What makes a successful wholesaler?

After being named to WP’s Top 50 Wholesalers in Canada, Brent Paul, District VP of Retail Sales for Mackenzie Investments, explains what motivates him and how he approaches his advisor clients now.

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Brent Paul [00:00:07] Hello and welcome to this special edition of WP TV where we are celebrating and highlighting some WP's Top 50 Wholesalers in Canada. My name is David Kitai, Senior Editor at Wealth Professional. Today we are lucky to be joined by Brent Paul, District Vice President for Retail Sales for Mackenzie Investments. Brent is a two time Everest Award winner and has just been named one of Wealth Professionals Top 50 Wholesalers for the third time running Brent, congratulations and welcome to WP TV. 

Brent Paul [00:00:35] Thank you very much, David. Nice to be here. 

Brent Paul [00:00:38] Great to have you. So let's get into this third time running. Why do you think you've been named one of the Top 50 Wholesalers in Canada for the third time? 

Brent Paul [00:00:47] Well, again, it's a I would say it's a true honor David to be nominated. And I would say when I was thinking about this the one word that came to mind the most was consistency. So I mean, I've been in the role now for over 8 years. I've been in the industry for 28 years. Now I know it's hard to believe some people think, you know, I only look 28. But I started when I was 18 years old. So I've been doing this a long time. So in every single meeting, I do a lot of preparation, I feel a lot, I bring a lot of experience and perspective and expertise to each conversation that I have with my clients. And in every meeting, I just I want to understand everything I can about the advisor and their model, what their typical client is the types of products and solutions that they'd like to use and how we can best complement their business. I would also say it's my general approach. So I don't come across as a pushy salesperson, I guess you could say, and I really just tried to build relationships with clients and get them to trust me and build that relationship. I'm a very relationship driven individual. And I would say anybody that knows me, I'm also a stickler when it comes to attention to detail. So I've always said not everything is within our control. But things like following up as promised, and in a timely manner, is something that we certainly pride ourselves on. 

David Kitai [00:02:24] I like that and i like i like the approach of again, diligence, you know, you can't, what, there's enough sayings about how you basically you can't make up for hard work and effort. And that just seems to be such a key factor. And in every wholesaler I've spoken to success. And funnily enough, many of those wholesalers that I've been speaking to are from Mackenzie, because you've got a few winners on the list. What is it about your firm that you think makes for these successful wholesalers? 

Brent Paul [00:02:53] So I would, I would say, David, that one thing that Mackenzie does is they invest a lot into their sales team and making everybody here better at what they do. And I've said this before, whatever capacity you are in, and whatever role you decide to take, if you do want to Mackenzie, you will become better at that position. So I joined Mackenzie again over eight years ago. And just given the sheer number of products and solutions and services that we provide from RDSPs to donor advised funds through our Charitable Giving Foundation to exchange traded funds, alternative assets, group plans, tax estate planning, etc., etc. It really forces you to have to learn a lot more about each of these offerings. So that you can properly position these two advisors when the opportunity obviously presents itself. So again, just educating yourself having to know all these solutions inside and out. And one thing that we also do is we engage in what we call conceptual selling. And what this is, is truly understanding each situation, the advisors into educate on various opportunities without just focusing on, let's say, pushing the product, we're selling purely on the performance side of things. So we really cultivate within our organization and if you do well, you certainly have a lot of opportunity to move up. 

David Kitai [00:04:24] Okay, that's great to hear it. I'd like to explore conceptual selling a little bit because that's an interesting concept to me as one I haven't really heard as much about before. How does that process work from sort of a day to day standpoint, when you're when you're having those first conversations with an advisor, you know, what, what does it look like to to engage in conceptual selling? 

Brent Paul [00:04:45] So conceptual selling is all about when we look in when you approach a meeting or an interaction with an advisor. It's almost like opening their eyes to an opportunity that that maybe they are not are aware of, and not just presenting it from the product side of things we always talk about. If you sell on performance, you could you could lose on performance as well. So not relying on that as part of the sales process. When you engage in the conversation with an advisor, it's either trying to fix a problem that they're dealing with trying to accomplish a solution or a result that they're trying to get to, or avoiding something or avoiding potential risks that they might not see within their business. And then getting them to look at various opportunities through a different lens. And it's really just putting a lot of time and effort into the planning process. And having these conversations, again, without coming out and just positioning a product or saying, you know, this was the best performing funds. So that's why you need to buy it, it's really approaching the opportunity from a different angle, and how it can best complement their business. 

David Kitai [00:06:15] Yeah, no, that's fascinating. And I like what you brought up about performance, it really is a double edged sword. But you also talk a little bit in your previous answer, and most recently, about the sort of the breadth of knowledge and breadth of product that is available now that Mackenzie is provided through you. As you sort of like, develop this knowledge and understand all these products and talk with your advisors about them. What are you finding that advisors need? What about their work nail is sort of forcing them to take on other kinds of opportunities and other kinds of products? 

Brent Paul [00:06:50] No, I was a that's a great question, David. And I would say this is a bit of a, it's almost a tricky one, because in my region, we have close to 600 advisors, and everyone's going to run their business a little bit differently. So again, that's where the conceptual selling comes into play, and truly understanding everybody's unique situation, what their needs are understanding their client base, what they're looking for. And getting to the bottom of that. So whether they're looking for, you know, what I'd like to build their own portfolios, for example, or if they use managed solutions, or transitioning to a fee based business model. Again, we try to understand everyone's unique situation. Today, we do see more advisors moving to a fee based approach where appropriate, and a lot of them are utilizing ETFs, just given the greater focus on cost savings in this industry. And I could say that Mackenzie is now one of the largest ETF providers in Canada. So this gives us what we call an agnostic approach. When it comes to our sales process, we can talk about different products, whether they want mutual funds, or whether they want ETFs. Again, we have both of these. So we are agnostic in terms of the solutions that we can bring to the table, I would say a lot of advisors are also spending a lot more of their time on compliance. There are a lot of new year product rules. So anything that we can do to streamline their investment making decisions. I know they appreciate and we can help advisors build model portfolios, if that's what they wanted to do. We can run comparisons against other funds that they that they currently use and see what can work as a complement or an alternative. If they choose to create their own or if they want to use a managed solution. And that's the route they decide to go down. So again, it's there are a lot of different angles, I guess you could say that that different solutions and tools that advisors are using, and we have no shortage of them at Mackenzie that we can draw upon a lot of resources that we can bring into that conversation. 

David Kitai [00:09:02] So I'm curious, given that breadth and as you say, the difference of advisor experiences. Why do you think advisors now need to have so many more different kinds of products, so many more different kinds of avenues available to them? And what is it about client's expectations that's motivating this this much broader product shelf? 

Brent Paul [00:09:23] Great question. And I'm almost drawing on a little bit of my experience here. When I started in the industry 28 years ago, selling a mutual fund it. I wouldn't say it was a new concept back then. But the access to information that the retail public had back then was far less than it is today. And you could see a lot of that whether it's the commercials that you see on TV, or the various tools that are available to the retail investor today. There are a lot so independent advisors are always Looking for more tools, more services, because again, their clients are going to have greater access to information than ever before. So the more that we can arm them with, to remain competitive, and continue to bring value added tools to their client base is extremely important. Whether it's the ability to generate customized proposals offering high net worth solutions, portfolio construction, and even continuous education when it comes to changing tax rules, economic market updates, Portfolio Manager commentary, meaning that we can keep the advisor at the forefront and ahead of the game, I guess you could say. And still being able to bring that that value to their client base is incredibly important today, because of how the industry has evolved over the last number of decades. 

David Kitai [00:10:58] That makes a lot of sense. And you've highlighted now a lot of it's maybe a recurring theme in our conversation, that it's beyond just product, it's that working as a wholesaler takes so much more in the way of education and knowledge. But for you to lay it out for us sort of explicitly, what services beyond just product are you aiming to deliver for advisors now, as their wholesale? 

Brent Paul [00:11:26] When we again, when we talked about engaging the advisor in a conversation around their needs, how we can help them in their business, and it's really a lot of it for me comes down to education on various opportunities. My clients know me personally that I love talking about the macro environment. So I do a ridiculous amount of research and, and reading on evenings and weekends around interest rates, monetary policy, inflation housing market, on and on and on, I love the whole macro picture. And now how each of these can impact both the stock and bond markets. And then trying to identify where these opportunities are or where they might be lacking exposure to. So this has been my passion for years. And I bring this level of conversation and education to, to each meeting, a lot of preparation, a lot of illustrations that my clients have gotten to know me for that I bring a lot of illustrations to support the conversations that I have with advisors. So it's, for me, it's just a, it's a lot of education, just in you in our role, we have to almost be ahead of that from the advisors perspective to bring that perspective that they can then share with their clients. And then it just like I said, in my position, it just takes a lot of time and research that goes on and evenings and weekends to properly prepare for these conversations. 

David Kitai [00:13:11] That's great answer and you bring up a lot of the kind of key takeaways that I think other wholesalers who are watching would want to gain from this conversation. So to lay it out explicitly, what do you think other wholesalers can do as they begin to expand their offering beyond just, you know, product knowledge and those sorts of more transactional conversations with their clients? 

Brent Paul [00:13:33] Great question. In when I thought about this, it really comes down to education, I would say and continuing to work on the types of questions that we ask in those meetings with advisors, and genuinely being inquisitive. And again, we all have ideas as to what type of product or solution we want to present when we're going into a meeting. But being open to wherever the conversation might take you and being able to discuss different solutions and being open to that and being able to pivot I've had many conversations myself where I went into a meeting thinking that it's going to go in one direction and we ended up taking the conversation in a completely different direction. So only that way will you ensure that you're truly meeting the advisors needs. So again, being able to pivot is incredibly important. And also understanding in depth the services that our organization provides. So for example, I know what Mackenzie to two areas that I talked about in meetings that that make us unique would be our Charitable Giving Foundation and our registered disability savings plan. These are unique offerings and something for every single advisor that they can utilize, but not everybody understands. So educating on these programs where they can fit in is incredibly important. It adds a lot of value. And, again, it's just expanding the breadth of services that the advisor can have with their clients expanding the conversations that they can have with their clients, the types of estate planning, and having in their back pocket these various tools. So knowing when the opportunity presents itself, that they can identify it, and come to us to further support that. 

David Kitai [00:15:29] Okay, now, that makes a lot of sense. So now as you look ahead, you have built this great base of success, you take this approach that is beyond just talking about product, and you've been named a WP Top Wholesaler for the third time running. What's next for Brett Paul? What are your goals and plans for the future? 

Brent Paul [00:15:52] Good question. So, I would say I mean, at this level, one thing I love to do is to pass on everything that I know and all the experience that that I've lived through. So having done this for a long time, I always say I mean, you can't, you can't, by experience, you just have to go through it. So having been through the technology bubble in the late 90s, to the financial crisis in 2008. You know, I've lived through all these and can bring these conversations to the table. So that's, it's something that I just incredibly enjoy. I love what I do. This has been something that I've wanted to do my entire life ever since I was 18 years old. So it's a pleasure for me. And right now I'm actually working with a newer team at Mackenzie. So I'm very excited about what we can accomplish together and what doors we can open up. Like I said, even though I've been in the region over eight years, we still have a lot of opportunity with new advisors and continuing to expand on our existing relationships. So one of my goals is to develop my team to get them to where they want to be. I've had the privilege to work with three wholesalers during my time as an insight wholesaler. And I've learned a lot from them. And they pushed me to get me to where I am today. And that's what I want to do with my team as well to get them to where they want to ultimately get to. 

David Kitai [00:17:30] Ending a conversation about education and empowerment with a message about education and empowerment. So great to hear and great to hear that you're going to be leading this team and future very excited to see everything that that's going to be coming out from you guys. Unfortunately though, that is all the time that we have today. So I will simply say thank you so much, Brent for taking the time and joining us here. 

Brent Paul [00:17:52] Thank you David. I really appreciate the time today. 

David Kitai [00:17:55] And thank you to all of our viewers I have been David Kitai, have a great rest of your day.