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Lessons in Adversity, Mentorship and Client Satisfaction: 5 Stories of Succession Planning That Paid Off

No matter if you’re selling or buying a book, careful planning and execution are essential. We’ve rounded up a handful of relatable stories and first-hand accounts that highlight the best methods for ensuring a successful transition that can set both Advisor and client up for long-term success.

August 2023

Photo of Sam DiTella

Sam DiTella

Managing Director, Head of Intermediary and National Accounts

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Assuming the reins of the family practice is no small task, and doubly challenging during a global pandemic. Adam Seeto, an Advisor with Sterling Mutuals Inc., did just that in 2021, when his father decided to retire early. Adam’s mantra is that “it’s all about helping people,” a philosophy that has allowed him to grow assets under management by 60% since joining the family business.

As an example, he tells the story of a recent client in her late 60s who was concerned about getting severely sick from COVID-19 but also needed her employment paycheque. Adam showed her that through pension splitting, she could collect just as much income in retirement as she would have if she continued to work—without risking her health.

Despite being earlier than planned, the business transition from father to son went smoothly, in large part because both Advisors took the time to introduce the change. In the last year before COVID-19 hit, both Advisors were on every client account, holding face-to-face interactions with every single client in order to build that essential trust.

­Experience and hard work more often than not pay off. Just ask Matthieu Bouchard, an Advisor and Mutual Fund Representative at Group MCB Private Wealth Management, who began at the bottom of his grandfather’s practice, while he obtained his licensing. He used that time to not only learn about the business, but also about every client – the details of their past, present, family life, and how they planned to retire. That diligence convinced his grandfather to take Matthieu along to a few client meetings, where Matthieu quickly saw that being an Advisor was his calling. In wasn’t long before the pair were discussing succession, and the logistics of handing over the business.

Four books later, business has never been better, and in fact, it’s time for Matthieu to play the role of mentor, bringing on an associate to learn the business from the ground up, like he did.

Yet Matthieu Bouchard’s story doesn’t end there. The Advisor has had a remarkable string of success in acquiring new books of business, owing in part, he says, to the sport he loves, which serves as a metaphor for life and business: golf.

His secret to acquiring and integrating four books in only five years is to hit straight, trust your follow-through, and don’t be afraid to shoot for the green. As he notes in the article below:

Growing up surrounded by finance and golf, I learned the value of taking a big swing.

Matthieu compares the commonalities between golf and building his business here: Taking a Big Swing: 5 Tips for Buying a Book

Every Advisor understands there are intangible dynamics to each client relationship—a “secret sauce” if you will, that is unique to every account. Retired Advisor Christine Timms shares her insights in the article below on what has gone into her recipe as it relates to succession planning.

Christine was unexpectedly thrown into a less-than-ideal transition mid-career that would ultimately serve as a valuable learning experience in understanding what needs to happen in order to win clients over in a timely way.

A client-centric strategy that delivers sustainable results. Being fair to both the seller and the buyer. Aligning around mutual interests while ensuring there is enough runway for the hand-off to go smoothly with minimal disruption.

Those represent the core tenets that retired Advisor Roy Vokes and Wholesaler-turned-new Advisor Jeff McDaid relied on to get their succession deal done. Though timelines were thrown for a loop thanks to COVID-19, the pair successfully navigated the passing of the baton under some difficult external circumstances.

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