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One advisor says he has the most success with clients who are usually engaged in his team's process and aligned with their investment philosophy.courtneyk/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

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Does a client need to have significant assets to work with one of Canada’s Top Wealth Advisors? Probably, but not necessarily. Some of the advisors on The Globe and Mail and SHOOK Research 2022 ranking replied “zero” when asked for the minimum level of clients’ investible assets.

Reg Jackson, senior wealth advisor and portfolio manager with JMRD Watson Wealth Management Team at National Bank Financial Wealth Management in London, Ont., thought about implementing account minimums as his business expanded and mulled ideas on where best to spend his time. But a meeting with his client advisory board made him reconsider. A longtime client reminded Mr. Jackson that if account minimums were in place, he would not have made the cut.

This client was onboarded at age 26, coincidentally the same age Mr. Jackson was at the time. Today, the client and Mr. Jackson are both 51 years old and have thrived financially.

“My client made a very powerful observation. We’ve grown up together,” he says. “I certainly didn’t have a lot of money when I was 26 years old. We started with a plan and, over time, you have opportunities and different things progress.”

That isn’t to say Mr. Jackson thinks negatively of advisors who do have account minimums, quite the contrary.

“Maybe an advisor doesn’t have the capacity for new business and has no choice,” he says.

He just prefers not to adopt that business model for his own practice. While money doesn’t factor into whether a prospect becomes a client, Mr. Jackson is selective in other areas.

The first foray into his practice is likely by referral from another client. During introductory meetings, he’s considering work chemistry and mutual respect.

“We have to like the person we take on as a client. We’re going to be spending a lot of time with these folks,” he explains.

“There must be [an enthusiasm] about answering the phone, meeting them in their home or for lunch, all of those things.”

Finding the ideal clients

Having no account minimums comes down to a simple philosophy for Anna Macias, wealth advisor and certified financial planner (CFP) at Investment Planning Counsel Inc. in Ottawa. As she says, “it’s not always about the money, it’s about the clients. Do we fit well together?”

She adds that she’s aiming to build long-term relationships.

“We’re helping them with the most important aspect of their lives – their money,” she says. “So, you better like that person, otherwise you’re in trouble.”

Ms. Macias started in the business working as a client service manager under a senior advisor. The advisor had encouraged her to get her credentials while she learned about managing client accounts. When the advisor retired, she took over serving the clients exclusively.

As an independent advisor, her firm doesn’t dictate revenue targets and account minimums. Ms. Macias has chosen to grow the practice organically, by word of mouth. She appreciates the opportunity of working with clients who are up and coming in their careers and will also work with people other clients have recommended.

Retirees are her ideal client, but lately, she also has a soft spot for Generation Z – those around age 25 – her own children’s demographic.

“I’ve taught my kids how important investing is now and I try to teach the importance of savings,” she says.

‘Avoid’ those using savings for cash flow

Matt Bacchiochi, president and CFP at Gavin Hockey Wealth Specialists in Toronto, specializes in advising professional hockey players. While 70 per cent of his client base may be receiving exclusive, seven-to-eight-figure contracts, Mr. Bacchiochi says that in itself is not enough to become a client.

“We have the most success with clients who are usually engaged in our process and aligned with our investment philosophy,” he explains.

“We try to avoid people who are using their accumulated savings for cash flow purposes and they’re pulling unsuitable amounts of principal for lifestyle expenses.”

Put another way, he eschews high-roller athletes who spend as much as they earn and then some. Instead, his practice is a multi-family office, 12 staff serving around 120 households. Part of his job is getting athletes to understand that cash flow management is the cornerstone for financial success.

Mr. Bacchiochi says athletes need to set a household budget, establish savings targets, file tax returns, and require assistance with cross-border issues and advice on acquiring personal use assets. These are things that all need to be done before accumulating enough savings to even warrant a long-term investment strategy, he says.

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