Close Talkers


I was watching a Seinfeld the other day. If there’s been a funnier show on TV, I can’t think of one. One of my favorite episodes is the one where Elaine starts dating a “close talker”. It’s a riot.

Thinking about the #1 benefit of the exempt market, I can say, without a doubt, that the industry is full of close talkers. Almost all investments in the exempt market have close talkers.

Does that mean that they all talk awkwardly close to you and invade your private space? No. I’ve met a lot of industry participants and I can assure you that most of them give you enough space to talk.

What I mean is that the people that ultimately make decisions about how your money is invested, are very close to you. Most issuers allow you as the investor to talk to the CEO, managing director, president, etc. about decisions that will impact your money.

Let me give you an example. William Santor is President and CEO of Productivity Media (disclosure: He signs my pay cheque). His fund provides senior loans to the media industry. The fund collects investment capital from institutions and retail clients in the exempt market.

Will leads the loan origination process and ultimately decides which project to provide financing for and which to decline. He has a number of partners and advisors who will provide advice on loan selection as well. As an investor, you may have questions about why a decision is made to finance a project. No problem. You can easily speak to Will about it. In fact, some investors have.

Now by contrast, try to do that with your mutual funds. You will need to speak to your financial rep, who talks to the mutual fund wholesaler, who speaks to the mutual fund head office, who speaks to the head advisor, who speaks to the sub advisor, who speaks to the analyst who ultimately did the research to determine that stock was the one they should buy. Reminds me of the elementary school game where students pass along a set message through the whole class.

Along with losing the message in translation, the costs of those layers add up. In fact, the Ontario Securities Commission has put out a study to analyze the mutual fund fees in Canada. We all know whose pocket those fees come out of.

So along with all the strengths of the industry, I think one most pronounced is being able to be closer to your money. I like what Jason Fried said:

“The closer you are to your money, the better off you’ll be.”

Marty Gunderson is an expert who helps companies navigate through the Exempt Market. He has served in a variety of leadership positions in the industry, from sales to issuer to dealer. To contact Marty, please email marty (at)