How face-to-face meetings drive growing practice

Advisor explains why getting in front of prospects and building relationships is his most important focus

How face-to-face meetings drive growing practice

Bart Hunter believes he is unequivocal when it comes to why his practice continues to grow – having ongoing meaningful face-to-face meeting time with clients.

The founder and leader of The Hunter Financial Group, Scotia Wealth Management, Hunter is not the type of advisor to close his door, ensconce himself behind a desk and watch the markets all day.

The Saskatoon-based advisor has seen his overall client base increase and he attributes it to his team’s laser focus on the importance of meeting with clients directly.

He told WP: “Advisors spend a lot of time on the next best marketing idea. Certainly, we do presentations with clients, prospects, and accounting and law firms, but at the end of the day, our minimum goal is to have 24 prospect meetings with business owners, professionals, or centres of influence. That’s all our main focus.”

This target is usually easily exceeded and in the past four months alone the number of prospect meetings has surpassed 35. Activity is crucial, Hunter believes, and to that end he has built a high functioning team whose members each specialize in certain areas of the practice, allowing him more time to guide portfolio management and do face-to0-face meetings.

He added: “It works. If you don’t have meetings, you don’t have clients. People in our business who sit in their office, just look at what the markets are doing and might think they are doing their job – that’s what money managers do. We really focus on understanding our clients’ goals and concerns and building relationships.”

For him, it goes back to his start on the insurance and planning side of the business, where he would hold client meetings around kitchen tables.

“It’s amazing what you can do in face-to-face meetings,” he said. “We do comprehensive reviews and gain a deeper understanding of our clients’ goals.

“If you are just talking on the phone and you don’t have that personal touch, then it doesn’t seem to work as well. We bring in a substantial amount of new assets every year and I credit that to the relationships we build with clients and prospects.”

From playing in the Western Hockey League and after a four-year professional hockey career, Hunter moved into the business world. He started in sales, and then got his break in the insurance industry which he describes as a key part of his practice today. He then took up an opportunity to pursue a role in the Wealth Management industry.

He is a vehement advocate of strict processes and structures, and thinks advisors should run their practices like businesses. Efficiency is crucial and Hunter’s practice has three main documents: a business plan, a process document and an investment strategy. Constant reviews of team goals are all done in alignment with these documents and his time is tightly managed by staff.

He said: “I do a lot of speaking and coaching with other advisors and I always ask them the first question: ‘How many of you has a written business plan?’ and no one puts their hand up.

“We really focus on practice management. Processes are very structured and constantly reviewed, allowing us to be more efficient. Consistent process equals consistent results.”

Hunter’s investment approach mirrors that of institutions like the CPPIB, Ontario Teachers and the big US endowment funds like Yale and Harvard which, on average, have about 50% in alternatives.

Hunter’s portfolios, therefore, are approximately 50% stocks and bonds and 50% income-producing real estate, private equity and income alternatives. This keeps the investments in line with the institutions’ successful portfolios and keeps volatility to a minimum.

He said: “If you look at the two ways wealth has been created in this world, it’s owning businesses and owning real estate. It constantly amazes me why a private business owner would sell the business and then run down to a stock broker and put it all in the public stock market; it’s not how he or she created their wealth.”

In terms of public equities, Hunter has no interest attempting to time the market and instead focuses on asset allocation and rebalancing.

He explained: “I learnt a long time ago a couple of rules – I don’t buy sectors and I don’t buy regions, so we are not going to try to catch the latest craze. We are primarily value investors on our equity side and we are going to continue to build diversified portfolios to take advantage of market fluctuations.”

This is for information purposes only. It is recommended that individuals consult with their financial advisor before acting on any information contained in this article.  The opinions stated are those of the author and not necessarily those of Scotia Capital Inc. or The Bank of Nova Scotia. ScotiaMcLeod is a division of Scotia Capital Inc., Member Canadian Investor Protection Fund.