A Veteran Advisor’s 5-Step Growth Hack
Philanthropy expert Janine Purves discusses the evolution behind her growth strategies – from referrals and thought leadership to seminars, workshops and intergenerational estate planning.
Over a career spanning more than two decades, philanthropy expert and frequent media guest, Janine Purves, Senior Financial Advisor, Assante Capital Management Ltd., has evolved her array of growth strategies – from referrals and thought leadership to seminars, workshops and intergenerational estate planning.
Putting Values in the Foundation
When I first started in this business in the late 1990s, I was lucky to have a thoroughly accomplished Advisor take me under her wing. She had recently started writing books on estate planning, and was struggling to balance speaking engagements against the demands of running an independent practice. Once I had learned the ropes and felt confident in my role, I acquired her business and she went on to be a full-time author and speaker.
Twenty years later, I can see how much that transaction benefitted my practice. At the time I had two small children, a mortgage and little room for error – so I agreed to pay an additional sum if more than nine out of ten clients remained after the transition. Through a collaborative effort, we successfully retained 96% of all families, giving me the freedom to hire my first assistant and grow the business in a way that aligned with my values.
For example, there was a lot of pressure to adopt a Deferred Sales Charge (DSC) model when I first entered the industry. I purposefully chose a different approach for my practice, in the belief that a less lucrative option was worthwhile if it led to deeper connections with clients. As the industry has transitioned to a fee-based model over the past decade, I feel that early decision has been validated.
Creating a “Drip Factor” and Leveraging COIs
Although most clients come through referrals, having a persona out there builds credibility through what I call a “drip factor.” Prospects who research me will likely find my contributions to some of Canada’s most prestigious national publications, such as The Globe and Mail, Advisor’s Edge and Toronto Star – platforms to share thought leadership on estate planning and the financial services industry at large.
I am also actively involved in the community through numerous organizations, including the Richmond Hill Board of Trade, where I have been the Chair of the Board and the Chair of the Government Affairs Committee, and the Mackenzie Health Foundation (a Southern York Region hospital), for which I run annual fundraisers that bring together 350 female leaders from the GTA.
When it comes to choosing COIs, quality and fit are the only benchmarks worth considering.
Given that these roles are based on my personal interests, they serve as a valuable meeting ground for professionals who are aligned with my philosophy and approach. For instance, my work with the Board of Trade introduced me to several like-minded accountants and lawyers who have now become Centres of Influence (COIs), as well as an estate planning specialist who spoke at a seminar series hosted by me and a colleague (more on that below).
When it comes to choosing COIs, quality and fit are the only benchmarks worth considering. These professionals will be an extension of your persona, and should therefore represent the best you can find in order for the relationship to result in referrals back to your practice.
Seeing (and Being Seen) Through Seminars and Workshops
Last year, a small, local theatre which I have sponsored looked to enhance its benefit program for season ticket holders. My colleague and I recognized that offering to host financial seminars would be a great way of connecting with the community, so we planned a three-part series exclusively for patrons and existing clients.
Much to our surprise, the first event sold out. The estate planning expert in my network was our keynote speaker. As a great storyteller who can articulate the complications surrounding estate planning, we had him discuss how to set up a will and why it’s important.
Maybe you’re an expert at insurance, financial planning or investment management – the point is to hone your specialization and find clients with a similar mindset.
The next event was based around keeping a cottage in the family after it passes from one generation to another. Although we expected a smaller audience, the room was once again filled to capacity. And the final event, which was structured as a workshop, helped participants discover what creating a legacy truly means to them. From philanthropy to ticking items off your bucket list, the goal was to provide a space where individuals could say aloud what brings meaning and fulfillment to their lives.
Doing What Comes Naturally
Another early lesson was that you can be a really good Financial Advisor without being great at everything. Maybe you’re an expert at insurance, estate planning or investment management – the point is to hone your specialization and find clients with a similar mindset. Because if they prize your skill set, there is a greater chance for the relationship to endure through all types of markets.
Given that philanthropy is a major part of my personal life, it became a natural focus for my practice as well. There is a general lack of awareness about sophisticated vehicles for charitable giving, such as donor-advised funds, which not only optimize tax scenarios but provide flexibility for distributing the funds according to the patron’s beliefs and values. Building a niche expertise in this area has helped differentiate me with clients who are passionate about their communities, and who are looking for an efficient, impactful way to give back.
As a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging (CPCA), I provide clients with the necessary education to think beyond the money and consider the important questions, such as: What kind of a legacy do you want leave behind? How would you like to be remembered? How involved should your children be in deciding where the money goes? These are considerations many Advisors discount because they are not easily measurable.
We find that getting the kids on board is about more than numbers; it’s about shared beliefs and vision for where the money should go and what it should be used for.
In addition, values-based decisions take time and introspection, whereas questions about how to structure gifts require almost immediate answers. Donor-advised funds (DNF) help close this gap, by allowing us to make a decision NOW without committing to how the legacy will be dispensed; they give clients the power to have an impact when – and where – they want.
Case in point: we have Toronto-based clients who are passionate about giving back to the city, so we recommended The Toronto Community Foundation as an ideal destination for their donor-advised fund, given that it produces robust data on which local charities are most effective. Similarly, for a client interested in reducing Indigenous homelessness, a DAF would allow them to grant a portion of the funds each year – and keep the remaining asset growing – thus maximizing the gift value over a longer period.
Getting the Younger Generation on Board
Typically, estate planning on its own doesn’t get you involved with multiple generations. But what we’ve done is take it a step further, calling together a family meeting that encompasses both the parents and children. We find that getting the kids on board is about more than numbers; it’s about shared beliefs and vision for where the money should go and what it should be used for.
When we meet reluctance, it’s usually because the kids are uncomfortable discussing difficult topics with a non-family member. To sow trust into the relationships, we offer this as a service to the parents, and they provide great assistance in getting their adult children engaged. Once we have met, and determined the family priorities, we often can assist the children in their planning needs as well.
Once they are reassured about our presence, they begin to see the value of having an expert financial planner steer the family through difficult life events. If one of their parents falls critically ill, for example, they know to contact me, they know I have copies of key documents, and they know there’s a process in place – which at least prepares them for the unfortunate realities of losing a loved one.
To be clear, though I believe these family meetings are of vital importance, I try to limit their frequency in order to focus on more uplifting aspects of estate planning. Our job is to establish a process and get everyone on board in a concentrated amount of time, then move onto the other matters.
Conclusion: Look Beyond the Money
Although seminars and face-to-face meetings are unfeasible, at present, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I believe it’s both crucial and possible to engage with the community online. A willingness to adapt as the industry landscape shifts is key to success, in my experience – so whatever the medium, I will strive to communicate my values and beliefs as a means of attracting clients who share that particular outlook.
Under the Hood: Janine Purves on BMO Sleep-at-Night ETF Portfolios
Though I am old school about customizing client portfolios, I increasingly use ETF portfolios as a defensive-structured complement. BMO Tactical Balanced ETF Fund, for example, gives exposure to a wide opportunity set while at the same time remaining reactive to market conditions, which is essential for optimizing returns through periods of heightened volatility, such as the one we are currently experiencing.
To gain more valuable insights, practice management ideas and innovative business-building tools, contact your BMO Global Asset Management Regional Sales Representative.
Assante Capital Management Ltd. Disclosures:
Janine Purves is a Senior Financial Advisor with Assante Capital Management Ltd. Please contact her at [email protected] or visit www.assante.com/advisors/jpurves/ to discuss your particular circumstances prior to acting on the information above.
Assante Capital Management Ltd. is a Member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.
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