The comprehensive services offered by family offices have traditionally only been available to high-net-worth individuals. But today’s guest, Marc Lamontagne, was determined to offer full-service fee-based financial planning to the emerging affluent ‒ folks who may not be millionaires yet but who have some investable assets built up. In this episode, you’ll hear how he built an accessible yet profitable family office practice into Ottawa’s largest fee-based financial planning firm.
Marc is a founding partner of Ryan Lamontagne Inc. He specializes in comprehensive financial planning, investment counseling, and tax planning. Marc has also delivered numerous seminars and workshops across Canada. He’s a recognized expert in the field and has appeared in publications such as the Globe & Mail, the Financial Post, CBC, Ottawa Citizen, Toronto Star, CTV Morning Live, and MoneySense magazine. Listen in to hear why he wanted to offer a comprehensive financial planning service that even includes tax preparation, how he gets clients to implement all the recommendations on his financial plan, and how he ensures his business is always growing.
What You’ll Learn in This Episode:
- Why Marc offers tax preparation as part of his financial planning offerings (4:00)
- Marc’s trick for getting clients to implement his recommendations (7:25)
- How a financial plan is like a new car (12:45)
- What people often misunderstand about fiduciaries and financial planning (14:20)
- The unexpected way Marc found his niche (20:35)
- Marc’s multi-pronged approach to marketing (23:50)
- The two questions Marc asks himself to help him reinvent and grow his business (29:30)
- How recent changes to the FPSC will impact the industry (31:55)
Links and Resources:
Ryan Lamontagne Inc.
Quotes by Marc:
“One of the things I always tell clients is that the implementation process is just as important as the planning process because all the planning in the world isn’t going to do you any good unless you implement it.”
“I always used to joke that a financial plan is kind of like a new car: it loses about 20% of its value the minute you drive off the lot because as you know, over time, your financial situation may change, your life may change, your goals change.”
“Sometimes what you have to do is look around you and say is there some sort of structure that’s preventing me from expanding my business? Because if a business isn’t growing, it’s dying.”
Marc’s mission with Ryan Lamontagne Inc. was always to offer as much as possible to his clients in one place so that they wouldn’t need to seek out teams of people to help them with their finances. Today, he’s sharing lessons and tips from his extensive experience in the field. We’ll share some highlights from the show here:
- Why Marc offers tax preparation as part of his financial planning offerings
- Marc’s trick to get clients to implement his recommendations
- The two questions Marc asks himself to help him grow his business
For the rest of the episode, find the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher, or just hit the link above.
Why Marc offers tax preparation as part of his financial planning offerings
Ryan Lamontagne Inc. is unusual among financial planning firms in that they offer tax preparation as one of their services. Marc feels it’s an important part of his firm for three reasons:
- It adds value. This is especially true for those who have complex financial situations or who just don’t have the time to handle their taxes themselves. Not everyone needs the service, of course, but for the clients who do take advantage of it, it’s invaluable. And it doesn’t cost Marc’s firm a lot to provide the service.
- It helps them learn about their clients. A financial plan is very in-depth, sure, but getting to see a client’s full tax return gives Marc even more insight into their financial situation, meaning that he’s able to give them the most relevant recommendations.
- He sees the consequences of his recommendations. Everyone loves seeing the fruit of their labour, and seeing clients saving real money on their taxes is a tangible way for Marc to see (and show!) the value he provides.
Marc’s trick for getting clients to implement his recommendations
Every advisor knows the frustration of giving their client sensible and simple recommendations that get neglected year after year. Recommendations like, say, having an up-to-date will.
“One of the things I always tell clients is that the implementation process is just as important as the planning process,” Marc says, “because all the planning in the world isn’t going to do you any good unless you implement it.”
Of course, Marc can only do so much to help his clients outside of creating the plan itself. But while he can’t be with them every day to help them stop racking up credit card debt on unnecessary purchases, he did find a sneaky way to get his clients to knock off important to-dos right from his office.
Action items like writing a will are tricky because they don’t seem urgent to clients, and so they’re not very likely to do them. However, Marc has learned to actually book the client’s appointment with the lawyer during his meeting with them. That way, all they have to do is show up.
Even better, he tells them he will go with them to the first meeting. Not only does this help the lawyer since Marc can just bring all the financial information the lawyer needs (with the client’s permission, of course), but the client is also far less likely to cancel on him since they already have a solid relationship.
Hint: What are some ways you can offer more value to your clients? There are always ways to do so, whether it’s offering tax preparation or hands-on help with implementing recommendations from a financial plan.
The two questions Marc asks himself to help him reinvent and grow his business
Marc found that his firm would hit plateaus where he felt busy enough with clients, but wasn’t finding ways to grow his business. This can be a problem because as he puts it, “if a business isn’t growing, it’s dying.”
When he finds himself in this position, he pauses to ask himself the following two questions:
Is there some sort of structure that’s preventing me from expanding my business?
What do I need to change?
These questions help him identify and address challenges and opportunities that he needs to address. In fact, he believes that a business should basically reinvent itself every five years to adjust to changing markets. For example, about 12 years ago when he and his partner were licensed through the MFDA, they realized that structure was limiting them and they needed to evolve to ETFs.
Such changes aren’t always easy to make, but they are often necessary in order to keep your business relevant.
Hint: As the adage goes, make sure that you’re always spending time working on, and not just in, your business.
Listen to the full episode to learn more great tips from Marc, including how he keeps his pricing fair for all clients, how he overcame five tough years before his firm was established, and how recent changes to the FPSC will affect financial planning in Canada. You can also find and subscribe to the show on iTunes or Stitcher, and make sure to join our mailing list to learn about new episodes as soon as they air.