Technology allows Michael Taglieri to focus on what matters most in his family-based financial advisory practice: one-on-one time with his clients.
The 38-year-old senior wealth advisor with Toronto-based Assante Capital Management Ltd. in Burlington, Ont. has been quick to embrace the digital age – and make technology part of his practice.
When Assante developed a social media policy in 2011, enabling its advisors to use social media platforms, Taglieri embraced Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook – the social media platforms commonly recognized as the Top Three for financial advisors.
Although the initial goal of Taglieri’s social media strategy was to acquire new clients, he later learned social media was a more effective tool for building his brand and showcasing his value. (See story on page 14.)
“Not everything I post is finance-related,” Taglieri says. “It’s more about who I am as an individual and some of my personal philosophies.”
Taglieri often shares content related to health, mindfulness, arts and culture, and family relationships. Most people already have access to what’s occurring in politics or the financial markets, he says.
To avoid being slowed down by compliance measures, Taglieri digs around for approximately two weeks worth of content to send to the firm’s marketing approval team ahead of time. He typically receives the go-ahead within a few days, then begins posting.
At the end of each month, Taglieri collects the data from his social media links and creates a newsletter featuring three articles on subjects that received the most activity. He includes commentary on why the articles are important and provides a brief summary.
Although Taglieri no longer expects his digital efforts to bring in new business immediately, he has noticed that a handful of prospects have approached him because existing clients forwarded the newsletter to them.
“There’s never a pitch or anything in [the newsletters] to acquire [new clients],” Taglieri says. “But because of the message, this sort of happens organically.”
Taglieri also notes that his online relationships with clients – particularly on Facebook – add value by helping him create personal connections offline. By becoming “friends” with Taglieri on Facebook, his clients can watch his children grow up – and vice versa.
“It’s something we get to discuss when we’re together in person,” he says.
The Facebook platform is perfect for the type of clients Taglieri serves, which typically range in age from their mid-40s to their late 60s and are concerned with issues regarding family wealth – particularly estate preservation and creating good inheritors.
Taglieri keeps this family-related perspective in mind when building portfolios. For example, for a client couple, he creates a single “family” portfolio rather than a portfolio for each spouse.
“Once the portfolio is created, we deliver a customized family investment policy statement, which outlines the family’s investment, tax and financial strategies,” Taglieri says. “It works as a mandate or rule book for how we will be making investment decisions within the portfolio.”
The family niche is a comfortable fit for Taglieri, who runs his business with his wife, Sabrina. She is the Taglieri team’s client services specialist and handles organizational and structural processes. The three-person team includes an administrative assistant.
Michael Taglieri, who has been in the financial advisory business for 10 years, came to the financial advisory business via an unconventional route. After completing a bachelor of fine arts – with a focus on photography and art history – he spent a few years as a private art consultant before moving into the field of finance.
Switching from art consultation to financial advice was a natural transition, he says. As an art consultant, he helped art collectors and corporate clients work within their budgets to acquire works of art for their collections.
“[That’s] similar to what we do [now],” he says. “If you get approached from a client who has X amount of dollars, you sit down and learn about his or her needs and wants so you can build a portfolio accordingly.”
Taglieri’s business has grown to serve 180 households, with a total of $78 million in assets under management.
Taglieri’s “outside the box” thinking means his team remains on the lookout for new technologies that can make preparing for and holding client meetings more efficient.
For example, Taglieri projects computer-generated reports on his Microsoft Surface (a hybrid laptop/tablet computer) onto a TV screen in his meeting room. (See story on page 18.)
One of Taglieri’s favourite Surface features is a stylus he uses to write on the screen. He can draw on reports and circle numbers to help clients understand the data he is sharing.
“[This use of technology] saves a tremendous amount of time,” Taglieri says. Instead of printing documents for clients in advance, his team can attach relevant documents to each client’s account digitally. Taglieri can edit these documents “live” during client meetings, so he doesn’t need to make notes during the meeting and update the account information later.
For Taglieri’s snowbird clients, out of town clients and professional clients who are too busy to meet in person, Taglieri uses GoToMeeting, a web-hosted online meeting software platform that allows audio, video and screen-sharing among meeting parties.
“We try to emulate as much of an in-person meeting as possible,” Taglieri says. “Being able see the other person helps engagement and focus. If you’re not looking at each other, you could easily get distracted by texting or feeding your dog.”
Although not every client is at ease with technology, GoToMeeting is simple enough for most clients to use. For clients who may need assistance, including some senior clients, Taglieri sets up a call five minutes before the meeting so he can walk them through the setup process.
Helping clients adapt to Assante’s data communication portal, through which advisors and clients can communicate and exchange data, proved more difficult. Sabrina spent a good chunk of 2016 and 2017 assisting clients with the registration processes and providing clients with tutorials that demonstrate ways of using the platform.
Clients have adjusted to the portal, Taglieri says, and use it frequently. In fact, clients use the highly secure “chat” messaging system on the portal to contact Taglieri more than they use regular email. Taglieri, in turn, can share client information, such as meeting notes, quickly and securely through the portal.
“[Using the portal] is great during tax time,” Taglieri says, “because we can upload pertinent tax forms or tax slips, and not have to worry about information getting hacked or anything else.”
Technology also is a topic Taglieri addresses during his semi-annual client advisory board (CAB) meetings. Twelve of Taglieri’s clients are members of the CAB and represent his client base providing feedback to Taglieri and his team. Meetings with the CAB present opportunities for Taglieri to share important industry issues and solicit opinions and recommendations for improved client service.
CAB meetings also provide opportunities for Taglieri to pitch new ways of incorporating technology into his business. For example, in the spring of 2017, Taglieri made a presentation to a CAB panel regarding his plans to rebuild his team’s website. Surprisingly, his clients told him not to bother. “They didn’t feel it was a significant technology,” he says.
When Taglieri isn’t busy serving clients, he enjoys spending time with Sabrina and their two children – ages seven and four. He also rides his motorcycle, attends arts and music events, and sits on the board of the Prefix Institute of Contemporary Art, a public gallery and arts publishing house in Toronto that focuses on contemporary photography and digital arts.