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Innovatively Educating Your Way to the Top

As Canada’s Top Under 40 Investment Advisor, Joseph Bakish shares his secrets to success, including uniquely targeted educational programs, which create an ever-growing pipeline of prospects.

March 2021

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Joseph Bakish

CFA, TEP, B.Sc., CHS, CLU, FCSI®, CFP®, Director, Wealth Management, Portfolio Manager, Investment Advisor, Richardson Wealth

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As Canada’s Top Under 40 Investment Advisor, Joseph Bakish shares his secrets to success, including uniquely targeted educational programs, which create an ever-growing pipeline of prospects.

Expanding into three niche segments

After graduating from university, I saw the success my brother Nick was having as a financial Advisor – helping people I knew personally, including some of my former professors. It piqued my interest, so I joined him at Investors Group in 2005. I built my book by cold calling profs; asking if they’d like to hear about ways in which they could save money on taxes. In 2010, I merged my practice with Nick’s, and over time we built a solid reputation together, receiving referrals in other niches. Medical professionals became a new area for us, and we were able to add value almost immediately by helping clients decide whether it made sense to incorporate.

As we expanded and the industry evolved, we eventually got to the point where we needed a change. We joined Richardson Wealth five years ago, which has opened the door to a wider universe of alternative assets that can add value and enhance portfolio diversification – from private equity and real estate to private debt. Clients have responded well to our unbiased access to investment solutions, which has led to a growing referral base and the expansion into our third client segment of high-net-worth investors.

While the bulk of our clients are between 45-60 years of age, 25% of our practice is comprised of younger individuals, including many medical residents with earnings potential. At the outset of their career, we earn their trust. It’s a built-in funnel that has allowed us to build a sustainable practice – which has continued to flourish since I bought my brother’s book last year.

While the bulk of our clients are between 45-60 years of age, 25% of our practice is comprised of younger individuals, including many medical residents with earnings potential.

Customized education to build credibility

Education is a major piece of this pipeline – and integral to our process. Appealing to our valued clients, we created a tailored program called “From Resident to Retiree”, which is essentially an A-Z guide of what they should be considering at every life stage to make decisions more effectively – and efficiently. The earlier clients start implementing planning strategies, the better it is for them. By planting these seeds, we can simply execute on their customized plan, ensuring it still aligns with their priorities when the time comes. It’s a practice that develops into a successful long-term relationship.

As part of our educational initiatives, we’re also partnered with CMEatSEA – Canada’s largest cruise retailer – presenting our seminars on wealth management and preservation to more than 400 medical residents and physicians in over 15 countries. It’s a value-add financial literacy component for these professionals, and at the same time, provides a continual stream of prospective clients. On top of that, we’re in the midst of launching a partnership with the largest group of medical clinics in Quebec, where we will deliver regular educational seminars and provide financial planning services to their doctors. They’ll get started by simply filling out a quick online assessment, and we’ll work to build a relationship, providing recommendations based on their situation.

At the end of the day, we’re committed to the medical community, to learning, and to gathering valuable information. Ultimately, this knowledge, research and passion really improves our ability to uniquely – and credibly – service this niche.

We created a tailored program called From Resident to Retiree, which is essentially an A-Z guide of what they should be considering at every life stage to make decisions more effectively.

Teamwork for the win

Whether it’s professors, doctors or HNW investors, all of our clients are incredibly busy, so our ability to follow up and manage their affairs successfully – with specific, straightforward advice – is what they value the most. That persistence is the best way to accumulate assets, and maintain relationships, without becoming a pest. Having a CRM system in place to track the small things, like owing $500 to a Home Buyers’ plan, is essential so nothing falls through the cracks.

Before a client meeting even starts, my calendar will already be filled with an agenda that contains key facts, including RRSP and TFSA contribution room, as well as a summary of their plan. We provide a customized, differentiated experience that a robo-Advisor will never be able to replicate. Achieving this means investing in a reliable team that can help deliver these dedicated services.

This includes in-house tax and estate planning specialists, so clients have direct access to in-depth knowledge, when and where it’s needed. More often than not, when we receive referrals, the biggest complaint is that they’re not satisfied with the breadth of services at their existing firm, or they’re missing that trusted, enduring partnership. It goes beyond a great financial plan – they want to know we’ll be there for them in 10 years’ time. Our clients’ situations change all the time, and while their plan may be well thought out, it’s got to be a moving target. Our team-based approach allows us to stick handle and anticipate, and they find confidence in that.

Our team-based approach allows us to stick handle and anticipate, and they find confidence in that.

Getting to know the next generation - virtually

To develop our long-term relationships, it’s essential to incorporate the next generation into our conversations. We’re typically the ones to initiate this, and if the children are old enough, we’ll take the time to sit down with them, and our in-house estate specialist, to discuss needs and goals, followed by a presentation on common tips – and traps. While pre-COVID we hosted wine and cheese events, we’ve now moved to virtual meetings that actually serve us better, because children can jump on a call from anywhere in the world. If anything does happen to their parents, they know where to turn – and already have that source of trust.

The big question for the industry is to what degree will we return back to in-person meetings? Personally, and from the Advisors I’ve spoken with, not only are these digital meetings beneficial for the client, they’re much better from a productivity perspective, which in turn allows me to dedicate more time to every individual.

Even during the pandemic, we’ve been able to meet new referrals and add to our book with digital face-to-face dates. It’s more interactive and engaging now than it’s ever been, with the ability to screen share, and highlight where to look on a document. It’s worked very well so far, and I think if you do it right, follow up, and are consistent, the relationship will be sustainable in the long run – virtual or not.

Not a one man show

Looking forward, our goal is to always expand, but smartly – maintaining growth without sacrificing the level of service to which our existing clients are accustomed. Ultimately, for Advisors starting out in the industry, you have to find an established team to become a part of because picking up the phone and cold calling isn’t doable in today’s environment. My advice would be to partner with a senior Advisor who’s looking to grow, and carve out a portion of their book to work with.

For those that are already up and running, invest in your team – or run your practice the way you would a business.

For those that are already up and running, invest in your team. Your practice is a business, so think about larger growth initiatives, and trust in your colleagues to accomplish the tasks at hand – big or small. Ultimately, it doesn’t have to be all you. Clients really value a cohesive group of dedicated professionals with specific expertise to help them along the way, as opposed to just a one man show. Scaling up will be the way to stay in business now.

Joseph Bakish on BMO Global Asset Management

In terms of product, we use BMO ETF Portfolios as a dollar-cost averaging tool to build wealth long-term. The turnkey, low-cost solution offers the instant diversification benefits of ETFs, together with professionally managed asset allocation across publicly-traded assets. We also use the corporate class version for non-registered and corporate accounts for tax-efficiency purposes.

For resources to enhance your practice in today’s environment – including our Connecting with Clients virtual event series featuring Sarano Kelley and a step-by-step LinkedIn action plan for Advisors – contact your BMO Global Asset Management Regional Sales Representative.

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®/™Registered trade-marks/trade-mark of Bank of Montreal, used under licence.

BMO Global Asset Management is the brand name for various affiliated entities of BMO Financial Group that provide investment management, and trust and custody services. BMO Global Asset Management comprises BMO Asset Management Inc., BMO Investments Inc., BMO Asset Management Corp., BMO Asset Management Limited and BMO’s specialized investment management firms. Certain of the products and services offered under the brand name, BMO Global Asset Management are designed specifically for various categories of investors in a number of different countries and regions and may not be available to all investors. Products and services are only offered to such investors in those countries and regions in accordance with applicable laws and regulations. BMO Financial Group is a service mark of Bank of Montreal (BMO).

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Exchange traded funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.

BMO Mutual Funds are managed by BMO Investments Inc., which is an investment fund manager and a separate legal entity from Bank of Montreal.

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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