Passion fuels rise from cold calls to top career

Advisor on value of getting in front of clients, managing high-net-worth families' money and why love of the industry is a minimum requirement

Passion fuels rise from cold calls to top career

No-one can accuse Cory Garlock of not paying his dues.

When the 40-year-old, an investment advisor at TD Wealth Private Investment Advice, began his career in life insurance, he soon realised that, as a fresh-faced rookie, he had get in front of prospective clients.

Garlock, therefore, took things into his own hands. If he drove past a street he thought looked a good fit, he’d waste little time in hitting the phones and chasing leads. In the process, he learned valuable lessons that prepared him for his current role advising high-net-worth individuals, businesses and families.

“It didn’t matter if I was new to the industry,” he said. “What really mattered were the practices I put in place in terms of getting in front of new clients. I was doing things that very few would do, to get in front of clients.

“It was a great experience, placing large targeted volumes of calls was somewhat effective, because this was back when people used to answer their phones. I would drive around, see a street and think, ‘that looks like a street I’d want to prospect on’. I’d go back to my office, print off the street and everyone who lived there, and then the next night I would start calling. Completely cold, 150-200 calls a week.”

Times have changed, but it instilled in Garlock the importance of passion and of substantiating value to clients through knowledge, courses and paying for research. The Ottawa-based advisor also relished face-face-prospecting people for mortgage insurance before detouring into a successful wealth management career.

“I tell people sincerely that I would do this job for free,” said the Wealth Professional 2017 Young Gun of the Year finalist. “I absolutely love it. It’s not just when I’m at work, when I’m not at work I’m reading about it … it doesn’t feel like work."

“If the person sitting across [from a client] doesn’t look like wealth management is their passion, I don’t care what else they tell you, you’ve got to move on to someone else. If sitting down with me doesn’t convince you that this is something that I absolutely love, then I don’t know who can.”

Garlock’s typical client is late 50s, with average household assets of about $800,000. He said the biggest challenge of the past couple of years has been fixed income and he explained how he separates that area of investment into sleeves.

He said: “I want most clients to have a sleeve of Canadian bonds, a sleeve of global bonds, a sleeve of preferred shares and, potentially, if their risk tolerance warrants it, a sleeve of structured notes.”

The Bank of Canada kept interest rates in pat earlier this month and Garlock said the panicky sell-off in February was an overreaction and didn’t dramatically affect most of his clients, who are conservative in nature.  However, it was the first time in recent memory that stocks and bonds dropped in tandem.

He said: “I personally think that the Canadian bond market has got a little bit ahead of itself. I think that the selloff in bonds and interest-rate sensitive stocks was completely overdone.  It’s astonishing how much pipelines and utilities have dropped lately."

Hot topics

Garlock on …

“I tend to focus on stocks, funds or ETFs that catch most of the markets upside, but not all of it.  Downside resilience is of the upmost importance as well.  I think ETFs have a place, but it’s getting to point where there are more ETFs than stocks out there, so which one do you buy?

“And if you’re looking to buy an index, I think that works in the US but I’m not as sure in Canada given that we have this huge energy and materials component. And internationally, there are so many indexes, which do you select?”

Weed stocks
“Initially I was very sceptical. Now I’m seeing the sector develop and I’m getting less sceptical. For me, a litmus test is that I look at their website, if they have one, and I look at their business plan, if they have one. I also look at the pedigree of the executive, of the leadership on the board, as well as who is running the company, and that usually gives me an idea if they are worth considering.”
“I don’t know. My issue is, if I read about it for a third time and still don't fully comprehend the concept, it may be an investment worth avoiding. Given that Bitcoin resembles a game of hot potato, it makes me uncomfortable and I’d stay away.”
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