Tag Archives: Toronto

Reflections on Tragedy in Toronto

Standing outside on the sidewalk in front of our office yesterday, Rob made the comment “watching out for white vans?”.

What first struck me as insensitive and gallows humour, it turns out he was seeing that both of us were watching, staring down the sidewalk, literally looking for white vans.

I’ve gone from praying that the van driver wasn’t a religious zealot, that the fringe far right wouldn’t have an act of terrorism to justify their racist and xenophobic views, to being gob-smacked that the dude was an incel, misogynistically driving his van into “Chad’s and Stacy’s”.

I’m still back-pedaling from hoping it wasn’t an act of terrorism, to being able to call it an act of mass murder.  But when you take a step back the result was the same, hundreds of people are affected by the murder of ten people and the injuring of another 13.

This is no different than Marc Lepine’s shooting rampage at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal where 14 women were gunned down in 1989 or the killing of 6 and wounding of 18 at the Centre Culturel Islamique de Quebec by Alexandre Bissonette.

If an act is committed against our population by someone of a certain religious faith, we call it terrorism.  If it is committed by a white Christian against that same population, we uncomfortably hang the label terrorist on the perpetrator.  But what do we call episodically the gunning or running down of, primarily, a group of women?

Why was I distantly affected by the tragedy of the Humboldt Broncos, sympathetic to the victims’ families and the survivors and understanding the deeper scarring of my psyche, because hockey is so quintessentially Canadian?  Why was I was horrified by “vanicide” in North York?

I wondered at first if it was because I’m Torontonian.  Before I even knew that the suspicion was that Minassian was acting out his disaffection and misogyny I read in silence searching for the why.

The Humboldt tragedy was capricious and random.  Dude aiming his white van and mowing down a group of people wasn’t.

In many respects I am unqualified to comment.  I have neither the psychiatric nor criminal justice expertise to opine about disaffected and marginalized populations.  I am worried that we’ll have a knee jerk reaction and pander to more extremist views.

All I can do is stand in solidarity with whomever has the moral right to challenge societal misogyny.  And like language that is sexist, racist or any “ist” for that matter, I will challenge it as being unacceptable.

Social media is both a blessing and a curse.  Whether in my profession as an investment and portfolio specialist, or as a citizen of my city, my province and my country, I opt for a balanced approach, choosing not to silence opinions that I don’t share but rather unfollowing, unfriending or unlinking extremist views.  I won’t give credence to those voices by remaining part of their audience.

I’ll add my voice, looking for answers rather than casting aspersions.  I can call for greater road safety so that a Humboldt can’t happen again.

I just don’t know what to call for here.

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years. During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients. Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space Brightlane on King West in downtown Toronto.

 

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates

.

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.

 

“Hi. My name is David. I’m a type 2 diabetic.”: My struggle to accept my reality.

I’d rather be anything else in fact.  I associate type 2 with overweight individuals, and on King West in Toronto it’s just not acceptable to be overweight.

I have been avoiding getting my blood tested for six months now; while I do aerobics for 30 minutes twice a day and have drastically altered my diet, I have a lingering suspicion that that isn’t enough.  I’m still overweight.  I’m just 37 pounds less overweight.

My diabetes is much like my hypertension.  While both undoubtedly are the partial result of genetic predisposition, the larger issue has been my yo-yoing weight coupled with an often-sedentary lifestyle highlighted with too much alcohol.  While 10,000 steps may cut it for some people, as a downtowner I navigate that daily just going about my business.  I had to make a conscious decision to lose weight.

I can also tell you that I was tempted to find a one-pill solution and stay angry at my incompetent genes.

Living in denial did nothing for me but allow my weight to balloon.  I didn’t have some epiphany, some religious moment when I saw with sudden clarity what I needed to do.  I had a slow dawning realization that I had a fair amount of control over the progression of both diseases and that the responsibility lay with me first.

I have also not recruited people to my efforts.  After all, publishing what I’m attempting to do is just short of becoming a dogmatic preacher of health.  I don’t know that giving up alcohol coupled with a regime of regular exercise and radically changed diet is for everyone.  It just works for me.

But the greatest power in changing my circumstances starts with one admission.  “Hi, I’m David and I’m a type 2 diabetic.”

David Chellew and Linda Odnokon have been life partners and in business together for almost 19 years.  During that time, they have mellowed into their respective roles and enjoy working with individual investment clients.  Dave is a Portfolio Manager and Linda is an Investment Advisor with iAS and work out of the co-work space Brightlane on King West in downtown Toronto.

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.

 

On Change, Golf and Millennials

I was drifting as I often do Monday morning when I decided to check out the distress debt listings from our bond desk.  I saw Golf Town Canada/Golfsmith debentures and wondered what the golf press looks like.

Before going any further, while I own a decent set of clubs, I am undoubtedly one of the worst golfers around.  It’s not that I lack athleticism or the wherewithal to be a decent golfer, it’s that I am loath to invest the time and effort to be so.

One Google search later and the first article that caught my eye was from Business Insider – “Millennials are Hurting the Golf Industry”.  There are times I think that the press throws around the “Millennial” tag like some specter representing some malevolent force of unreasonableness that disrupts the status quo.

The many reasons for the long decline in popularity that I came across were all anecdotal.  From where I sit, it is no wonder that many golf courses are being turned into subdivisions.  After all, the ultimate economic driver for any business is “next best use”, and if the acreage of a golf course is worth more as undeveloped land than as a going concern, it will fast become a subdivision.  I guess I’ve always seen golf courses as suburban parking lots – a source of revenue until something better comes along.

Business conditions, like the evolution of society because of demographics, change.  My neighborhood local, my rock bar, closed because the landlord decided that it made more sense for him to have different uses for the space he owned.

Casting my eye up and down Queen Street between Spadina and Dufferin shows that many businesses, former stalwarts on their respective blocks, have closed and given way to the mind-numbing sameness of chain retailers, trying to reinvent their big-box-retailer-bound former selves into something more relevant.  What is more significant, I suspect, is that the “next best use” that has driven rents ever-so-higher for commercial tenants ultimately will be a landscape populated with condos, flanked and faced by historical facades, catering to a population that is more into convenience and shopping online that doing the retail dash.

The closest I come to Millennial is having four as kids.  If they are however drivers of the trends I take advantage of, bless them.  Friday night I did the grocery shopping (Costco and Walmart), laundry and bought some Bluetooth headphones for my iPhone.  All online.

I can no more roll back the present to the past than you can.  As inconvenient or unpleasant as some of the things that happen today can be, it is what it is.  And besides, my rock bar reopens four blocks north.  And I’m never going to be a good golfer.

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. The opinions expressed are based on an analysis and interpretation dating from the type of publication and are subject to change. Furthermore, they do not constitute an offer or solicitation to buy or sell any the securities mentioned. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.

The Changing Face of Consumerism and Technology: Disruption, Diminishment and Disappearance

 

mini-wheats

Linda and I were talking two days ago about losing our Saturday morning delivery of the national newspaper. For all the comfort of having it in your hand and sipping coffee while outside its storming, more likely than not I’ve already read the articles online and the paper moves from front door to recycling. I think the bigger issue is a business model that is falling by the wayside and the effective diminishment of the very thing that newspapers are all about, the newsroom, while the organizations struggle to continue to offer a product that fewer and fewer of us care about. Is the cancellation of our home delivery merely one more sign of a troubled company?

One of my favorite Sunday morning recreations is walking up and down Queen Street West counting the number of stores and restaurants that have gone out of business. Rent is often blamed for the demise of many of these businesses, some open for little more than weeks, but in my opinion it has more to do with relevance in the online age. After all ordering on Amazon is far more convenient and more price competitive. When I go into one of these retailers my experience had better be superlative given the options available to me, and all too often it falls short of even adequate. More importantly, in a rapidly changing landscape, evolve or perish, and many of them are fixed in their perception of what the market is rather than letting the market dictate what they should be.

Changing buying habits of the millennials are also held up as a reason for the rapid shifts in our consumer society. If anything they’ve taught me to be more astute and demanding; all my habits and preconceptions about how my world works have been turned on its head as I’ve looked more closely about how shifts in consumerism have affected everything from media to retailing, manufacturing to logistics. I am not sure it is the generation itself or the fact that they are more closely allied to technology driving the change.

Vegas

I didn’t realize how significant my urban lifestyle has informed me until a recent trip to Las Vegas for the Life is Beautiful Music Festival. Over the course of six days I grew more and more frustrated looking for a satisfying foodie experience (funny how fast foodie has entered my MS Word dictionary). Our experience on Fremont Street was something generationally challenging – often heard was how cheap the food was (it wasn’t) and how large the portions were (I’m sure I could have fed a family of six on what would appear on one plate), as if my physique which is more akin to Humpty Dumpty than Adonis and white hair meant that I was generally interested in trough feeding. We did find some King Street West experiences to satisfy our palate and conscience but frankly would have ranked the fare bottom tier compared to what I’m used to. We also heard from many about the great food on the strip but frankly for the price point versus offerings, I would rather wander around my city. I didn’t go there to eat.

A couple of road trips during our stay meant a ubiquitous trip to Walmart to buy a cooler and food and frankly as disconcerting as the shopping experience was at least we were able to cherry pick some decent and healthy options. The bigger shock was the plethora of convenience single serving foods we saw and how the price points were more amenable to budgets than was healthy eating.

Consumer Spending

Consumers are responsible for the majority of economic spending and growth. Leaving aside the obvious excesses, there is little doubt in my mind that the competition now is not amongst companies in the same industry fighting over a slowly growing market share, but rather new competition for the aggregate consumer dollar.

I will admit to spending on convenience. We have a cleaning service come in once a week to do our condo. I like to be able to order my groceries online. And who likes laundering sheets and comforter covers – we send those out at the same time our dry cleaning is picked up. On those occasions we haven’t planned the night’s meal we’re as likely as anyone in our neighborhood to go out and either buy take out or eat in at one of the local restaurants.

What dictates how we spend our discretionary dollar now has everything to do with the duality of convenience and excellence. And we grumble every time one of those two dimensions fail; as soon as a better opportunity presents itself we’ll embrace it. And if that opportunity is online (like our groceries or dry cleaners) then that will be our preference.

On Sugar and Cereal

I recently made the weekly trip to our local Shopper’s Drug Mart to pick up some staples – milk, bananas, etc. I snagged a box of sugar cereal and without thinking boldly carried it to the cash. Lots of yoga-wear sweaty people were in the store that Saturday morning and the looks I received left me feeling sheepish, until, that is, I looked behind me and saw several of them with the same box of sugar carefully hidden in their arms.

I have no doubt that a smaller market will exist for these former stalwarts of the weekday breakfast table, but more as a guilty pleasure than as a significant staple. And as the next generation comes of age never having known the ubiquitous presence of some crisp or pop, even that diminishing market will disappear.

Bringing it Home

Technology makes embracing a new way of living easier and the adoption faster. It also creates a new definition of what a market is. In business school I learned about both the economics of substitution and competition, but I have never seen how pervasive the competition is for the consumer dollar. It is no longer from competitors in the same industry.

What I know for sure is how to spot companies that are going to excel – those that focus on speed of convenience, price and excellence are going to win. The rest are merely grist for disruption, diminishment and ultimately disappearance.

Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC). iA Securities is a trademark and business name under which Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. operates.

This information has been prepared by David Chellew, Portfolio Manager for Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. (IAS) and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of IAS. For more information about IAS, please consult the official website at www.iasecurities.ca. David Chellew can open accounts only in the provinces where he is registered.