- GARY MILAKOVIC
LAURIE BONTEN, Senior Wealth Advisor, Wellington-Altus Private Wealth, Winnipeg, Manitoba
"It’s important to sweat the small stuff"
Laurie Bonten, Senior Wealth Advisor, Wellington-Altus Private Wealth has been working in finance for more than three decades and she’s passionate about her work. Helping clients prepare for retirement, for major purchases, or for an improved quality of life bring her immense satisfaction.
Many clients come to Laurie thinking that her job is to tell them what stocks to buy, or where to invest their money. They are surprised at her deliberate process that deeply explores their plans and desires for retirement, insurance, taxation, and estate planning. Of course, investments are a part of the plan, but it isn’t where Laurie hopes they’ll invest their focus.
She wants clients to feel supported and fully engaged in the planning process; to feel heard while exploring their goals; and to receive the most comprehensive and easy to understand information, to make sure clients can make an informed decision about how to move forward.
Deeply organized, Laurie has developed a process that is, welcoming, educational, and serves as the core of her client onboarding process.
The process that Laurie and her team have developed is an important part of her business. From the very moment they walk into her office, she wants a client to feel taken care of.
“Our system is simple, but it’s robust. My team and I work with the client to make sure they’re comfortable. We provide our service promise to every client so they know what they can expect from us, and we send them a list of our team members, so they understand who’ll be working with them going forward. The team is such an important part of the client experience and I’m proud of the incredible depth of skills and knowledge in our office.”
An important part of the process involves understanding how often a client needs to hear from Laurie. Some clients need contact regularly, as often as bi-monthly, or once a month, based on the nature of their overall situation. Others prefer an annual review, barring any seismic shifts in the plan. Laurie is regimented in her welcoming process She knows that the extra work is worth it.
The care that Laurie and her team take during the introductory process is emblematic of how they’ll treat a client, and their finances. Many in the business will say that they care, and be active in the financial plan, which may be true.
But Laurie prefers to show, not tell.
Of course, there is a lot of research that goes into preparing a financial plan. It starts with finding out what’s most important to them. What does a client want their money to do for them? A lot of time is spent during the first meetings with a new client asking questions about where they are, and what they need.
Some clients want to leave a legacy through charitable giving; others want to take care of their kids. These needs will define how Laurie approaches the plan. One of the advantages of Laurie’s organization, is that she tracks the evolution of the rules governing the industry and knows there are some details that are commonly missed.
“Keeping track of those small details can save clients hundreds, or even thousands of dollars over the course of their life. Add in a couple of these and it can mean an impressive amount of money. It could even be as simple as a reorganization of their accounts. We look at every detail. We want to make sure we’re getting the client every dollar they deserve.”
Poring over those details, comparing them against the client’s needs, and getting answers from outside where needed. Laurie isn’t an accountant, and she’s experienced enough to know when she needs an accountant to weigh in. The same goes for lawyers, and other professionals.
If an Advisor is only focused on investments, they may miss the small details that could add up to large numbers in the long-term. Laurie isn’t that advisor. She knows that small things add up.
When asked about a career highlight, Laurie immediately recalled a story where she helped protect one of her elder clients from a scam.
Laurie was speaking to a client on the telephone, and something didn’t seem quite right. During a normal account review, it seemed that the client wasn’t speaking like her normal self. Based on some of the things the client was saying, Laurie suspected something nefarious might be underway, and asked permission to reach out to the client’s daughter for support.
When the client agreed to the request, Laurie reached out to the client’s daughter. The daughter acted quickly, alerting the bank, and the authorities to what was revealed to be a scam.
Laurie’s experience told her that something was off; and it was. Her gut feeling prevented the possibility of complete financial ruin for her client.
She makes that effort for every client, regardless of circumstance. Laurie helps because she cares. It’s just how she does business.
As passionate as she is about financial planning and setting clients on the path toward a successful retirement, Laurie is equally passionate about contributing to her community.
At any given time, Laurie is actively engaged in a variety of causes.
The causes vary. But they are numerous. Laurie served as the co-chair for the David Foster Foundation gala, a cause dedicated to raising awareness for organ and tissue donation; she spends a portion of her time during Christmas contributing to Children’s Wish, an amazing charity that provides memorable events for sick and terminally ill children; and she has worked on the Manitoba Special Olympics sports celebrity tournament, providing inclusive sport to persons with intellectual disabilities.
Laurie recently assumed the position of the Chair of the Manitoba Human Rights Commission, a new position for her. She’s keenly interested in equity, and equality, and is excited to serve as a champion for protecting the rights of Manitobans.
“Everyone should have the ability to get ahead in life and achieve whatever you desire; no one should be arbitrarily held back.”
Laurie is keenly aware of the power of details; those small things that may seem insignificant to some but can cause ripple effects over time.
It’s what sets her apart.
She doesn’t gloss over the details, instead she dives into them headfirst. Because Laurie believes that if you’re missing the small stuff, are you really doing everything you can for clients?
Gary Milakovic is a veteran writer with more than a decade in the public sector and corporate communications. He has covered a wide spectrum of topics and his work has been featured by large and small organizations across Canada. Gary is passionate about communication, his writing often focuses on uncovering the “story behind the story.”
Senior Investment Advisor
Enhanced Wealth Management
Wellington-Altus Private Wealth Inc.
201 Portage Ave., 3rd & 25th Floor