Overview:

  • Build a network of international experts to extend research capabilities.
  • Understand your core competencies and competitive advantages.
  • Develop measurable, repeatable processes to maintain consistency while refining and improving.

What is the unique value proposition that sets you and your team at CIBC Wood Gundy apart from other portfolio managers?

We’re committed to matching our clients’ goals and needs to an investment strategy that meets ever-changing global conditions. We do so by integrating a wide array of fundamental approaches. We have very extensive research capabilities – by leveraging our relationships with our network of leading analysts in New York, London and throughout Asia, we’re essentially removing international boundaries from our portfolios.

We’ve developed and refined a tactical, three-step investment process that is both systematic and disciplined. We start with the big-picture perspective and use a multi-factor economic model, which helps us navigate asset allocation decisions.

We then apply bottom-up fundamentals, using a proprietary quantitative model that evaluates such factors as profitability, earnings revision and business momentum to rank the universe of securities within our favourite asset classes.

“...by leveraging our relationships with our network of leading analysts in New York, London and throughout Asia, we’re essentially removing international boundaries from our portfolios.”

Finally, we use a timeliness model to determine where money flows are heading, which provides information on when to buy or sell.

On top of our investment process, we build in a risk management strategy to minimize downside risk and maximize upside reward. Throughout the process, we include professional expertise and analysis – we bring together ‘man and machine’ to balance the art and science elements of portfolio management.

Your father, veteran advisor Terry Wong, encouraged you to think about becoming a portfolio manager and investment advisor – what was it about his practice and your goals and attributes that inspired you to choose this career?

My dad has been a successful advisor for 45 years, and he’s always been very generous in sharing his wisdom. Even in elementary school, I went to the office with him on my days off – I’ve always had a keen interest in knowing how good businesses work. We still have coffee together every morning.

When I was at UBC, I was selected for the Portfolio Management Foundation. Six commerce students were selected each year to manage a multimillion-dollar portfolio, and every two months, we had to defend our process and our performance to the foundation committee.

“... a sustainable income, with a low volatility portfolio, meant that he could get the care he needed at home while ensuring they didn’t run out of money over the longer term.”

It was a turning point for me. I enjoyed the practical application of intellectual rigour, and it’s something that continues to inspire me today – taking the vast wealth of knowledge out there and filtering it to create sustainable strategies that enable our clients to achieve the lifestyle they’ve always wanted.

In your view, what are the most important factors for investors to keep in mind when making investment decisions?

Think and act globally when looking for opportunities. Look at all the options, and then weigh opportunities based on reward and risk.

Try not to let emotions get in the way – the market can be very humbling. It takes training to get to the point where you can do so successfully, and it is essential to have systemic processes in place that are responsive to the ever-changing market conditions.

Can you tell me about one instance in which your approach made a significant difference in the life of a client?

One of our clients, a retired corporate executive, was diagnosed with a severe illness that meant he required 24-hour medical care. It was very important to him and his wife that he was able to get that care in their home.

We created an actively managed sustainable income portfolio that consists of stocks with growing dividends, corporate bonds and ETFs, and which provides monthly income.

“The most successful advisors are the most focused advisors.”

We were able to send a monthly cheque from their investment income that covered the additional cost of private medical care, with three full-time care aides. It was something that he and his wife were so thankful for – a sustainable income, with a low volatility portfolio, meant that he could get the care he needed at home while ensuring they didn’t run out of money over the longer term.

What is your best advice to less senior advisors?

Figure out what you want to be, and be that. Understand what your core competencies and competitive advantages are. The most successful advisors are the most focused advisors. They develop consistent processes that are measurable and repeatable, in order to maintain consistency while refining and improving.

Always stay on the leading edge of the latest market trends. Constantly expand the tools in your tool kit: improvements in technology provide better instruments with which to measure more precisely, consistently and effectively.

Maili Wong

Maili Wong, CFA

Vice President, Investment Advisor and Portfolio Manager
CIBC Wood Gundy

Maili Wong is a vice-president, investment advisor and portfolio manager with CIBC Wood Gundy in Vancouver. After graduating as the University of British Columbia business school’s top female graduate in 2001, she joined Merrill Lynch’s international headquarters in New York, where she provided options and derivative strategies to pension funds, and was later recruited to a global hedge fund where she helped manage over $5 billion in assets for Ivy League endowment funds, pension funds and ultra-high net worth clients.