Advisor's secret to success: 'be a first adopter, then make incremental adjustments'

It's worked for CFRs and 'triple-digit' pandemic growth, so now advisor has outlined his 2022 roadmap

Advisor's secret to success: 'be a first adopter, then make incremental adjustments'

Steven Furtado, a Montreal-based investment advisor with Mandeville Private Client Inc., co-branded with Zagari+Simpson, has a simple, but effective strategy that has helped him prepare for the client-focused reforms (CFR), exponentially grow his business during the pandemic, and position well for 2022.

“We’re first adopters, and that takes risk, because you know the people on the frontlines are always the first to get hit, but it’s worth it because it’s in the best interest of the people that we’re serving,” he told Wealth Professional. “Then, we make a series of incremental adjustments over time, which makes everything much more manageable.”

That philosophy has helped his team institute the CFRs.

“Rather than saying, ‘oh, my God, is the deadline coming? Now, we have to change everything’, if you’re constantly adapting, and this is true for anything, then it doesn’t feel so heavy, and it just makes your adaptation a little bit more seamless,” he said.

Furtado, and his operations coordinator, Jennifer Torres, have taken the CFRs in stride. Furtado said the industry was being disrupted when he entered it six years ago.

“This is just another one of those things that I think will thin out the herd a little more because it requires more diligence in the sense that you need to understand what you’re suggesting to individuals. You need to be fully transparent in the way that you’re presenting your suggestions. That’s not going to appeal to every advisor out there,” he said. “So, I think it’s just another mechanism to give you a better, well-rounded, and fiduciary-based advisor.”

Furtado and Torres both said the CFRs are just natural steps for continuing to put their clients’ best interest first.

“The administrative tasks may seem heavy initially,” said Torres. “But, the way that Steven has been running our practice had already been factoring in many of these requirements informally.  The onset of CFR is really just giving our process more structure.”  

Furtado added: “You can actually use the CFR to build your business into something more scalable that will help you grow. It certainly helped us to structure our practice.”

He said the technology has become more accessible, so advisors can find platforms that simplify analytics. The dealers have reached out to their clients to provide know your product assistance, and he’s asked the wholesalers to “give me all the ammunition that I need to make a sound decision. So, I’ve said, ‘back up every single one of your recommendations, so that I can now filter it through my screening process and see if it’s suitable or not to be included in our models’.”

Pandemic Philosophy

That philosophy of early adoption and incremental adjustment has also served his company well during the pandemic. Furtado said it immediately started using video conferencing, so they could have more frequent and effective meetings with their clients.

“We have adopted a seamless, blanket approach allowing us more touch points with all of our clients, ensuring we are more quickly updated with life events or financial impacts without having to wait for the standard annual review meeting,” he said.

Because of their firm belief in delivering financial literacy applicable to clients’ situations, they were diligent in getting their information and news out, providing webinars, seminars, interviews, articles, second opinions, and social media dissemination – with no expectation of a return, even from those who weren’t clients.

“This strategy was a clear driver behind our practice’s growth, and we’re reaping the rewards of it today. People leaned on us in a time of uncertainty, which has translated into clients transferring their accounts to us and entrusting us with the management of their assets,” said Furtado.

Torres said that with the use of  more frequent video conferences, it has resulted in the clients becoming more proactive about their finances, less reactive and therefore more motivated to grow their wealth and we were better positioned to support them in their goals..

As for what 2022 may bring, Furtado said, “the plan remains to stay the course.” That means helping clients develop an all-encompassing financial plan, making them and us accountable to their goals for investment, retirement, insurance and estate planning. This process has allowed us to build trust and we see how clients are open to including their businesses in our discussions. 

“It’s really about earning the role as the trusted advisor, and not just the order taker because that assumption has become obsolete,” said Furtado. “So, it’s really about fulfilling the client’s need and being there as the sounding board of advice.”

Where do they go from here?

“We’re certainly open to making changes as long as it gets us closer to what our vision is,” said Furtado.

While that vision is constantly evolving, it means identifying what their clients need and refining their processes to meet that, which is a process that they also credit for the “exponential” growth that they’ve experienced in the past two years.  

“We want our clients to feel a mixture of confidence and trust,” said Furtado. “I always want people to feel as though they’ve left with something that resonates – and that something  usually goes beyond whatever return we’ve provided them in their portfolios. So, that something could be empowering them to make the right decision for their parents, who are elderly and with ailments, or their children and their education, or even their philanthropic goals.

“It’s that sense of being able to give them that takeaway that clients will talk about at a Christmas or Hanukkah dinner.  It’s that which prompts them to make a referral because it’s a feeling they want to share. It’s not just about the money. It’s ‘wow, I can’t believe I put this in place for my kids or managed to do this for my parents’. I think that’s the impact we want to leave clients with.”