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Investing for the future

This Midweek Mugging features wealth manager V. Matthew Phillips of Phillips Wealth Management Group

There is an old ticker tape machine in the corner of investment manager Matthew Phillips’ Macdonell Street office that serves as an antiquated reminder of a long tradition of stock market trading in North America.

Knowing how to read the latest numbers on the strips of ticker tape was an acquired skill but even more important was understanding and responding to the ebb and flow of the market forces those numbers revealed. It is a skill that is just as vital in the digital age as it was in the days of ticker tape.

“Knowing how to trade is a very different mindset,” said Phillips. “I have seen people that have been very successful in their own businesses as executives or business owners but those skills don’t necessarily transfer out to trading stocks.”

As director, Wealth Management and Portfolio manager for the newly re-branded Phillips Wealth Management Group of Richardson GMP on Macdonell Street, Phillips helps his clients invest and grow their wealth.

“We manage money for primarily Guelph families and in some cases we are dealing with as many as four generations of the same family,” he said. “We have proprietary strategies we use in this office that were created here.”

Phillips lives and works in downtown Guelph but grew up in Etobicoke. He is the fifth of seven siblings and the father of two university students.

“I have a girlfriend and she has three kids as well,” he said. “All seven of us went out to Newfoundland for a summer holiday last year. We were like the Brady Bunch traveling across the country.”

Phillips knew from an early age that he wanted a career in the stock market but for a while he put his high finance aspirations aside to reach a different set of heights.

“When I was in high school I went through air cadets and got two scholarships, one for glider pilot and one for private pilot’s license,” he said. “I had aspirations of becoming a commercial pilot but I am kind of glad that I didn’t.”

After high school he moved here to study economics and politics at the University of Guelph but the call of the open skies was still beckoning.

“After my first year of university I took a year at college for aviation, which was all engineering,” said Phillips. “It apparently was not my forte. So, I came back to Guelph to finish off.”

With his feet planted firmly on terra firma Phillips focused all his navigational skills on managing his clients’ wealth.

“I worked for London Life in Mississauga straight out of university for a short while and then came out here and got hired in February, 1993 with a bank-owned firm,” said Phillips “I was there until June 1, 2008 then I joined Richardson and opened this office. When I joined the firm it was Richardson Partners Financial Ltd. We merged with GMP about a year and a half later in the mid- to late-2009 time period.”

Richardson GMP is the largest independent wealth management firm in Canada with offices in 17 cities across the country and more than $30 billion in assets. It was the first investment advisory firm in Canada to be certified by the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence, CEFEX.

“In 2013 we acquired the Canadian division of MacQuarie Financial,” said Phillips. “It’s an Australian bank so, we bought their Canadian retail division. That’s how we ended up with two offices of Richardson GMP in Guelph.”

On Monday Phillips and his team announced another big development.

“We are re-branding on Nov 5 with a new look and feel to the logo and as part of that we will be changing our team name as well,” said Phillips. “It is going to be the Phillips Wealth Management Group. I have a team of four that works with me. Renee Davies (associate) has been with me for 12 years. Krista Quigley (assistant) has been with me nine years. Cory McKay (associate portfolio manager) has been with me for just over seven years and David Durbin (Business Development) is coming up on a year.”

The team plans to build on the relationships they have built with clients and their reputation for responding quickly to the rapid rise and fall of the markets.

“We don’t do anything on hunches,” said Phillips. “We believe very strongly in something called tactical portfolio management. A lot of times people use more of what is called a static approach. You buy, you hold and you hope and to me hope is not a very good investment strategy. We have 25 criteria that we use to select stocks. It helps us in knowing not only when to buy stocks but knowing when to sell them. Knowing when to sell a stock is just as important if not more so.”

It is a rewarding job for Phillips on a number of levels.

“I think for me the biggest motivator on a daily basis is seeing what money does for people,” he said. “Seeing people put their kids through school, buy houses, retire or take the family on vacation. I saw a quote the other day. It was, ‘People say money doesn’t buy you happiness but I would sure like the option to see if that is true or not.’”