John Markoff has operated his own investment advice business for the past 23 years. John, and his partner, Will Van Den Oetelaar, joined APEX Financial Management of ACPI, opening the Whitby Office at the end of 2017. Together, John, Will, and their team, bring clients the benefit of 150 years of Financial Planning, Investment Planning, Retirement Planning, and Tax Planning experience.
Prior to setting up the APEX Whitby office (the company has another office in Uxbridge), John worked at a large financial organization for almost 23 years. One of the statistics the company tracked was client retention. There were many peaks and valleys in the global stock markets over 2+ decades. Regardless of what was going on in the markets, John consistently retained most of his clients. “This metric told me that my clients trust me and are willing to stick with me. That’s important to me,” John says.
John got his entrepreneurial spirit and client focus from his father, a self-employed carpenter. From the time John was 12 years old, and while he was in school, he worked with his dad, every summer. “My dad told me, ‘if you always do a good job, at a fair price, you will never be out of work.’ Today, everything I do, from participation in the community to team compensation (even my assistant is a stakeholder) is linked to these foundational values,” adds John.
John’s vision for extraordinary client relationships was also inspired by the accomplishments of business disrupters like Apple’s Steve Jobs and Tesla’s Elon Musk. Many people dream of changing the world. Jobs and Musk actually did. Most people today use an iPad, an incredible accomplishment considering it was only released in 2010.
For his part, Musk popularized the electric vehicle. Today, through its Electric Vehicle Chargers Ontario (EVCO) grant program, the province of Ontario is working with 24 public and private sector partners to create a network of electric vehicle stations in cities, along highways and at workplaces and public places across Ontario. It is almost unheard of to get government backing and infrastructure projects completed in less than 15 years.
John offers a ‘fee for service’ platform and does not promote investment products paying him additional commissions or trailer fees. “Since the clients, not the fund companies, pay me, there are no conflicts of interest. My independence also allows me to search the world for appropriate investment products for my clients,” John explains.
“While I didn’t invent the fee-only remuneration model, I believe it is the only model that puts the clients’ interests first and avoids conflicts of interest. I am doing my part to disrupt how investment advice is delivered in Canada. I also hope to set a new standard for client convenience and service,” John says.
Today, John has conveniently located everything related to his clients’ financial lives under one roof, in Whitby’s financial district. “I have organized the office so that clients can see as many as four different financial professionals, at the same location, on the same day, and still not finish one cup of coffee. I knew my client-centric concept was working when one of my clients reviewed her portfolio with me and was then able to meet with a lawyer to sign the paperwork for her new house purchase, sign her mortgage documents, and then walked down the hall to prepare her taxes,” adds John. Apex Investment Management of ACPI does not provide legal and tax preparation services.
John’s financial advice business is not just transactional. “Earning trust and having good relationships is at the heart of everything I do. For example, our dealer, Aligned Capital Partners, has provided the platform that allows me to operate my fee for service business,” he says.
John’s client-centric, I.O.U. philosophy - I owe you independent advice, I owe you objective advice, and I owe you unbiased advice – also helps. “I believe our client focus creates a continuum of trust. My clients often tell me that they really appreciate our single-minded focus on them, and their hopes and dreams,” John adds.
There is an abundance of technical financial information out there. As a result, many people either don’t know what to believe, or find investment discussions confusing and overwhelming. Information overload can, and often does, lead to fear of making the wrong decision or ‘analysis paralysis.’ John’s clients describe him as very approachable and the kind of person who makes technical things easy to understand.
To help further address information gaps and areas of confusion, John and Will created and star in “Making Money Matter,” a financial education television program on Durham TV. (https://rogerstv.com/show?lid=12&rid=2&sid=7683). “I believe one of the reasons clients continue to work with me and to refer their friends, family and colleagues is because I use straightforward, accessible language,” says John.
The partners even use their physical environment to talk about Financial Planning, Investment Planning, Retirement Planning, and Tax Planning. “One of the big reasons clients save money is to travel in retirement. I have a 4’ x 5’ map of the world in my office. The map encourages clients to share past travel stories and helps them visualize what the future holds. Will and I have enjoyed a 200% increase in referrals in the last ninety days alone. I see this as a strong endorsement of all the elements of our client-centred, I.O.U. approach,” John adds.
John is understandably proud of his two daughters Emma and Chynna. “My eldest daughter, Emma, finished her psychology degree and started working right away. My youngest daughter, Chynna, just completed her 3rd year in Commerce and is currently pursuing an academic credit in Europe. I can’t wait to see where their energy enthusiasm and ‘can-do’ attitudes take them in the future,” John concludes.
Suzen Fromstein is the author of Suits and Ladders, Ten Proven Ways to Keep Your Job Safe - with a few jokes thrown in. Suits and Ladders was an Amazon Best Selling Book in the Career Guides Category
400 Dundas St W, Suite 203
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