Wealth Management Advisor and Insurance Specialist Ryan O’Brien specializes in minimizing tax, growing wealth, and protecting families. Ryan has built his practice on referrals, trustworthy long-term relationships and the reciprocity of solid investment relationships. Ryan believes that being well-advised is paramount; the key is recognizing that wealth management is a partnership where both client and advisor must be invested in each other.
“I worked in the health care field for about 6 years,” explains Ryan. “Ultimately I decided it wasn’t what I really wanted to do. I ended up working in an emergency department for awhile, decided it was time for a change and was introduced to the financial services industry by a friend. I went on to work at IG Wealth Management for about 5 years until an opportunity to work with Assante Financial Management Ltd. presented itself.”
During his time at IG Wealth Management, Ryan was presented with many opportunities to work with other wealth management organizations. As a top performer in his region, industry recruiters spotted his talent and saw his success – still, he waited for the right opportunity to come at the right time. Eventually that opportunity would come from Assante Financial Management Ltd.
“Working at Assante has been off to a successful start so far,” says Ryan. “I operate on a referral basis. Ever since my second year in the industry (when things really started to pick up for me) I’ve had a lot of referral-based clients. Even with the pandemic slowing things down a bit, there are still many people who I’m communicating with who want to meet me and new business is still trickling in. I’m life-licensed, I’ve got my RRC® and am licensed with the MFDA. I haven’t finished my CFP® designation yet because I’ve been so busy and there’s not a lot of time left in the day. However, I’m going to be working on my CIM® because that’s where I’m focused, and it’s the direction I want to go in.”
It’s About Adaptability and Important Life-Changing Conversations
Ryan’s past experience in the healthcare industry gives him a unique perspective on having important conversations about life-altering events. Ryan has learned to be adaptable and to be comfortable discussing life and death situations with people. Not all Advisors are as comfortable having open conversations about tragedy, illness and death.
“The number one thing that I developed while working in healthcare, especially as a frontline worker, was the ability to deal with people and be very adaptable,” explains Ryan. “I think that has helped me transition into what I do today. I can talk to people, relate and adapt – especially when we start to talk about estates, wills and powers of attorney. I can ask someone “what will happen if you die?” where other Advisors (particularly in the early years of their careers) may find these questions scary to ask. I used to ask tough questions every day. I dealt with tragedy and sickness so talking about things like critical illness, disability or life insurance comes very easy to me. When I was starting out, I was often asked how I became a Top Advisor and my answer was simple. It’s about having difficult conversations with people. If I could take anything from my healthcare background and apply it to my career today it would be adaptability and the ability to discuss difficult topics with clients.
Regarding adaptability, Ryan recently considered returning to healthcare to assist with the Covid-19 pandemic. As a frontline worker during the H1N1 crisis he was aware of the need for more support in the healthcare system. After discussing with his family, he decided that it would not be a good decision for him to return to the emergency room at this time.
“Even if it were advisable to for me to return to healthcare to help out at this time, I know I would still come back to finance after the pandemic,” Ryan says. “I’ve found what I enjoy most, and I feel that I help people just as much as I did when I was working in an emergency department – just in a different way.”
Ryan recognizes that the Covid-19 pandemic is yet another opportunity to have difficult conversations with his clients and he has been routinely checking in with them during these uncertain times.
“I’m very fortunate to have screened my client base to ensure that everyone I work with is willing to take advice, build a long-term relationship and sometimes leave money where it is,” explains Ryan. “I stress to people that my process is intended to build a 25- year relationship and during this pandemic that may mean not panicking and not moving money around. I check in regularly because I believe that a mental health crisis will be our next pandemic. More people will be struggling with mental health issues after this is over – probably for the first time ever in their lives. It seems as if everyone is doing the best that they can right now, but I like to make sure that they’re ok.”
Ryan is a big supporter of the Canadian Mental Health Association, though he tries to remain somewhat anonymous with his contributions.
Chasing the Rate of Return
Ryan doesn’t believe in “chasing the rate of return” on investments. While he is always in “growth-mode” he is also always looking for the right fit with new clients. If a client is a good fit, there is no threshold to determine eligibility.
“If you don’t want to save and you don’t have any financial goals – there’s really no need for us to have a conversation regardless of how much money you have,” explains Ryan. “The work I do really is all about the people I meet. My client base is a very wide group of people but what’s most important is that I believe in them and (I’ve been told) they believe in me. After all, we’re investing in each other, that’s kind of how it works. At the end of the day we don’t chase rates of return, we monitor them. We still get great rates of return but we’re also very risk adverse. Our relationship isn’t just long-term between investor and advisor, it’s also long-term between investor and investment. For example, most people aren’t worried about how their insurance policy is performing, they’re worried about whether or not their family is protected.”
The relationship-building process usually takes two to three steps to complete. Ryan uses the analogy of dining on fast food versus dining in a fine-dining restaurant to compare the experience to working with a Wealth Advisor at the bank.
“We want to make sure that we’re both in it for each other,” says Ryan. “When you come to see a person like myself versus going to see someone at a large bank, it’s more like dining in a fine restaurant rather than popping into a fast food restaurant. When you sit down with me it’s more personal. Whether it’s a business owner, a physician, executive, lawyer, a younger person just starting out or a retiree looking to minimize their tax liability you don’t have to have a million dollars to do business with me. I know that many industry professionals set thresholds and I don’t think that’s fair. My philosophy is that you just have to be willing to becoming more financially sound than the average Canadian. You have to have financial goals and a desire to meet them.”
Paying it Forward and Being Well-Advised
Ryan lives with his family in the East Riverside Windsor area. He considers himself an introvert and his greatest hobby spending time at home with his spouse and three children. He also enjoys a good game of golf but spends most of his time working with clients out of his office of four. Ryan’s mentor, Ross, has been in the business for 40 years. Ross’ daughter Sydney and Ann the office administrator support them with office management and client relationships. As an Assante Capital Management Ltd. and Assante Financial Management Ltd. location, clients have a tight relationship with the entire office.
As a way to serve his community and pay it forward, Ryan provides complimentary personal income tax returns to his clients as well as a few people on disability who are not clients but in need of this service. He doesn’t charge any money and it is a case-by case way of giving back to his community. Regarding investment fees, Ryan’s office deviates from the norm by offering a 0% front end fee on investments.
“A majority of the money that we invest is fee-free and I think this is a wise thing to do because people should be able to do what they feel with their money,” explains Ryan. “Another benefit at Assante is our endless product shelf. I’m more of a broker rather than someone who has been instructed to sell one singular product – there’s no need to shop around once you’re in because I can do the shopping for you. Sometimes an investment is working just fine where it is and that’s ok – we don’t have to move it; I can simply become your representative and continue to work with you on your financial plan and future goals.”
Ryan is passionate about ensuring his clients are “well-advised” because he has personally been impacted by what he considers bad financial advice.
“When I was 18 years old my father passed away and I came into an inheritance,” explains Ryan. “I went through a bad time and had a bad experience working with an Advisor – things really didn't work out very well for me. I learned a lot of hard lessons by not having the proper advice and now it helps me in my career. I was 21 years old and a portion of my own investment portfolio was locked up. Later, some of the other decisions that I made about how to pay other bills and do other things such as buying a bigger home were impacted. Now I try my best to make sure that I'm doing better for my clients. We’re investing in each other and I want my clients to see a good return on investment when they consider referring a friend or family member to see me in the future.”
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.
Assante Financial Management Ltd.
Ryan O'Brien B.Sc. (Hons), RRC
Insurance Specialist, Wealth Management Advisor
3295 Quality Way, Suite 303
Windsor, ON N8T 3R9