is a wealth advisor at ScotiaMcLeod in Saskatoon. About 25% of his clients are dental professionals, with the remaining a mix of business owners and retirees. In 2012, his firm named him top new advisor in Canada.
Cole Kachur has pierced a client base of successful, wealthy people.
Who? Dentists. How? By offering CE-accredited professional development sessions on tax issues, insurance strategies and succession planning that are priorities for this client base.
Kachur spotted the opportunity when he learned dentists’ CE requirements had doubled in the past two years. The after-hours sessions he offers also work well with the clients’ schedules. Dentists are booked solid Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., so they’re only free for meetings in the evenings or on weekends.
But Kachur’s game, he says, because this group knows the importance of a meeting—if a patient cancels, it costs them money. So they understand and appreciate the value of his time.
He hosts the sessions with ScotiaMcLeod colleague Dave Belgrave, who has a separate practice (see “Partnership agreement,” below). The duo contacted the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Dentistry to find out how to write courses that would warrant CE credits. “We send them the presentation and if it fits their criteria, they’ll say you can offer attendees X number of CE credits,” says Kachur, who has been an advisor for four years.
In the last year, the pair has hosted six different seminars in three cities: Saskatoon, Prince Albert and Regina. Events are held at meeting rooms in golf courses or hotels.
Now that they’ve built a rapport with the College, he says, it’s easier to get sessions approved and the College sends an e-blast notifying its members when a new CE course is available. Kachur also uses his internal prospecting list to market the events.
Since dental professionals are time-crunched, Kachur and Belgrave limit sessions to one hour. For 45 minutes, a partner accounting firm usually discusses ways to defer tax within cross corporations and holding companies. The remaining 15 minutes covers investment strategies or insurance.
Also, they cap attendees at 12. “We’re focused on one-on-one interaction and don’t want to cater to a crowd of 200 or 300 people,” says Kachur, who admits sometimes people only attend to get their CE credits. But out of 12, three might become clients. Plus, these sessions usually lead to referrals. “The dental community is close-knit, so once you get in you must show you can add value, and then there’s often opportunity to work with partners or other colleagues,” he says.
Sealing the deal
Of course simply hosting sessions won’t turn prospects into clients. It’s all about the follow-up. At the end of the seminar, he asks attendees for email addresses so he can send CE certificates and alert them the next time there’s an event.
“They might not become my client right away, but this helps warm the relationship,” says Kachur.
Also, having competent conversations about issues relevant to dentists is key. “I’ll tell [the prospect] I’m working with a client who switched to this automated [patient booking] system and it’s working well for him,” he adds, “and then refer him to that guy if he wants to speak to him directly.”
Kachur also regularly attends dental conferences so he can learn about the pain points in their businesses. “Show you get what they’re going through and aren’t just there to sell them something they don’t need,” he adds.
And being able to carry on a conversation with an accountant helps, since these clients usually have significant assets inside holding companies, which are taxed heavily.
Dentists are busy, so offer flexible meeting times and focus on helping them through issues, including tax, investment strategies, and insurance.
He adds that many dentists prefer working with large, national accounting firms, which typically have specialized programs in this area.
“Our goal is to work alongside their accountants so if they have a question, they can rely on us to get that answer,” says Kachur. “They just have to go through one source instead of multiple channels.”
Some of the ways to save tax inside a holding company include using insurance vehicles, or looking at dividends or capital gains, he says, instead of interest-bearing investments. Also, he notes overseas tax is becoming a common area of concern. Many dentists are immigrants and have families they want to send money to. So Kachur is learning about the various tax treaties in countries like India, Pakistan and South Africa.
Suzanne Sharma is the associate editor of Advisor Group.