HIGHVIEW FINANCIAL GROUP, the Oakville, Ont.-based investment-counselling firm, is expanding its business and adding to its services and staff through the acquisition of Weigh House Group of Cos., a Toronto-based personal-finance consulting firm.

“What we offer,” says Mark Barnicutt, president and CEO of HighView, “is a stewardship process to our clients; it’s a holistic approach. We bring proper governance to the oversight of clients’ wealth, providing the architecture for asset management as well as collaborating with various advisors, such as accountants, lawyers and insurance experts, to facilitate the integration of advice.”

Weigh House provides fee-for-service financial planning, portfolio strategies, investment-counsellor searches and ongoing portfolio monitoring for individual investors, employees and not-for-profit organizations. However, the firm does not sell or manage investment products. Weigh House, says president Warren MacKenzie, offers “a fiduciary relationship and complete transparency with respect to asset management.” And when combined with the scale and resources of HighView, he adds, the deal will be a benefit for clients.

The two firms have complementary client bases, with HighView servicing a mix of high net-worth families, including their business pension plans and foundations, as well as institutional accounts.

Although HighView is registered as an investment-counselling firm, it does not manage client investments in-house. Instead, HighView assembles a handful of outside money managers for clients, choosing from a roster of about 20 carefully examined managers.

HighView takes the due diligence of choosing and monitoring managers out of clients’ hands and provides those clients with consolidated reporting.

“We do the architectural work,” Barnicutt says. “Clients have cash-flow requirements, and we help them design a portfolio to meet those requirements based on their objectives and tolerance for risk. We are not a wrap program, but instead spend quality time understanding the people and finding the best [money] managers for them.”

Among Weigh House’s attractions is its “diagnostic services,” Barnicutt says. The firm has a program called Plan Check, which helps wealthy families determine how much income they need for their desired lifestyle, what kind of return is required and what kind of financial assets to utilize. Weigh House also has a program called Portfolio Check, which provides a regular assessment of how well current money managers are meeting investors’ objectives. Says Barnicutt: “We will continue to keep the Weigh House brand around these independent diagnostic and assessment services.”

HighView will maintain its Oakville office with a staff of about 10 people, while Weigh House will keep a small office in Toronto, to be manned by Mackenzie and two portfolio analysts.

“Putting together the appropriate platform for each client takes experience, time and money,” Barnicutt says. “With a larger base of clients, we can achieve economies of scale and cost savings on hiring subadvisors, and will be able to pass these savings on to clients.”

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