Practice Management

Ready, Set, Grow: How a Younger Advisor Is Making His Mark

While studying economics at Lakehead University, Josh McQuay had the foresight to shape his career path early. He completed the Canadian Securities Course (CSC®) and the Conduct and Practices Handbook Course (CPH)® before graduation, hit the ground running, and has been on a growth trajectory ever since. Below, Josh shares a process for Advisors new to the business – and a unique perspective for seasoned pros considering succession.
April 2019

Josh McQuay

H.B. Comm., CFP, FMA, Financial Planning Advisor, Assante Capital Management Ltd., Assante Estate & Insurance Services Inc.

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While studying economics at Lakehead University, Josh McQuay had the foresight to shape his career path early. He completed the Canadian Securities Course (CSC®) and the Conduct and Practices Handbook Course (CPH)® before graduation, hit the ground running, and has been on a growth trajectory ever since. Below, Josh shares a process for Advisors new to the business – and a unique perspective for seasoned pros considering succession.

 

Hitting the ground running

I moved to Orillia, Ontario after university, and got a job at an Assante office. As a young associate, I was tasked with administrative basics. It proved to be a solid foundation; learning the business from the ground up, while taking on progressively more client responsibility. I had the opportunity to see, first hand, the dos and don’ts of running a practice, and after seven years, levered that experience to go out on my own in May of 2013.

I believe very strongly that the more education you have, the better equipped you are to deliver superior service and advice.

I started out in a position of strength with the CSC® and CPH® and, as an associate, kept up with a number of courses, including the Financial Management Advisor (FMA) designation. When I opened my own office in Barrie, I pursued the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) certification, which is likely my single most important milestone to-date, as it enables me to provide written financial plans for clients, which I wasn’t able to do prior to the designation. The CFP® is both a differentiator, and a growth driver for my business. Talking about goals, cash flow needs, taxes and retirement aspirations sets me apart. Most people I meet with – even those with financial Advisors – haven’t had those conversations. It’s a new experience, they’re happy with the output (a comprehensive plan) and are consequently much more confident in their financial future.

While I’m also insurance licensed, able to address critical illness or disability coverage, for example, if warranted, my latest efforts are around the Trust and Estate Practitioner (TEP) designation. The TEP will position me to do work around testamentary trusts, inter-vivos wealth transfers and associated tax strategies, which can be integral for affluent families and business owners – a growing segment of my business.

Through education and experience, I’ve strategically positioned myself to be able to provide my clients with whatever they need. My competitive offering is the result of merging the advice or planning piece, which is very important, with unbiased investment selection.

People are clicking on my website and staying there – particularly to read the client testimonials.

Five strategies to meet new clients

I find that when I actually meet with good prospects, 95% become clients. That’s not the hard part. The bigger obstacle to growth—and I think this is the same for most Advisors – is getting in front of qualified prospective clients to begin with. To address this challenge, I’m taking a multi-pronged approach that’s proving successful.

  1. Location, location, location
    When I was looking for my first office space, I chose to be in a building with an accounting firm one floor down, assuming – correctly, as it turns out – that there might be inherent referrals and the opportunity for reciprocal introductions.
  2. Circles of influence
    I make it a priority to cultivate relationships with other professionals, primarily lawyers and accountants. I seek them out at networking events, go to lunch, and have meaningful conversations – especially with those a bit younger, in growth mode. I don’t do a sales pitch; instead I listen, learn about their business, identify ways in which I might help them or their clients, and in doing so stay top-of-mind.
  3. Referrals from existing clients
    I make it clear to clients that I’m looking to grow. A good time to do this is at an annual review. I thank them for their continued support and let them know that introductions to family and friends are integral to my success. Planting this seed often results in Q2 referrals.
  4. An online presence
    If you Google “Financial Advisor Barrie,” I’m near the top of organic search results. People are clicking on my website and staying there – particularly to read the client testimonials I’ve posted. These positive experiences give prospective clients confidence in my abilities.
  5. Good karma
    If someone checks me out on LinkedIn, they’ll see my community involvement, but I don’t participate just to grow my business; I commit to things I’m passionate about, like the Community Foundation in Orillia, my Alumni Association, or Junior Achievement. I’d chalk it up to good karma that a prolific “referrer” recently acknowledged that I give back.
I point out to clients that, all things being equal, the lower costs associated with a passive approach accrues to them over time.

Passive investing: lower cost/lower stress

When it comes to investment philosophy, the research, in my opinion, supports a more passive approach – specifically the use of exchange traded funds (ETFs). Client discussions about the inherent fee savings are met with wide eyes and go a long way to engender trust and goodwill. I’ve yet to meet a client who’s had a comprehensive fee conversation with a previous Advisor; they generally don’t know what they’ve been paying, or why. Proactively broaching the topic puts people at ease and gives them confidence that I have their best interest at heart.

First, I point out to clients that, all things being equal, the lower costs associated with a passive approach accrues to them over time. When I can keep costs low, less “leaks” out; the difference between what they were paying before – and what can now stay in the portfolio – compounds and can materially impact their retirement plans. Another benefit to the passive approach: market timing is not an issue; you essentially let the market do the work, versus trying to predict when to invest or how to beat the market. At initial client meetings I often hear about former Advisors moving money here and there, incurring fees. Whereas, if you can reduce that activity not only can you improve investment returns, you can also lower anxiety as clients won’t have to worry about constantly keeping eye on things.

While it’s human nature to be troubled by news or events that impact the markets, my clients know that their portfolios are all-weather in times of turbulence – well diversified and rebalanced automatically. After all, the ideal outcome for every client is a lower-stress experience.

Logically, the next major step in my growth trajectory is to buy another book of business.

Where to go from here?

Logically, the next major next step in my growth trajectory is to buy another book of business. The economies of scale are powerful; you take on a new roster of clients without commensurate additional cost. As a prospective buyer, I’ve positioned myself financially, am actively looking, and would be ready tomorrow to succeed a retiring Advisor if there was alignment in terms of geography and investment philosophy.

From what I’ve been told, I’m in a bit of a unique position in that there are not a lot of younger people in the business who have both experience and are in a position to buy. I see some interesting industry succession challenges right now – Advisors too young or green, some of whom may not make it in this difficult business; and, on the other end of the spectrum, seasoned independent investment professionals with books that seem virtually unsaleable, as they’re too big for some younger Advisors to afford. There’s a generation of Advisors out there approaching retirement with strong, stable businesses that were not easily built. I can only imagine how tough it would be for them to walk away from their business, especially without getting top dollar for it.

 

The secret to success and independence: valued clients

As you grow, it’s important to remember how you got here. I truly appreciate this career, and in particular, I value my wonderful clients. After all, they afford me the freedom and opportunity to run my own business and are integral to my independent lifestyle. That’s always in the back of my mind, so I work hard to deserve that honour, and earn their trust, on a daily basis.

Josh McQuay on BMO Global Asset Management

When it comes to solutions that align with my investment approach, BMO Global Asset Management is one of my top partners. They have a very easy-to-use ETF-based portfolios program within a mutual fund structure. There are no transaction fees, simple administration and clients enjoy the low cost, passive nature of ETFs within the context of a rebalanced portfolio strategy. To me, it’s what sets BMO apart in the space.

For business building ideas, or insight into our expansive line-up of unbiased investment solutions – ETFs, Mutual Funds and ETF-Based Mutual Funds – contact your BMO Global Asset Management Regional Sales Representative.

Josh McQuay is a Financial Planning Advisor with Assante Capital Management Ltd (“ACM”). ACM, a registered investment dealer, is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. Please visit www.assante.com/advisors/jmcquay to discuss your particular circumstances prior to acting on the information above. Insurance products and services are provided through Assante Estate and Insurance Services Inc.

BMO Global Asset Management Disclosures:

This article is for information purposes. The information contained herein is not, and should not be construed as, investment advice to any party. Investments should be evaluated relative to the individual’s investment objectives and professional advice should be obtained with respect to any circumstance.

BMO Global Asset Management is a brand name that comprises BMO Asset Management Inc., BMO Investments Inc., BMO Asset Management Corp., BMO Asset Management Limited and BMO’s specialized investment management firms.

Commissions, management fees and expenses (if applicable) all may be associated with investments in mutual funds and exchange traded funds (ETFs). Trailing commissions may be associated with investments in mutual funds. Please read the fund facts, ETF Facts or prospectus before investing. Mutual funds and ETFs are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.

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