Individuality
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Rob Djurfeldt says that what drew him to his new role at Winnipeg-based Wellington-Altus Private Wealth Inc., after stepping down as head of ScotiaMcLeod Inc. in May, was the independent firm’s commitment to advisor freedom.

“I didn’t know exactly what I was looking for when I left Scotia, but it’s exactly what I was looking for,” said Djurfeldt, who began his new role as executive vice president and senior investment advisor at Wellington-Altus in early September in Toronto.

Djurfeldt’s primary responsibility at Wellington-Altus will be recruiting established advisors and teams in Eastern Canada.

“I’m convinced that entrepreneurs do the best job for clients,” Djurfeldt says. While every financial advisor wants to do the best job he or she can, he says, “the entrepreneur is the only one who wakes up every morning thinking, ‘How do I make my business better, how do I add more value to clients?’ [Entrepreneurs] are motivated to grow their businesses, and to look after clients, [in order] to attract more clients.”

Djurfeldt left Scotiabank after a 28-year run with the firm. He started as a wealth advisor, and rose to progressively senior positions. His departure was announced only via internal memo, with Scotiabank naming Craig Gilchrist as interim head of ScotiaMcLeod, a position he continues to hold.

Djurfeldt declined to comment on why he decided to part ways with the bank brokerage, but he did say that he informed the company of his intention to leave in February. “It just took until May for everything to kind of get worked out,” he said. When contacted by Investment Executive, a spokesperson for Scotiabank declined to comment about the circumstances of Djurfeldt’s departure out of concerns for privacy.

Djurfeldt says that other key reasons he joined Wellington-Altus were the strength of the firm’s support services as well as its technology platform, the collegial culture and the fact that most of the senior management team are also working advisors, he says. Djurfeldt himself is taking on some clients, mostly consisting of long-time acquaintances who have wanted financial advice, but whom he had to turn down in the past.

“It’s not going to be a prime focus,” Djurfeldt says, “but I wanted to look after some clients too, people I know, so that I can also have one foot in, knowing exactly what challenges advisors have.”

Djurfeldt sees his recruitment role not as one of making a hard sell for his new firm, but rather of explaining to interested advisors Wellington-Altus’s approach to wealth management and determining whether there’s a good match.

“The only way to really know is to spend some time talking with them, having a coffee with them, getting to know them,” Djurfeldt says. If there isn’t a potential fit, he adds, “we’ll introduce them to someone, or give them a name [to contact].”

Wellington-Altus has been growing quickly since the firm was founded in 2017 by chair Charlie Spiring and two other executives associated with Spiring’s previous firm, Wellington West Capital Inc. At its start, Wellington-Altus had $2.5 billion in assets under management (AUM), 46 employees, of which 14 were investment advisors, and offices in five cities. Today, the firm has more than $7 billion in AUM, more than 200 employees — of which 114 are advisors — and offices in 17 locations across the country.

Earlier this month, Vancouver-based The Wong Group, a team led by executive vice president and senior portfolio manager Maili Wong, joined Wellington-Altus after leaving CIBC Wood Gundy.

In May, Toronto-based The Rosedale Group, a team led by executive vice president and senior portfolio manager Gord Love, joined Wellington-Altus after leaving Scotia McLeod in May.

Noah Djurfeldt, son of Rob Djurfeldt, joined The Rosedale Group at Wellington-Altus in June as an investment advisor, after leaving ScotiaMcLeod in May, where he was a wealth associate.

Rob Djurfeldt says his decision to join Wellington-Altus was made independently of his son’s decision. “[Noah] had a great opportunity with Gord [and] his practice; he’s working on that practice, and I’m working on building the firm. So, while I do see him, and it’s fun to work together, we’re working on different things.”

The elder Djurfeldt says he’s excited to join Wellington-Altus, and eager to take on a new challenge: “I was looking for something where I could add value, be part of the industry that has given so much to me personally and to my family, and work with phenomenal advisors. I had the privilege of working with phenomenal advisors [at ScotiaMcLeod], and I’m looking forward to doing that here.”