In 2018, Rod Mahrt was frustrated by the technology, bureaucracy and limited product shelf available at his previous, more traditional investment firm. His thoughts kept circling back to an increasingly urgent question: “Do I continue to drive the clunky SUV or do I move to a Formula One race car?”
That September, the veteran investment advisor took his 30 years of experience and more than 95 per cent of his clients to Wellington-Altus Private Wealth (Wellington-Altus), founded in 2017 and now home to approximately $20 billion in assets under administration. Now Executive Vice-President, Senior Investment Advisor and Senior Portfolio Manager, Wellington-Altus, Mahrt says the firm’s technological edge means his team can now do what used to take days or weeks in minutes or hours. Wellington-Altus’ partnership model means every advisor’s ideas are heard and shared. And, as an independent firm, it can offer a wide variety of investment products advisors believe are best for their clients.
“Clients can see the difference. They see it in the way we’re able to advise them. They see it in the way that my team is able to administer their assets. And I think they can see it and sense it just in the way we feel,” Mahrt says. “There hasn’t been a day since I started working here [that I haven’t been] excited to go to work every day. I had not had that feeling at the bank for the past 10 years.”
Charlie Spiring, Founder and Senior Investment Advisor, Wellington-Altus, says cultivating the firm’s passionate, inclusive and entrepreneurial culture is a top priority across the organization.
“It’s a culture that allows advisors to have a voice, to have a say in the direction of the firm, because everybody is a shareholder,” he explains. “At our shop, if we have a good idea, we run down the hallway, share it with someone, whether it’s marketing or sales or product or whatever [and] have a little debate. And if they want to grab it, they go and do it, and they do the same thing back, because we all own a piece of each other’s success.”
Spiring, who runs the biggest book in his firm, says a powerful combination of independence and technological innovation enables him to service his clients better. He points specifically to Wellington-Altus’ commitment to offer flexibility on pricing, identify interesting products early, complete product reviews quickly, and provide access to many firms’ research. In addition, the firm’s “common sense” Compliance department helps us to meet clients’ needs, within strict industry standards.
“The banks put certain constraints on our roles and that can take up a lot of valuable time. Advisors come to us and discover they can reclaim a significant amount of time that they can then reinvest in their practice,” Spiring says.
Todd Degelman, also Founder and Senior Investment Advisor, Wellington-Altus, describes his firm as an advisor shop built by advisors for advisors.
“Advisors [who] are in the trenches, day in and day out, know exactly what tools they need to have, what services they need to have. And sometimes there’s a huge disconnect between the advisor and management sitting in a 30-storey tower that’s never been a broker or an advisor before,” he says. “Here, anytime we get a great idea together, our agility allows us to turn that idea into something real and practical immediately. It’s our agility and the speed in which we can make those changes happen that I think is our competitive advantage.”
In his experience, high net worth clients appreciate that he took a chance and became a true entrepreneur like many of them. The proof is in the numbers: his book of business has grown by more than nine-times since he struck out on an independent path in 1998.
More recent arrival Mahrt describes the investment advisors who choose Wellington-Altus as experienced professionals who understand the importance of client servicing and who are visionary in their approach. They have plenty of ideas about how to enhance their success, and in the last three years Mahrt has seen many of those ideas realized.
One example is the purchase of a new trading platform that was approved and implemented within six weeks – something he says would have taken five years at any other firm.
“My team and I are sitting in the cockpit of a Formula One race car, with all the technology, all the supportive teams from all the different partners in our firm, and it’s all about what’s the best thing that we can do for our clients,” he concludes. “SUV versus Formula One? To me, it’s a no-brainer.”
Wellington-Altus is a wealth management firm built by advisors for advisors and we’re attracting Canada’s top Investment Advisors and Portfolio Managers from coast-to-coast. If independence is your future, visit www.join-wellington.ca to connect with our Corporate Development team.