As the world’s biggest mining convention gets underway in Toronto this week, Alexandra Horwood puts on her heels and starts digging.
The annual Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada event draws more than 20,000 mining-industry types from around the world who are looking for the next big thing in gold, nickel, copper and platinum.
As director of wealth management and a portfolio manager at Richardson GMP, Horwood is prospecting for her own gold, namely new clients. Over the last few years, she has carved out a niche managing miners’ money, particularly executives of resource firms who need help with their personal finances.
The investment expert says she first got invites in 2011 to hospitality suites at the massive networking event. “I thought the people I was meeting were hysterical because they’re just really outgoing and fun,” says Horwood, 29, recalling the tall tales she was told over a few beverages.
The convention draws people from all walks of the mineral exploration business, from the folks who stake claims in the bush to bankers, investors, geoscientists and executives from more than 100 countries, with Toronto renowned as the mining business capital of the world.
“The next morning, I followed up with everyone I had met and offered them to come meet with us to look at their financials,” she says with a smile.
While the resource game is an international business, it’s also a small world, so she naturally got more clients through word-of-mouth. Then she decided to drill deeper, and three years ago she bought a booth amid the 1,000 other exhibitors on the convention floor.
She’s says it’s the best $ 4,000 she’s ever spent. Now, more than half of her client roster includes resource-company executives with portfolios averaging $ 900,000.
“Many have made millions and lost it all, made millions and lost it again. I make sure that when they make it, we sell what we can and diversify completely out of mining (except for company stock), so that they can preserve capital and grow their wealth, and (are) not living off welfare when they retire,” she explains.
Horwood said that she’s surprised at how many people in the mining business tell her they are diversified investors, “and they have 10 different junior gold stocks.”
“You’d think that people who are flying to god-knows-where every other week would have a will and insurance. Seventy-five per cent of (her clients) did not have a will or any life insurance, and they are between 45 and 65 years old,” she says.
Horwood — who gave birth to her first child Mason last November — has come a long way in a short time at Richardson GMP, starting out as an assistant to her parents, who are longtime wealth managers, to become the youngest director at the firm in less than five years. Now she has her own team and handles about 100 high-net-worth clients and their families, the majority of which are in the mining game.
“I worked my butt off building my business. It is such a grind at the beginning but I love it,” she says, tending to Mason as she continues to work out of her home office since having the baby three and a half months ago.
“Every year, we get a few new clients who are colleagues of existing clients. They’re all families. As a woman, I think it’s very important that both spouses are involved and have a say in what’s going on with their finances. Wives and mothers have very different goals from husbands and fathers,” Horwood notes.
Her business is fee-based, and most of her accounts are discretionary, meaning she is authorized to make investment decision on her clients’ behalf, which works well in the industry since “they don’t have to sign off on every investment decision when they’re in the depths of a mine in Ecuador.”
“One thing I love about mining executives is they are so fast to get back to me; they organize, they delegate, they’re fun, they have a lot of risks because of their job, so they’re more assertive investors. They just know they need help.”