Does Mike Katchen truly exude the charming and commanding presence that everyone raves about?

It was started by Mike Katchen.

Crybabies frequently appear on television these days to complain about the “coarsening of public discourse.” In an increasingly competitive world, I predicted that businesses, like politicians, would resort to attack ads.

I believe I have identified the source of these troubling trends. Mike Katchen, the founder of Wealthsimple.

Wealthsimple says in an article titled How to Invest in Mutual Funds on its website:

Bigger isn’t always better, as JP Morgan discovered when it was fined for pushing clients into their own inferior mutual funds. So, before you sign up with any company, search for terms like “wrongdoing” and “SEC” to see if anything troubling comes up.

mike katchen
Mike Katchen

First and foremost, this is incorrect. If you follow the link above to the SEC action mentioned by Wealthsimple, you will see that the main issue was a failure to disclose conflicts of interest. The SEC made no determination as to whether JP Morgan’s products were inferior (nor are regulators in the business of making such assessments). Second, this is impolite behavior. When was the last time you heard me criticize an industry figure? What happened last week? Okay, I stand corrected.

According to the same article:

Companies are willing to sell you almost anything if you’ve ever received a Snuggie under the Christmas tree.

I understand exactly what they mean; for example, I know a large robo-advisor that fervently believes in low-fee index investing but also owns a mutual fund dealer and offers trading if you want to try your hand at being an investment genius. And they have this new division called Digital Assets, which I have no idea what it is about.

They are discussing BMO here:

However, bank branches are not cheap. Bank of Montreal, for example, spent approximately $500 million last year on office space and equipment rental and has spent over a billion dollars on capital improvements to its branches over the years. We won’t ask you to pay for any couches because you don’t want us to redecorate your apartment. Deal?

Wealthsimple once came up with some copy that called all insurance agents sleazy, but given Power’s interests in insurance, he prevailed in getting them to use a more moderate tone, according to Paul Desmarais III.

As you can see, Wealthsimple’s natural instinct is to forcefully communicate its beliefs. Customers win when there is a heated debate, in my opinion. It’s acceptable to criticize industry figures; Mike Katchen has set a precedent. Don’t hold it against OPM Wire. Now, take a look at this commercial.

So Lydia says that her bank is “possibly evil” and that she might not be able to trust her banker. This is an ad for “real people,” so Lydia is a real person. I don’t know if Lydia got paid for this ad, but it seems likely that she did. That’s how most things work in the world.

Paul the banker is probably also a real person somewhere out there. Why did Lydia put Paul in that position? How painful! Why don’t you take some personal responsibility for her money? And how can the supposedly friendly Mike Katchen sleep at night after making a private citizen like Paul the banker look bad for no reason?

No matter how bad you think “evil” banks are, they would never use their power and reach to hurt a single person in that way. I think we all know one Paul who took advantage of regular Canadians for years by charging them ridiculously high fees, but I have a feeling that Wealthsimple won’t let you criticize that Paul.

The year 2017 is on this video. This was when fintechs still thought they could kill banks and before they had trouble with the cost of getting new customers. Wealthsimple has recently said that it wants to work with other companies. Mike Katchen told the Globe late last year, “If a bank wanted to partner with us tomorrow because they love the way Wealthsimple does business with clients, we would say, “Let’s do it.” The reporter goes on to say that it’s not Katchen’s friendly style to brag and talk badly about the people who are already in office.

Read more work here.

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