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Finding value in connections

November 7, 2016


There’s been a lot of back-and-forth between different stakeholders in the investment industry over clients’ best interests. The CRM2 rules requiring disclosures on performance and fees have caused concern to more than a few financial advisors. Recent comments on the CSA’s Consultation Paper 33-404 have revealed polarized views: industry participants feel regulators should consider costs, while investor advocacy groups call for additional controls and oversight.

Grant White, an Investment Advisor at National Bank Financial, sees the issue from a client-first perspective.

“It has always been my mindset that as advisors we have a strict responsibility and duty to protect the best interests of our clients,” White said. “I welcome any regulations that help to protect clients and give them greater transparency regarding the management of their financial affairs. I do however think that any new regulation needs to be implemented with the public in mind and how it will impact them on a practical basis.”

He got the desire to protect his clients’ best interests from his father, a financial planner, who helped him realize the positive impact he could have on people’s lives as an advisor. He learned a valuable lesson from his dad – one of many – when he was 15 years old working for his uncle’s printing company. At the time, he had just gotten himself a pair of roller blades for hockey practice in the summer.

“The money I earned from my first two weeks of work that summer went into buying my new blades. After I bought them and was in the car with my dad riding home, he turned to me and said, ‘So Grant, are you happy with your purchase?’ I replied, ‘Yes, of course.’ He then said, ‘Good, because you worked your butt off for two weeks to get them so you better be happy.’ That was the day I truly learned the value of hard work and I bring that mentality to work every day in understanding exactly how hard my clients have worked to build their wealth.”

Growing up in a family rooted in wealth management has provided another advantage for White: it reassures clients, which is especially important when talking to more senior clients.

“Some people tend to look only at your face and not who you really are,” he said. “Whenever that happened, I really enjoyed taking the opportunity to tell those clients that I had been working in the industry for over ten years already and bring a great deal family experience along with me as well.”

White has developed his career by building long-term relationships with clients and understanding their specific financial needs. But while he strives for understanding, he maintains enough objectivity to be honest with them – even when it hurts.

“Our business is built on trust, trust I have in my clients and trust they have in my team. They trust me to be straight with them and tell them what they need to do to be successful,” he said. “The news isn’t always good but if I were to sugarcoat things or sweep them under the rug, that would betray our core principles as a team and break that trust.”

The relationship between advisors and clients may be put to the test during discussions on regulation, but White prefers to focus on the simple – and important – truth: advisors should be partners in their clients’ success.

“When our clients realize some of their life’s largest goals such as selling their business, retiring, helping their children through university, and knowing that we played a part in helping it to happen – that is pretty powerful stuff. That’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.”

For advisors who may be struggling and want to succeed in the business, White offers this advice:
“Find out why you get out of bed every morning and be able to answer the question: ‘Why should anyone else care?’ After that, find great mentors. I have always sought out mentors who exemplified the type of advisor I wanted to be. I’m lucky enough to say I have a couple of great mentors who have helped me to get where I am today and I am proud to say that they are now learning from me as well. Surround yourself with positive people who want to see you succeed.”

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