Pearl Financial Group,
HollisWealth, Toronto

Team members: 6

Asset minimum: undisclosed

Number of households: 3,000

When his father, Ben Pearl, died of cancer in 1997, Steven Pearl wanted to honour his memory and enlist others to help fight the disease. So Pearl, an advisor with HollisWealth (formerly DundeeWealth) in Toronto, teamed up with his brother to create the Gentle Ben Charity Challenge, which raises funds for hospital cancer programs, pediatric and adult support services, research projects and hospices.

Each fall, Pearl invites friends, athletic colleagues and clients to fly to a sunny spot for a long weekend of golf, as well as an NHL, NBA or NFL game. Destinations have included: Phoenix, Ariz.; Miami, Fla.; Dallas, Texas; and Los Angeles, Calif.

The requirement to attend the event is fundraising. Participants must personally raise funds from their own networks, using an online donation system to make it easy. All of that money goes directly to the cause. Also, they must pay their own ways, about $1,500 each, which includes travel, hotel, golf and sports tickets.

There have been 15 events so far, attracting an average of three dozen people each year. To date, the event has raised close to $1.2 million.

Aside from his own donations of about $2,000 a year, Pearl invests his time. He scouts potential locations and books the event. He also lets his administrative assistant use work time to help with travel logistics, and communicate with participants. Pearl’s brother also assists.

His message for advisors involved in charities is that approaching clients for support tests the strength of their bond. “If you don’t have a good enough relationship with clients to ask for money for a cause like this, then you don’t have a good relationship. I will always give generously to clients who ask for donations, and it’s a two-way street.”

Stuart Foxman is a Toronto-based financial writer.

Originally published in Advisor's Edge

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