David Gorveatte has used a steady, methodical approach - with lots of ongoing client contact - to build his financial advisory practice in Fredericton. He recommends keeping close tabs on clients and understanding their needs

By Donalee Moulton | March 2016

For David Gorveatte, keeping clients happy means keeping in touch. The Fredericton, N.B. advisor reviews every client's account each month and schedules three, two-hour meetings with them a year, if they want that.

"You need constant contact," says Gorveatte, who is licensed under Investia Financial Services Inc., a mutual fund company that has been in operation since 1999. "I want clients to have a chance to ask questions. I don't want to be the rep no one hears from."

These client meetings involve more than just getting together and checking in. Gorveatte, a certified financial planner, wants to fully understand what is happening with his clients. He reviews clients' annual tax returns, for example, and all new documents clients may have acquired, such as a will.

"I like helping clients with all aspects of their financial needs," says Gorveatte, who has taken courses in law and accounting to enhance his understanding and skills in these areas.

The benefits of regular and substantive meetings first hit home for Gorveatte when he was a young advisor building his book of business. His bosses recommended that he reach out to his friends. But those friends were 25 and broke, so Gorveatte expanded his circle, asking the clients he already had, as well as a wider circle of acquaintances, if they knew anyone who would benefit from his services. He didn't ask for the names of those potential clients, but said he would provide a free, two-hour consultation. "I still do that today," says Gorveatte, now 57 years old.

Ongoing client outreach and reviews are time-consuming, however, and Gorveatte now works to keep his client list manageable. His target group are individuals in their 50s who are getting ready to retire or who have recently retired with at least $200,000 of investible assets.

This niche, he says, is built on common sense: "They're the ones that have the money. If you've got to go fishing, fish in a stocked pond."

At present, Gorveatte has 240 families on his client list and manages $46 million dollars in assets, for a ratio of about $192,000 per family. "I use this to decide if I can take on a new customer and what benefit I can be to them, as well as if they can be a benefit to me," he says.

This approach helps to ensure a good fit between client and advisor. But the threshold also creates an air of privilege. "I want clients to feel they are part of an exclusive club," says Gorveatte.

That club, he says with a laugh, may come with a special benefit: many of the individuals on Gorveatte's roster are in their 70s, 80s, and 90s now. "I've noticed that if you become one of my clients, you get increased longevity," he jokes.

Gorveatte, a native of Dieppe, N.B., launched his first foray into business started when he was about five years old. His dad gave him a quarter to weed the garden. Gorveatte then took the money and paid two friends 10¢ each to do the weeding. That approach convinced Gorveatte's father than finance was the right career path for his son. Gorveatte agreed, although his approach to the job market was more cautious than entrepreneurial.

As a teenager attending high school in Moncton, Gorveatte helped a friend restore a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. While tinkering in the garage, Gorveatte would ask his friend's father, a banker, about the ins and outs of the banking job. Gorveatte's interest was rewarded: he was offered a job at Bank of Nova Scotia right out of high school. He declined.

The offers to work at the bank continued after Gorveatte enrolled in Kingswood, a Christian university based in Sussex, N.B. He finally said yes after completing his first year. "I had friends a few years older than me with a lovely degree and no job," he explains.

Gorveatte's first posting with the bank was in Chatham, N.B., as a management trainee. "I was the teller for three months," he says. "I was the auditor for three months."

He also was only 18 years old. Many of the people reporting to Gorveatte were much older and much more experienced. So, he decided to create some team spirit. He noticed that when people were away from the office because of illness, their desks piled high with work, awaiting their return. "I gave everyone a Hilroy scribbler to write down what they do," says Gorveatte, "so when they're out sick, someone could help do their job. It really boosted morale."

Indeed, Gorveatte says, that early banking experience was the start of his work with older individuals. "I treat them with respect," he says. "I try to learn."

The bank subsequently offered Gorveatte three promotions. He turned the first two down, because the communities were too isolated. However, he accepted an offer to work in Fredericton, where he lives today with his wife, Shirley. Gorveatte, once settled in his new home, heard about an opportunity to work with Investors Group Inc. He aced the interview, but was not offered a job because of his youth. The company didn't hire anyone younger than 25 years of age; Gorveatte was 23. He asked to speak with his interviewer's boss, and then the boss's boss. At each stage, Gorveatte was rejected. Finally, he asked to speak with the firm's vice president, who was in Moncton at the time.

Gorveatte was told that 99 out of 100 people under the age of 25 would not succeed as an advisor. The vice president also said he felt sorry for the other 99 people, because he was hiring Gorveatte. In 2002, Gorveatte left Investors and opened Berkshire Investment Group Inc.'s first Fredericton office. He stayed with the firm, which was subsequently purchased by Manulife Financial Corp., until 2011, when he joined Investia.

Although Gorveatte is well established, he is still building his business - and planning for his own retirement.

Gorveatte would like to stay active for the next five to 10 years, then wind down his business as he approaches age 65. He is negotiating with a new hire who will work with him for five years, then slowly take over the business.

That route will enable Gorveatte to spend more time with his wife and their three children. He'll also continue to devote his time and energy to his church and local charities.

In the meantime, hard work and continued communication with clients will remain a priority.

STRONG CLIENT CONNECTIONS

David Gorveatte used referrals and free consultations to build his successful business from a standing start. He offers some tips for building a practice:

- Don't be afraid to educate. Well-informed clients are satisfied clients, says Gorveatte, who teaches all his clients how to use an online mutual fund website. "All reps should be teaching their clients," Gorveatte says.

- Find your passion. Locate a group of people who are interested in the same things you are, get to know all about those subjects and become a resource person for those people, Gorveatte recommends. "I joined a Rotary club and worked hard to help out in the community. People noticed and asked me to help them."

- Build your business organically. In today's market, it's tough to build a business from the ground up. Gorveatte suggests finding someone you like and whose approach is aligned with yours. Then, you can work with that person in their business, and ultimately take over the business.

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