“Guaranteed longevity, objectivity, and independence
from one of Canada’s Top 10 Wealth Management Firms”
Financial Advisor Bryn Hamilton highly values objectivity and independence in his practice. As a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and a Chartered Investment Manager (CIM) with RGF Integrated Wealth Management, he offers his clients both. An active member of the FP Canada (previously FPSC) since 2008, Bryn trains his focus on six key areas of financial planning: investments, retirement, mortgages, estates, insurance, and taxes.
Bryn’s primary objective has always been to establish long-term relationships with his clients based on trust. Therefore, working in concert with them, he develops a comprehensive financial plan that is both disciplined and goals-driven. A member of the financial industry since 2004, Bryn has learned that unbiased advice tailored to a client’s unique circumstances is one of the most important distinctions between “just average” and “excellent” Financial Advisors. Therefore, his desire to operate independently of any external influence or product selection limitations is what ultimately drew him to RGF Integrated Wealth Management four years ago.
Born in Toronto, from his teen years on, Bryn grew up in Vancouver, where he resides today with his wife Grace, daughter Sienna, and sons Matias and Andres. After attending senior public school in North Vancouver, he opted to head back east to pursue a degree in economics and philosophy at the top-rated Western University in London, Ontario. Upon graduating in 2004, he returned to the West Coast to ultimately begin a career in finance.
“I always knew I wanted run my own business in the financial world,” says Bryn. “I didn’t have a degree that was specific to finance and wasn’t 100% sure of what I was going to do. At the time, I was working in marketing for Labatt Brewing, primarily running brewery events as a brand representative for well-known labels like Budweiser and Kokanee. However, I knew I had to ultimately make the shift toward working for myself. I happened to see an ad for a financial planning firm, so I reached out to them, not necessarily expecting a response. I was ‘green’ and didn’t know very much about wealth management or the financial planning world so wasn’t sure if they’d be interested in me. However, after meeting with me and putting me through a series of comprehensive interviews, this firm brought me on board. In my early 20s at the time, my first wealth management position was 100% commission based, so the heat was on.”
“It was very stressful, and I knew that I had to figure out the most efficient way to share my wealth management strategies with the greatest number of people,” explains Bryn. “So, right from the outset I decided to build my business by marketing myself to companies, municipalities, and the public sector through employee education programs. That became a key strategy in my career development. I was making upwards of 50 to 100 presentations every year to these organizations.”
Bryn’s business rapidly grew to the point where he was eventually providing financial planning advice to the staff of almost all of the municipalities in the Greater Vancouver Area (GVA). He also worked (and still does) with a number of large public sector groups, such as BC Lottery Corporation, WorkSafeBC, as well as numerous RCMP detachments, Provincial Health Services Authorities (PHSA), and GVA school boards.
“My practice actually morphed into one of providing education within the wellness programs of some of the biggest employers in the province,” says Bryn. “Because of this I was able to fast-track my business by placing myself in front of the greatest number of people and continually expand my practice.”
The Switch to RGF Integrated Wealth Management
Though the majority of Bryn’s early career was spent working with the firm that gave him his first shot in financial planning; during his tenure there he witnessed many coworkers transferring to competitor firms. He chose to stay on with his employer at that time, achieving top individual national recognition for the company. Over time he realized that he wanted to offer his clients more. In order to provide the best possible financial planning solutions to clients without relying solely on proprietary products, he knew he would have to make a career move.
“I really wanted to maintain an objective and independent position when recommending products to my clients,” says Bryn. “When I decided to leave the company, I interviewed with some of the most respected financial firms in Vancouver, and ultimately chose RGF Integrated Wealth Management. I’m very happy and proud to be with them. RGF has been around since 1973 and is an independent ‘boutique’ wealth management firm that is always on the top 10 list of Canadian financial planning companies.”
Bryn firmly believes in RGF’s holistic approach to wealth management, and its customized, client-specific planning process. He has become a shareholder in the firm, and as of this year, a Director. Bryn now oversees the Financial Intelligence Series client seminar program. He has become a specialist in public sector pensions assisting individuals who are close to retirement, among others.
“I’ve developed a specialty in planning and integrating pension plans into the whole wealth management picture,” explains Bryn. “So, I’ve created an expertise niche, if you will, with public sector employers such as those employed in the health sector and school boards, and I now sit on several of their advisory groups. I’m one of five Directors of our firm, a recent step for me – and I’m learning a lot about the management area of the business. I’m the youngest member of our Board of Directors, which handles the overall strategic management of the firm. We’ve recently been developing our strategic plan for the next three to five years and doing a lot of high-level planning for our company’s future.”
Bryn is also involved with RGF’s marketing, as well as the planning and educational component of its annual strategic planning retreats.
Guiding the Right People with Holistic Financial Planning
Bryn doesn’t believe in allowing personal compensation factors to influence his advice and decisions regarding financial products for his clients. He feels that they should be completely able to trust that the advice they receive from him is totally free of any bias and in their best interest. Working with the right people is also key, and he firmly believes that a comprehensive financial plan is best served by a long-term client/advisor relationship based on a foundation of trust and informed decision making.
“I am very careful about working with the right people,” says Bryn. “What sets what RGF does as a wealth management firm apart from the others is our highly-customized client planning regimen that does not necessarily revolve around the areas in which we are the most highly compensated. Many firms today purport to offer holistic planning. This term has been coined by the industry to encompass all areas of someone’s financial picture. However, there are firms that will steer clients toward investment products for which the firm (and the advisor) will receive the highest compensation. And while that makes sense to some people, I believe we, as trusted advisors, are being paid to provide a totally unbiased service to our clients. To me, for a service to be holistic, by definition it should encompass complete, comprehensive, and unbiased wealth management planning. The planning/implementation process should provide every single client with a fully documented financial plan that outlines all aspects of finance, including retirement and estate planning, and a mutually agreed-upon implementation strategy, with zero regard as to how much the company/advisor makes on that strategy.”
Accessibility to advice when required is also essential for all clients of RGF. RGF clients can count on Bryn or any other member of the team to be available for consultation whenever needed – a welcome bonus for RGF’s clients.
“Responsiveness is very important,” adds Bryn. “Too many people become frustrated by the poor level of responsiveness and the inconsistency exhibited by many larger institutions. People do not feel important when they call an 800 number and are placed on hold or go into their bank only to find (often without pre-knowledge) that a new financial advisor is managing their account. We deal with multi-generational family accounts, oversee the larger picture, and often effect the transference of wealth between generations. We want our clients to be assured that someone will be there to provide an immediate response to their questions and concerns when required – to them personally, their parents, or possibly another family member. Being a smaller and more agile firm our response time is immediate. And our reputation is everything to us, so delivering results quickly and consistently is paramount – it’s not only how we survive, it’s the key to our success.”
Outside of the Office
RGF also takes investing in community very seriously. The firm’s “give-back” activities include working with local food banks, charities, and participating in such events as beachfront environmental cleanups. Company members are strongly encouraged to seek volunteer positions and participate in local non-profit and community organizations.
“For many years I was a Big Brother,” adds Bryn. “However, that presents a very heavy time commitment now that I’m a husband and father. I miss it greatly but I simply don’t have the time in my schedule for it at this juncture. In the future again possibly. These days, about 95% of my time outside the office is devoted to family. With three children under the age of five, and my mother-in-law also residing with us, we are a very busy six-member household.”
Bryn’s family enjoys camping, biking, hiking, and other outdoor pursuits, as well as preparing various types of healthy meals together. The Hamilton family’s favourite escapes from city life are spending time in this beautiful province of BC – often by the ocean and also by taking cabin retreats. When he’s not working or spending time with his children, Bryn (often with Grace) likes to exercise. He is also a classic and sports car enthusiast.
“I have a 1964 Pontiac convertible that I love to take for cruises and work on when I can,” says Bryn. “That car has a special place in my heart as it was my first big purchase. It’s kind of the first real representation of my success in the business – being able to go out and purchase a classic car. I’ve had it for 15 years now, and have owned a number of other sports/classic cars over the years as well.”
Long-term for Advisors, Long-term for Clients
For Bryn his business ultimately relies on his basic belief that longevity is equally as important as neutrality. Offering products without bias may be the best the way to execute a financial plan but working together as a team is how financial goals are met – both with clients and co-workers. Bryn is (first as an employee and now as a shareholder and director) completely satisfied that his fellow Advisors are as firmly committed to the firm as he is. Commitment is demonstrated by the fact that many Advisors have been with RGF for decades. Love and respect for the firm motivates people to stay long term – similarly, RGF’s clients are no exception.
“I think our clients appreciate the fact that RGF Advisors stay long term with the company,” explains Bryn. “But more than that, they like the fact that they are not just clients of one individual Advisor, but also of RGF. As I previously mentioned, any of our Advisors are here to help them any time it’s required. We have multi-generational family clients who have chosen to stay with us for just that reason. The biggest feature setting our firm apart from all the others out there is that we are one of the last few truly ‘independent’ wealth management firms in the country. RGF is completely independent; neither owned nor controlled by anyone other than its Advisors. And because we are Advisor-owned and beholden to no one else up the ladder, it allows us to be completely independent and unbiased in our advice regarding the products we recommend to our clients. By not focusing simply on a bottom line or a stock price, we attract and maintain these trust-based relationships that last for generations.”
For Bryn, maintaining long-term client relationships not only builds trust in himself and the firm, but also makes navigating change easier. Long term client relationships facilitate a greater opportunity to get to know people better. In today’s environment where physical distance and remote advice has almost become a business “norm”, Bryn believes that personal familiarity can “engender huge comfort in uncertain economic times” and that “it comes down to trust”. “I believe it's about the personal connection with clients and illustrating through action that you absolutely do care about them,” adds Bryn. “Technology does make virtual face-to-face meetings much easier, no question and that’s good, and we will use that tool to our clients’ advantage, as it keeps us agile. However, we will use it judiciously.
I believe that the personal touch will still be one of the keys in our business moving forward in this ‘new normal’ business environment we are experiencing, where Advisor and client can each simply sit behind a computer screen or on a phone and conduct business remotely. But you don’t really get to know each other that way. You don’t get to look a person in the eye. At RGF, we are fortunate to have a history of well established personal relationships – and trust – with our clients. People know that we care, and that’s what will ultimately help them keep to their plan and stay with us long term, regardless of what’s happening in the world.
Bryn Hamilton is a Financial Advisor with RGF Integrated Wealth Management. The views expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of RGF Integrated Wealth Management, which makes no representations as to their completeness or accuracy. ©2020 RGF Integrated Wealth Management Ltd., RGF Wealth Management Ltd., Member - Canadian Investor Protection Fund
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.
Bryn Hamilton BA, CFP, CIM, FMA
Financial Advisor & Director
RGF Integrated Wealth Management
1701 West Broadway Vancouver, BC V6J 1Y3