This may seem to be a review that is off topic as it relates to an event that occurs in Vancouver rather than a travel review on Vancouver. After much thought, I decided to still post this under Vancouver as it is a yearly event that is held in Vancouver, relates to the Vancouver show and is an upcoming event (February 9th - 11th) that I think should not be missed. Also, I feel that anyone who happens to either be travelling to Vancouver at the time of the event or live in Vancouver may benefit from this review as I personally think that it's an event that anyone interested in investing should attend.
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Financial Forum is a yearly event or show with free admission that is held at several populous Canadian cities (Ottawa, Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, Halifax) and occurs around what Canadian call "RRSP time". RRSP time is the period that covers the first two months of the year (January and February) in which Canadians scramble to contribute money into their Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) (the American equivalent of IRAs, 401Ks, etc). Most years, the last date of RRSP contribution is on March 1st, or the first business day of March should March 1st fall on a weekend.
The Financial Forum in Vancouver is held at the Canada Place convention center (which contains the Pan Pacific Hotel) located just off the Seabus terminal and Waterfront Center mall at Cordova Street and Howe Street. Stepping into Canada Place, there will be a booth off to the side for registration and or pickup of their "tags" to the event for those who have registered via the internet (although that's not necessary). There will be many staff member (volunteers) that will hand out a book that details the times and dates of presentations as well as some informative articles on investing topics. As you walk down the corridors of Canada Place to the main show floor, you may pass by special seminar rooms reserved at specified times for specific presentations. Once you reach the main show room, you may be amazed or awed by the numerous presenters and exhibitors that are set up all over the quite spacious show room. There are booths with seats for special, smaller seminars or presentations specific to the specific mutual fund company or investment company. There are food stalls or vendors to keep those in attendance from leaving for a bite to eat. But most of all, lots of pamphlets, brochures, leaflets, and other information packages are available for the taking. Don't be surprised to find that at the end of the day that you find your arms tire because you've carried over 15 pounds worth of paper. It's true.
Financial Forum is basically a financial "road show" that showcases speakers that discuss topics on investing matters, market outlook or any topic related to investing, retirement, insurance or other business matters. Also, there are booths in which exhibitors ranging from media related companies such as newspapers and investment newsletters, mutual fund companies, independent financial planners, brokerage firms, financial institutions, and other related companies. The event that occurs in Vancouver (I can't comment for those in other cities as I have not attended those) is divided into several different "showcase seminar rooms". The main room or the show floor is the area that holds all the exhibitor booths as well as two stages or areas holding at least a couple hundred seats in which speakers will conduct their presentations. The third seminar room will be held away from the main show floor and usually not too far away to allow attendees to easily and quickly return back to the show room to attend a later seminar or re-visit exhibitor booths. In previous years (I have attended at least 4 years if not more), there were many smaller seminars held around the site in other rooms held by local speakers, mutual fund portfolio managers, sales agents, etc. that discuss related investing topics.
The event is usually held for three days starting from Friday and ending on Sunday. The Financial Forum held in Vancouver usually occurs around Valentine's day. This year it will occur from February 9th to 11th. For Ottawa it will be from January 19th to 21st, Toronto's will be from January 25th to 28th, and Calgary's will be from February 2nd to 4th. The dates for Halifax has yet to be announced.
The entire event is broken down into the three separate days. Within each day, it is further broken down into certain times (9:30am, 11am, 2pm, 3:30pm and 5pm) in which special speakers will be showcase a presentation of usually 45 minutes in length. During those time slots, there will be at least one presentation, usually two but sometimes three held so you may have to select the one you wish to attend.
Past presenters and speakers of Financial Forum include Frank Mersch (ex-Altamira portfolio manager), Brian Costello (well known investing speaker in Ontario), Patricia Croft (economist and vice-president of Sceptre Investments), Steve Misener (portfolio manager of ex-BPI now C.I. funds), Phil Fortuna (ex portfolio manager of Scudder Funds), and many others. This year, famous and well known presenters include Garth Turner (host of Investment Television show and newspaper columnist), Paul Bates (president and CEO of Schwab Canada), Duff Young (author and newspaper columnist), Derek Webb (from Webb Capital Management and formerly portfolio manager of AIM funds), Ian Ainsworth (portfolio manager of Altamira funds), Ian Joseph (vice president and portfolio manager of Altamira funds) among others.
The Financial Forum, as it showcases and provides many exhibitors, is a helpful, informative event to attend. Past exhibitors include The Vancouver Sun Newspaper, The National Post newspaper, The Globe and Mail newspaper, TD Waterhouse, The MoneySaver magazine, Altamira Investment Management, Schwab Canada, Fidelity Investments, ING Direct Canada, Royal Bank, Templeton funds, Scudder Funds of Canada, CKWX 1130 news radio station, Stockhouse.ca, among others.
For someone who is even remotely interested in their financial affairs in relation to investing, saving, insurance, and retirement, by attending this roadshow, will be able to come out of it with a much better idea of investing and related information than they started out. Exhibitors from many different backgrounds and areas will provide the beginning, intermediate and even expert investor with information that is helpful. Just attending and sitting through a showcased speaker presentation will at least enlighten if not inform the attendee of the market outlook, investing and related topics. Many presenters, being portfolio managers, obviously have a better view of the markets, the securities and will more or less present their outlook on what's expected ahead. Most times, I will sit through them for their insight on the markets. Usually, at the end of the session, the speaker will allow a certain time of question and answer period for potential investor questions on investments and the markets. Many interesting ideas can be prompted by some questions.
Also, besides the speaker presentations, there are a vast amount of information on investing that is passed on to those in attendance from the exhibitors, ranging from mutual fund prospectuses, mutual fund profiles, investment strategies, sample investment newsletters, free local and business newspapers (current day), software and programs that help track stocks or for day trading, among others.
In previous years, it is very beneficial to attend such an event for special deals, discounts and bargains in relation to subscriptions to newsletters, newspapers, books, software programs, etc. Also, there are many freebies that are handed out to potential investors and clients. Past freebies I've received include cloth bag from Spectrum United funds, mini stuffed football from Templeton funds, magnifying ruler from Scudder funds, t-shirt from Dynamic funds, paper holder from Dynamic funds, fridge magnets, zillions of pens and other goodies. In past events, the virtual bank, ING Direct Canada promoted a special bonus of a "no strings attached" C$13 deposit for each new bank account set up from the event. There is no minimum deposit, no minimum period in which the deposit must be held in the account to be eligible for the $13 bonus. And each penny in the account will earn a greatly higher rate of interest (currently at 4.5%) than at a bank. And, like a bank, ING Direct is covered under the CDIC (Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation) for up to C$60,000 per institution.
Although this event can be beneficial for a beginning investor to attend, there is something important that I must stress. Please remember that this is a "roadshow". And like most other roadshows such as Comdex, etc, the main reason why they have it is to SELL their products. Yes, they are obviously there to showcase their products and show what's new, and inform the public so that they can make an informed decision, but the main reason is that they want to sell their products. With that in mind, anyone attending such an event or any roadshow should always be careful and not become swayed into making a rash decision. Although many exhibitors are legitimate and well known, there is no regulation of the legitimacy of an exhibitor at such an event. Take all the information, brochures, pamphlets as you need (they do give out bags), take it home and read through them before making any decision. Be informed and ask for professional advice before investing into anything you saw at a roadshow.
Many exhibitors will showcase a draw for a "prize". Unless you are consenting to these promoters and exhibitors to send you information and possibly harass you to invest, I would suggest not filling out your name for these draws. Many times, on the form, there is a box which asks whether you currently have an investment advisor. If you check yes, most times, they won't bother you. So, maybe you can still enter for the prize and not get hassled. But don't depend on it.
Hopefully, I have provided enough information and stirred up enough interest for those who may be living in or visiting Vancouver or any of the other cities in which the event is held to attend. As discussed, be informed and don't invest until you've done your homework or at least some research. For more information on the Financial Forum event and schedules, please check out their web site:
Thanks as always for taking the time to read and rate my review.
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