Kevin Hegedus shares his insights on client relationships, delivering value, and focusing on talent
As a young man, Kevin Hegedus had a way with numbers. While others may have struggled with fractions and their times tables, he excelled at math. But it didn’t present a clear life path – that is, until he hit college.
“I was very fortunate to have a great finance professor,” said Hegedus, Portfolio Manager with Prairie Wealth Management of HollisWealth, a division of Scotia Capital Inc. “MacLean’s magazine was sponsoring a contest called the TD Stock Market Challenge where students could invest $500,000 of paper money in the market. I did quite well and she recommended that I pursue a career in the financial services industry.”
It was a natural fit: he could make good use of his competencies, and the career put him in contact with a lot of interesting people whom he enjoys helping and working with. In fact, he derives great fulfilment from the relationships he’s cultivated.
“Most of my days are spent meeting with clients, many of whom have been with me for years or even decades, and have become good friends,” he said. “Not only do I know their goals, hobbies, aspirations and family, but many of them know about mine as well. Often an hour-long meeting is 20 minutes of business and 40 minutes of visiting and catching up.”
Forming a bond with clients is great, but that’s only the icing on the cake. The real substance, and the real satisfaction, comes from somewhere more. “There is no greater satisfaction than working with a client for several years and getting to watch them make the decision to retire, knowing that our team has helped them get there,” he said.
Hegedus may describe his team as helpers, but they don’t deliver a simple service. According to him, it’s the product of thousands of hours of development. “Although we are always on top of regulatory and industry trends, we focus our time and attention on our clients’ investing, taxation, and planning needs each and every day,” he said.
Right now, Prairie Wealth Management is a well-oiled machine. But in his mind, two people have been critical to its success.
“The first is my wife, Dana,” he said. As his partner in building the business over 20 years, she has been in charge of marketing as well as other key duties. “She is one of the most intelligent and caring people I know, and I can honestly say that the clients and our team are lucky to have her.”
The second person Hegedus recognized is Kevin Haakensen, a business partner and fellow honouree among Wealth Professional’s top 50 Advisors for 2017. “We have been working together for over 10 years now and he has really helped hone the vision of Prairie Wealth Management. He was the key driver behind us becoming Portfolio Managers in 2012 and introducing discretionary management to our clients. It was a game-changing move.”
Developments such as CRM2 and the rise of the robo-advisors have inspired cost-centric fear among many practices, which are finding ways to cut down and scale back. But Hegedus’ firm is going against that trend, instead doubling down on its commitment to talent and value.
“When building your team, try to surround yourself with good people, treat them right, and pay them well,” he advised. “Don’t be afraid to spend money on quality talent.
“For example, when we embarked on our discretionary platform in 2012, we contemplated hiring someone out of university that could research investments for us. Instead we hired a CFA charterholder to help run our models, and this which has allowed us to explore, build, and implement a number of unique strategies within our portfolios.”
“I also believe in a holistic approach to financial planning,” he said. That mentality prevails at his firm, where they’ve built a strong team composed of portfolio managers, CFA and CIM charterholders, chartered accountants, certified financial planners, and an insurance specialist. With so much talent under one roof, innovative thinking is inevitable.
“We have focused our efforts in the last 18 months on shifting from portfolio diversifying bonds to more non-correlated alternative assets,” Hegedus said. “We are excited where we are positioned in the current market cycle.”