry as New York became the sixteenth state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana use for adults. Sales are expected to start next year. Early projections are that sales could reach US$4.2 billion per year in New York. Furthermore, the legalization may open up thousands of jobs in the state.

It’s unlikely that legalization in New York will have a material impact on Canadian cannabis companies. However, should cannabis use become legal at the federal level, it may provide an opening for Canadian companies to gain a significant footprint in the U.S. market.

Economic/industry news

Canada’s GDP expands faster than expected in January: Canada’s recovery keeps up pace despite second-wave lockdowns

The Fed is not keeping rates low to help the government finance debt: Fed’s Waller says the central bank isn’t keeping rates low to finance government debt

Higher interest rates may not have a substantial impact on Canadian households: Households ready to weather higher interest rates: report

High correlation of returns make geographical diversification difficult: Geographical diversification is harder to come by, report says

Reasons for hope

Canada expecting a larger number of doses in June: Pfizer increases spring schedule, adds 5M doses to June shipments

Pfizer vaccine effective in children between 12 and 15 years old: Pfizer says COVID vaccine is 100% effective in kids ages 12 to 15

Adapting your business

A diverse team can help returns: What a ‘superior’ hedge fund team looks like

Finding solutions to work-from-home fatigue: Zoom CFO explains how the company’s employees avoid work-from-home fatigue

Exploring the future of financial planning: The future has never looked brighter

Social issues are top of mind among Canadian CEOs: 6 things your clients may not know about retirement planning

Chart of the week: SPAC your bags, we’re going hunting for acquisitions

Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (SPACs) have become more popular. These blank-cheque companies are formed for the sole purpose of acquiring an existing company. For investors, trust is put into the founder that a target company can be found and acquired. If an acquisition is not completed within two years, money is returned to investors. SPACs are also drawing the attention of the SEC regarding issues around how retail investors may be impacted.

In the first quarter of 2021, approximately 300 SPACs were launched, raising more than US$100 billion. Issuance has slowed recently as bankers and lawyers cannot keep pace with the number of SPACs looking to come to market. After strong performance in 2020, SPAC returns have since fallen partly as a result of an oversupply of issues. Let us know what you think about the future of SPACs.
Used with permission of Bloomberg Finance L.P.

News and notes (U.S.)

Total assets in the hedge fund industry grew to US$3.4 trillion as of February: Hedge funds’ coffers swell further in February, as investors pile in

PE investment in tech firms sets new record in the first quarter: Private equity’s taste for tech spurs $80 billion deal spree

Selling NBA highlights using blockchain technology: NBA Top Shot mints a unicorn: How an Ethereum competitor cashed in on the NFT craze

BlackRock holds the strongest brand among asset managers: BlackRock, the world’s biggest asset manager, is also the world’s strongest asset management brand

Guinness Atkinson makes history with the first mutual fund to ETF conversion: History made with first U.S. mutual funds converted to ETFs

News and notes (Canada)

It was a busy week for ETF launches: Fund companies announce a bevy of new ETF launches

A look at the impact of social media on the lives of Canadians: Study: Canadians’ assessments of social media in their lives

Net new flows into Canadian ETFs had a record year in 2020: Pace of ETF growth to persist in 2021

Canadians concerned about having to owe taxes: 60% of Canadians procrastinating on tax filing over fears they may owe: Poll

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