“He was a friend. A friend that I trusted.”
It has been four years since Richmond resident Kelly Leclerc first learned that all was not as it seemed with her trusted friend and financial advisor, Alberto Storelli.
Until that day, Leclerc, an elementary school teacher, had built up over 14 years, with Storelli’s help, what she thought was a stellar financial portfolio.
But it all started to unravel in 2017, when she found out that he had parted company with the Richmond branch of Global Maxfin Capital Inc.
It was only then that her newly-assigned advisor made her aware of the extremely high-risk ventures and “bad investments” she had signed up for over the years.
For misconduct unrelated to Leclerc, former Richmond investment advisor Storelli was fined $50,000 last week and banned from the industry for four years by the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).
Leclerc says it’s hard to ascertain how much she’s lost via Storelli over those 14 years, but she thinks a ballpark of around $70,000 wouldn’t be too far-fetched.
She is, however, the first to admit that she and her husband at the time signed the papers, trusting Storelli to “take care of the rest.”
“I went to my friend’s wedding in Vegas with (Storelli),” Leclerc told the Richmond News, after learning last week that some of Storelli’s clients were seniors.
“He would come to the house; he would fill out a portion of the contract and say he would fill out the rest at the office. That’s how we never really knew how high risk all of this was.
“Of course, it was all our fault, but we trusted him. He would have land investment parties, there was some social interaction, as well as business.
“I was livid when I realized he had targeted senior citizens. It choked me.”
Leclerc said she felt “betrayed,” adding that Storelli continually thanked her over the years for “having his back.”
“He had a serious medical condition and I stuck by him all those years. He thanked me for sticking with him,” she said.
“In my mind, we were friends. I trusted him.”
Following a disciplinary hearing in Vancouver, the IIROC announced that its hearing panel found Storelli was liable of compensating clients, providing an unauthorized account statement to clients, making misrepresentations to IIROC enforcement staff and failing to cooperate during the regulatory body’s investigation.
The IIROC enforcement counsel argued the clients were vulnerable as some were senior citizens, and others had a familial or friendship connection with Storelli, according to the decision.
At the time of the violations, Storelli was a registered representative with the Richmond branch of Global Maxfin, an IIROC-regulated firm.
In terms of his dealings with Leclerc, she recalled how he continually talked to her about “diversifying,” taking out expensive life insurance policies and $100,000 loans and making land investments.
“It was just insane looking back. We were told by him that, by the time my husband and I retired it would be worth $1 million,” she said.
“I was paying $805 a month for a life insurance policy. It was too much for a single mom. But I signed the contracts, so there really wasn’t much (the IIROC) could do.”
Leclerc said she suspects Storelli left Global Maxfin because people were starting to connect the dots.
“I was the one who didn’t know up to that point,” she lamented.
“Every year I would max out my RRSPs with him. He would use some of that to invest in all these different things, so it’s really difficult to tell exactly how much I lost. I know that I’ve made nothing in those investments in 14 years.
“I feel like such an idiot. I’m a professional. I’m a teacher. I should have known better. But he was also a professional. I completely trusted him.”
Even after finding out from her new advisor just how deep in trouble her investments were, Leclerc was invited over to Storelli’s “expensive” condo in Kitsilano so he could pitch to her yet another “investment opportunity.”
“He wanted to me to invest another $10,000. He said, ‘Oh my God, we’re going to make so much money.’
“I’d already met with someone who had explained everything he had done. I just listened to his pitch. I didn’t personally attack him. I was in his condo and didn’t want a confrontation. I just said no and left.
“He later texted me, blaming me for everything.”
Over the last four years Leclerc said she has never heard one word of apology from Storelli.
“I tried to text him but he blocked my number,” she said.
“One thing’s for sure, I will be more careful with my investments. Thankfully, I have a teacher’s pension to fall back on.”
The News has reached out to Storelli for comment.