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For wealthy newcomers to Canada, a new country requires a new financial plan, but some advisors in British Columbia who are on The Globe and Mail and SHOOK Research’s Canada’s Top Wealth Advisors: Best in Province ranking go beyond the basic financial advisor role to give clients a “one-stop shop” they can rely on.
Harp Sandhu, financial advisor with Sandhu Advisory Group at Raymond James Ltd. in Victoria, recalled the time he helped a client move his collection of Scotch whisky from his home in New York to B.C.
“It was definitely one of the most unusual things I’d been involved with,” he says. “But it was fun because we had to figure out the logistics, the duty, and it was a challenge.”
He says these types of “extras” are the parts of his job he really enjoys because it’s all about interacting with clients and building those relationships. Mr. Sandhu says he especially likes it when people are headed to areas of the province that he knows well so he can give them a list of restaurants to visit and sites to see. He also speaks fluent Punjabi.
“I’ve connected people with dentists, eye doctors, lawyers, immigration consultants and accountants. I even know contractors who can do renovations” says Mr. Sandhu, who is licensed to work in Canada and the U.S.
“So, it’s really trying to be the full concierge [service] for them in their move; managing their assets is a small part of the overall service offering we provide.”
Helping clients retire in Canada
Lili Hao, investment advisor with the Brezer, Vos, Mandell, Reems & Hao Wealth Management Group at BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. in Vancouver, has spent much of her career helping wealthy immigrants settle in B.C. However, she says her role is evolving as many of these clients are entering a new stage of their lives in Canada.
Previously, Ms. Hao’s work focused on “getting a picture of their overall financial situation and helping them start a new life here,” she says.
“Now – because their kids are older, have graduated from college, and are being called back to take over the family business – more wealthy immigrants are starting to plan their retirement in Canada.”
They want to start a new chapter and choose a different dream to enjoy their hobbies, she adds.
For example, one of Ms. Hao’s clients has spent much of his career in real estate but has always had a lifelong dream of becoming a chef of food from his home country.
Now, Ms. Hao and her team are helping him realize his dreams as he prepares to open up a restaurant in B.C. that will feature dishes from his hometown.
“We’re here to help with that,” Ms. Hao says. “The services we offer now include retirement and tax planning, commercial account opening and lending, and also estate planning.”
Planning for the next stages of life for many of these clients also requires advisors to look at how the family business and/or wealth will be set aside for successors, Ms. Hao says.
“Because our clients are now at the stage of planning to pass their wealth to the next generations, we also do a lot of family trusts,” she adds.
But Ms. Hao says what sets her and her team apart is the group of hand-picked experts from both internal and external sources to provide to clients, specifically designed to help them reach whatever financial goal they have in mind.
“It’s a team of experts who speak their [native] languages,” she says. “We have private and commercial bankers, insurance consultants and wealth planners, and trust officers. Also, externally, we refer to accountants, trust lawyers and realtors.”
Importance of word of mouth referrals
When someone who is immigrating to B.C. shows a particular interest in more robust or complex investing, that’s usually when Tom Porteous, senior wealth advisor and portfolio manager with BPS Wealth Management at CIBC Wood Gundy in Vancouver, gets a call.
“What we find is that we come into play when the person says to someone, ‘Hey, I’m looking for something that’s a little bit more sophisticated than run-of-the-mill mutual funds. Who should I talk to?’” he says. “Often, that’s when we get the tap on the shoulder to say, ‘Are you interested in talking to these people?’”
According to all of these advisors, word of mouth is a big part of attracting the newcomer client base. That’s why it can be even more important to add special touches to services or be well-known among others in the community because referrals come from a variety of places.
“It could be either a lawyer or a [chartered accountant] with whom they’ve dealt,” Mr. Porteous says. “If we have an experience with them or they know who we are, then we may get a nod from them.”
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