Being a good listener goes a long way, says WP's top advisor for 2023

Discretionary portfolio manager explains how he's built a holistic family-type office

Being a good listener goes a long way, says WP's top advisor for 2023

Kevin Hegedus, a 33-year industry veteran, was humbled to be named WP’s top 50 advisor for 2023, especially since he’s built his business in Saskatchewan.

“Being from a smaller province, you can be overlooked a little bit more compared to some of our colleagues from down east, so it was humbling,” said Hegedus, a portfolio manager with PWM Private Wealth Council with iA Private Wealth in Saskatoon.

“I’ve been in the industry for a long time. It takes a long time to build a good, strong team So, even though my name might be on the award, I have an amazing team behind me that has helped me so much to achieve our goals. So, it’s humbling in that way, too. They deserve it just as much as I do.”

Hegedus, who has almost $800 million in assets under management and 1,100 families in his book of business, has a unique team with five other advisors, an insurance specialist, and three certified professional accountants. He also runs a large tax business, which serves 600 personal and 300 corporate clients, and offers a bookkeeping service. He’s considering adding another chartered accountant and a technical analyst.

“We’re very much trying to build that holistic family type of office,” he said. “The only thing that we really have to refer outside the office is legal advice, but everything else we can handle.”

Hegedus didn’t set out to add a tax business. He just wanted to provide additional services for his clients, so he could provide them with financial, tax, and insurance advice to retain them.

“If you create a one-stop shop, then they can come here and get the majority of their needs addressed,” he said. “The odds of them moving to someone else is pretty slim.”

Hegedus began his career with Investor’s Group in Calgary in 1981, but returned to Saskatoon, where he knew more people, to build his advisor business. He started working on his own, but soon added two assistants.

“I like presenting the financial plans. I don’t really like gathering new information from a prospect. I don’t like getting into the weeds and crunching the numbers and putting something into a software program,” he said. “I’d rather have someone else do the data entry because I’m very good one-on-one with clients or their spouses. I’m very good at taking a financial concept and relaying it in very understandable terms. I’d rather do that than a lot of number crunching behind the scenes.”

Hegedus has always liked building relationships and simplifying concepts. That’s why he thinks clients are drawn to him. But he’s developed a lot of friends in his business and been touched by dying clients who have entrusted him with keeping their spouses financially safe in the future. 

He’s seen some major changes in the last 10 to 20 years – the first is the range of products he can offer clients. He’s also become very interested in alternative investments.

“I keep telling people alternatives are not put in a portfolio to diversify you because you know something’s going to happen,” he said. “They’re meant to be in your portfolio for the things that you don’t see happening. That’s where you want to have proper diversification.”

The second major change was when he was able to become a discretionary portfolio manager. That allowed him to make more timely changes to clients’ accounts, so they could all take advantage of moves, such as getting into precious metals, in a timelier way than when he had to call all of them.

Hegedus also loves to learn and has several mentors. He meets every four to six weeks with two successful business owners to discuss how to grow his business. He also meets with a fitness and martial arts buddy weekly to stay balanced since, as he said, “it’s pretty easy to get caught up in the day-to-day stuff otherwise.”

Hegedus loves what he does and no longer plans to retire at age 55, but he is interested in passing on what he knows to his team and helping his community. He’s excited about a friend’s idea to set up a group of retirees to mentor foster kids. He said the retirees could help the kids learn some of the financial ropes – such as how to pay bills, save money, or write rent cheques - things that parents often help with, but these kids may not have had the chance to learn.

As for advice for other advisors, he said, “just be very open with people. Be a good listener. A lot of advisors are Type A people. I’m a type A person. We’ve got tons of knowledge and sometimes we can’t wait to share it and have everyone hear how smart we are. But I think we sometimes forget that it’s equally, or maybe more, important just to keep your mouth shut and listen to people, really find out what their needs and concerns are. I think all advisors know that, but being a really good listener gets you a long way.”

As for him, he said, “I’m just trying to give back as much as I possibly can with my staff and community. It’s been an unbelievable run. I couldn’t have asked for a more fulfilling career than what I’m getting right now.”