Founded in 2019, High Level Wealth Management Inc. is a registered portfolio manager providing independent, evidence-based investment management and financial planning services to residents of Alberta. We believe strongly in passive investment management and offer professional, trustworthy, client-focused service at a fair price. By adopting successful components from other business models while avoiding some of their pitfalls we think we’ve developed a compelling offering that you won’t find at a major bank, investment dealer, or robo-advisor.
The Canadian financial services industry offers a variety of business models, from low-cost robo-advisors, to bank-sponsored mutual funds, to full-service managed accounts at boutique investment dealers. Prior to starting High Level Wealth Management and becoming registered as a portfolio manager, we spent time exploring different models and understanding the benefits and downsides of each.
The competition: robo-advisors
In general, we believe that robo-advisors – a class of financial adviser that provide investment management online with moderate to minimal human intervention – offer many benefits. Their fees are typically much lower than traditional advisory firms and robo-advisors typically employ a passive investment management strategy – investing in exchange-traded funds that seek to match the performance of established market indices rather than trying to “beat the market” – which aligns with our investment philosophy. However, the heavy emphasis on low fees leads to a number of potential downsides to the robo-advisor business model:
- limited time spent by robo-advisors evaluating client circumstances and assessing investment suitability;
- typically very limited ability to customize investment portfolios to account for unique client circumstances; and
- limited ability to reach registered professionals in a timely manner to discuss client needs, and a lower probability that a client will receive service from the same person each time they contact the robo-advisor.
The competition: traditional advisory firms
On the other end of the spectrum, boutique investment dealers and traditional portfolio management firms specialize in client service. This addresses the main downsides of robo-advisors – at a cost. Traditional advisory firms employ a variety of fee structures making it difficult to generalize, but it would not be uncommon for a firm to charge fees that are several times the cost of a robo advisor. In addition, it is typical for traditional advisory firms to implement a minimum account size policy (for example $500,000), making their services inaccessible for those with smaller accounts.
The best of both models
Our approach adopts components from both robo-advisors and traditional advisory firms, utilizing passive investment management strategies and technology to reduce costs while still providing an advisor-centric client experience.
As a client you receive:
- direct access to the same dedicated advisor for all your needs rather than having to submit support tickets to a call centre;
- an advisor that spends time learning about you, your financial objectives, risk tolerance, and unique circumstances;
- an advisor that works with you to develop a financial plan that is routinely updated to adjust for changes in your life;
- an advisor that can help with the preparation and filing of your annual personal income tax return; and
- the ability, when appropriate, to customize our model portfolios to account for your unique circumstances.
At High Level Wealth Management we believe in:
- passive investment management, using low-cost exchange-traded funds that seek to track the performance of established market indices rather than trying to “beat the market;”
- utilizing technology where possible to increase efficiency;
- relying on academic research and historical evidence to inform decisions; and
- working with clients at all stages of life, without a minimum account size policy.
We strive to provide professional, trustworthy, client-focused service at a fair price. By combining the successful components from other business models while avoiding some of their pitfalls we think we’ve developed a compelling offering that strikes a good balance.
Why Hire a Professional?
Navigating the array of choices for your personal financial needs can be frustrating and confusing. When searching for a provider, you can choose from insurance companies, mutual fund dealers, banks, trust companies, portfolio managers, investment dealers, exempt market dealers, and robo-advisors. These entities fall under at least four different regulatory bodies, each with different registration requirements for their members.
As a result, practitioners in the Canadian financial services industry possess a wide range of experience and qualifications. In Alberta, there is currently no protection for titles such as Financial Advisor or Financial Planner and there are many finance-related professional designations each with varying proficiency requirements. All of this creates a landscape where it can be very difficult to determine who to trust. At High Level Wealth Management, we strive to demonstrate our professionalism and gain your trust in several ways:
In addition to a Bachelor of Commerce with Distinction from the University of Alberta, Kent is a CFA® charterholder – an international designation considered one of the highest standards in the investment management profession. Kent is registered in Alberta as an Advising Representative.
Prior to starting High Level Wealth Management, Kent spent over a decade working in the institutional investment industry, with five of those years spent as a discretionary portfolio manager responsible for $550 million of fixed income investments at the City of Edmonton.
Our fees are transparent and straightforward, based on a percentage of the assets that we manage on your behalf. Our management fee also covers things like custody costs and trade commissions, so it is clear how much you’re really paying.
Alignment of Interests
Unlike many financial advisors, we do not receive commissions or trailer fees from the investment products you invest in. Our fee structure allows us to offer independent opinions that aren’t tied to selling products, and we aren’t incentivized to promote products that provide the highest payout.
Kent Akgungor CFA
President and Portfolio Manager
Kent founded High Level Wealth Management after identifying a need for independent financial planning and wealth management services in Edmonton. He is currently registered in Alberta as an Advising Representative (AR), Chief Compliance Officer (CCO), and Ultimate Designated Person (UDP).
Prior to starting High Level Wealth Management, Kent spent more than a decade working in the institutional investment industry, with the last five of those years spent as a discretionary portfolio manager responsible for $550 million of fixed income investments at the City of Edmonton. He also contributed to the administration of the City’s broader $3 billion investment program, undertaking tasks such as currency and commodity price hedging, money market and treasury functions, asset mix rebalancing, forecasting investment earnings, and collaborating with the City’s external investment managers.
Kent graduated from the University of Alberta in 2006, earning a Bachelor of Commerce with Distinction and various academic awards including the Harold B. Banister Dean’s Citation in Business. In 2010, he earned the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) designation, and in 2020 he successfully passed the Chief Compliance Officers Qualifying Examination.
Through his education and experience Kent has developed a wealth management philosophy guided by academic research and historical evidence. He is a strong proponent of low-fee, passively-managed investment products with broad-market exposure and does not believe in the merits of active management (i.e. trying to “beat the market” through individual security selection or other forms of market timing).
CFA® stands for Chartered Financial Analyst, an international designation conferred by the CFA Institute and considered one of highest standards in the investment management profession. Achieving the CFA designation requires intense study and a dedication to putting clients’ needs above one’s own. CFA charterholders hold themselves to an uncompromising standard of ethics and are required to undertake an annual attestation of conduct.
Candidates study nearly 1,000 hours on average in their journey to passing all three levels of the CFA Program and fewer than 1 in 5 candidates successfully complete all three levels of the program. To earn the CFA designation, candidates must complete an undergraduate university degree, pass the three CFA Program exams, complete four years of qualified work experience, and provide letters of reference.
We are located in a home-office in the Oliver neighbourhood, just a few blocks from the High Level Bridge. We think this offers a more relaxed meeting environment than you would find in an office tower or bank branch, while reducing business overhead costs – savings that can be passed on to our clients.
We are conveniently located two blocks from the Grandin LRT station and nearby bus routes that run along Jasper Avenue. We also have on-site parking. Our working hours are flexible, with daytime, evening, and weekend meeting times available to accommodate your schedule. We are also happy to meet with you virtually if that is preferred.