GERALD SCOTT, CIM®, CFP®, CRPC® Portfolio Manager/Branch Manager Snowbirds Wealth Management at Raymond James Ltd, Raymond James (USA) Ltd. Coquitlam, BC
Cross-Border Wealth Services – How to Enjoy the Best of Both Worlds
Canadians have been flying south for work, marriage, family, and leisure for years. Many of those who have been living and working in the United States (U.S.) are now returning home, bringing with them U.S. retirement savings plans such as 401ks and IRAs. And some Americans in Canada find themselves in the unique situation of having investment accounts on both sides of the border.
Regardless of where your investments are located, it is critical to work with a professional who has the knowledge, registration and experience to help clients manage their wealth.
“Unfortunately, many Canadian financial advisors are giving their clients the wrong financial advice. In order to give accurate financial advice, the advisor must understand ALL of the legal and tax implications wherever the client has income and investments,” explains Gerald (Gerry) Scott, Portfolio Manager and Founder of Snowbirds Wealth Management at Raymond James.
With more than 30 years’ experience in the financial services industry, Gerry is registered in both Canada and the U.S., and works closely with many immigration lawyers and accountants to offer a full suite of cross-border wealth services.
Justin Remaklus, CPA, U.S. Tax Accountant, Partner, Whatcom CPA Group, has worked with Gerry for a number of years to provide tax and planning solutions tailored to those living and working in the U.S. and Canada.
Justin says, “There is a growing need for Cross-Border Specialists. Whether for personal or professional reasons, more and more people are taking up permanent or temporary residence in other countries. This is particularly true for Canadians and Americans. Gerry is a trusted Canadian partner on our financial advisory team, which specializes in cross-border planning, transition of assets and ongoing oversight of investment portfolios for our clients. Gerry is an extremely qualified advisor who plays an integral role in taking care of our clients’ cross-border needs.”
“In addition to tax differences in the U.S. and Canada, there are also restrictions on how much time Canadians can spend in the United States. That creates considerable tax and immigration confusion for Canadians. Residents need to keep track of the number of days spent in the U.S. so that they do not, inadvertently, find themselves on the wrong side of the IRS or U.S. immigration,” says Gerry.
Given the potential to derail Canadians’ work/leisure cross-border activities, Gerry created, “The Snowbirds US Day Tracker” app to help Canadians accurately keep track of the days they spend south of the border. Americans also face similar challenges. For example, in order to qualify for Canadian citizenship, Americans must be physically present in Canada for 1,095 days over 5 years. Gerry’s “The Canada Physical Presence Tracker” app helps Americans keep track of this vital information.
Philosophy and Approach
Gerry is supported by a highly motivated, experienced and professional team at Snowbirds Wealth Management, including Rita Schaefer, Dean Morro, Carson Hamill, Angelo Corlazzoli, and a myriad of Raymond James internal partners. The team integrates their clients’ other professional advisors (lawyers, accountants, tax advisors, mortgage brokers, realtors, etc.) into the wealth management process.
“We all work together to coordinate how the different legal, accounting, and investment services fit together so that nothing falls between the cracks. Think of us as your own personal board of directors looking after your family’s wealth.”
According to CPA Bilal Kathrada, Partner at Clearline Chartered Accountants, “Most people understand the importance of having their money work for them, but few recognize the power of coordinating financial advice from both an accountant and a financial planner. I have worked closely with Gerry for many years. I confidently refer my clients to Gerry for their financial planning and wealth management needs because of his deep understanding of the markets, his analytical skills and training, his passion for finance, and his dedication to go above and beyond for the client.”
Although the professional designation in Canada is a Chartered Financial Planner (CFP®), Gerry also holds a Chartered Retirement Planning Counsellor (CRPC®) designation in the U.S. Both the CFP® and CRPC® designations represent a significant commitment that only a handful of RJLU advisors have taken, and ensures that clients on both sides of the border are well understood and receive sound financial advice.
According to Gerry, “This is a highly regulated and legalistic industry. Things are constantly changing which means the learning never stops. The more educated we become, the easier it is to connect with all the client’s other service providers.”
Gerry adds, “We don’t ever want to be in a position where our actions have increased risk or contributed to clients outliving their money. Our strong values and solid processes help us.”
Gerry is disciplined, positively obsessive about being well-organized, and committed to ongoing education. “Any time there is a spare minute, I grab a relevant book or article, and continue to educate myself.”
Every Thursday morning at 9:00 a.m., Gerry and his team review clients’ model portfolios looking for signs of weakness, analyzing market trends, and assessing risk.
Gerry says, “We are committed to doing everything in our power to help clients build, manage, protect, and pass on their wealth…no matter where the clients and their wealth are located. At Snowbirds Wealth Management, we believe we have a fiduciary responsibility to our clients and act accordingly. In my opinion, members of our industry have to do more advising and less selling,” Gerry says.
Scott Sweatman, Partner, Dentons Canada LLP, who shares clients with Gerry, appreciates the team’s client-centric focus. “Gerry and his team’s vigilant focus on serving clients is exemplary. Our clients receive very prompt and personal attention to all of their inquiries. Gerry’s approach is thoughtful, deliberate, and very calm despite the challenges of the market caused by the pandemic. Because of their experience, our clients refer family members and friends to Gerry. And they too are very satisfied with the results.”
Gerry believes that the most important ingredient in building long-term financial success is consistency. “Our process keeps clients on the right path. If the client strays off the path, he or she runs the risk of getting lost.”
Gerry and his team use a variety of financial planning investment tools including risk tolerance and financial planning questionnaires and asset allocation strategies. In addition, they incorporate Zoom conferences with both clients and their centers of influence, like lawyers and accountants, which helps the team to stay connected and enhances their planning and service processes.
Having a “plan in place” helps clients articulate how much money they will need during retirement for such things as travel, hobbies, paying bills, and looking after their grandchildren’s education.
As Gerry explains, “Our planning process” focuses on capital preservation, not just returns. We don’t have a crystal ball. We strive to learn everything we can about the client, including his or her political and religious affiliations, personal values, work environment, interests and hobbies, and numbers and names of kids, siblings, and parents, feelings about money, and other relevant facts. Having a “plan in place” is the cornerstone of our client commitment.”
“Clients agree with the veracity of the team’s approach,” adds Bilal Kathrada. “Establishing a strong business relationship with a financial planner you can trust is critical to achieving the client’s goals. I refer many of my clients to Gerry to help manage their financial assets. What starts off as a solid business relationship quickly grows into long-lasting friendships as well. Gerry invests his time to really get to know them personally, or as a family, beyond just their financial interests.”
Up Close and Personal
Gerry and his team believe in giving back generously to the community at home and abroad. They are quick to do something personally, and they also support a different charity every year through the Raymond James Canada Foundation.
In the past, this has translated into support for the Vancouver Arts Club, the screenplay 'Route 66' kids sports tournaments, Clean up our Shores, and Ruban Shoes.
Gerry has been married to Melissa for over 30 years. They have one daughter, Chelsea, and a grandson, London. The Scott’s have three dogs, Albert, a Bermadoodle, Stewy, a Mexican rescue pup, and Diesel, a Maltese. In his spare time, Gerry loves to read, listen to rock & roll music, and participate in a number of sports including golf, tennis, skiing and riding his mountain bike.
As a last word, Gerry says, “When it comes to cross-border issues, I believe Snowbirds Wealth Management is filling a void. Like many of our clients, we know what it takes to successfully navigate cross border life/work issues so everyone can enjoy the best of both worlds.”
Raymond James Ltd. is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Raymond James (USA) Ltd. is a member FINRA/SIPC. Please note: this article includes quotations and opinions from external accounting professionals including Justin Remaklus, CPA, U.S. Tax Accountant, Partner; Whatcom CPA Group, Bilal Kathrada, CPA, Partner, Clearline Chartered Accountants; and, Scott Sweatman, Partner, Dentons Canada LLP. These testimonies are their own and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of Raymond James Ltd. or Raymond James (USA) Ltd.
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 Career Guides Category.
GERRY SCOTT,CFP®, CIM® PORTFOLIO MANAGER
566 Lougheed Hwy #302,
Coquitlam, BC V3K 3S3
(604) 936 - 7529