'We put value on finding the right people ... who see the world our way'

Expanding independent shuffles its leadership as it aims to maximize advisor growth

'We put value on finding the right people ... who see the world our way'

Rolling up to its fifth anniversary on April 17, Wellington-Altus Financial is shifting two senior leaders’ positions to maximize its capacity to handle the exponential growth that it is continuing to see.

“We methodically put the most value on finding the right people, who have high asset quality books and see the world our way. Once we do, then our business grows pretty quickly,” Shaun Hauser told Wealth Professional, adding the firm has about $21 billion assets under administration.

“We think that philosophy has got us $6.5 billion of growth in fiscal ‘21 and almost $5.5 billion dollars of book growth in fiscal ’20. It would not shock me that we’re at, or above, that in fiscal ’22.”

Hauser, in Winnipeg, is Wellington-Altus’s co-founder and current President. Once the changes have regulatory approval, he’ll become CEO while Jordy Chilcott, in Toronto, will retain his position as Executive Vice-President of Wealth Strategy and Enablement in Wellington-Altus Financial Inc., and also become President of Wellington-Altus Private Wealth and Wellington-Altus Insurance.

Chilcott will oversee the daily operations of the company’s fast-growing IIROC business while Hauser will focus on growing Wellington-Altus’s business. He’ll continue to recruit advisor teams to the IIROC business, but also focus on strategic acquisitions and strategic implementation.

“We have a three-year strategic investment window, where we’re investing in people, infrastructure, and technology, so that, when we come out the other end, sometime in fiscal ‘23, we have a heck of an offering for investment advisors,” said Hauser. “We’re pretty excited about it, but it requires a lot of duty and care.

“Jordy and I don’t think it’s going to change much day-to-day, but we think the impacts will start to be felt pretty quickly.”

Chilcott is pleased to continue to focus on, and fast-forward, strategy and enablement for Wellington-Altus’s IIROC platform, which is the largest part of the company’s business.

“We’re really six quarters into our 12-quarter technology plan, so we’re making sure that we can continue at the pace that we have, given the book size of advisor teams joining us. We’re commonly attracting $250 million, $500 million, $750 million as we bring over advisors and on-board businesses,” he said. “So, we hope to continue to focus on growth, just to make sure that we can continue to enable them to deliver their best and respond to why they’re leaving their current homes because we’ve been able to do a really good job with that.”

Wellington-Altus now has 75 teams and Hauser said it’s expecting to onboard many more in April and May, “and we see our growth continuing as a trajectory that just isn’t going to quit.”

The company’s management team decided to make the changes so it could continue to grow at the same pace that it has while, said Hauser, “taking care of our advisors that have joined us with as much vigour as we had in attracting them.”

Chilcott, who was President of Sun Life Financial Global Investments before joining Wellington-Altus in 2020, said the firm’s momentum is part of what prompted his move.

“The time is right for a technology-driven, independent firm in Canada, and the reason I say that is that we’re in the midst of a tectonic shift in the industry,” he said. “That allows us not to be burdened with the legacy technology of some of our competitors, so we’re able to reach more capacity and still keep our service levels extremely high.”

Chilcott said the new advisors want to leave behind firms with shrinking product shelves, quotas, and quarterly revenue targets and find independent, unconstrained firms that can support them.

They want to join a firm with a full product shelf to achieve their best client outcomes, but also own their books and control their succession.

“We just happen to be in the perfect spot to support them from a technology perspective, better than where they’re currently housed,” he said.

Wellington-Altus recently expanded into Quebec, where Hauser said, “the pipeline is larger than we thought, so we’re rapidly expanding movement toward creating even more infrastructure in Quebec as we do see a little bit of a tidal wave.

“So, just based on a spidey sense of what we’ve seen in our other parts of the country with our business, we think it’s going to go very, very well. We expect, by the end of fiscal ’22, to start realizing what we see in the other parts of the country.”

It’s been an incredible five years. But Hauser said, “what we’re probably the proudest of, as an executive committee, is the quality of advisors and people we’ve attracted. We feel really lucky that we have people that care about the business and their clients as much as we do. It’s fantastic to work here because everyone rolls in the same direction.”