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   professional development
Percentage of Canadian households by asset threshold
   5% $1 million+
2% $750,000-$1 million
       3% $500,000-$750,000 4% $250,000-$500,000
75% $0-$50,000 70
    7% $100,000-$250,000 4% $50,000-$100,000
Source: Investor Economics’ Household Balance Sheet Report 2019. Figures refer to “financial wealth assets.”
for remote work and client interaction. Clients can review and confirm know-your-client updates digitally, while securities advisors use Insight360 to more efficiently build and customize client portfolios. The firm’s onboard- ing is largely automated.
“Something that would take three hours now takes a few minutes,” he says.
Jean-François Démoré, partner and certified financial planner with Innova Wealth Management (of Aligned Capital Partners) in Sudbury, Ont., says advisors can also communicate at scale.
Mail merges allow advisors to craft personalized emails for buckets of clients when the content is the same. It’s one way to maintain constant communication with clients while replacing the need for individual phone calls all the time, he says.
Managing investments
Bucketing can also work on the investment management side. Démoré uses pooled funds he manages on a dis- cretionary basis in order to more efficiently manage client portfolios.
“We’ve built a product that meets most clients’ risk tolerance for somewhere between 50% and 70% of their investable assets. It’s basically a balanced fund,” says Démoré, who became a discretionary manager in part
to scale his business. He started his practice without an account minimum, but has slowly raised it to $250,000 for fee-based compensation.
Rather than making trades for individual clients, adjusting the pooled fund automatically propagates the portfolios of all clients in the fund.
“I’m not spending time on the administrative head- ache of conducting trades in my book of business,” he says. “I’m spending the time on research and I’m getting
the actual decision right, as opposed to getting the deci- sion executed.”
Agora’s dealer platform does all the calculations for every client account that’s in a model portfolio, auto- matically rebalancing to benchmarks without advisor or client intervention.
Anderson says his product shelf contains about 20 pri- mary products from five go-to firms. He designates only a few days per quarter to meet with wholesalers so he can “blitz” the product pitches.
“I try to limit the shelf so that time is dedicated to cli- ents as opposed to just meeting with sales guys,” he says.
Low-cost balanced funds are making it easier for advisors to stop managing investments altogether. That’s what David O’Leary, founder and principal at fee-only financial planning firm Kind Wealth, has done. He charges clients a monthly retainer for planning advice, with the investments left to a robo-advisor or online brokerage.
O’Leary says the upfront planning and monthly retainer fees vary depending on the client’s complexity. A client at the low end might pay $1,500 up front and $150 per month. As assets grow, clients could end up paying less than they would under a fee-based model.
O’Leary requires a contract with the client but little else in the way of paperwork.
“We waste no time on compliance, on regulatory, on administration of the investment,” he says. Most clients choose the Wealthsimple for Advisors platform, which allows him to look at their accounts, but with the advisor compensation set to zero.
“It does mean that you can take on more clients,” he says.
The challenge may be clients’ comfort with paying upfront costs, rather than the more disguised embedded commissions from funds.
“The fact is most people don’t want to pay $500 or
JUNE 2020

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