FINANCIAL ADVISOR Harley McCormick knows that to become a successful investor you need time and dedication. To guide you in creating an all-inclusive life plan that will lead you to the retirement you dream of, his team will show you how to protect yourself and navigate any bumps in the road along the way.
Harley attended college in Winnipeg with a goal to become an accountant and an interest in pursuing a business-related career. After leaving college he found himself working with a software company in the insurance industry and became interested in pursuing a career in insurance. In 2003 he began his education in insurance, studying to become a Canadian Accredited Insurance Broker (CAIB®). He completed the Life License Qualification Program (LLQP®) in 2008. In 2013 he obtained his Chartered Insurance Professional designation (CIP®).
Working as an insurance broker eventually led Harley to his present career as a Financial Advisor. He got his start with a large North American company before deciding to break out on his own to open up his own firm in 2013. He has since been able to grow his business and add both an assistant and a seasoned advisor, Kyla Martens, to his Keystone Wealth Management team.
“In the prairies everyone can be kind of spread out geographically,” says Harley. “The big thing for my team is to let people know that we're open for business in the prairies. We feel we can do business with anyone, anywhere across the region. As long as our clients are friendly with technology, we know that we can do business effectively and efficiently. While we primarily work with clients in Southwest Manitoba, we do have clients spread across the prairie provinces. Looking to the future, we will continue to target our growth with technology. We will continue to move west, without an end goal in mind. As we foster that growth internally and look for opportunities to help even more clients, we could reach as far as the coast.”
Technology, Growth, and Work-Life Balance
Adapting to a world where even local people may not want to take time out of their day to set up a meeting between the hours of 9 to 5, evening and weekend options are important. Harley and his team have adapted to meet client needs through a variety of communication methods.
“People don’t want to take time out of their day and their own career to come and talk to you, they want convenience,” explains Harley. “Being able to communicate through a variety of technological methods has been a bit of a test run for us that has worked out very well. Technology these days, whether it's a phone call, a text message, an email, a Face-time call or a Zoom meeting – means that we can handle everything from the kitchen table. Technology has made the world smaller in that respect. If you find someone that you align with, either from a vendor perspective as a client coming to us or as an advisor finding a client – geographic restraints are not really an issue. If a client is comfortable with technology, there's no reason we can't take them on and on board someone from 1000 km away. Today, it's less about looking inside your geographic area and more about finding somebody that you align with. It’s important to be in sync with how each of you go about your business what you're looking for and once you find the right match, it’s easy to find a way to get the work done.”
Naturally, in order to grow in an area that includes a lot of rural locations, technology has become an important part of conducting business. Making it easy to do business is an integral part of what Harley’s team can offer to clients.
“In a place like Toronto for example, you’ve got 5 million people right outside of your back door,” explains Harley. “I live in a town of 3,500 people – 5,000 people counting the farms in the area. Truly, we’ve got a 15,000-person trading range so for us, from a business perspective, we’ve needed to harness that. From our clients’ perspective, living and working in a rural area often means having to take extra time out of their day to attend meetings in person. Many will plan to attend multiple meetings in a single day, because to travel and see professionals in person could mean losing half a day of productivity at the farm or office rather than just an hour like someone living in a big city. We’ve adapted to use technology so that we can still be there to see each other and get to know each other, but do so as efficiently as possible.”
Travel time to attend meetings doesn’t just have an impact on productivity, it can also dip into family time. Harley, a husband and father of two, believes in a work-life balance for himself and for his clients. Outside of the office he coaches his 7-year-old daughter’s baseball team in the summer. He and his family spend their summer weekends at the lake enjoying time boating and around the camp fire. In addition to family life, he is actively involved with his local Royal Canadian Legion and annually raises money for ALS Manitoba. Technology has helped him build his practice, better serve his clients, and maintain an active life outside of the office.
Focus on Goals First and Industry-Specific Expertise
Understanding a client’s goals is key to determining if a working relationship is going to be beneficial. Harley believes in a goal-centric approach to wealth management and financial planning. Risk tolerance is also important, but he prefers to work backwards and begin with a conversation about goals first.
“I prefer to start with a client’s goals and work backwards with regard to risk tolerance to create plans,” explains Harley. “I find it’s easier to establish a functioning working relationship by starting with a goal and then discussing risk tolerance and how to get there. We will take on new clients from a variety of backgrounds and it depends on how complicated the situation is with regard to which of us a client may be primarily working with. I take on more technical cases, the majority of my clients today are working towards or already in retirement, business owners who are approaching or may already be in their retirement zone.”
In addition to helping with retirement planning, Harley has industry-specific insurance expertise in hospitality, agriculture, oil and gas and Canada’s newly forged cannabis supply industry.
“Primarily from a risk management standpoint within our insurance firm we work with different sectors such as hospitality, cannabis, oil and gas,” says Harley. “I'm licensed in the general insurance world, have a little more in-depth knowledge and have specialized knowledge to help clients within these industries. Cannabis is a fast-evolving industry with a lot of unknowns from a risk management perspective, it's not a great deal different than a farmer, wholesaler or retailer in terms of today's overall business risks – but we don't know all of the potential long tail risks that these business owners could be facing. Without precedents and case law to refer to, specific judiciary issues have not been through the court system yet.”
As “trail blazers” and pioneers of industry, those who work in the cannabis sector are facing unique challenges. Harley explains that a financial plan is essential to navigate uncharted waters.
“The government does what it can to set up new legislation and requirements but we can’t project on what we don’t know,” adds Harley. “Similar concerns are faced by oil and gas producers. The volatility and risk factors in that industry are well-established and have never gone away but Canada has issues in terms of how to get our product to market. Global demand, the environment and the future transition to different types of energy is definitely something that is going to continue to impact the sector to some degree. It’s important to be prepared with advice from a trusted financial planner.”
The Importance of Your Financial Plan
In addition to uncertainty and volatility in emerging markets and changing markets, agriculture and the hospitality sectors are facing new challenges as well. Hotels and restaurants face new concerns in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic. A solid financial plan is more important for business owners now than it may have been just a few months ago.
“One of the biggest concerns we face in rural areas where restaurants may still be open for delivery or take out – is staffing,” explains Harley. “When we come out of this crisis, will your staff stick around? Perhaps there are different opportunities for them to consider at this time. I think staffing is potentially going to be an issue coming out of the pandemic for many restaurants and hotels. Another concern would be reputational risks – what if a staff member has or does test positive for the virus? What impact will the reputational harm of being a potential outbreak center cause? To me, these are the concerns specific to Covid-19 as far as hospitality-based revenue. Again, it goes back to financial planning. I think what this does is really make people realize that sometimes a little bit of safety – even for the most aggressive person, isn't necessarily a bad thing. A little cash or gunpowder on the sidelines – it's easy to buy into this Market or support your own spending for your business while it's needed, but in today's society so many people are spending a lot when it really doesn't hurt to be a bit more conservative and hang onto a little bit of cash.”
The pandemic has also further driven home the importance of having that financial plan and connecting with the right financial planner for your needs. Harley believes in long-term relationships with the right clients and a streamlined approach to doing business.
“With any client, new or existing, it's a matter of having important conversations to align with each other,” says Harley. “I've gotten to the point where I refer to my first meeting with people as an alignment meeting. It's really just a conversation about who you are, what you’re looking for, my general thoughts on the world and how we need to handle this stuff. At the end of the conversation, if both sides are saying this feels like a good fit – we proceed. If a client comes to me and says they don’t like risk and need guaranteed returns on their investments, we may not be a great fit. If someone comes to me and has specific goals in mind and needs a hand getting to a specific spot with their financial plan, my team can provide value and do things for them to help them achieve those goals. For us, it’s not about the next commission dollar, this is a long-term relationship and so we align with goal-centric people who are a good fit with who we are.”
April Potter is a veteran writer with expertise in financial services including nearly 15 years in debt restructuring.
April has written for multiple online publications on a variety of subjects and offers a range of social media.
Also a painter, her background in finance is balanced by her artistic endeavors.
Harley McCormick | Financial Advisor
325 King St. E.,Virden, Manitoba R0M 2C0
O(204) 748-6823 | C (204) 851-6104 | TF (855) 747-6823