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Colombia calling: Advisors reveal new deals and top challenges

Colombia calling: Advisors reveal new deals and top challenges

David Gutierrez caught up with some long-standing advisor contacts in his native Colombia to find out how they’ve been adapting to their new environment.

Felipe Gomez

VectorGlobal WMG

Credit analyst

Bogotá, Colombia

What kind of client does your firm serve?

As financial advisors and strategists, we serve an array of clients, from individual investors, families, businesses, institutional funds, and governments. For all of our clients, our objective is the same: We provide personalized wealth management services optimized to meet their goals. We are headquartered in Miami with a presence in more than 40 cities worldwide and offices in New York, Houston, Canada, Panama, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela. We also have strategic alliances in Mexico and Switzerland. 

What recent changes have you made to your business?

Our focus to deliver added value with consistency and of the highest quality is what drives us to continue to stay ahead in a rapidly evolving financial world. Our family office has not only worked to calibrate a more efficient workflow for analysis but they are constantly offering new products and ideas intended to stay in front of identifiable market trends. Examples of this are new products in the insurance and family office departments as well as our alliance with Fidelity Canada.

What are your growth plans for the next one to three years?

Our plans for growth are ambitious but we are adopting a cautious approach. As we seize opportunities to expand our geographical footprint and customer base, every step we take is considered as an opportunity to expand on the quality of services and products as a whole. A recent example of this was our family office expansion into Canada, and there are future plans to expand not only in areas where we currently have a presence but also in prospective new countries.

What company do you admire and why?

I admire asset management companies. The work they carry out, as well as their team members, can be described as the industry standard. Their ability to recognize opportunities as well as their capacity for adaptation and reinvention is something I find impressive.

What is the main challenge facing your industry?

We are in a dynamic industry. The main challenges are keeping up-to-date on products and services, understanding the new needs that drive each of our clients, and working to build and maintain diversified portfolios that meet each individual objective.

Oscar Mauricio López González

Casa de Bolsa, Grupo Aval

Head of global markets

Bogotá, Colombia

What kind of client does your firm serve?

Casa de Bolsa is part of Grupo Aval, Colombia’s largest financial group. We are a Colombian broker-dealer that offers access to international investments through a correspondent agreement with Banco de Bogotá Panamá. This allows us to promote investment solutions to high net worth individuals in Colombia. 

What recent changes have you made to your business?

The Covid-19 pandemic changed the way we all work within weeks. We have adapted to working from our homes and I think it’s something that will continue for a long time. In terms of asset allocation, we are currently taking a slightly risk-off stance and are being cautious, especially given the US presidential election and second coronavirus wave in Europe, the US, and emerging market countries.

What are your growth plans for the next one to three years?

We want to continue consolidating our integrated commercial model and, in the near future, be an important player in the local wealth management market.

What is your best contrarian call?

I won’t mention any names, but if you are looking to boost performance, then thematic and sector funds are a good idea. Thematics will take on a more important role in asset allocation. However, it is important to remember that these strategies are typically high risk/high return and medium- to long-term investments.

What company do you admire and why?

Ripple Foods, because it’s a company that changes the lives of children and their families who have a milk allergy. My daughter suffers from this food allergy and this kind of food product makes it easier to live with these restrictions.

What is the main challenge facing your industry?

The entrance of big tech firms and how these new models will shake up the wealth management industry.

Manuel Felipe Garcia

Skandia Colombia

Head of wealth management

Bogotá, Colombia

What recent changes have you made to your business? 

This year, several changes have occurred in our wealth management unit, the most important being the international focus of Skandia Valores, our brokerage company. Until 2019, our brokerage had two businesses: a local operation and another promoting our international investments. However, from the start of next year, the brokerage company will only focus on the development and promotion of international investments. This includes a new agreement with Uruguay’s Aiva to expand the range of the jurisdictions and investment products that Skandia can access in the international arena. 

What are your growth plans for the next one to three years?

Our goal is to double our assets under management and the number of investors in our wealth management unit over the next three years.

What is your best contrarian call?

The US dollar. I think that the USD will lose more than 30% of its value against the Colombian peso over the next five years despite the fact the Colombian economy is facing many headwinds, such as a fiscal deficit, current account deficit, and low oil reserves. At this moment, despite several recent market signals, I am long the Colombian peso. I believe that once Asian currencies increase, Latin America will become the next destination for international investment flows. So I highly recommend international investors to look for a fund that invests in local currencies.

What company do you admire and why?  

Google. I think it has changed the way we look at the world and how we use the internet. Despite the fact that there were several other search engines in the past and that there are currently are a number of other options, such as Firefox, Google continues to innovate and make a lot of key internet functions simpler.

What is the main challenge facing your industry?  

With low-interest rates around the world (which will remain low for the next decade) and stock markets’ high valuations despite the real economy not showing any signs of a rebound, I think that volatility will increase in the coming years. Market fluctuations will be more pronounced, daily variations of 2% could become common, and investors will be more stressed out by the market’s behavior.

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