JEFF SPROUL, PFP®, CIM®
“You Can't Win a Game by Yourself”
Having grown up playing hockey, Wellington-Altus Private Counsel Portfolio Manager, Jeff Sproul knows the value of working as a team. It’s a mindset that has served him well through his many years in the Private Wealth Management business, and one he still uses to do right by his clientele.
“My mantra is to treat everyone with the same level of respect I would treat my grandmother,” he explains. “How you treat others is a direct reflection of your ability to fit onto our team. Your thoughts and views might be different because everyone is unique, but in the end, it still comes down to how you treat people.”
For Jeff, this commitment to treating others well has led him to Wellington-Altus and Stonehaven Private Counsel, where he says they’ve been ‘quite successful’ in recruiting individuals with similar values to join their group.
“I think Stonehaven is the true marriage of the best of both the boutique world and the bank world,” Jeff says. “So that's definitely what we like about it. We have been able to maintain our individual team culture working with Wellington-Altus Private Counsel, which is fantastic, because it’s a true sense of team. We work together as opposed to against each other to move everybody forward. If I can assist another team in becoming bigger or better, I certainly will. And I know there are others who do the same for me.”
Operating out of Aurora, Ontario, Jeff says the work he does at Wellington-Altus is something that has been ‘a long time coming.’ Without quotas, product pushing, or micromanagement, he says the multi-family investment environment makes it easier for them to help clients meet their goals — and to think outside of the box in terms of how they invest.
“We were heavily involved in alternative investments before they were in vogue,” he says. “[Assets like] cryptocurrency, private mortgages or private debt, real estate, private equity. Crypto lately has been a detractor, but over the last few years we've been able to generate some fairly substantial profits which were crystallized.”
With a focus on getting their clients from A to B on a train, not a roller coaster, Jeff says he and his team have been successful at using these alternative investments to mitigate at least some of the impact of what he calls a ‘once in a life-time’ market.
“The market has been quite unique, to say the least,” he says. “We’ve actually done quite well by our clients despite the situation. It's a tough pill to swallow to accept a lower return, but I think in these circumstances, the ability to mitigate some of those effects against the portfolio has really set us apart.”
These alternatives have included investment in areas such as real estate and structured note products for downside protection, complemented by strategically overweighting portfolios toward sectors like banks, energy, base metals, or technology, as well as taking profits when appropriate.
“You work with what you’ve got,” Jeff adds. “We also try to speak to our clients at a level they can understand. A lot of people in the industry will use jargon, and we're sometimes guilty of it as well, but we really, really try and make a point not to.”
It’s a position he’s come by honestly. After graduating from Brock University’s business school, Jeff entered the management training program at TD Bank, where he learned the tools of the trade. After that, he moved to TD’s Private Client Group where he used his planning skills to help his clients meet their financial goals, and finally to Wellington-Altus and Stonehaven, where he is today.
“I’ve always been an organizer,” he says. “I think I've applied the ability to organize and be efficient to my career, and subsequently to my business for my clients. It might be a sports thing as well — I was a hockey goalie, and a lot of people think you just react to the shot, but you actually watch the play develop so you can anticipate where it's going. I think the same thing sort of happens with investments, with planning and working with the team and running a business. You can see where it's going and you're able to stickhandle it appropriately, but also make sure that you don't go down certain channels.”
After leaving corporate banking (and goaltending, although he continued to play hockey well into his adult years), Jeff sought an environment where he could put his clients first, which led him to the boutique investment space.
“As much as our clients have many similarities,” he says, “They're all extremely unique. A lot of the conversation is about where they want to be and how they’re comfortable getting there. We ask them where their utopia is and we see if we can get them to it. Those conversations can go quite deep and in any direction. We're really good about talking about different ideas and concepts of ‘what if this happens?’ and ‘what about that?’ and trying to get a real feel of our clients’ comfort level.”
All of this, he explains, is part of building the long-term relationships — and the trust — that defines him as an Advisor.
“We develop friendships with our clients. Our relationships go beyond the investments. We have discussions about stuff that might have something to do with money or finances, but nothing to do with their investment portfolio. We're a sounding board for our clients on a variety of different things, whether it affects their portfolios or not.”
“I'm really happy where I am because I get to help people every day,” he adds. “That's what motivates me: the satisfaction of knowing I made a difference. Sometimes it's really small victories, sometimes it's huge. My goal is to earn my client's trust, and to know that they trust me because I have their best interests in mind”.
Of course, his ability to form these kinds of relationships goes back to the time he spent working as part of a team, scoring a different kind of goal.
“Being a goalie, you can't win a game by yourself,” Jeff says. “It’s impossible. You have to rely on your teammates. You have to trust them. They have to trust you. You have to communicate with them. I've played on many teams, built many teams, championship teams, and teams that weren’t supposed to be championship teams but came together to win. Being on a team is a huge part of my life.”
Having spent plenty of time as a coach, Jeff also knows good leadership can change the game.
“I have seen a number of instances when I was coaching, where we out-coached the other team. Not because we had more skilled players, but because we had more people that were coachable, we worked as a team and we really thought outside the box a fair bit. It’s kind of what we do on our investment side too — thinking outside the box. You know, just because there's a playbook that everybody uses, doesn't mean you need to use it, too.”
In his personal life, Jeff and his wife Lisa, who works as a Special Education Teacher, have been married for 26 years. Their children, Jillian and James, have now embarked on careers of their own. Jillian is studying Architecture at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson) and James is at Post University in Connecticut, studying Marketing and playing lacrosse in the NCAA.
When he isn’t at the office, Jeff can be found working on home improvement projects or spending time with family and friends. On weekends he and his wife often travel to Connecticut to watch their son play lacrosse.
As far as the future, Jeff doesn’t see himself leaving the Stonehaven team, or the wealth advisory world, any time soon.
“My career has taken a variety of different steps over the years and I’m a true believer that things happen for a reason,” he says. “I don't think I'd change it if I had the opportunity. What we’ve got here at Wellington-Altus is really neat. It’s an independent wealth business with like-minded individuals who want to be what the bank isn’t. That’s cool to be a part of, to say the least.”
Kristen Campbell holds a BA (Hons) in Political Science from McMaster University and spent a year in the University of Calgary's MA Political Science program before completing her BComm in Accounting. She enjoys blending her research & financial background with her passion for telling stories and creating content that's as fun to read as it is to write.
Jeff Sproul, PFP®, CIM®
Senior Wealth Advisor, Portfolio Manager, Stonehaven Private Counsel
Wellington-Altus Private Counsel
Investment Advisor Representative at Wellington-Altus USA
46 Wellington St. E, Aurora, ON, L4G 1H5
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