What's behind the success of this all-women team's practice? It isn't complicated
While other wealth management firms are working to increase their number of women advisors to capitalize on the new holistic trends in the industry and the fact women will soon be inheriting a lot of the intergenerational money transfer, Dale Collins in Victoria, British Columbia is already there.
Collins, a certified financial planner who owns Prosperity Planning with Worldsource Financial Management Inc., runs an all-female advisor firm with at least 600 clients and more assets under management than she cares to discuss. She’s also excited that her daughter, Courtney Castledine, has joined her in the business and will eventually succeed her.
“My daughter’s writing her CFP in June, so I’m super-lucky. I’ve got my exit strategy and she’s my doppelganger,” Collins told Wealth Professional. “My clients really, really enjoy working with her. So, I don’t foresee bringing on a guy at this point because we’ve got such a good thing going here and we’re really having a lot of fun.”
Collins, who hails from New Brunswick, worked in Calgary before moving to Victoria. She got her CFP in 2005 and would often find herself being the only woman at the table in a male-dominated field before she started her own practice twenty years ago. She now has two planners, two assistants, and a couple of other women looking at joining the firm because they like what they see.
Now, Collins enjoys pedicures and spa days with her staff and will take bubbly and flowers to a client who’s just retired and give her a hug. She self-effacingly said, “it’s just different.”
Collins has clients of both genders, but has always taken the holistic approach to really get to know them and see what they specifically need to meet their financial goals. So, a lot of women clients are drawn to Prosperity and sending referrals. Families are also suggesting their moms see her when partners die and the women decide to move their family wealth from other firms.
The company grew a lot during the pandemic as the all-female firm proactively nurtured clients and “talked them off the ledge” of the March 2020 market drop. The growth is getting to be such that Collins is beginning to contemplate instituting a minimum dollar threshold for new clients to keep the firm from being overwhelmed as it cares for increasingly more clients and family generations.
“I treat people the way I want to be treated – respectfully,” she said, “and I’ve had clients who’ve said ‘we want to work here’ because we’re having fun and we like to laugh. Life’s too short not to be happy and clients know that we actually care about their well-being.
“Maybe being a little vulnerable and sharing my struggles and worries helps, too,” she said, noting an hour client meeting can be three-quarters “personal stuff” and one-quarter money discussion.
Collins is empathetic with both staff and clients because she’s lived through a marriage breakdown, sister’s death, and friends battling addition. She was also a single mom while working at the credit union before starting her business. It uncharacteristically left her in one desk for six years, where she built relationships. Those clients followed her when she became an independent advisor in 2005.
Prosperity Planning’s staff are also very proactive about serving in their community.
“We do an awful lot in the community –charity work and giving back to the food bank – and people really appreciate that,” she said. “Obviously, there hasn't been anything going on for the last couple years. But, before that, we’d do women in business functions and Rotary and just being out there in the community. I think that giving-back piece has really drawn people to us.”
“We’re different,” said Collins. “I remember, years ago, being at a conference where they said, ‘Whatever you do, make sure you're different. Don't do everything the same as everyone else.’”
Now, she is as she shares her warmth, enthusiasm, and knowledge with clients and helps staff achieve more work-life balance. She isn’t aware of any other all-female firms and, even though she’s licensed in Ontario and Alberta, too, she enjoys having clients savour the energy in her office.
Collins is planning to move to a four-day work week, but isn’t in any hurry to retire soon. That could take another decade as she winds down as her daughter winds up her end of the business because Collins loves what she does.
“We’re definitely doing holistic planning,” she said. “We look at the whole picture. When we have a meeting with a client, I want to know everything to help them make the best decisions.”