Wealth Advisor | Client Relationship Manager Dylan Reece explains why he and his business partner decided to switch firms and join Nicola Wealth.
Eleven years ago, Dylan Reece and his partner, David Chalmers, had a profitable financial advisory practice, but they were looking for more than their firm could provide.
Specifically, to better achieve their clients’ objectives, they needed access to a more sophisticated investment platform that included alternatives to traditional stocks and bonds. They also had a strong entrepreneurial desire to contribute to building something bigger than their individual advisory practice. And it was very important to them to align their practice with an independent, fee-based firm even though, at the time, most of the industry was still following a commission-based model.
After speaking with several firms, Reece says it became apparent that one of their most formidable competitors, Nicola Wealth, was offering something different that matched the pair’s wish list. Now a Wealth Advisor | Client Relationship Manager with Nicola Wealth, Reece explains why he made the leap to a new firm and how it has benefited his clients and his practice.
What made you decide to join Nicola Wealth?
We were attracted to Nicola Wealth’s pension-style investment platform because it goes beyond public assets to encompass private assets such as hard asset real estate, venture capital, private equity, private debt and commercial mortgages. This model was showing positive results then, and now has a track record of over 22 years of generating historically consistent and stable returns.
In addition, as we surveyed the landscape of wealth management in Canada, few firms were providing clients with comprehensive, sophisticated financial planning. Many claimed they offered planning, but it wasn’t their key focus. If anything, they used it as a loss leader, but to us, it’s the foundation of the wealth creation and preservation process. We really value how Nicola Wealth puts financial planning front and centre.
Nicola Wealth also stood out for its comprehensive client reporting. Even in 2011, they offered transparent reporting on portfolio returns and fees and tax reporting for accountants. Today, clients have access to their own personal online financial vault, which includes real-time portfolio metrics, a net worth statement, retirement projections, tax returns, wills and other legal documents.
Finally, they were the only firm willing to exchange the value of our practice for shares in Nicola Wealth. I knew back then that most of my net worth would ultimately be in the equity of the company, so that was critical.
What was the onboarding process like?
Moving a practice to another firm is a significant endeavour, but it went smoothly thanks to the dedicated new accounts team that helped with all the paperwork and the IT team that transferred information from our old customer relationship management (CRM) system to the Nicola Wealth CRM. We had direct access to the chief investment officer and portfolio management team so we could do a deep dive into the various investment mandates and pools. And the trading team executed trades to facilitate the transition of existing client portfolios to Nicola Wealth models over a period of about six months.
How did you make sure your clients came with you?
We had been working with many of our clients for a decade or more, so we had confidence in our relationships. To explain our decision to move, we wrote a letter to each of our clients and then, over about four months, had one or more meetings with them. We emphasized the benefits they were going to get from moving to Nicola Wealth, including diversified investments, more comprehensive planning and what we felt was better reporting. It was necessary for us that this move was, first and foremost, a benefit to our clients – not just a benefit to us as advisors. In the end, more than 95% of our clients came with us, which was a great result.
How does Nicola Wealth support your practice’s ongoing growth?
We’ve been fortunate to experience significant growth since joining Nicola Wealth. One of the most important factors contributing to that growth has been the ability to leverage a collaborative platform. Centralized teams – such as asset management, operations and marketing – free up the advisory teams to do what we do best. They allow us to concentrate on building trusted relationships with clients and helping them create a financial plan which aims to achieve what’s important to them and their families. Because we have that targeted focus, approximately 75% of all our new clients now come from referrals of existing clients, and we currently have a 99% client retention rate. We also currently have a net promoter score over 80, meaning that all our clients are satisfied or better with our service.
Also, the firm has always supported my professional growth. All partners are encouraged to work on the business, rather than just in the business. I’ve had opportunities to participate in committee work, take on leadership and mentorships roles, help build technology and tools, and give back to the community through charities. Wearing many hats within the organization is what being an entrepreneur is all about.
What advice do you have for advisors who are considering switching firms?
It’s obviously a major decision and, as a steward of clients’ wealth, it’s not something to take lightly. It’s essential to share the culture, vision and values of your firm – that can’t be forced or faked. Also, there are often financial incentives for advisors to make a move, but I think to be worth the switch, the new firm needs to provide clients with a material improvement in their experience, services and results. If the client is the clear winner, the rest will take care of itself – financially and otherwise.
I think it’s important to add that Nicola Wealth isn’t the right fit for all advisors, and all advisors aren’t the right fit for us. We tend to attract entrepreneurial advisors with a drive and desire to be an owner who collectively builds a business that goes well beyond their practice. We believe our best work comes from partnerships, not silos. And we’re driven to continuously learn, improve, and find new and better ways to serve our clients and our communities.
Together, we want to provide thought leadership to our industry and build the gold standard for asset management and financial planning in Canada.