Financial advisers need advice too

12:55, June 07, 2010      

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Even the all-time greats need help to do their best.

Tiger Woods, arguably the best golfer ever, uses a coach to help improve his swing. Likewise with Roger Federer in tennis.

In the adviser world, coaching hasn't really caught on yet, but it will, says Norm Trainor, chief executive of Covenant Group, which says the advisers it works with typically see their revenue grow by half to triple over one to two years.

"What tends to happen is for advisers who are not continuously learning and growing and investing in their own development, is that they plateau and eventually that plateau leads to a decline," he said.

"It's only a matter of time and so learning is the fundamental centerpiece of professional development and the growth of a financial advisory practice."

Trainor and his group of more than 30 coaches work with advisers in areas like building their businesses, better connecting with clients and succession. They also serve as a general sounding board.

David Sung, president of Nicola Wealth Management in Vancouver, is a client of Covenant.

He said his group of advisers are very strong technically -- well educated and knowledgeable about investments.

"The perspective that they perhaps don't have as much experience with is knowing people and knowing how to properly connect to the issues and the items that actually might really matter to them," he said.

"At the end of the day, what matters to clients is not an investment, it's how those solutions may help their families, their businesses, and the dreams and goals that are important to them personally. Norm's group really works with us at making sure we see that forest through the trees."

Covenant coaches large and small firms in workshop settings and in one-on-one training.

Progress is measured in part by tracking revenue and expenses and comparing them with one and five-year expense proformas created by the advisers. Advisers also have a personal online "portal" that only they and their coaches can access to develop plans and ideas on how to execute them.


While advisers are in the advice-giving business, they are often reluctant to seek it themselves, said Trainor, who speaks at trade conferences around the world.

"If I go into a room with 100 advisers, and I ask them how many of them have their own coach and are involved with someone who is actively advising them ... typically, five to 10 hands go up." After hearing him speak, 20 or 30 might seriously contemplate the idea, he added.

One of the things he tries to get across is that with the baby boomers retiring, opportunities abound, but so do risks.

Many small business owners will retire, selling their shops, and coming into a lot of money. Trainor said research shows that within a year of someone retiring, or coming into a lot of money, three out of four tend to change advisers.

"So those advisers who have clients in that position, the threat to them is that if they're not taking care of the client, that money is going to be gone. For the adviser who is looking to attract new clients, the opportunity is that there is an enormous amount of money in motion."

"How do you differentiate yourself and create separation in the market?"

Trainor is based in Toronto, but 65 percent of his business is in the United States, 25 percent in Canada, and 10 percent international.

Source: China Daily/Agencies


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