Transcript | Why work for an independent wealth management firm


Sarah Widmeyer

0:16 

Welcome to Conversations on well, a podcast dedicated to helping Canadians with your total financial picture. I'm Sarah Widmeyer, Director of Wealth Strategies at Richardson Wealth. And I'm so excited today to introduce you to three wonderful investment advisors, all of whom are newer additions to the Richardson Wealth team. Joanne Lee, in our Winnipeg office joined Richardson Wealth in 2016. Welcome, Joanne.


Joanne Lee

0:43

Thank you.


Sarah Widmeyer

0:44 

Anna Greig, in our Mississauga office joined Richardson Wealth in 2019. And welcome to you Ana.


Anna Greig

0:51 

Hi Sarah.


Sarah Widmeyer

0:52

And François Normandeau, in Pointe-Claire joined Richardson Wealth in 2020. Welcome, Francoise.


François Normandeau

0:59 

Thank you.


Sarah Widmeyer

0:52

Thank you all for being here. So, we want to talk about Richardson Wealth. And the fact that it's built on a partnership. We are selective in our advisors, just as much as those who have chosen to partner with us are selective in their firm. Richardson Wealth’s independence, allows advisors to do two key things at once, help your clients by putting their best interests first, and grow your business how you want. I'm so happy that the three of you are here today to help me showcase this side of the story. So we're going to do a bit of a round table. And Anna, I'm going to start with you, if you could tell me a little bit about what led you to look for a new firm.


Anna Greig

1:48 

My entire career, or most of my career has been with bank-owned firms. And I truly wanted to continue to do what's best for my client, offer that unbiased approach where there's unlimited product shelf, where I'm not pushed to sort of use one particular product or something that the bank saying, ‘hey, we want this product out there’, truly, to do something what's in the best interest of the client, and also offer them products that probably aren't available at the bank-owned firms. And clients that have come over to Richardson have mentioned that the products are geared for that. And it's not something that the bank was pushing me or pushing them to get into, but something that really suits that. So being unbiased.


Sarah Widmeyer

2:34 

Yeah, very important. And Joanne, how about you have you had a similar experience?


Joanne Lee

2:41 

Absolutely. Everything that Anna said, I totally agree with. And I felt that was a big part of my decision. Also, I felt that I never enjoyed going to work as much anymore. You're out and about and you talk to people instead, where you were, it's so confusing half of the time, they didn't know if you were a bank teller, or where the infrastructure of a bank is so big. And there's so many different webs that you always had to explain yourself, where you were and what you did. Whereas moving over to Richardson, I felt that there's no comparison between being at a bank-owned firm, and an independent. And I feel like I'm back where I really need to be and should be, and providing the proper assistance to clients. So we're on the same track, you know, the way Richardson feels the way we feel as a firm, and the way I feel as an advisor, we are so wanting to provide the same thing, whereas I'm not sure. With a lot of the bank-owned firms, what their goal is, I can say, but I think that there's there is a difference. And it's maybe not always in the client’s best interest.


Sarah Widmeyer

3:58 

So I'm hearing unbiased, independent advice, the ability to provide that, and I'm hearing a lack of conflict. And you know, we're in one business, we're not in all the other businesses that might be at conflict within a bank. So good, great. Okay, so François, how about you? Anything to add from your perspective?


François Normandeau

4:20 

You know what, it's exactly that and it's funny, because I’ll tell you a bit about my story. I was in business for 15 years with two different banks. I did 12 years for the first bank, I felt like the black sheep, I felt like I didn't belong there because my value wasn’t the bank’s value. And I decided to move to another bank to give it another try, I did three years there to realize that I pretty much changed four quarters for a dollar. It was the same thing at that point. I was so unhappy about this, and I was actually considering selling my book, moving on, and just leaving the business altogether. And I got convinced by someone from Richardson to have a look at Richardson and then when I showed up there, and I was still have my doubts, but one thing that actually made the switch go on and just the spark that made me change my mind, I’m a portfolio manager, and I analyze a lot of stock on a regular basis. And it so happened that at that same point, I had to analyze the stock of the bank for which I was working with at that time. And then while analyzing the stock, I realized that the division I was working for, the wealth division, represented something like 5% of the bottom line of the company. And then it clicked, I was like, as any business owner, why would you spend time and money on 5% of your bottom line? So all those feelings of not being the priority, it just, like, all made sense at some point, and I was like, ‘okay, this is enough. This is this is not for me, if I want to be in this business, I want to be with someone who I am 100% of the business.’ Not 3%, not 5%, I want to be the bottom line, I want to be part of it. No wonder they didn't listen to us. No wonder they don't want to change. No wonder why it doesn't feel like they're spending or care about what we're actually doing. Right. So you care about what you're doing. But you're signed up with a partner who doesn't care about what you're doing, right? It just doesn't make sense to me, right? So I was tired of being part of the 5%, and I wanted to be part of the 100%. So that's part of the reason why I moved to Richardson because they don't do mortgage, right? They don't do credit cards. Their focus is not split on 20 different businesses, and we're not the 20th of the bottom of the list. Right? We are the business. That's what we are as, and that’s what we are bringing to the table. And that's a world of difference.


Sarah Widmeyer

6:25 

Yeah. So alignment, alignment is another key element that I'm hearing. So now, as we translate that to the client experience, I know as I've been talking to advisors, who are thinking about leaving where they are to come here, they worry about the clients and the change. So François staying with you for a moment, because I believe you're the most recent to join us, how have your clients responded to the change.


François Normandeau

6:53 

At that point, I didn't really think about it because I was to the level where I was thinking about just getting out of the business. So I was like, this is a one more shot, and I want to give this a try in a different format. And frankly, the client has a relation with me, not with the bank. Right? So I figured you know what, they're gonna follow me because I never sold the bank, I sold myself as an advisor and we have a relationship. So I went and they pretty much all followed. Yes, there was some doubt or questions about Richardson, especially in Quebec, they might not know Richardson as well, but actually, once I started showing the rich history of Richardson, they were all on board. And I explained to my clients the same way,  I just explained about the 5% and the 100%. And they all loved that. Same for us. And we want to be the priority, but they want to be the priority as well. Right? They don't want to deal with a bank. They want to deal with advisors, and with a wealth firm, right? And this is what I was offering to them. So the response was actually very good. But yes, at first, there was some concern, because the name was not as well known in Quebec, especially as a big bank name.


Sarah Widmeyer

7:56  

Yeah, my husband's in the business and my brother’s in the business. And they've often both set independently at different times that the bank thinks of, as you'd say, my husband's with an independent. He's on a different side of the business. He's on the planning side, but otherwise he'd be here. The bank thinks of your clients as their customers, but the clients think of you as their advisor. First and foremost, and their attachment is to you first and foremost.


François Normandeau

8:37 

You know, I made two transitions within three years, right? Because I've done three years at the second bank, and then I did one transition to Richardson. And just to give you an idea, and confirm what you're saying is, when I made the first transition from one bank to another bank, most of the questions were about my clientele, what I was bringing, which funds I was bringing in everything, right? What business I was bringing in, right? Well, when they made the transition toward Richardson, most, if not almost entirely, the process was about me, like, who are we bringing in? We're bringing an asset. And not that they didn't care about my business, but most of the concern was why me? Who is François Normandeau? What is he bringing? Does he have the same values as the firm. So they were looking for assets, not in the sense of clients but in the sense of a partner, right? And this is something that actually impressed me a lot because I didn't feel like I was bringing my clients, In was bringing myself, and this is what they were buying at the time they were buying François Normandeau. Right? And they say, if the guy’s good, good things will come with it. Right? So they were less concerned about how much money I was bringing in then, more of what skills I was bringing to the team.


Sarah Widmeyer

9:41 

Yeah, very well said. So Anna, I'm going to toss the ball to you now we often highlight the power of independence in combination with our name on the door. Tell me why these features are important from your perspective.


Anna Greig

9:56 

That's a good question, Sarah. And if I can answer it from the perspective of one of my clients, just to share something she said, because I got it at that point. My client who’s not recently because of the situation with the pandemic, but she goes on cruises all the time. And she goes on the Carnival cruises, you know, the big cruise ships, and she said, you know, I get it now why I'm here, I'm now this is like the Carlton cruise yacht experience, smaller ship, a trusted name in the industry. But I get that personalized service. And although she always got that from me over the years, but she's probably been my client for 10 years, she now sees what that partnership around me does for her, and how life events have changed in her life and how I was able to call the estate planning team to get their help on a joint meeting, that sort of boutique style service, but with that trusted name on the door. She was the one that actually said, you know, I'm not going to go on the Carnival cruises anymore. I'm going to go on the Ritz Carlton cruises now. I actually had to google it. I thought, is this for real? And I go like that. Oh, wow. Yeah, that's where I want to go on a cruise. It's a big ship. Not as big, but it has that personalized service, where, at the banks, it's sort of like the Carnival cruises. There's a little bit of for everybody, but you're not going to get that personal touch that you're going to need. She was the one that actually it clicked for me. I thought okay, yeah, you know, and sometimes we learn from our clients. So yeah, that trusted name on the door, the Richardson name, that multi-generational business, that's part of the Canadian culture. It's Canadian, it's trusted, just like the Ritz Carlton name has been around in the US for many, many years as a trusted name. And you know, what you get, and Richardson sort of helps that with the clients understanding, saying, it's a Canadian firm, Canadian family. It's been around for generations. That's the culture that I want to be a part of.


Sarah Widmeyer

11:59 

I love it. I love it. Okay, Joanne, we pride ourselves at Richardson Wealth on working collaboratively as a multi-dimensional team. And we've certainly been building areas of support for advisors, including tax and estate advisors, and we just added another person to the team. And they're going to be resident Winnipeg, which is awesome. Marketing and Communications, Insurance, Research and Investment Management, Support Technology platforms, we've got a lot of big technology projects underway right now. I could obviously go on. Tell us a bit about how improvements in these areas have helped you and your clients grow.


Joanne Lee

12:38 

Well, first of all, I think that they have definitely been growing very, very well within the firm since I've been there. And they've helped in a way that it just we're all encompassing, although we're a boutique, we can do it all. And I think that's a surprise to a lot of clients. It came from me, because I felt it was the right decision. They were unsure, but they wanted, they listened to me with the investment decision. So they're going to listen to me about where we're going to seat or sit, I should say. But now I've shown them because of everything and the fact that Richardson, we are as a firm, so devoted and committed to becoming a full wealth management firm. I think that it's starting to pay off and that they are seeing what we're doing. And it helps in a way for us as an advisor because you're bringing in more assets. If you're at a bank, your worry would be well where will your next account come from? Because the banks do sometimes give you accounts. But I think with everything that we have to offer at Richardson, with all the services that we can now do, I'm starting to get a lot of referrals from my clients, for other accounts for their friends because of what we can offer. So I think it really is paying off. And the big thing, again, is that the firm is really interested in focusing on what we can do for the client in all those different ways. I don't think the bank at all our should always refer to the bank, but that's really our competition. They can't out-offer us anything.


Sarah Widmeyer

14:22  

Yeah I agree. You know, I would say that it's our core beliefs, right? We believe in the power of the advisor client relationship. We do. And we believe that that's going to grow and flourish in an entrepreneurial environment. But it needs a powerful firm backing you to deliver that suite of services and advantages to your client.


Joanne Lee

14:51  

And I see that we have that and I also believe, as Anna mentioned, with the Richardson name, it's a very, very strong name, I think it's across Canada it’s growing. It has been around forever being in Winnipeg, of course, it's a big name here. So I felt good about that, too. Knowing that we were backed by a very conservative family, they've done well in a lot of their endeavors. So I'm proud to be part of it. Very proud.


Sarah Widmeyer

15:21 

Awesome. Thank you. So François, back to you. So for advisors who are contemplating a change, what would you say to them about your choice to move to Richardson Wealth?


François Normandeau

15:35 

You know, it's funny, when, when I moved at Richardson, I was super excited and super impressed by everything. And my wife was telling me François, calm down, this is the honeymoon phase, right? It just is brand new, and everything is beautiful. So it's been eight months, nine months now. And I think I'm still in the honeymoon phase. So it's either it's a very good match, or, but at the end of the day, you know, I see three things in Richardson that I haven't seen in any Banks, the first one, there's a family feel. And that's important for me, you know, you feel we might be smaller, but I think it's a good thing. I worked for five huge companies in my career, and it's the first time that I actually feel that I have a voice. I have an opinion here. And I’m treated as an entrepreneur. And I'm part of a team. And this is something that I was lacking for sure. And I really cherish right now. The second thing is that the surrounding is amazing. I mean, the first time I went into interview, and I met Kish and David and Jamie Price and all those guys, I was like, every time I was meeting someone, I was like, Okay, this guy's amazing, this guy is super good. This guy belongs there. He's got skills, and he's in the right chair. This is this is incredible, right? But you know, it's not one guy, you start meeting with the marketing team, my compliance officer, my branch admin, you know, everybody seems to be like, perfect and fit in the right chair and have the same goal, right? So I've been in a job before well, you meet people, and you see, they're not in the right chair, and they are pretty much there to do their time, feels like you're in prison. Right? It's like a prisoner counting days on the wall. And they're counting days before retirement. And they're there because they're doing their time. They don't want to be there. But it's so difficult to work in an environment like this, you know, you want to be pushing the boundaries, and you want to do more, and you're surrounded by people that don't want to do more. Right. So this is something that was getting on my nerves, you can be the best hockey player in the world. If you're surrounded by people who don't want to play the game, well you won’t have success.


Anna Greig

17:25 

Yeah François, if I could say, Sarah, he's absolutely right. There's bench strength at Richardson. You got great players on the ice. And there's also those great people behind the bench. So there's bench strength.


François Normandeau

17:38 

It's definitely fun and super motivating to have this as well, right. So those things make a huge difference for me. And those things make me still enamored pretty much and I don't see myself getting out of it, because everyday I'm reminded by the fact that I'm surrounded by good players, good coaches that are super motivating as well. And I’m treated as an entrepreneur, it's a family, but also have a voice. So all those things together make a world of difference. It's like I'm not doing the same job anymore. I was thinking about leaving the job three years ago, and I don't see myself retiring anytime soon. And I'm still doing the same job. I'm just doing it with a different partner. Right. So that's how big Richardson is to me.


Sarah Widmeyer

18:19 

I felt like when I spent 25 years in the banks. When I got here, after six months, it was like I got my soul back. I remembered why I enjoy doing what I do because I really do enjoy doing what I do. I'd forgotten that.


François Normandeau

18:34 

Yeah, at some point, you start counting days as well, right? Just going on automatic, right. It's a reflex, you're still doing your job, but you're just doing it without passion. It's kind of, I've been told so many times at the bank, you have to fit into the mold, right? And I was like, no, I want to break the mold. The mold is not customer focused. The mold is not what my client actually asked. Right? Please let me do a new mold. The bank was not an option at all.


Sarah Widmeyer

18:59 

Joanne, I'm gonna ask you next, anything that you would like to say to advisors who are considering making a jump?


Joanne Lee

19:07 

I would say don't hesitate for a minute. Sometimes a worry could be, well, how is Richardson setup to do all the transfers and accommodate me? I couldn't believe how smoothly everything went because, again, that's our focus. We know exactly what to do. They'll bring in extra support staff, they'll do everything. They've done it so well, that I think they have it down to art to transfer in all your accounts and do it very, very quickly. And that's of course important. So that’s something you don't have to worry about. And I don't think for a minute, anyone that came to Richardson are contemplating to come over. We'll look back to as François said, I don't think anyone would have a regret to come over.


François Normandeau

19:57 

If I may add, if I've done it If I've done it in the middle of the COVID-19, because I've done my transition in the middle of the COVID-19, it's definitely possible to do it at any time.


Sarah Widmeyer

20:12 

Oh, God, its become our new normal. Not for much longer, not much longer. Okay, Anna, over to you bring us home.


Anna Greig

20:19 

You know what? No, don't hesitate. Don't think twice. Just do it. None of your clients will, there will never be one complaint from any of your clients. It would be a breath of fresh air for the advisor and a breath of fresh air for the client as well. Don't hesitate. There's been strength, any obstacle, there's support there. Anything that could come up, there won't be any problems resolving it. So don't hesitate. Just do it.


Sarah Widmeyer

20:46 

Okay, just do it. Thank you.


Sarah Widmeyer

20:59 

Our firm has had the luxury of welcoming several new teams across the country this year. At François’ point, even in COVID-19. We believe we are the best option for yourself as an advisor, but most importantly for your clients. If you would like to learn more about the benefits of joining Richardson Wealth, please visit our website or reach out to a member on our team or anybody on this call. Conversations on Wealth is available wherever you get your podcasts. Thank you again for listening. And thank you to today's guests, Anna, Joanne and François. I look forward to our next conversation.


The opinions expressed are the opinions of the author and readers should not assume they reflect the opinions or recommendations of Richardson Wealth Limited or its affiliates. Past performance may not be repeated. Richardson Wealth Limited is a member of Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Richardson Wealth is a trademark of James Richardson & Sons, Limited used under license.