Jennifer Black, FMA, CFP, CPCA, FCSI, CIM

Title

Partner and Senior Financial Advisor, Dedicated Financial Solutions, Manulife Securities

City

Mississauga, Ont.

In the business

10 years

Book size

$50 million

Minimum assets

$500,000

Managing managers

We’re IIROC-licensed, and mutual funds constitute 60% of our book. Our fund managers scout for well-managed, underpriced companies. We have a shortlist of 20 funds and 14 managers. If something doesn’t go the way we expect, we ask why. That way, we’re able to explain developments like sudden price swings.

If a fund mandate changes and we don’t agree with it, or feel it could alter a client’s risk profile, we get out. Or, we may get out if a manager leaves and we’re dissatisfied with the replacement. We work with managers who visit companies in different countries and gauge political sentiment, meet upper management and review balance sheets. Rather than trying to make a call on an investment in Australia, we rely on someone on the ground.

Can’t help everybody

We only keep motivated clients. Our turning point came in late 2011. I had spent hours chalking out a financial plan for a client. She abruptly stopped following it within a year. After an amiable conversation about how her aspirations and my strengths were mismatched, I referred her to another advisor.

That triggered a much bigger change. We’ve since referred away the bottom third of our book, introduced a minimum investable level for new clients and become fee-based using F-class mutual funds. We’re also insurance-licensed. By focusing on wealthier clients, we now have more opportunities to do higher-level financial and estate planning. We’d like to cap the households we serve at 150.

Emotional niche

After a friend lost her husband, we created widowed.ca in 2009. It’s a forum for widows and widowers to share stories and seek support. It has also resulted in three great clients. One signed up so if anything happened to him, his wife would be taken care of. And that care doesn’t just extend to finances. A client called because a marketer was trying to convince her to replace her hot water tank. I talked her out of it.

Kanupriya Vashisht is a Toronto-based financial writer.

Originally published in Advisor's Edge

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