For Richardson Wealth's new COO, it's about 'doing amazing things' for clients

With a passion for supporting advisors, Dave Kelly unfolds the factors that drew him to the high-net-worth independent firm

For Richardson Wealth's new COO, it's about 'doing amazing things' for clients

After retiring from one of Canada’s most storied investment management firms, Dave Kelly swore he would not take the decision on his next career step lightly.

“I promised my family that I’d speak to as close to 50 individuals in the industry as I could before deciding where to continue my career,” Kelly, the new chief operating officer of Richardson Wealth, told Wealth Professional. “I had the opportunity to do that in late summer, early fall and all the way through to the end of the calendar year.”

Prior to joining Richardson Wealth, Kelly had been hired by Onex as to head Gluskin Sheff + Associates, its independent wealth arm, in a bid to revamp that business and gain market share. That was in 2022.

But after Onex transferred most of Gluskin Sheff’s assets and advisors to RBC Wealth Management less than a year later, Kelly announced he was retiring from Onex last September.

“I met some fantastic people doing fantastic things – everything from distribution businesses, to asset management businesses, to private equity businesses in the space, to technology companies,” Kelly says of his search for new opportunities.

“I enjoy working with advisors, and I love the work we do for clients,” he says. “I looked at different business models, but it all came back to businesses that support advisors … that’s where my passion is.”

Ultimately, Kelly’s decision to join Richardson Wealth came down to three factors. First, he points to its advisor-centric ethos, with the whole firm operating to ensure advisors have all they need to be successful, grow quickly, and serve clients well – a promise many firms have on their doors, but don’t deliver on.

He was also intrigued by the firm’s strategy. Kish Kapoor, president and CEO of RF Capital Group, which owns 100% of Richardson Wealth, has been vocal about his ambitions to make it the brand of choice for Canada’s top advisors serving high-net-worth clients. Entwined with that is a goal to reach $100 billion in assets over the medium term.

“It's clear, it's concise, and I think it's achievable,” Kelly says. “It was a real attraction to see the clarity of the journey that the firm is going to take for the next three to five years.”

Finally, there’s the market opportunity. In particular, Kelly believes high-net-worth Canadians today are looking for strong independent choices as they consider who should manage their wealth. He sees that momentum towards independence building among advisors as well – and he believes Richardson Wealth has positioned itself well to catch that tailwind.

Delving into the pieces of Richardson Wealth’s advisor-support machinery, Kelly points to the firm’s tools and technology. He’s seeing plenty of evolution on that front, with solutions encompassing a plethora of functions from account opening to servicing clients’ planning and advice needs.

He also points to the firm’s support team of experts across different domains, which he says is crucial to help advisors offer comprehensive support for clients and their families.

“That captures a lot of things, like trust and estate planning capabilities, and insurance capabilities,” he says.

Beyond supporting advisors, he says Richardson is exerting efforts to make sure the teams behind the advisors – including operations, technology, and compliance staff – are positioned to do their best work, which will in turn enable advisors to be successful.

“It’s a pretty simple model at the end of the day,” Kelly says. “Whoever can help their advisors grow the fastest by doing amazing things for clients wins. And that’s really the sole focus I have in my role at the firm.”

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