Working with Your Indigenous Community Investment and Trust Advisory Partner

June 25, 2020

A significant amount of new wealth is being created across Canada by Indigenous communities as a result of land claim settlements, resource-sharing opportunities, economic development and other revenue-generating sources. This puts tremendous responsibility on community leadership to manage those funds responsibly and effectively.

An experienced investment and trust advisory partner will help you navigate this new responsibility, ensuring the community builds a strong foundation and a path to sustainable wealth that meets the needs of today and those of future generations. This will often involve the creation of a Trust, which serves as a legal entity, to protect and grow the assets in the coming years. Your wealth advisory team will engage with leadership and the community as a whole to establish a strategic vision. They will help provide education as required and will share options that can guide community change. Success of the strategy will depend on having the series of mechanisms put in place to achieve well defined objectives. 

Here we have highlighted some considerations as a guide to finding an organization that will align with your values and be the right fit for your community. 

Experience and Cultural Understanding

Having many years of experience dedicated solely to supporting Indigenous communities will bring a lot to the table. No two communities are exactly alike, so it’s very helpful to work with a team that has broad experience across the country developing strategies that have been effective.  They can share the challenges they’ve faced and overcome in past experiences. For example, do you have members concerned about who will have access to the money and how to keep it safe? Are you wondering how best to navigate differing views on per capita distributions (PCDs)?  Do you need help in establishing priorities for distributing income?

An ability to interact respectfully with sensitivity to your Indigenous culture, traditions, and beliefs will help ensure everyone in your community feels respected and valued. This comes when there’s a high degree of cultural understanding. Learning how various Indigenous communities are structured from a governance perspective, and having the flexibility to work effectively within those structures is also critical.  

Your Community has its own Unique Challenges

While some communities may put improved housing at the top of the list, others may place greater importance on youth education, health and wellness, or elder care. Very appropriately, a commitment to future generations is often a priority.  An experienced advisory firm will ask the questions that develop a deep understanding of the challenges and choices. Expertise in community consultation as the basis for developing a strategic vision will increase community buy-in and lead to decisions that will realize your goals. 

Investment Expertise 

Full support for your investment needs will help you make well-informed decisions for your community’s future prosperity. Ensure your advisor employs a team of strong investment professionals that bring differing expertise and relevant credentials such as their Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Chartered Investment Manager (CIM) or Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) designations. Your ability to engage with professionals, both Indigenous and non-Indigenous, with a wide range of knowledge and experience adds a lot to the process. 

Industry Reputation 

Beyond the firm’s own internal skills, an advisor that is well respected and involved in the broader Indigenous investment industry will bring many benefits to your Trust. A solid reputation for working well in partnership with other industry professionals will ensure your access to the most qualified experts needed to round out your team of support, such as lawyers or corporate/administrative trustees. By contributing to Indigenous organizations, through financial means or as recognized speakers on Indigenous matters, they are sharing their expertise and learning from others.

Development and Implementation of Investment Strategies

Developing the guiding documents that include your Investment Policy Statement (IPS) is an important interactive process. In addition to your Trust Agreement, this policy lays out the “rules” to be followed. It should be precise. 

Among other things, it will include: 

  • Roles and responsibilities, 
  • Risk tolerances and return objectives,
  • Spending policies and cash flow needs, 
  • Security guidelines and constraints,
  • Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) guidelines, 
  • Reporting requirements   
  • Mechanism for ongoing policy and manager reviews 

This is not a “one and done”. It is equally important to evaluate the IPS annually to ensure ongoing changes are implemented and new priorities are addressed as they evolve.

Dedicated Research Team

The investment landscape is vast, complex and constantly evolving. As you become responsible for large amounts of money, there will be many investment providers reaching out to you. An unbiased partner at your side with a specialized and dedicated research team can independently assess the available investment management firms and product options. This research will bring forward the optimal solutions that most closely match your established Investment Policy Statement and broader community objectives.   

Ongoing Relationship 

Once the investment strategy is in place, your advisor will also provide recurring support through independent oversight and monitoring of community investments. They will encourage regular meetings with your team of Trustees or representatives to ensure results continue to meet expectations. They will make certain that the information you receive is transparent, easy to understand and well shared. Your advisor will be keen to participate at the Annual General Meetings. You may also welcome their support for other communications including consultation efforts around distributing investment income for community initiatives. Ongoing education and training for existing and new Community Trustees, as required, will continue to serve the needs of your community.

Compensation

Compensation for this advisory work is cost effective and is typically a fee based on a percentage of the dollar amount invested. This fee is all-inclusive and covers expenses including travel. When considered in the context of ensuring the prosperity of your Trust, it should be considered money well spent.  

References

Does the advisor have solid, respected references that you can speak to directly? Building and keeping a reputation for excellence with communities similar to your own is imperative and a good indication of what you can expect from the relationship.

Objectivity

By being firmly on your side of the table, your advisor will be independent and objective. Restricted from selling investment products, receiving compensation from the investment provider, or being involved in the management of assets will give you comfort. Their recommendations will be unbiased and always in the best interests of your community. 

Your Diverse Strengths, our Shared Passion

Your community brings its own diverse strengths and unique approaches to this challenge. We admire how you have taken on this sometimes overwhelming responsibility and we understand that you have a vision for how this new wealth will have an immensely positive impact for your people. 

As your partner, we share your passion. T.E. Wealth Indigenous Services is a national investment advisory practice dedicated to working solely with Indigenous communities. We offer the experience, team depth, knowledge, cultural sensitivity and caring that will help you build a sustainable strategy to successfully manage your community’s investment assets. 

We look forward to a long-lasting relationship! 

Jack Jamieson, VP Indigenous Services, T.E. Wealth &
Lisa Caswell, VP Indigenous Services, T.E. Wealth