Financial advisors ask their clients to place a large amount of trust in them. When you’re advising someone about how to manage their assets and investments, they’re entrusting you with their future and with their security. To advise your clients effectively, you need to build trust first. Starting with financial planning lets you builds trust quickly.  

Adam Schacter is a Financial Advisor with Mandeville Private Client Inc. and a Certified Financial Planner with Mandeville Insurance Services Inc. in Ottawa. Adam is an experienced financial advisor and financial planner. In today’s episode, he talks about his approach to financial planning and wealth management. Listen to the episode to hear why Adam recommends starting with financial planning first, what Adam teaches other advisors about compliance, and where advisors can add the most value for their clients.

Topics Discussed in This Episode:

  • Adam’s process for approaching financial planning with clients
  • Benefits of starting with financial planning as a financial advisor
  • Whether millennials are more skeptical than older generations
  • What Adam teaches advisors in his course
  • How to stay compliant
  • What Adam learned through teaching advisors
  • Who Adam’s ideal clients are
  • How Adam acquires his clients
  • Where advisors can add the most value for their clients
  • The effects of being direct with clients
  • Why it’s important to educate clients

Links and Resources:

Adam Schacter


Quotes from Adam:

“We live in a world of skeptics, and so to really gain trust early on is an invaluable resource.”

“People, they don’t care really what you know until they know that you care.”

“In all facets of life, if you’re not going to be you, then you’re not going to be happy.”

In today’s show, Adam tells us what he’s learned from running his own practice and teaching other advisors. Here, we’re sharing three highlights from the episode:

  • The benefits of starting with planning
  • Adding value with vivid scenarios
  • Educating your clients so they stick with you and bring you more business

For the rest of the episode, including the real meaning of due diligence, why Adam recommends switching from MFDA to IIROC, and the simple secret to making compliance a cinch, click the link above or find the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher.

The benefits of starting with planning

Adam always begins his relationship with any client with an extensive discovery process. He includes both quantitative and qualitative aspects, as well as speaking with members of their professional team, like their accountant and lawyer.

As you can imagine, this process takes time, both for him and for his client who has to attend several meetings and provide a number of documents. So why start with such a labour-intensive process? For Adam, there are four main benefits:

1. The client soon begins to see you as a crucial part of their professional team. Once they know you understand their tax plan and are on a first name basis with their accountant and lawyer, you’re officially part of the team.

2. Meeting with them several times early on lets you build trust quickly and sets the relationship in stone. Adam explains that after the 2008 financial crisis, people became a lot more skeptical of everything and everyone. They can smell a sales pitch from a mile away and fact-check anything online. As a result, you have you show them that you understand them and their needs. As one of Adam’s colleagues told him once, “They don’t care what you know until they know that you care.”

Hint: This skepticism also means you have to be careful how you begin the relationship. Adam makes sure his very first meeting with a client is just 15 to 20 minutes with no business talk ‒ just getting to know one another.

3. You can help your client save money in taxes right off the bat, which makes them happy… and if you charge a percentage of assets under management, the benefit is even clearer: if they invest that money you help them save, that’s more money in your pocket. Win-win!

4. Planning is a critical part of investment selection and portfolio construction. Here’s a great example: if you ask a roomful of CFAs what the best bank stock to own is, they’ll each give you a different answer. They’ll all have a great reason for their choice, but some will be wrong, and some will be right. But over a number of years, the truth is that the specific bank stock won’t matter nearly as much as say, making sure it’s owned in a TFSA instead of an RRSP or a non-registered account. And you can only decide the appropriate allocation if you’ve done the work to get to know your client.         

Adding value with vivid scenarios

We all know the typical risk assessment questions on a client intake questionnaire. Sure, Adam asks the standard questions, and most of his clients pick the middle answer because it seems like the answer they’re supposed to pick.

But he also likes to make sure he really understands his client’s risk tolerance by doing a so-called fire drill. He takes his client through a scenario, asking them to imagine they’re 63 and hoping to retire in two years, with $1,000,000 in assets under management. He explains what that means for them ‒ about $50,000 of income (assuming a 5% rate of return) plus CPP and OAS.

Then he asks them to imagine that a month later, the portfolio is suddenly worth $900,000. How do they feel? Do they trust him to hold tight? Then a month later, let’s say the portfolio’s down to $800,000. What do they do if he suggests they actually re-balance and buy more equity at the lower price? What if the portfolio falls to $700,000 next month?

Much more than a questionnaire, this scenario helps Adam understand their real comfort level with risk. He wants to know what their tipping point is, so he can be sure never to let them get to that point.

Hint: Bring your strategies and client education to life with brief scenarios that get your client thinking about different possibilities for their future.

Educating your clients so they stick with you and bring you more business

In addition to teaching other advisors, Adam spends a lot of time educating his clients. He wants to make sure all of his clients know two main things: how they pay him (and how much) and what the value of his advice is (like how he chooses the right investments for them). He does this for two key reasons:

1. Advocacy for referrals: He wants his clients to be able to communicate his value to others. If one of his clients’ colleagues complains about their own advisor’s fee or process, he’s confident that his client can confidently step in and explain how transparent he is and how much they appreciate working with him.

2. The ability to take on a poacher: If he can teach his clients to assess value, they’ll know if an advisor trying to poach them is offering them real value or not. For example, he explains to his clients why he won’t promise them a rate of return early on: it’s impossible to know without deciding on an asset allocation, and that’s impossible without understanding the individual’s specific situation. Now they know that if someone comes to them offering an attractive rate of return, that advisor probably isn’t the most trustworthy person.

Looking for more from Adam? Catch the full of the episode here, or on iTunes or Stitcher where you can also subscribe to the show. And to ensure you never miss an episode, sign up below to get episode notifications directly to your inbox.