PAUL TYERS, Director, (FCPA), (FCA), (CFP), (CIM), Wealth Stewards, Toronto, Ontario
"A love of investment finance interwoven with an
entrepreneurial admiration creates a vibrant career journey"
To say Paul Tyers, Director of Wealth Stewards, thinks big picture is an understatement. His journey in the wealth management world has seen him innovate in many financial spheres and think beyond borders. “It was my interest in investment finance, coupled with my admiration for entrepreneurs, that are important threads to where I am today,” says Paul. “It wasn’t a direct journey though.”
Living in Toronto, or as Paul says, “the biggest economic playground in the Canadian market, there are many successful stories in the GTA, but we also have an international connection.” That economic vibrancy and global connection have set the stage for this passionate professional. “I’m a passionate person by nature. I want to be the best I can be,” says Paul. “I want to do the best job for our clients ethically and to exceed their expectations.
A bursting career path condensed into a brief timeline
Paul’s journey to where he is today is a rich but winding one. While it could easily fill a book, perhaps the best way to showcase some select highlights here is through a timeline of major milestone moments.
It begins in 1978 when Paul began as a Chartered Accountant at Thorne Riddell (now KPMG). “While working there, I encountered many successful entrepreneurs,” he recalls. “That really sparked an interest in private business, and in conjunction with that, I also learned about financing these companies while auditing some of the biggest securities firms.”
In 1983 Paul left public accounting to take the next step in his journey in commercial banking for five years. He then joined Corpfinance International where he helped successful entrepreneurs raise private debt and equity to acquire businesses and grow them quickly. “I picked up valuable experience raising capital for unique businesses and projects,” says Paul. “While I was there, I encountered a private business in the financial planning and investment sector for sale by an estate. A colleague and I ended up doing the analysis and buying that company."
At this point, Paul was on his way out of corporate finance, moving into the world of entrepreneurship. “Having had a tingling about entrepreneurship all along, it really sparked when this opportunity presented itself,” says Paul. “It was a big step. I was in my early 30s and we had to raise capital from a venture capital firm and put my house on the line for my portion of the down payment.”
The year was 1987 and Paul refers to this point in time as “stepping into the deep end,” as he and a partner purchased this existing company, transforming it into the Retirement Counsel of Canada (RCOC). It was worth it. “It was not a straight line to success mind you, but over the next 15 years, we grew to about one billion dollars in investable assets. Along the way, I bought out my operating partner becoming 85 per cent shareholder.”
Paul continued to grow the company until its 2002 sale to Canadian billionaire Michael Lee Chin’s Berkshire Group. His time at RCOC was key, not only serving entrepreneurs, but gaining expertise in his own role as entrepreneur also. “I learned that I faced many challenges, and that I needed to chart out specific goals that lead to success,” he says. “Growing that company to that extent, I felt like it was a pretty good outcome.”
Taking a well-deserved nine-month break, Paul began investigating a business model where wealth management firms partnered with accounting firms to provide a better value proposition to their clients. He visited leading firms using the model in the US, Australia, and the UK. “I’m not a person who wants to reinvent the wheel. I wanted to learn from what others had done, and then apply those principles to something not yet operating in Canada.”
Closing the sale of RCOC in 2002, by 2003 Paul started work with this new model, and then partnered up with Hahn Investment Stewards led by the former head of RBC’s Global Investment Group. Paul’s mandate was to grow the financial planning division of the firm which was named Wealh tStewards.
Wealth Stewards: A new Canadian wealth management model
Working there, Paul’s journey continued until 2008, when a public company offered to purchase Hahn Investment Stewards. “I approached Wilfred Hahn and said, ‘I would like to buy your Wealth Stewards division,” says Paul. “I felt this was a good business model to carry on with. First, I bought the majority interest while they retained 40 percent equity interest. One year later I bought out the balance to become a 100 percent shareholder of Wealth Stewards.”
Which brings us up to today. “From 2009 until now, it’s really been building this business model where we integrate services with independent accounting firms and deliver our business model of doing full wealth and financial planning, along with portfolio management,” explains Paul. “Accounting firms introduce us to their clients and we work in a collaborative fashion to help their more successful entrepreneurial clients.”
The model can sound complex, but to Paul its value is crystal clear. “Our biggest differentiator as compared to other wealth management firms is Wealth Stewards’ collaboration with our clients’ accounting firms,” he says. “Now, we’re reviewing clients’ entire balance sheet, which often includes an operating business that is generally the client’s biggest asset. Being introduced by the CPA, already a trusted advisor, we tend to offer a much broader range of services than someone who never gets to see their full balance sheet, while ensuring full family relationships are established and their respective goals are understood.
Wealth Stewards is especially effective for three client groups. First, business owners who have created their wealth through a private business they are either still operating or have sold. “They’re entrepreneurial and they have experiences we can really relate to,” says Paul. “They typically have a net worth exceeding 5 million dollars.”
Second, Wealth Stewards’ services are ideal for widows. “In many cases they were the spouse of a family business owner or executive,” says Paul. “They’re often similar because while their wealth may have been created through a family business, many ladies were more focussed on their family versus business matters.”
Third, Wealth Stewards serves many professionals – doctors, lawyers, accountants – who can now incorporate their businesses. “As a result, they’re much more able to do structured financial planning and to manage things from a tax standpoint more efficiently,” says Paul. “These professionals tend to be really busy, so even though they’ve made a lot of money, they often haven’t paid a great deal of attention to ensuring their affairs are properly set up and their investments are also making money.”
It’s making a difference for these people that is a point of pride for Paul. “Clients have to take a giant leap of faith that the advisor they’ve chosen is someone who has their interests first and foremost,” he says. “The moment that penny dropped for me was when a long-term client, in his mid-80s at the time, said, ‘Paul, you have no idea the reliance I have on you, and the fact that you’ve got my back.’ That was a real seminal moment.”
This is where Paul’s commitment to professional development has served his companies, and his clients, well.
Professional development: meeting, and exceeding, industry standards
Paul is one of the earliest Canadian Certified Financial Planning licensees. “When I started into this business, the CFP designation had just begun in Canada,” he says. “This designation tied into my desire for holistic knowledge working within financial planning.”
Next, Paul earned his Canadian Investment Manager designation while working with Hahn Investment Stewards. “I wanted to be in the category of registered Portfolio Managers who have a legal responsibility to act as a fiduciary,” he says. “When I earned this designation, very few of the major investment firms had portfolio managers working with private clients.”
Today, Portfolio Stewards is the subsidiary company managing assets for Wealth Stewards clients. “We have a legal responsibility that matches my desire to do what’s right. We have a fiduciary responsibility to act in our client’s best interest.”
That constant drive to exceed standards has always been with Paul. “In my life, I’m always trying to benchmark my performance against the top-level participants,” he says.
So, Paul decided to compete in the Global Financial Planning Awards. “We submitted a plan with what we felt was our best work,” he says. “In the first year, 2017, we were runner-up winners in the Canadian category. The following year, we won the Canadian category and became runner up for the Americas.”
Not one to sit back, he became an author. He coauthored Canadian Best Seller, Fiscal Fitness, Financial Planning for all Stages of Life, while he owned RCOC. His next, e-book A Roadmap for Canadian CPAs to Develop & Manage a Wealth Advisory Practice, is based on his exploratory work around integrating accounting and wealth management firms together.
A passion for entrepreneurship and elevating others
Stepping back once again approximately 20 years, Paul attended an Entrepreneur of the Year Awards event in Toronto. “This event presented awards for entrepreneurs in third-world countries who had received micro-financing for their businesses and had grown that business into something extraordinary,” says Paul.
When a female entrepreneur from Columbia took the stage, Paul and his wife Peggy experienced a monumental moment in their lives. “She had received enough money to purchase a pig, parlayed that into a food company, bought the local phone company next, and finally the local taxi service,” says Paul. “She was an extraordinarily successful entrepreneur. I was overwhelmed with emotion and admiration listening to her story.”
With that, Paul and Peggy became engaged with Opportunity International (OI), the group who had invited them to the event. “We felt compelled to put some money into micro-finance for this endeavor and became key fundraisers for OI’s Canadian arm. We still are today.”
Never wasting a minute, Paul is also passionate about his 30-year involvement with Leader Impact, founded by Canadian hockey legend Paul Henderson. “We meet weekly with other likeminded business individuals,” says Paul. “We are a faith-based Christian organization, but we don’t exclude anybody. We also run Global Exchanges visiting entrepreneurs around the world, including trips to Columbia and Paraguay in the last 5 years.”
These involvements are yet another example of Paul’s appreciation for the entrepreneurial theme intertwining his journey. “I’m in awe of the people who fight to build a business despite the environment they’re working in,” says Paul. It may sound simplistic, but he recalls the adage “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”
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.
Paul Tyers, FCPA, FCA, CFP, CIM
Managing Director, Wealth Stewards Inc.
Portfolio Manager, Portfolio Stewards Inc.
10 Four Seasons Place, Suite 401,
Toronto, Ontario M9B 6H7 T: 905.891.6052 ext.1