“A good financial planner knows your goals, but a great one understands the motivations behind them.”  Chris Jardine CFP®, CIM

Making the move from one financial services firm to the next can be daunting, but when you make the right choice, it can make all the difference for you and your business. As a family wealth advisor who has gone through the process, Chris Jardine shares his experience and insights on why his team made the choice, what they expected, and, most importantly, what the outcome was.

Edward: So, Chris, tell me, how long have you been in the industry, and what brought you here in the first place?

Chris: So I’ve been in the industry now since 2012—a little over 12 years at this point. What brought me here in the first place? That is a good question. I went to school in Scotland, and then after that, I ended up working in the family business for a few years, which was a funeral business. Still in existence. My middle brother Russell is taking over, so I'm alright; I'm free there; I don't have to go back. I did that for a few years and decided that wasn't really going to be my path in life and I should really get back to what I'd initially intended to do, which at the time wasn't particularly being a financial advisor.

E: Was there any particular field you were interested in?

C: I knew I wanted to get into the world of finance and decided to then make a big shift and move to Canada at the same time. I started working at BMO in their back office and figured I was best suited for the realm of financial advice and joined the Beaches in late 2012, early 2013. Our office then joined Bellwether in 2018.

E: And what drove that decision?

C: We felt that there was a better way to manage money, and Bellwether was it. We interviewed several firms at the time, but Bellwether really stood out to us for their approach and how they operated. As impressive as that was on its own, the other idea was that it would free up our time to really focus on what we’re best at for our clients, which is the financial planning side of the equation. They also didn’t mind the fact that we were able to reduce their fees quite significantly—I don’t recall the exact number, but we eliminated close to a million dollars in fees.

E: Those were the expectations, but how were the outcomes?

C: That and more. Passing the investment management hat to the people who are way better at it. I mean, we were pretty good at it before, but it was easy to get caught with shiny objects flying across your screen, whereas now we have a defined investment process. And it’s actually quite liberating. That, and the fee structure, have made everything more transparent. Ourselves, clients, and prospects all know exactly what to expect, and finding the right fit is much easier than trying to be everything for everyone all the time. Everyone knows what value the portfolio managers add, as well as what value we bring.

E: Were there any “happy surprises” throughout the transition process?

C: Transitions are always hard, but they can be made easier. We had to move quickly, and while I don’t have the exact number, it was roughly 300 to 350 households in total at the time. Back then, it was all done with paper—it was a lot of work, and we did the bulk of it over three months. I remember Trent Smith and Jeff Black being incredibly helpful. Everybody did their part, but those two really embodied the One Team aspect by giving it their all. I basically did a tour of Ontario with a basket of paperwork. These days, it’s much easier with DocuSign and Bellwether’s R.O.B.I.N. onboarding software. I’m very jealous of the advisors joining now. All in all, everybody’s willingness to help and chip in to get the job done exceeded my expectations.

E: More specifically, were there “happy surprises” you’d like to highlight about your time post-transition?

C: There’s quite a bit. From an administrative standpoint, there are processes that you handle that we weren’t 100% certain how they’d pan out in the beginning. But you’ve taken them off our plate, and Bellwether has shown a clear appetite for growth over the years. When we first started, there were a handful to help out, but now the team has grown to 70+ professionals, and you’re a product of that as the internal writer to help advisors with client communications. The addition of an internal marketing team and, just recently, an in-house tax specialist for advanced financial planning have been fantastic. Operations, compliance, analysts. The additions have been great. The company is clearly growing, but I think they’ve been strategic, bringing on people with a specific skill set. It’s nice to be able to lean on others with different talents.

E: How have your clients, whether existing or new, fared?

C: The vast majority of clients are better off; they’ve made more money in the past few years as opposed to before the transition. I know this for a fact because we ran a comparison. Beyond the investments, reporting has improved with the Monthly Musings, Quarterly Insights, and the like. These are nice touchpoints for them that weren’t necessarily as frequent before. I know they’re your work, but if you lay out the past six months, for example, we’ve been consistent with our messaging. Obviously, things change from month to month, but that sort of consistency gives clients a good understanding of how we approach things and, more importantly, why. It’s a simple 2-pager, but they feel more confident just by reading it. On our end, it really comes down to having the time to give it our all—each client is unique, and we make sure every single financial plan reflects that.

E: Low portfolio volatility, low communications volatility. Professional development, client experience, but what about your practice as a whole?

C: It’s hard to say whether or not this would have happened with my old shop, but I’ve certainly grown as an advisor. I’ve taken on a lot more clients. I’ve made stronger connections with existing ones. I feel more confident in what we do. I know the investments are in more than capable hands. I’ve shifted the focus of my meetings to what I’m best at, which is truly understanding my clients’ circumstances and planning accordingly. That’s where I find I can add the most value. Strong portfolios take care of themselves over time, and I’m confident in the team that we have. A strong portfolio, then, gives both me and my clients options to plan and opportunities to adapt as needed.

E: Let’s try a hypothetical. If I were an advisor hesitant about making the move to Bellwether, what would you tell me?

C: What would I tell you? That’s a good question, Teddy. Well, I’d try to understand the root cause, but more generally speaking, I would just encourage you to take the jump. It’s not easy moving firms. It’s a big decision, a big undertaking, and maybe one you make once in your life. Twice if you’re really pushing it. So, if you want to make it count, trust the process and the people here. They do a great job, and the vision they have for the company is exciting because we’re part of it. The growth opportunities are here, and it gives you more time to do what you love to do. Clear off your plate and load it up with your favourite meals. Personally, it’s allowed me to really zero in on our marketing efforts and even start a YouTube channel. I still didn’t really know what I was doing a few years ago, but we’re getting there now, and the efforts are really taking off. Without that extra time and support from the department, I don’t know if I would have been able to do it.

E: This has been a treat, Chris—do you have any closing thoughts for our interview?

C:  I would say that if you’re an advisor whose value add has been portfolio management for the length of your career, honestly, Bellwether may not be the right place for you. But if what you bring to the table is financial planning, relationship management, and serving your clients to the best of your ability, then you’ve found the perfect fit. Remember: a good financial planner knows their clients’ goals, but a great one understands the motivations behind them.

Chris was initially born and raised in a small town in the southwest of Scotland. Before moving to Canada, he worked in a family-run funeral business for several years. At school in Scotland, Christopher studied Business Management and then obtained the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation, the gold standard of the industry. Chris particularly enjoyed the retirement and tax planning aspects of this designation which has led him to success in wealth management for the past ten years.



















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© Bellwether Investment Management Inc. 2024. This communication is intended for residents of the provinces in which we are registered and is not meant to be a solicitation to any persons not resident in those provinces. Any opinions expressed in this article are just that, and are not guarantees of any future performance or returns. Some of the information contained in this article has been drawn from sources believed to be reliable but due to the fact that it is provided by a third party, it cannot be guaranteed to be accurate or complete. Bellwether Investment Management Inc., Bellwether Estate and Insurance Services Inc. and Bellwether Family Wealth cannot provide tax advice and therefore we recommend that you consult your tax advisor for further assistance with your tax planning and the preparation of your tax return. The report is prepared for general informational purposes only and the securities mentioned in this report should not be construed as a recommendation for any specific securities.

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