How award-sweeping firm is adding teams and AUA

Growth is not limited to advisors leaving the banks, says co-founder

How award-sweeping firm is adding teams and AUA
Wellington-Altus Co-founder and CEO Shaun Hauser (left) and Wellington-Altus Private Wealth President Jordy Chilcott (right) attribute the firm’s success to its ‘freeing’ culture for advisors

The five-year-old Winnipeg-based Wellington-Altus Financial and two of its advisors walked away with three Wealth Professional awards this week, right after the firm announced that it was on-boarding three new advisor teams from the banks.

“I’m very grateful, very thankful for the awards,” Shaun Hauser, Wellington-Altus Financial’s co-founder and chief executive officer told Wealth Professional after winning The Equitable Bank Award for Multi-Office Advisor Network/Brokerage of the Year.

“It’s a testament to a lot of hard work of all 614 employees. We have a lot of people who don’t get accolades, a lot of people who are on the front lines of helping these great books of business transfer over in record time. It's all these people pulling on the rope together in unison that, I think, allows an award like this."

Jordy Chilcott, Wellington-Altus Private Wealth’s president and Wellington-Altus Financial’s executive vice-president, said that was reflected in their two individual advisor awards, too.

Maili Wong won The Equiton Award for Canadian Advisor of the Year and Susyn Wagner won The Avenue Living Asset Management Award for Portfolio/Discretionary Manager of the Year.

“It’s kind of magic,” said Chilcott. ”When you’re able to bring on partners with an ownership mindset and a high-care factor, and you can enable them on a digital platform that just allows them to do their jobs as professionals without sales quotas and related products, it’s very freeing. I think that’s why we won as an organization and our success demonstrates that for the last five years. But, I think that’s also what enabled our strong female advisors to win their categories, too.”

Hauser said, even though the big market indices are down about 20% this quarter, his firm’s had one of the best recruiting quarters in its history. It's share price also increased, despite the first real bear market in recent times without a pandemic attached to it.

“I think you’re onto something special when, even in a deep dark bear market that happened really fast, you still can’t stop the momentum,” he said. “We’re very, very grateful that we’re building something where advisors come to us. Nothing really can give you confidence in your model than, when times are tough, people still want to join you.”

Wellington-Altus just added more than $800 million to its assets under administration (AUM) when it welcomed three advisory teams – Pejovic & Associates Private Wealth Management, Bannatyne Wealth Advisory Group, and Kluge Wealth Advisory – from RBC, Dominion Securities, and TD. 

“Our growth is not limited to just the banks,” said Hauser. “I think the reason that we predominantly have recruited from the banks is because there is shareholder pressure on big institutions, which is being imposed upon, we think, clients of bank-owned broker dealers. It’s been our opinion, in talking with the advisors who are newly minted to our organization, that they just want to get away from the shackles of having sales quotas and selling things that they don’t think their clients need.”

Noting the speed with which these books move over, and their ensuing growth, he said, “I had an advisor tell me, ‘I didn’t realize that I had an arm tied behind my back until I got here and got it untied, and that’s why I’m having so much success and fun’.”

Chilcott added that a dominant portion of their advisors have come from the big five Canadian banks because what they have to deliver for bank shareholders isn’t conducive to their client outcomes.

“They leave for a greater choice and greater control of how they build those outcomes, and being independent as an entrepreneur,” he said. 

The three new teams bring Wellington-Altus up to 77 teams and the firm to $21.9 billion AUA.

“Growth is our mandate,” said Hauser. “We like growing, but we only like growing when we find great people that look at the world our way.”

Chilcott added: “I think it’s quality growth versus wholly growth, and that’s what we’ve really benefitted from over the last five years, having the largest average book size in IIROC and the largest average discretionary portfolio management teams across the IIROC space. Those are some of the clear quality measures we look at, but it seems to be coming our way fairly regularly.”

“All three teams are built with high quality human beings, and that extends into business partners,” ended Hauser. “I think all this magic happens when you focus on what kind of people you are getting into business with. What kind of human beings are they? Do they care to make a difference in your life and their clients’ lives and their newly minted partners lives? When you bring people on that have that mindset, you get something special happening, and I think that’s why we’re seeing what we’re doing in spite of a bear market.”