Celebrating Advice: Effective business planning

By John Powell | November 24, 2009 | Last updated on November 24, 2009
4 min read

When you initially sit down with RBC’s Glen Daniel to talk money, the very first question the 14-year veteran is likely to ask is: “If I could solve one problem for you, what would that one problem be?”

Once a client has dismissed any ideas that might involve sending their mother-in-law on a one way trip to Bosnia, the simple question inevitably gets a perspective client thinking about his or her life, future and what’s truly important.

“I usually open things up that way. My style is I want to create an integrated plan that addresses all areas of wealth. It is so different from client to client to client,” the vice president and investment advisor with The Daniel Wealth Management Group, RBC Dominion Securities Inc, tells Advisor.ca.

A member of the firm’s executive council, Daniel’s focus for most of his career has been on assisting high-profile business owners and health care professionals with their income planning, charitable gifting and family succession needs. Most have taken great chances to become as successful as they are and in turn they hire Daniel to take the dice out of their hands and mitigate any future risk.

“There are people who have been my clients for over a decade who see me as an extension of their operating companies, but I don’t charge them benefits,” he joked.

The ‘One Problem’ question Daniel poses to his potential clients is all part and parcel of his refined and regimented discovery process in which he sits down with the business owners and methodically sorts through their finances so he can better understand what he has before him. The oftentimes lengthy process requires a whole lot of patience and a whole lot of understanding.

“They get busy and you have to respect their time,” he said of the business owners.

With more clients concerned about transparency and the state of the marketplace than ever before, Daniel makes sure that the lines of communication with his clients remain wide open. He is in touch with them on a weekly basis and if any event directly impacts their portfolio, Daniel is quick to consult them.

“Clients are demanding transparency and we go out of our way to be transparent,” he said.

In addition to his experience and disciplined approach, what Daniel feels gives him an edge over other advisors is the access RBC Dominion Securities gives him to as many as 90 business professionals in a variety of different wealth management categories. This includes tax planners and estate lawyers. The ability to draw on such varied and valuable resources came in handy when Daniel lent a hand to a local family business.

With a mother, father and son involved in managing the business and two siblings on the outside, the father had a concern. Since his wife was a shareholder, and significantly younger, he wanted to make sure she had a secure source of income. With the father uninsurable, Daniel and his team had to develop a new strategy. It was time to think outside the box.

The family company’s corporate structure was changed so that it offered preferred shares. These shares were then used to pay the client’s wife a salary, and the corporation was designed to be passed over to the children. To ensure the wife’s salary did not erode too much of the company’s capital, the corporation paid for an insurance policy on the wife’s life – a non-taxable benefit that will create a windfall for the corporation upon her death. The plan wouldn’t have worked if the son wasn’t the owner and de facto president of the company though.

“That was one very specific case that I loved. We were really excited about it because the father came to me specifically for that and we came up with a solution for him,” said Daniel.

One of the biggest tests Daniel and his team routinely run into is working with the business owner’s accountants. Daniel’s approach is never to go in with the intention of replacing the longstanding advisors but to compliment and work hand-in-glove with them so that an integrated plan can be established with the primary goal of increasing their after tax cash flow.

“Quite frankly, the accountant knows my perspective client better than I do. So, I like to make sure that before we embark on a strategy that we are complimenting the great work the accountant is doing,” he said.

Daniel enjoys the challenge of working with entrepreneurs as it is always a labour of love for everyone involved. No two entrepreneurs and no two businesses are the same, so it takes patience, skill and sensitivity to meet needs, roadmap goals and reach that one moment that Daniel prizes more than any other while working with a client.

“I don’t know how you can put it in print but there is this moment of realization that things are going to be okay,” he said.

“The reason why I enjoy working with business owners is that I like the variety,” he continued.” It is a commodity that never goes out of style. Entrepreneurs are always going to be around. Some of the stories that are told to me are fantastic, fantastic stories of accomplishment.”

Photo Caption: RBC’s Glen Daniel. (Photo Courtesy of: RBC.)

John Powell