The 2023 Wealth Professional 5-Star Advisory Teams awards celebrate 57 of the best wealth management teams in Canada.
Kendra Thompson, a consulting partner for Deloitte Canada, says the 5-Star Advisory Teams stand out by:
bringing together different areas of expertise and offerings in a customizable way
spending time to understand and connect with individuals
helping clients navigate challenges in a personalized manner
Thompson adds that often advisors need to “reassure or validate” that changes are not needed to a client’s wealth plan. However, there are times change is required.
“I find the most effective advisors do that with humility, humanity, and empathy and in a way that is extremely accessible but not passive. They want to do it in a way that brings the client and their family along,” she says.
Based in Edmonton, the Angus Watt Advisory Group is dedicated to becoming the No. 1 financial planning team in Canada. The team consists of four certified financial planners, including a chartered accountant with an MBA and a professional with a Qualified Associate Financial Planner designation. They focus on the “whole life picture”: financial planning, investment strategies, and risk management (insurance).
J. Angus Watt, founding partner and senior wealth advisor with National Bank Financial Wealth, says, “Our goal is to provide our clients with their financial comfort. We’re there to protect their assets.”
The team’s competitive differentiators include:
living core values of trust, clarity, and heart
maintaining transparency regarding client strategies
The team’s clients include presidents and CEOs of large corporations, entrepreneurs, farmers, professional and everyday people.
“We’re really good at what we do,” explains Watt. “We’ve gone through market turmoil, and we’ve got a ton of experience.”
Showcasing their pedigree, the Angus Watt Advisory Group has also been recognized as:
Leader of the Year in 2023 from Junior Achievement
Alberta Order of Excellence 2023
Even with that, the firm isn’t standing still. As the business and regulatory environment has changed, Watt’s team has taken appropriate steps.
“Things like DocuSign have saved us hours and hours,” he says. “From a regulatory standpoint, the notes we have to take now are much more comprehensive on everything we do. So, we’re becoming more bureaucratic, and I have no problem with it – it just takes more time and therefore, we have to be more process-driven.”
Based in British Columbia, 5-Star winner Abbott Wealth Management provides comprehensive wealth management, tax and estate planning, business succession planning, and personal physical and mental health management services, among others.
“The greatest value we add to our clients is our ability to help them when times are more questionable and give them confidence about their future. Our job is to calm that storm.
“It’s our job to keep a cool hand on the rudder. Without our ability to act as counselors, I think a lot of people would have a lot less success in their retirement and overall life plan,” says Mark Bertoli, partner-owner of Abbott Wealth Management.
“When COVID hit, the world locked down and the markets were dropping 10% a day. One of our top clients called me and asked, ‘Does this change your investment discipline?’ And I said, ‘Heck, no.’”
This approach is lauded by Deloitte’s Thompson. She explains, “A great advisor has a plan and on a regular basis they’re assessing that plan, but they shouldn’t be widely diverging from that based on any one thing that happens.”
Abbot’s client base tends to be business owners and sophisticated investors aged over 45.
“Our first meeting is a lot about an alignment of values,” says Bertoli. “We’re having this meeting because this is going to be a multi-decade relationship if done right. And we tend to end up with complicated clients – business owners, multigenerational families – where there’s dynamics at play, and we can bring value because we have a team around us.”
Their competitive differentiators include:
sending clients videos during volatile times
offering a formulated onboarding process with video correspondence, gifts, phone calls, emails and off-site meetings
weekly and monthly segments on the local Midday News on relevant topics
cards, gifts, flowers and baked pies for clients’ birthdays, anniversaries and holidays
continuous communication through bi-weekly newsletters
Taylor Bertoli, a client services administrator with Abbott, says, “So long as we’ve built that foundation for our clients, the relationship, the investment discipline, the implicit trust, then we have a foundation to move forward with. We land the plane the same every time, regardless of [whether] it’s snow or hail or a sunny day.”
In addition to the 2023 Wealth Professional 5-Star Advisory Teams award, Abbot Wealth Management has won:
the 2023 Franklin Templeton Advisory Team of the Year award
the 2022 Wealth Professional 5-Star Advisory Team award
numerous international Investment Planning Counsel awards
Also based in Alberta, Cresco Wealth Management at Wellington-Altus Private Wealth offers “second-to-none services,” financial and estate planning, behavioural finance coaching, portfolio management and financial literacy education.
“The Canadian wealth management space is already highly competitive, with numerous players including large banks, independent financial advisors, and asset management firms,” says Peter Kollias, the firm’s senior wealth advisor and portfolio manager.
This has driven Cresco to keep refining its offerings, especially during the recent economic upheaval.
“This competition has led to a wide range of products and services being offered to the clients,” Kollias explains. “However, with a volatile investing environment across all asset classes, wealth managers had to further elevate their offering with a higher level of customer service, greater communication, and a re-education of back to basics in handling a volatile investment environment.”
Cresco’s competitive differentiators include:
white-glove service for addressing clients’ needs and requests
a proactive approach to client relationships
determination to learn the tiny details crucial for customizing service
The Cresco team’s clients are advocates for the business, as evidenced by a high referral rate.
“We believe our long-term strategies provide us with an edge in a marketplace that has a pervasive dependence on short-term news for decision-making,” says Kollias. “We need to stay disciplined, selective, and diversified in our offering.”
Looking to the future, Kollias expects the firm to develop by:
following a trend toward more independent brokerage financial advisors, like in the US
adapting to technological advancements to drive better service quality
offering more all-encompassing wealth management services
All the best wealth management firms in Canada should expect the unexpected.
“We’re living history, surprise after surprise,” explains business guru Jim Collins. “And just when we think we’ve had all the big surprises for a while, along comes another one. If the first two decades of the 21st century have taught us anything, it’s that uncertainty is chronic, instability is permanent, disruption is common, and we can neither predict nor govern events.”
To identify the 5-Star Advisory Teams for 2023, Wealth Professional asked investors across Canada to nominate their advisory teams and describe the key service offerings that set these teams apart and what value they provide to their clientele. For the purpose of this report, teams were classified as those consisting of three or more advisors.
To narrow down the list to the final 57 5-Star Advisory Teams, WP reviewed all nominations, examining how each advisory team had made a meaningful contribution to their clients and the financial services industry.
The 5-Star Advisory Teams report is proudly supported by the Canadian Association of Alternative Strategies & Assets (CAASA).
CAASA is Canada’s largest association representing the alternative investment industry with more than 370 members nationwide — including alternative investment managers, pension plans, foundations, endowments, family offices, and service providers. Its membership and activities span all alternatives from hedge funds and venture capital to real estate and cryptocurrencies.
Founded in 2018, CAASA’s mission is to bring Canada to the world and the world to Canada by promoting information sharing, networking, and collaborative initiatives between its members and the industry at large.