When my High Rock partner, Paul and I first sat down to map out the strategy for our Private Client Division over two very short years ago, we were faced with a pretty significant undertaking: how, in a world of fairly skeptical savers and investors, were we going to be able to turn enough heads to be able to show the world that we were going to do something that was different and better?
Certainly my previous relationships were built over time and through referral's. But I was no slick salesperson. I don't have the stomach for rejection: "cold calling" was out!
But we both had complimentary skill sets that we felt were the basis for a very strong offering for the very best possible client experience: Paul was truly a superior financial analyst and I loved helping people to manage their financial risk.
Surely there was a way to get noticed and lead the wealth management industry out of its current wilderness. Basically, the biggest conflict of interest of all: financial and investment advisor's who put their interests (their commission income and "book of business") first.
There is lots of "lip service" paid to making clients feel important, but I have been on the other side, I have seen it first hand and it is far from putting the client first.
We built our website, we took to writing blogs (neither of us are "trained" writers, something that is definitely not in our respective set of skills, although we try) and we asked those that knew and trusted us to let others know what we were up to.
Somehow, we had to break through the automatic trust that is generated by the "big" 5 or 6 banks and other financial institutions (and their very hypnotic marketing efforts) to show that our desire was considerably more wholehearted and earnest.
We don't have the big $ to compete with those marketing efforts and if we did, we would rather use them to reduce our clients fees or spend more giving back to the communities that we live in.
When markets took a tumble in early 2016, we were overwhelmed with folks seeking us out, literally we could barely keep up with the number of new clients.
That was a huge compliment. That was trust. That we became the people to turn to when things looked a little scary.
The nature of our style of managing risk means that we will never out-perform when stock markets are on the big up-swing, but when they turn south, we and our clients will be well-protected. We know that recovering from a significant sell-off (and it will happen again) is a great deal easier when you are strategically prudent.
But that is what it means to put client's first. To truly care enough to not put them at significant risk or better than that, to take them out of harms way before it falls on us (usually unexpectedly). Yes, there is risk in every asset that has the potential to return better than 90 day Government of Canada treasury bills, but knowing how to manage that risk for the long-term is what really matters.
Not too many in the financial advice business care about that. They care about revenues and shareholders.
We care about people and families.
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Scott Tomenson,CIM Managing Partner, Chief Investment Strategist