A message from the President of RBC PH&N Investment Counsel

Year-end reflections and thank you

Our valued clients,

With the holidays upon us and the end of 2020 nearing, I find myself reflecting upon the year past, and the conflicting feelings it evokes: the deep sadness for the tragedy, destruction and disharmony that has come in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic; and yet buoyed by a powerful sense of gratitude for how so many of us responded and rallied in the face of personal and financial challenges and loss. Frankly, I remain awed by the heroism of our front line workers, and all those who continue to put their lives and well-being on the line for the rest of us. I also continue to be amazed at the power of science and what it can do to alleviate suffering and better our lives. And, I am impressed with the leadership shown by many business, health and government officials, who so often rose to the occasion and remained steadfast and clear-eyed when it was so easy to do the opposite.

A marathon, not a sprint

Thankfully, since my last letter to you in October much has changed, and there are now several reasons to be optimistic for the year ahead. Vaccines have been developed and approved, and already we are seeing their deployment across the globe and here at home. This is a truly remarkable development, considering that less than a year ago we had never even heard of COVID-19. While the pandemic continues to affect us, and is likely to do so for some time to come, the vaccines give us reason to move from despair to optimism.

Indeed, our RBC economists forecast a solid rebound in 2021, with much if not all of the pandemic-generated economic damage recovered late next year or by early 2022. Although there are many difficult months ahead, it seems that at long last there is real reason to feel that we can plan again, and this should spur spending, employment and growth well into the future. While financial markets might find it hard to repeat the phenomenal bounce back they experienced earlier this year, the strong earnings momentum driven by the ongoing recovery should underpin stock prices, especially for those industries that are still bearing the brunt of COVID- related restrictions, such as those in the travel, entertainment, hospitality and food and beverage industries.

But the damage endured by many small businesses may not be easily repaired, and we as a nation must do whatever we can to ensure they not only survive but thrive. As major employers and often the lifeblood of our economy, small business is critical to our success as a nation, and so no effort should be spared in helping revive them. The same is true for so many Canadians, who, through no fault of their own have been sideswiped by the pandemic. It must become our national focus now to ensure we help those in need get back on their feet – anything less threatens our long-term recovery.

Rising to the challenge, adapting to change

I am also very grateful and encouraged by what we have been able to do together as a society and community when we are united in a common cause, and what is possible to overcome when we work together. From masks, to physical distancing, to the loss of access to and enjoyment of so many things we enjoy, the last several months have been challenging, especially when it comes to remaining apart from those we love and care about.

Throughout that time, you, our valued clients, have shown remarkable flexibility and openness to new ways of engaging with us, your trusted Investment Counsellors. From embracing the financial advice and investment review experience online and delivered from our Investment Counsellors’ virtual offices, to receiving communications and updates through various online channels, you have empowered us to safely continue to deliver the trusted guidance and advice that our teams strive to ensure helps you achieve what matters most to you. As a result, our teams remain healthy, and to date we have had no instances of COVID-19 infections or illnesses in our workplace. At the direction of government health officials and our own medical advisors, we will continue to work in our virtual offices for the foreseeable future – and, we will continue to serve you as we always have. 

To support this “new normal”, we have successfully launched, and you have quickly adopted, Wealth Management Online (WM Online), a secure platform that allows you to efficiently conduct so many of the actions and account inquiries that you once would have had to do in person or in less efficient ways; and, it has provided the added benefit of reducing unnecessary travel, and energy and paper use, in turn positively impacting our carbon footprint.

Since the pandemic began, organizations have experienced an increase in cyber threats, including phishing emails and email account hacking. As a firm and under the umbrella of RBC Royal Bank, we have some of the most secure online systems in the world, helping assure our clients that they can transact and interact with us securely. This includes our Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) capabilities, a safe and secure way to get funds to and from your investment and bank accounts.

When it comes to communications, WM Online’s Secure Two-Way Messaging functionality provides you a safe way to send and receive messages containing confidential information and documents such as account statements and tax slips. As well, the recently launched RBC Secure Email is underpinned by an advanced security system that protects your sensitive correspondence and related documents while in transit online to you or any of your trusted external advisors whom you have authorized us to communicate with, such as your lawyer and/or accountant. And many of the major internet service providers no longer require a password upon reaching the destination email, enhancing convenience. The recently launched eSign provides a digital signature solution that enables key account documents to be signed electronically, providing security, safety and convenience.

Lasting damage, enduring hope

We all see the often hard choices and sacrifices made by those close to us. But in times of crisis, we are provided the rarer opportunity to see what others outside of our sphere of family, friends, business colleagues and immediate community are made of; and, in so doing, we have an opportunity to recognize our shared human experience. This opportunity, wrought by crisis, brings us together – even if it is by necessity often only virtually – and it serves to connect us with each other across our beautiful country but also across the globe, allowing us to recognize our shared humanity rather than the things that separate and divide us. While we have also seen disappointing behaviour during this past year, that is overwhelmed by the good – and for that I am also deeply grateful.

I believe a bright light of this time is a deeper understanding and appreciation of mental health issues, and the fact that none of us is immune or separate from them. This time has shown how fragile we are, and how very important it is that we meet the very real and sometimes tragic challenges of mental health issues. So much can be done through simple and thoughtful generosity - generosity of spirit, of time, of consideration and of financial support.

As was laid bare for us during the past year, one of the most vulnerable groups in our society is the elderly – our mothers, fathers, grandparents, loved ones and on those whose shoulders we live our own lives. In 2021, I am excited by the opportunity to continue to leverage and build upon our partnerships with the Women’s Brain Health Initiative and the National Institute on Ageing, continuing to evolve and grow our understanding of and support for women, seniors and the marginalized.

Thank you

I close by thanking you for your support, patience and patronage – we would not be here were it not for you. And so, on behalf of our entire RBC PH&N Investment Counsel team, it is my honour and pleasure to wish you and your loved ones a very happy and healthy holiday season. We hope to see you in 2021 – until then, please stay safe and sound.

Warm regards,

signature of Vijay Parmar

Vijay Parmar, CPA, CA
RBC PH&N Investment Counsel