Concept of important choices of a businessman, Business Challenge
© Warakorn Harnprasop / 123RF Stock Photo

Rona Birenbaum
Financial planner and founder at Caring for Clients, Toronto

In recent years, I’ve turned away two to three prospective clients a week due to capacity issues or because clients don’t want to pay for planning or don’t have complex planning needs. For such clients, I now offer services online with another company at a lower price point.

Specifically for capacity, I find an alternative solution, whether that’s another fee-only planner, a traditional investment advisor or a robo-advisor. I spend enough time with people to understand what services would best meet their needs and then make a referral.

Susan Latremoille
Wealth advisor and director, wealth management, The Latremoille Begg Group, Richardson GMP, Toronto

I turn away prospects on a regular basis because we have a $2-million minimum of investable assets. We’re also not a fit for clients who don’t want fee-based, discretionary services—such as investors who want to trade frequently.

A skilful, gentle approach helps people understand whether or not we’re a good fit. Regardless of my target market, I take a few minutes to ask people about their needs so I can make an appropriate referral if required, whether that’s within the firm or another institution. A prospective client might not have the minimum assets but may be inheriting wealth or otherwise acquiring assets in the near future.

At first, turning away prospective business is difficult. But in the long run, the practice and our clients benefit when we refrain from being all things to all people.

Paul Tyers
Managing director, Wealth Stewards Inc., Toronto

Most important for advisor-to-client fit is a willingness to be transparent and take advice, which business owners—a large part of my clientele—are usually adept at. If a client is willing to open up, I can understand their balance sheet and goals, and better serve them.

Not everyone is comfortable with such transparency. Sometimes, prospective clients realize we’re a poor fit after a conversation about our holistic services. I refer the person to someone else if they’re looking for a specific service, such as tax or insurance. Because we both come to the same conclusion about fit, the experience isn’t usually negative.