ANGELO MANZO & GARY BERARDINELLI, Wealth Advisors, IG Private Wealth
Gary Berardinelli and Angelo Manzo
"IG Private Wealth Advisors Create One-Stop Shop for Clients"
Nearly three decades into the world of financial planning and wealth management, Wealth Advisors and Financial Planners, Angelo Manzo, CPA, CA, F. Pl. and Gary Berardinelli, F. Pl. have evolved along with their clients’ needs and expectations to take a new direction for the industry. Their approach has created a unique business model that maximizes the value of their services while streamlining the entire process and its many parts to meet their clients’ every financial need, all under one roof.
“We need to embrace the notion that change is constant, no matter what business we’re in,” says Angelo. “We need to evolve. The marketplace always wants more, and the demand moves in different directions. Regardless of the business, the moment you stop changing, you’re done. When the insides of a business change less than the outside world, the end is in sight.”
In 2016, when Investors Group (IG) shifted into a new direction by rebranding to IG Private Wealth Management, Gary and Angelo became part of an elite group of Wealth Management Advisors. Since partnering up in 1999 and sharing their resources, including a shared staff within their office, the duo continues their passion to provide comprehensive financial services for their clients. “The focus in our company has always been on financial planning,” says Gary. “We’ve always been strong in providing client services including tax advice and retirement planning, but we’re way beyond helping people with their investments. We’re very focused on how the investing intertwines with every aspect within their overall life goals.”
It’s with that focus in mind that their business evolved beyond the traditional wealth management model where clients dealt with several separate professionals to handle their finances. “People had an accountant who prepared their taxes, a lawyer or notary handled the will, someone took care of investments, an insurance provider looked after their various insurance needs,” says Angelo. “Everyone was promoting their own products. I don’t mean this in a negative way, it was just the way the business world worked. No one really looked at the overall picture.”
However, Angelo and Gary are “big picture” thinkers by nature. “Our take on this has been, let’s create a process bringing all these services together, contained within one pitstop where the client can derive a global picture perspective from the team of Angelo and Gary, regardless of whether the solution is in regards to a product we offer,” says Angelo.
Angelo and Gary’s model is all about simplifying things for their clients in an increasingly complex world. “We want to change and add value based on where we see things heading,” says Angelo. “The way I see it, things are not getting any simpler. From a tax and estate planning perspective, things are growing more complicated and people want simplicity. We’ve evolved into an area that makes it simple for them.”
An Intergenerational Honour
While Angelo and Gary’s experience sees them providing a range of expertise and services to a variety of clients at different stages of their lives, they’re especially passionate about serving those at the pre-retirement and retirement stages. Many clients are medical professionals and business owners, including self-employed professionals. “The retirement and pre-retirement market, we’re very comfortable there,” says Gary. “Taking someone who’s retiring in the next five years and supporting them as they transition into retirement, can be overwhelming, but we’ve helped hundreds of people retire over the years. We’re very confident that we can help alleviate much of the financial stress and concerns as they move from working life to retirement life.”
Along with this niche comes an incredible intergenerational aspect to their practice. “As our clients have gone through different stages of their lives, we’ve been able to really adapt their financial planning strategies,” says Gary. “Whether it’s a life insurance strategy to help deal with income taxes on one’s estate or a grandparent planning for their grandchild’s university education, we have the mechanisms and the expertise for that.”
Closing in on the end of their third decade in business, Gary and Angelo have clients who have been with them since day one. “We appreciate the very high retention rate within our practice. We’re at the stage now with an increasing number of clients; not only do we help their children, we’re also helping their grandchildren,” says Gary. “So, we’ve got three generations of clients, and we haven’t even turned 50 yet! That’s a loyalty you just don’t forget.”
The inevitable of having long-term relationships is that some clients will pass away. Angelo and Gary are honoured to step in and support the families through those tough times. “We’re here to help the surviving spouse cope. The relationship really does evolve beyond client-advisor. We truly become good friends and we have a special place in our hearts for them,” says Gary. “These clients have been with us through all the ups and downs. We’re going back to Y2K, September 11, the 2008 market crash, and now the pandemic – all these historical events where markets moved up and down.”
All of this puts the team of Angelo and Gary in a unique position in an industry where the average aged professional is edging closer to retirement. “As an Advisor having 27 years experience, God willing another 20 years to keep working, this can be a real attraction for clients who see us far beyond helping them in the short term,” says Gary. “We can help these people, and potentially their grandchildren manage their legacies, the financial accumulation of their hard work.”
It’s an honourable job, one that comes with great responsibility. That’s why Gary and Angelo have a commitment to transparency within their client relationships. “We don’t want a discretionary type of relationship or management where people blindly leave it up to the advisor to do their thing and simply receive a statement from time to time,” says Gary. “We want our clients to be our partners. This partnership’s goal is to maximize a client’s financial well-being.”
Using the Latest Financial Planning Technology to Help Clients
They’re also working to empower their clients, giving them access to the most readily available information at all times. Gary and Angelo are excited to leverage off the latest tools and technology available today. “Our culture has always been one of helping clients achieve their various goals,” says Angelo. “The tools we have today offer a nice blend of the values we’ve always held as Advisors. Add to that the amazing technology that helps us tailor a client’s retirement plan, and we have an amazing result. This retirement plan incorporates anything from when a person wants to retire, the amount of retirement income desired, as well as the most tax-efficient manner to accomplish this.”
This planning technology will soon be accessible to clients at all times on their mobile devices, giving them updated access to their living plans. All aspects of their financial and estate planning goals are tracked and updated within the app. “It’s very interactive,” says Gary. “We’ve adopted a lot of leading technology and have always been strong in that area. With the software we’re offering, our clients can continuously track their retirement, but they can also have other goals worked into this program. Technology aside, the most important thing is to be there for people.”
A Team Approach
Angelo and Gary have relied heavily on a skilled and tenured team, consisting of senior members John Walker and Vanessa Gamra as well as Manuela Azar and Alexandra Capuano. “Maintaining the human touch is more important than ever,” says Gary. “Clients want to know that they can reach us promptly if necessary and have come to expect professionalism and competence, regardless of which team member they are speaking.”
John Walker Vanessa Gamra Manuela Azar Alexandra Capuano
“Our team delivers that and more, and all with a smile,” adds Angelo. “In short, our team ensures that our promises to clients are delivered!”
A Destined Partnership
While Gary and Angelo came into the business on separate paths, looking back it’s not too surprising they have formed such a strong partnership today. “We’ve been buddies since high school and throughout college and university,” recalls Gary, adding that his path to wealth management started at Investors Group in 1994 and has been there ever since.
Angelo’s path saw him earn his Chartered Accountant designation and worked at a large accounting firm, Deloitte & Touche. Shortly thereafter, he earned and completed his financial designation. “Not everyone in our industry is a CPA, but it’s a great asset,” he says.
Understanding the evolution of wealth management, the growing complexities within providing these services, and the massive responsibility they are charged with, Gary and Angelo are adamant that professional development, especially completing their Financial Planner Designation, is essential. The designation provides assurance to the public that they are dealing with an expert of the highest ethical standing.
“We’ve always had a financial planning ethic and identity,” says Gary. “It’s always been part of our corporate culture.”
“Everyone in this business should be a Financial Planner,” adds Angelo. “Being an accredited Financial Planner is baseline to practicing. Otherwise, how can you understand how part A relates to part B? Today, anyone can acquire financial products without an advisor and with fewer costs. We need to manifest that value, in very different ways. That means investing in ourselves first and sharpening our tools.”
In the meantime, Gary and Angelo are passionate about giving back. “What we all have in common as humans are goals to help our kids succeed and retire comfortably, all the while paying less income tax,” says Angelo. “Despite having clients from virtually every community out there, the human goal when it’s all said and done is identical.”
Natalie Noble’s love of writing stems from her passion for hearing and sharing people’s stories. Over the years she has written for various business, real estate, and agriculture publications. At the heart of her work is a desire to continuously learn and connect.
Gary Berardinelli, B.Comm., F. Pl.
Financial Planner, Financial Security Advisor
Angelo Manzo, CPA, CA, F.PI.
Financial Planner, Financial Security Advisor
Investors Group Financial Services Inc.
Financial Services Firm
6500 Trans-Canada Hwy, Suite 600,
Pointe-Claire, QC H9R 0A5