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What sets luxury fashion apart from its mass-produced counterpart is the fine craftsmanship and attention to detail that go into the making of each shirt or suit, custom tailored for an individual. Clients should be looking for the same custom fit in their wealth management plan.

“The best suits that I have are the ones where they measured them for me,” says Ethan Astaneh, wealth advisor/client relationship manager at Nicola Wealth.

Astaneh uses the word “bespoke” often when talking about client strategy. This focus on tailored integrated planning is a key differentiator for private wealth management firm Nicola Wealth.

“The centre stage is not investment management,” he says. “That’s just one slice of it.”

Wealth advisors at Nicola Wealth go beyond just investment strategy, taking all aspects of their clients’ financial situation into account when building a road map for the future. Nicola Wealth’s personalized approach is similar to what one would see in a family office, although the company has clients across Canada and more than $12.1-billion in assets under management

Right from the start, Nicola Wealth’s advisors take a collaborative approach with their clients, getting to know not only them but their circumstances, including who in their family or inner circle is relevant to the financial discussion.

“You end up looking at a family tree, which is the sister of an organizational chart [in business],” Astaneh says. The process is labour-intensive, but it’s important for building a strong foundation before even getting to a discussion about investments.

The first step is to create a profile, which includes a client’s net worth, their financial structure (personal, family or corporate), income needs, and financial goals and objectives.

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“When I am working with a new client, it could be two or three meetings before we even talk about the investment strategy, because we’re just not there yet,” Astaneh says. “The integrated planning process is a very specific methodology. If I take the time to understand your circumstances, then I can deliver a highly customized plan.

“That strategy becomes highly relevant to your circumstances because it hinges on values and what makes you, you. But, most importantly, it provides a framework for decision-making, which is very important when you’re navigating various life stages.”

Nicola Wealth’s approach to investing includes institutional-grade hard-asset real estate and private capital including private equity, private debt, commercial mortgages, infrastructure assets and other alternative strategies. Capital preservation is at the core of what they target for their clients. They look to accomplish that by going beyond stocks and bonds, diving into cashflow investing and broad-asset allocation that are not typically accessible to individual investors. Their clients include families, entrepreneurs and accomplished individuals from all professions.

Once a profile has been created, the second step is to craft an interconnected plan that includes retirement planning, tax planning, investment management, insurance planning, business planning, charitable giving and estate planning.

“The client’s collaboration will have an influence here because they understand their circumstances better than we do,” Astaneh says. “This is where I start to introduce the investment plan, because now you’ve got a really good sense of where [the client’s] financial trajectory is headed based on what they told us about goals and priorities, and the big financial decisions they’re going to have to make. We can start to say, this is how much capital they will need for this purpose.”

The third step is implementing, reviewing, measuring, monitoring and, if necessary, adjusting the plan.

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“The third step is the rest of your life,” Astaneh says. “It’s the step that’s often the hardest for wealth management firms. It’s the step that a lot of clients expect. It seems so obvious when you say you may have to adapt a plan. You are creating a monitoring mechanism to go back to the first two steps, to validate what you’ve done, and maintain. It’s this constant recycling.”

“Wealth management firms are very good at telling you the effectiveness of your portfolio, whether it went up or went down. But if the management of their investments is just one sleeve of things, then you are not monitoring the effectiveness of the whole picture.”

An integrated planning approach, with a focus on transparency, becomes even more important during turbulent economic times, such as we’re seeing now. At least once a year, Nicola Wealth will capture a client’s net worth in a comprehensive fashion, in order to report to the client not just how their portfolio is performing but whether their net worth is going up.

“What integrated planning actually does is it makes the turbulence itself easier to navigate and manage, because it’s been factored into the plan that at some point the markets will be turbulent,” Astaneh says. “So, instead of staring at the markets and worrying about their portfolio, they can go travel.”

Read how Nicola Wealth’s investment approach aims to mitigate market volatility.

This material contains the current opinions of the author and such opinions are subject to change without notice. This material is distributed for informational purposes only. Forecasts, estimates, and certain information contained herein are based upon proprietary research and should not be considered as investment advice or a recommendation of any particular security, strategy or investment product. All investments contain risk and may gain or lose value. Please speak to your Nicola Wealth advisor for advice based on your unique circumstances. Nicola Wealth is registered as a Portfolio Manager, Exempt Market Dealer and Investment Fund Manager with the required securities commissions.


Advertising feature produced by Globe Content Studio with Nicola Wealth. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved.