If there is one thing independent investment advisor John Tabet learned during his 25 years of experience in the financial services and wealth management industry, it is to never underestimate the influence of his advice on every member of his clients’ families and the value of extending such advice as a means of gaining additional engagement from his clients.
Through his firm Viewstone Partners and iA Securities, John and his team of two advisors and one licensed assistant work with 242 families and manage a ~$147 million portfolio on a fee basis. In recent years, the firm has been dealing mainly with two types of clients, i.e. multigenerational families, as well as foundations, endowment funds and non-profit organizations.
In several instances, John was able to see how serving two, or even three generations of a family can deepen the advisor-client relationship. “By focusing on the multigenerational aspect of a household’s wealth, we are addressing a question that is in the back of our clients’ minds: ‘I know my future is in good hands, but is my family’s future also taken care of?’,” explains John.
In the course of his discussions with clients, and more so during the past three years, John witnessed that many of them were concerned that their children may not have the financial knowledge needed to lead a successful financial life once they graduate. With this in mind, John’s team began to understand the importance of getting connected with prospective clients from the Millennial generation.
For example, John had the opportunity to sit down with the son of two clients of his and his bride-to-be in the days leading up to their wedding, to explain how they could make a budget together and integrate their assets once they have tied the knot.
In her wedding speech, the bride took the time to thank John’s team for their advice. “Soon afterwards, the bride’s grandfather approached us saying: ‘Because you helped my granddaughter even though she is not rich, I want to entrust you with my portfolio’,” John recalls. Thanks to an hour conversation with the daughter-in-law of his clients, his firm obtained a new account worth more than one million dollars; more importantly, John strengthened his trusted relationship with an entire family.
“I can spend a lot of time preparing money for the heirs and the next generation may not be as financially successful and confident as the previous one or I can dedicate my time to preparing the next generation for this money, so that two generations will confidently tread the path to success. That’s what I call legacy planning”.
The philanthropy angle
The power of networking can also be seen in John’s second largest client base, i.e. foundations, endowment funds and non-profit organizations. As part of his services, John enables his clients’ donors to give appreciated securities, such as stocks, bonds, mutual funds, etc. With his team, his role is to sell or liquidate these assets and transfer the proceeds to the organizations. “Along with helping organizations to raise funds, our services position us as a philanthropy-oriented firm”, John says. “As we do not really engage in marketing, this is a way for us to enhance our visibility and promote our values”.
John told us that while his team has been exploring the philanthropy angle for approximately 10 years now, it is only in the last four years that their activities in this area have been leading to deeper discussions with potential donors. “Sometimes, donors don’t have an investment advisor or are not doing business with a specialist advisor in philanthropy. This is where we come in,” John says.
Education as an added value
Although John says he does not focus much on marketing, he is investing time in a form of promotional activity, i.e. thought leadership. His personal LinkedIn page features financial literacy publications on how to understand your portfolio, how to understand your client, the cost of investing, and the importance of educating your children on money matters from an early age.
“My clients thus tell themselves: ‘John is not just talking about our portfolio. He also shares real-time information he considers useful for us.’ They in turn share this information with their family.”
John and his group strive to create an environment in which their clients feel comfortable sharing their dreams and financial challenges. The team also makes sure each client will come to the office for annual review that usually takes place between mid-December and mid-March. “While I assist them with their immediate needs, I must also help them develop a long-term outlook (over one, two, five years…) and show them what they must do to reach their ultimate goal,” John points out.
Finally, John firmly believes that independent advisors are small business owners and must develop their own strong annual business plan. According to him, a business plan should include three key components: customer service, first and foremost; employee hiring, training and retention; and client communication.
“Businesses don’t grow by chance. Having a good business plan is what removes chance from the equation,” concludes John.
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