The secrets to building a successful advisory practice

The secrets to building a successful advisory practice

The secrets to building a successful advisory practice In this guest article, Craig Swistun, Vice President with CC&L Private Capital Ltd, talks about dealing with high-net-worth clients and why redefining your business may be the best move.
 
Professional advisors are in the business of helping clients achieve their unique objectives. Yet, many advisors don’t recognize the importance of defining their own unique business or career objectives. Choosing to measure success using standard criteria - such as assets under administration, new sales or commission income generated - may sometimes mask what truly matters. Choosing personal passions instead can often result in business success – by any measurement.
 
A successful transition
 
Winnipeg-based advisor Doug Markewich of Markewich Financial runs, by all standard measurements, a successful business. He works with affluent families and is regularly asked to consult and help close complicated cases for independent advisors. Yet in spite of – or perhaps because of – this success, he now eschews the traditional model in favour of something much closer to his heart.
 
Doug has realigned his practice to complement his own personal beliefs, working with families to really find out what matters most to them before making a recommendation. It’s hard to argue; people care more about their children or grandchildren than their financial assets. Yet, as Doug says, “[Many financial advisors] deal with… money from morning until night.  It is what we are trained to talk about and it is what the client expects us to talk about, but that doesn't make it important.”
 
To identify what is important, Doug has undergone very specific training to acquire skills so he can learn, in his words, “the correct way to help clients anchor emotions to important moments in their lives, and to take new action based on a deeper understanding of what matters most.”
 
These days, Doug still consults with advisors who need his expertise, but, as he says, “people who think this conversation isn't important… either don't know their clients or have the type of clients that I don't want to meet anyway.”
 
Finding a niche
 
Based in Toronto, Keith Thomson, Managing Director, Stonegate Private Counsel, also specializes in dealing with affluent families. With a practice over $100MM, by standard measurements he’s successful. But up until a few years ago, Keith’s business was a “fairly standard wealth planning practice.” To take things to the next level he focused on a client niche that allowed his measures of success to align with his personal values.
 
Keith admits that before making that decision he made a number of missteps following traditional advice. “I realized that instead of going the traditional route (i.e. business owners) I should focus on… assisting affluent Canadian families maximize their impact on those causes that were deeply meaningful to them.”
 
Having served on a number of nonprofit boards, this was a natural fit for Keith and his business. Today, his clients share deep philanthropic values and are intent on supporting and giving back to causes that matter most to their families. How will Keith judge his success? “In the next eight years, [I want to be] the catalyst for directing $100 million into the charitable sector.” He’s already over a quarter of the way there.
 
Knowing When to Change
 
If your personal criteria for measuring success align with how external forces measure you, there is no reason to change and you can happily use those benchmarks as your own. However, if you have an itch to scratch you owe it to yourself to redefine your business. Start by painting a picture of the business you want. It may come easily and quickly, like it did to Doug. Or, like Keith, it may be the result of a concerted effort to align your personal values with your professional values.
 
Here’s to your future success.
 
The opinions expressed in the articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Connor, Clark & Lunn Private Capital Ltd. Clark & Lunn Private Capital Ltd. takes no responsibility for any errors or omissions contained herein.


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