Advisor Confidential: Justin & Olivier Grenier

By Susan Goldberg | February 17, 2018 | Last updated on February 17, 2018
3 min read

Occupation: Portfolio managers, National Bank Financial

City: Quebec City, Que.

Age: 36 (identical twins; Justin is four minutes older)

Assets under management: Nearly $500 million, for approximately 350 clients

Typical clients: Entrepreneurs and medical professionals. “We like to work with multiple generations of families, and will bring on younger members with fewer assets with an eye to building long-term relationships.” The average family has $1.25 million invested.

In the industry for: 12 years (Olivier) and 14 years (Justin). “We both graduated from McGill University with degrees in finance, and Olivier has an MSc in finance from HEC Montréal.”

Young investors

We’ve been passionate about the stock market since we were kids. [Between] ages 12 [and] 14, we started reading the Globe and Mail’s business section. We were washing cars, shovelling snow, mowing lawns, and then asking our father if we could invest the money we earned. Some of our first stocks were Bell Canada, TransCanada and the Bank of Montreal.

It would have been easy to go into business with our father, Gérald, immediately after graduating. We wanted to establish ourselves independently first. We both worked as account managers in business financing: Justin with HSBC and National Bank, and Olivier with Desjardins and the Business Development Bank of Canada. Justin joined our dad’s team in 2011, and Olivier joined in 2012.

Up close and personal

Our father went into financial planning after [the supermarket chain] Steinberg bought out Aligro, which he had co-owned. After our father received the proceeds of this sale, he got calls from wealth managers to invest his money. But he always liked finance and felt he could manage it himself. So, he learned to invest by just doing it and later got the credentials. From there, he managed wealth for friends and family, and eventually embarked on a career in financial planning. At age 69, he’s still happy to come into the office every day.

Managing expectations

The biggest challenge for us as advisors is to keep clients focused on the long-term plan, even in the face of short-term setbacks. Usually, when clients want to sell, we see opportunities for buying, and when clients want to buy, it’s time to take profit or do nothing. We try to remove emotion from the decision-making process. We’re proactive about that: we know our clients and we respect their investment profile and risk tolerance, and we create diversified portfolios with high-quality investments. Beyond that, it’s a matter of client education [about] the market cycles.

Away from transactional

We’re moving our model to discretionary. With upward of 300 clients, it’s labour-intensive to consult each client about every trade. The [switch] should be completed within six months, and will make our operations much more efficient and give our clients better value. It will also give us more time to engage in the deep analytics we really enjoy. We have the confidence of our clients—they’ve all agreed to the change.

More transparency, more opportunity

We see the new regulations around transparency as an enormous opportunity. We’ve been very proactive about disclosing all the fees we charge. Clients will see the fees that they are paying, and their job is to decide if those fees are worth the value we provide. So far, our clients seem to agree [and] they’ve all stayed with us. In fact, we’ve added clients, and only one client has asked for a discount.

Susan Goldberg is a financial journalist based in Thunder Bay, Ont.

Susan Goldberg headshot

Susan Goldberg

Susan is an award-winning freelance writer and editor based in Thunder Bay, Ont. She has been writing about personal finance for more than 20 years.