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The 2008 slide washed a lot of second- and third-tier advisors out of the profession. So if you’re reading this, you’re doing something right.

If you want loyal clients, do things for them that you’ll never get paid for.

One advisor, who serves a semi-rural community in British Columbia, spoke with me recently about this concept of service; and how he connects it to his personal values.

“We’re in a small town and we have the attitude that we’ll help someone whether we get paid or not,” he told me. The people receiving pro bono assistance don’t become clients. There’s no letter of engagement. A formal plan doesn’t get drafted. No products are placed. No money changes hands.

“We give them some advice and they go on their way,” he notes, adding he prefers working in an environment where the value of his work is often defined by intangibles, rather than compensation.

When it comes to paying clients, his firm doesn’t establish asset minimums or other metrics to determine which clients it will take.

Still, he admits, it’s not always pure altruism. Some of the people who get free help end up providing the best referrals.

But the spirit is right. No matter whether you work in a small town or an urban area, word gets around. Your reputation’s everything, so make sure what’s said about you is good.

That spirit’s also worth comparing with regulators’ longstanding perceptions of advisors. The CSA recently issued a comment paper on industry fiduciary standards—one in a series of actions attempting to change perceptions of broker dishonesty by clamping down on specific activities advisors undertake in the daily completions of their routines.

For their part, advisors note the work they do saves clients significant tax, or ensures clients keep wills, POAs and other key documents up to date. “I do agree there are shortcomings, which can be improved,” says one in a recent letter to us, “but the focus should be more on results over the costs.”

With this issue, Advisor’s Edge turns 15. For a decade and a half, these pages have showcased the best work of the Canadian advisory community. And we’ve openly urged that community to stand up to criticism, regardless of source, and show its pride for the work done to help clients prosper.

Demonstrating you’re in the client’s corner, more than adherence to any specific requirements, will help ensure you’re around to read our 30th anniversary offering.

We look forward to informing, inspiring and entertaining you in the interim.

Originally published in Advisor's Edge

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