A career in financial services is probably the unlikeliest of gifts a boyfriend can get, but perhaps one of the greatest, as Angus Watt, managing director, individual investor services, Angus Watt Advisory Group, National Bank Financial, discovered.

After graduating in 1974, Watt immediately became a rookie at McLeod Young Weir in Toronto. At the time, the father of a friend of his girlfriend’s worked there—the main reason Watt joined. A year later he relocated to Edmonton, Alberta, where he started his selling career. Although he didn’t expect to be transferred, it was the best thing that ever happened to him. Today Watt and his advisors manage about a half billion dollars of assets at Angus Watt Advisory Group, an Edmonton-based group specializing in investment and insurance. Watt is also honorary consul for the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and chair of the Alberta Order of Excellence, Alberta’s highest civilian honour.

On changing attitudes

“A large part of the Canadian population will be entering retirement. As they age, their risk tolerance changes, their asset allocation becomes more important, and the ability they have to make up for poor investments changes materially.
“Clients are looking for professional assistance. The good news is, with all the information in the daily business reports in the newspapers, TV and on the Internet, most clients are more educated. The challenge is that the media still dramatizes some [financial] events, so we have to sort through the noise to find reality.

“As you mature, you realize you’re not going to hit the ball out of the park without undue risk. What you want to do is just make sure you go around all the bases and get home.

We’ve got you covered

“We changed our name from team to advisory group. An advisory group is like a doctor’s office: If I need someone with foreign tax experience, then I need to see a particular [partner].

“We have two partners allocated to each account. Everybody has his or her specialty. If you’re a client, you feel pretty comfortable we’re looking under every stone. We also know where clients are at today and where they’ve been, and we also know where they think they’re going to go and what [kind of risk level] they’re looking for.

“If something were to happen to me, none of our clients’ accounts will be affected. So there’s a depth [to our practice] I don’t think most advisors or teams have. Our size and the quality of our people make us probably the best group in Canada. And people often tell us that. People deal with us because they trust us.

On reward and recognition

“I don’t do it for the money, but I love the money. I also love the environment. It’s a game—invest in the markets, put the assets in the right spot, pick the right companies, pick the right managers. If you’re good at your game you’re going to be a leader. Our industry is always changing, but the fundamentals aren’t.

“We’ve got great clients. When you’re starting out, you’re prepared to deal with anybody because you’re a commissioned salesperson. And then you learn there’s nothing better than a great client.

“What is frustrating is the volume of paperwork required to open and maintain client files. We need to have an automated platform to increase efficiency. The insurance industry has done a better job with the life insurance program application.

On community involvement

“I’m involved in a few charities, but I’m most committed to The Sup-port Network, a centre for crisis counselling. Anyone, anytime, can find themselves facing a crisis. The Support Network is here to listen when life hurts. It’s a safe place to
sort out thoughts and feelings and explore options to get help. They’ve got an information line and a kids’ helpline.”