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He Shoots, He
Scores – with This
Client Niche

IPC Advisor Brett Cranson shares how he integrates his passion for the sport through an innovative strategy that targets professional hockey players as clients.

May 2021

Photo of Brett Cranson

Brett Cranson

Wealth Advisor, Uptown Wealth Management, Investment Planning Counsel, IPC Investment Corporation

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IPC Advisor Brett Cranson shares how he integrates his passion for the sport through an innovative strategy that targets professional hockey players as clients.

Combining business with pleasure

Starting in the industry 15 years ago, I quickly realized that as a young Advisor, I’d need to work very hard to build my business quickly. After shifting for a short while to AGF Investments as a wholesaler, I knew the direction the industry was headed, and was able to find several Advisors looking to retire and sell their practice. I’ve scaled up by purchasing five books in total in the last 10 years – and have successfully maintained them, with $60 million of assets currently under management at Uptown Wealth.

When COVID-19 hit in March of 2020, I had an opportunity to step back, assess the business and develop a plan for continued growth. Focusing on a targeted niche made sense, especially since many of our existing clients are pre-retirees that will likely transition their wealth over the next 5-10 years. As a first step, we looked at our client base to see whether there were any natural similarities across industries, but there weren’t.

That’s when I decided to be proactive, and intentionally integrate my passion for hockey into the business, starting with a comprehensive marketing plan to target non-NHL professional players. My interest and love for the sport runs deep: I’ve played competitive hockey since I was 10 years old. While an injury put an early end to what would have been a career, I remain actively involved in AAA leagues with my two sons – and wanted to find a way to bring that energy and excitement into my practice.

Focusing on a targeted niche made sense, especially since many of our existing clients are pre-retirees that will likely transition their wealth over the next 5-10 years.

A one-stop-shop for pros – beyond the NHL

When you say professional hockey to people, they automatically think NHL. But the scope for the sport – and our business – extends overseas to the KHL in Russia, the NL in Switzerland, and beyond. Ultimately, I could talk hockey all day long with anyone, so to me, it’s about bringing in clients that I can easily relate to and build a strong relationship with. We’ve already made headway with new clients in the German League, DEL, and while we still target up-and-coming NHL players, it’s not where we’re focused 100 percent of our time. The goal is to find team members who are not only making a sizeable income, but need help saving – and growing – their money.

To accomplish this, we’ve strengthened our social media presence across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn because that’s where the players are active, and where they look to establish credibility. What resonates the most with them is that we help maximize their income during their top earning years, working with specialists that cover everything from taxes to mortgages to investments.

We’ve created a targeted, one-stop shop for the players, which is incredibly valuable given their busy schedules. For example, if they’re looking to purchase a home, or re-mortgage, or even advice on cross-border tax issues (particularly if they’re playing in Europe or anywhere abroad), they don’t have to look elsewhere. We understand their needs, and provide support on all fronts.

We’ve strengthened our social media presence across Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn because that’s where the players are active, and where they look to establish credibility.

Achieving your client’s Game Plan

What’s central to our firm’s holistic approach is that it’s not about one strategy, or the product flavour of the month. No pun intended, but at the end of the day, it’s our client’s goals that matter; the investments are simply the vehicles to achieve their game plan. In the books of business I acquired, many of the clients couldn’t tell me where their money was invested or why, and that’s something everyone should be educated on. What do they expect to generate from their assets, and what do they want to achieve? These are the questions we ask because we want them to understand the purpose behind every investment, and where it will lead for them.

If we decide to invest in an RRSP, we’ll explain exactly how it works for the client’s specific financial plan and how it’ll help meet their unique needs, such as lowering taxes, for example. That leads to a relationship built on trust, making us more referable to friends and family, and ultimately – a long-term partner. We really take the time to get to know our clients, wrapping our arms around them, and building a strong foundation for future success.

For high income earners like hockey players, it’s critical to find the right way to minimize their taxes and maximize their earnings long-term. So, it’s not always an RRSP or a TFSA (since they’re capped); it may be a non-registered investment where we can provide tax shelter. To support this strategy, and expand my product shelf further, I recently attained my IIROC license so we can offer anything that best fulfills client goals – from stocks and bonds to ETFs, mutual funds and GICs. Whether it’s market shifts or life’s major milestones, it is about meeting clients where they are, and working collaboratively with them, while aligning to their priorities and values.

For high income earners like hockey players, it’s critical to find the right way to minimize their taxes and maximize their earnings long-term.

Ready, Set…GOAL

The pandemic has freed up time to pursue the IIROC opportunity, and focus on marketing improvements to drive growth in my business. From regular posts on social media to new website content to PR videos, we’re able to flourish more now than ever before, given the restrictions on in-person meetings and the inevitable reduction of commutes. So far, the professional hockey players we’ve acquired as clients have all been through Zoom meetings, so having that active online presence and building a loyal following allows them to gain a sense of comfort even before our first session. They can see we’re real people, with some great testimonials, which helps put them at ease. We’ve also added a hockey game image front and centre on our website to resonate with clients. Our overall goal is to sign 20-30 more hockey players in the next five years and continue to build the practice within this niche.

For an Advisor getting started today, it’s important to get on social media and video quickly – and start promoting yourself as much as possible. If people can’t find you on the Internet, new clients will be difficult to come by because you can’t just knock-on doors these days, host networking events, or even attend them. That’s why I use LinkedIn, and set a personal goal of connecting – and conversing – with three or four new contacts everyday, from hockey agents and coaches to personal trainers, brand consultants and players themselves (typically via private messages). Before any of this can happen though, I would recommend first establishing your client niche, and then target your marketing as much as you can in that one direction.

Brett Cranson on BMO Global Asset Management

We integrate BMO ETF Portfolios into our strategies because they provide low-fee exposure to a diversified mix of ETFs based on your client’s objectives. BMO GIFs are another solution we like, and the automatic 30-day maturity guarantee resets are a big sell for us because it locks in market gains and offers flexibility, similar to a short-term GIC, but with an enhanced return.

For more ideas to enhance your practice, or build a resilient portfolio, contact your BMO Global Asset Management Regional Sales Representative.

Investment Planning Counsel (IPC) Disclosures:

Investment Planning Counsel is a fully integrated Wealth Management Company. Mutual funds available through IPC Investment Corporation and IPC Securities

Corporation. Securities available through IPC Securities Corporation, a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund.

BMO Global Asset Management Disclosures:

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

For a summary of the risks of an investment in the BMO Mutual Funds, please see the specific risks set out in the prospectus. ETF Series of the BMO Mutual Funds trade like stocks, fluctuate in market value and may trade at a discount to their net asset value, which may increase the risk of loss. Distributions are not guaranteed and are subject to change and/or elimination.

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