For Advisory Team of the Year, success started with thinking small

After building a book of 600-plus relationships during his first decade in practice, Thane Stenner realized he wanted to get to know and work with his clients at a deeper level. Today, he and his team at Stenner Wealth Partners+ provide high-touch service to 47 clients in the ultra-high-net worth space. In this video, Wealth Professional explores how this top-tier advisory team’s obsession with exclusivity, proactive service, and finding the best talent have brought them to the highest echelons of success.

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James Burton  00:00:07

Hello everyone and welcome to this WP TV special. My name is James Burton, managing editor of wealth professional Canada. Today I'm delighted to welcome Thane Stenner, Senior Portfolio Manager and Senior Wealth Advisor with Stenner Wealth Partners of CG Wealth Management. Now the firm was recently named an excellent awardee in the Franklin Templeton award for advisory team with the year 10 staff or more at the annual WP awards. Thane, thanks for joining us.

Thane Stenner  00:00:38

Thank you. My pleasure, James, pleasure to be with you.

James Burton  00:00:42

Now your team deals with some of Canada's most successful entrepreneurs, C suite executives and family offices, arguably the top 1/10 of the 1% of the investment population. So what made you want to focus your business efforts on such an exclusive niche of the marketplace?

Thane Stenner  00:01:00

Well, first of all, I've been in the industry over 25 years. And you know, the first 10 years of my practice, I built up a very large retail practice had over 600 relationships and a 22 person team. And we had a very detailed client service model. And you know, I'd meet clients or talk to them, you know, twice a year kind of thing. And as my career kind of progressed, I realized that I wanted to know my clients at a deeper level. And so this ethos of kind of going from a lot of clients transitioning down to much fewer clients, that journey began. So it took me about five years to go from about 660 families, to bring in the right people to get them acquainted. And ultimately, I transitioned down to 10 relationships, and have built that up today to about 47 or 48 relationships today. So at the end of the day, it was, I wanted to really know our clients exceptionally well. And not just based upon account number or their portfolio.

James Burton  00:02:20

Thanks, Thane. So following on from that, what is generally the type and size of investment or wealth clients that standard wealth partners focuses on? And why?

Thane Stenner  00:02:32

Yeah, so basically, we focus in on an exclusive niche, it's 10 million plus, per household at a minimum, that we want to manage on their behalf and invest on their behalf and provide ancillary services round. So these people tend to be you know, typically least 10 million plus in liquid assets, and or $25 million plus in net worth. So our range of clients net worths are anywhere from 25 million, typically up to two and a half billion in size. So it's a range, we know them really well. And it seems to be working quite well for us.

James Burton  00:03:17

Now, your team of 16 wealth professionals currently deals with 47 clients. So that's an impressive client to Team professional ratio of three to one. How does your team service this type of clientele? And does the fewer bigger better saying also relate to your team size and philosophy?

Thane Stenner  00:03:37

Yeah, so excellent question, James. So we have a very detailed client service model. And we reach out to clients on a weekly basis throughout the course of the year proactively. And obviously, they reach out to us from time to time when they have questions on things. So excluding client-initiated reach outs, we really want to be all hands on deck and kind of really provide them with a sense that we're really on top of things. So with that in mind, you know, 50 contacts a year, plus, whatever the client initiates on top, we have an extremely high retention rate, and it works. It's a lot of work. It's it is intensive, and, you know, we, as a team, you know, 16 professionals, we have to make sure we have a very detailed execution plan as to how we go about doing that. So, and we do and it seems to be resonating with these wealthier clients.

James Burton  00:04:41

Thanks, Thane. Now, aside from your team's financial minimum of 10 million plus in investable assets, or 25 million-plus net worth, what else do you look for in a prospective new client relationship?

Thane Stenner  00:04:55

Yeah, so there has to be a psychological fit or values fit. So we do a lot of meetings, we probably talk to over 100 prospective clients a year, and we bring on maybe eat to a maximum of 10 new clients a year. So we talked to a lot of people, get to know a lot of people. But we have to get a sense that we can really move the dial for them from the point of view of providing them, you know, innovative ideas and solutions and strategy, and can have an impact on their family. But in the same token, we want to try to avoid PETA clients. So I'll say part of the acronym, you know, pain in the so you know, irrespective of how much capital A family has, or entrepreneur has, we want to get a sense of the others, we're going to be in sync, we're going to be mutually respectful of one another. And we're kind of in this together. So you got to try to interview upfront, prospective clients to think really well, in order to potentially or avoid headaches down the road.

James Burton  00:06:03

As you all know, Thane, markets have been tough in recent times, how has your team weathered the last 18 months of market volatility?

Thane Stenner  00:06:11

Well, I think it kind of comes back to our client service model. By being in such frequent contact with clients, they get a sense that we're on top of things which I believe we really are. And secondly, fortunately, our investment philosophy and how we go about doing things, has actually protected capital extremely well. So 2022, first year of a bear market, the markets are down anywhere from 15% to 35%, depends on which market or more, we were flat in 2022, Netta fees, I think we're down 0.41%. So feel very good about that. But it was a very busy year. And we had to do a lot of research a lot of efforts and produced a relatively good outcome in that when most people were losing money, we were flat last year. So the last 18 months have been volatile, even the first six months of 2023. Markets have started recovering. In fact, some markets have recovered very strongly and we're in the we're in the positive position as well. But I have to tell you, we're still quite defensive. And currently, right now, as of today, we're roughly 47-48% in cash. So pretty defensive, we got up to 60%. We deployed some of that earlier this year. And I think, you know, at the end of the day, we're expecting some further volatility hidden, we're also don't think we're out of the woods yet from a point of view of recession and whatnot. So I think that the markets are going to still going to have a challenging period ahead.

James Burton  00:07:55

So with that in mind, thing, what are your team's views, and playbook looking out over the next few years?

Thane Stenner  00:08:01

Well, we want to deploy more, but we don't want to be in a rush to deploy it. So we're doing a lot of research on what we'd like to buy at cheaper prices. So hopefully, over the course, the next six to 12 months, we're going to get some buying opportunities. So historically, you know, if you, what you don't want to be trying to do is doing research in the midst of a storm. You want to try to do research in advance as to the types of things you'd like to own, be ready, know your price point that you'd want to be buying at. And if it hits there, well, then you're ready, and you kind of act on it and execute.

James Burton  00:08:39

Now, as many advisors out there will know it's not easy to build a practice and build a team to make that happen. So from your perspective, thing, what's the secret behind your team's success?

Thane Stenner  00:08:51

I'd say we're obsessive about client interaction proactively. At the end of the day, one of the main reasons why clients fire their advisors is from a lack of proactivity. And also a lack of knowledge but what they own when they go through turbulent times. So with our clients, we work extremely hard on trying to be proactive in our reach out with our meetings with, you know, reviews, snapshots, on the portfolio, their holdings, etc. And I think that that gives them comfort, they may not like the turbulence, so to speak, like on an airplane, but at least they know that there's a steady hand within our team kind of managing things and they'd like the proactive recent reach outs that we provide. So I'd say it's that obsessiveness around making sure we're in contact with clients on a just very regular basis, and especially the types of clients that we deal with.

James Burton  00:09:53

And how do you build a successful team? 

Thane Stenner  00:09:56

Well, number one, you got to be willing to invest in your business, right? So, you know, I have a pretty substantive staff cost or pool cost. And, you know, I like to ensure that our team, each member of the team is paid well for what they're contributing to our, our clients and our team success. So that's number one. Number two, you know, you have to try to really have high standards. So, you know, literally, when we hire, we probably interview potential hires, anywhere from six to 10 times. We take them through various personality diagnostic tests, we put them in different interactions on Zoom or phone call, or, you know, lunches or dinners. And, you know, we do team settings where, you know, they're interacting with our team in advance. So really, just to try to really get to know them, and kind of stress test and asked them funky different questions, to see how the answer is well, and, you know, we've been pretty blessed for some great people. And sometimes, you know, sometimes there is a little bit of turnover, that happens in our industry. But I'm pretty proud of the fact that we've hired some great people on our team.

James Burton  00:11:15

Thanks, Thane. And finally, looking into the future. What's next for your team?

Thane Stenner  00:11:22

Well, it's kind of rinse and repeat, James. I think it's kind of like we've got, we've been entrusted by these 47 client families already. So you know, if we take care of them, they'll take care of us in our business. And then secondly, focusing on not trying to be all things to all people. So taking on, you know, typically, let's say eight new, larger relationships a year, that's about right. If we were to try to take on 20 or 30 new clients, like a lot of advisors do, I think we would get ourselves into trouble. And we'd have some digestion issues. So as far as our team goes, you know, reputational, we want to just continue to build on our reputational franchise within the marketplace across Canada, and do what we say we're going to do. And that's pretty much it and, you know, quite clearly have a passion for the business and have a passion for serving clients. That's, I'd say it's kind of what we're gonna continue to do.

James Burton  00:12:27

That's a great way to end. Thank you so much for your time and insights today.

Thane Stenner  00:12:32

Pleasure, thanks, James. Appreciate it. 

James Burton  00:12:34

Now, you can find out more about Thane and his team at And don't forget to check out all the latest news and reviews on the industry at I'm James Burton, until next time.