This article appears in the May 2023 issue of Investment Executive. Subscribe to the print edition, read the digital edition or read the articles online.
Brandt Butt became interested in finance when he was a student at St. Paul’s High School in Winnipeg. A conversation with a friend’s father, who was a stockbroker, piqued Butt’s interest in the profession.
“He seemed like he had a really good work/life balance,” said Butt, 33, an investment advisor and associate portfolio manager with Endeavour Wealth Management, iA Private Wealth Inc., in Winnipeg. “I figured, here’s a man who seems to be financially successful and at the same time has a good home life.”
That conversation led Butt to enrol at the University of Manitoba’s Asper School of Business, where he graduated with a finance degree in 2014.
Although Butt’s initial aspiration was to become a stockbroker, “I quickly realized the industry was [going through] a lot of changes, into a more holistic kind of overarching financial-planning direction,” he said.
That change suited Butt just fine. Working with clients to understand how they think and feel about money, and helping them to set meaningful financial goals, is exactly in line with his interests and skill set.
“I was never going to be a person to sit behind a screen and pick stocks,” he said. “The financial planning side of the business has drawn me in, and is the part that I enjoy the most.”
Butt earned his chartered investment manager designation in 2021 and his certified financial planner designation in January.
After graduating in 2014, Butt networked through the downtown Winnipeg boxing club, where he coached. The club received many influential businesspeople during lunch hour.
“I had rubbed shoulders with several financial advisors, planners and stockbrokers,” Butt said. “So, when I came out of university, I started going out for coffee with each of them and explained, ‘Here’s where I’m at. I’m trying to find a job. [Are] there opportunities within your firm?’”
That strategy landed Butt his first job, at Scotia McLeod Inc., where he worked alongside a senior advisor. In 2015, he joined National Bank Financial Inc. (NBF), where he worked as an investment associate for four years.
In 2019, Butt and five of his NBF colleagues — including Butt’s current business partner, investment advisor Grant White — decided to strike out on their own. The group founded Endeavour Wealth Management, and Butt became a financial advisor.
Butt credits White as a key mentor in his career. “It’s tough when you’re building the business, especially during those early years. It feels like this kind of mental Mount Everest for young advisors. Grant was a huge support to me in those years where I was trying to find clients,” Butt said.
Butt’s focus, since 2021, is on working with dentists as clients. Some have an ownership stake in their clinics, while others are associates. “We enjoy the type of work that they need us to do and so we made the choice to ‘niche’ toward that direction,” he said. “Being known as a specialist was important to me.”
Dentists are busy running their practices, and often don’t have the time to devote to their finances, Butt said. “Coordination of [dentists’ financial] planning is big for them,” he added. “I come in and act like a CFO to their personal financial situation.”
For example, Butt recalls one dentist client who was looking to buy an apartment block as an investment property. Butt invested the time to handle negotiations with real estate agents and bankers, and provide a summary of what had transpired, allowing the client to make an informed decision before proceeding.
Butt also does specialized pension planning for dentists. “[Individual pension plans] can be a fantastic solution to create more corporate tax deductions and shelter more money in a tax-deferred environment. We can also use them to manage dentists’ passive income and ensure they’re maintaining their access to the small-business deduction,” he said.
While Butt stays in charge of the overarching financial planning, he also relies on his financial team and other professionals, particularly accountants, who work closely with the clients to coordinate tax planning.
Butt and White currently serve about 130 client households, 30 of which are headed by dentists. The remainder are headed by business owners and other professionals. Average client assets under management are about $750,000, and most clients range in age from 40 to 60.
Butt emphasizes the importance of providing consistent, high-quality communications to ensure clients understand that his team has a solid process in place to manage client portfolios, including consistent reviews.
Accountants are the No. 1 source for referrals, and Butt’s team consistently communicates with accountants and other professionals, such as lawyers, in the search for new clients.
Butt often holds client meetings outside the office. “We’ll do a nice, intimate dinner at a steak house [where] we talk about some unique tax planning strategies and solutions that work really well for dentists,” he said.
Butt’s team also uses advertising to attract clients, including online paid ads and downloadable guides to let prospective clients know how the firm can help them.
Traditional cold-calling is another integral part of the team’s marketing strategy.
“For me, a lot of the skill set in being able to sit in a meeting with a client and have investment [and] planning conversations was built [from] just being on the phone talking to strangers,” Butt said. “It’s gruelling work, and it’s not fun. But I think it’s still an important piece of the business.”
The team builds various model portfolios for clients, ranging from a conservative portfolio to an all-equities allocation.
“We spend a lot of time getting to know clients, and understand how they think and feel about money, what they’re trying to do, and then fitting them into a portfolio that is appropriate for them,” Butt said. “Nothing’s off the table. I tell my clients, ‘If it touches your finances in any way, you can put it on my desk. I might not [immediately] have the answer for you. But I have the time in my day to go find that answer.’”
Born and raised in Winnipeg, Butt competed with the Canadian National Boxing Team and still coaches a competitive program for boxers between the ages of 11 and 40. Butt was nominated for a Future Leaders of Manitoba award in 2020 for the volunteer work he does in the boxing gym, including starting Winnipeg’s first-ever boxing program for people with Parkinson’s disease.
More recently, he has “absolutely fallen in love” with golf, which he has found to be a great networking activity.