A road warrior, now home bound
wholesaling during COVID-19

Ahmed Farooq, CIMA®, CFP

Ahmed Farooq, CIMA®, CFP
Vice President - ETF Business Development at Franklin Templeton Canada

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My wife made a comment recently that really struck a chord—this was the most she had seen me at home since we’ve been married. I, like many of my peers in the wholesaling business, would consider myself a road warrior—it goes with the territory pretty much. Being a wholesaler for a large firm means travelling—a lot—mile after mile, year after year, by air or by car. The miles are tiring, but not without certain perks, and usually we are treated like royalty with our hotel chains of choice.

Then came 2020. This pandemic has really changed the way we do business;  being constantly on the go has switched to being stuck at home trying to balance office work and family life.

Is this the new normal, or merely an aberration before normality returns? My last flight was on March 11, returning home to Toronto from Victoria, British Columbia.  I have not driven my car at all in two months and still have my winter tires on.

Aside from the travel, I have only seen my colleagues and clients via video conference, which is a big change. I continue to ask myself, when will I get back on a plane and see clients face-to-face. My hope is for October, and some days I really believe this is a realistic target date; other days I get discouraged when I read about new COVID-19 case counts.

As a sales person, it is very important to adapt to change and pivot to whatever comes next. Sales are never guaranteed. In today’s environment, face-to-face meeting now occur digitally, where you no longer have to worry about traffic delays or missed flights. Instead, the main concern is losing internet connection during a Zoom call. But all things considered, I think I have adjusted to my daily commute from my bedroom to my home office pretty well. It has also given me the opportunity to connect with my clients more often, and in the absence of time spent on flights and in airports, I can provide more timely follow ups, which has really elevated my client interactions.

My conversations over the past three months are principally about fixed income.  Yes, the equity markets have roared back since March, but you still need to have cushioning in a portfolio to reduce market volatility and provide income. I have also advocated for active management in this difficult interest rate environment. Our ETFs have fared well during these testing times: Franklin Liberty Canadian Investment Grade Corporate ETF (FLCI) just celebrated its three-year anniversary and was awarded a 5-Star Morningstar rating; Franklin Liberty Global Aggregate Bond ETF CAD-Hedged (FLGA) continues to garner inflows, having recently crossed the $600m milestone.

If you would like to learn more about Franklin’s fixed income ETFs, please feel free to contact me or a member of our sales team to learn more.

In the meantime, I will be at home/work, wondering when current circumstances do indeed become the new normal.

 

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What Are the Risks?

Commissions, management fees and expenses may all be associated with investments in ETFs. Investors should carefully consider an ETF’s investment objectives and strategies, risks, fees and expenses before investing. The prospectus and ETF facts contain this and other information. Please read the prospectus and ETF facts carefully before investing. ETFs trade like stocks, fluctuate in market value and may trade at prices above or below the ETF’s net asset value. Brokerage commissions and ETF expenses will reduce returns. Performance of an ETF may vary significantly from the performance of an index, as a result of transaction costs, expenses and other factors. The indicated rates of return are the historical annual compounded total returns including changes in share or unit value and reinvestment of all dividends or distributions and do not take into account sales, redemption, distribution or optional charges or income taxes payable by any security holder that would have reduced returns. ETFs are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.

Ahmed Farooq’s comments, opinions and analyses are for informational purposes only and should not be considered individual investment advice or recommendations to invest in any security or to adopt any investment strategy. Because market and economic conditions are subject to rapid change, comments, opinions and analyses are rendered as of the date of the posting and may change without notice. The material is not intended as a complete analysis of every material fact regarding any country, region, market, industry, investment or strategy.

All investments involve risks, including the possible loss of principal. Investments in foreign securities involve special risks including currency fluctuations, economic instability and political developments. Investments in emerging markets, of which frontier markets are a subset, involve heightened risks related to the same factors, in addition to those associated with these markets’ smaller size, lesser liquidity and lack of established legal, political, business and social frameworks to support securities markets. Because these frameworks are typically even less developed in frontier markets, as well as various factors including the increased potential for extreme price volatility, illiquidity, trade barriers and exchange controls, the risks associated with emerging markets are magnified in frontier markets. Stock prices fluctuate, sometimes rapidly and dramatically, due to factors affecting individual companies, particular industries or sectors, or general market conditions.