"Building the future of investing"
Ron Riley is on a mission to reshape the finance industry and build Canada’s preeminent advisory practice. After two decades in the business, Riley believes he’s found a formula that delivers coherent investment advice to consumers while supporting a network of knowledgeable advisors – all who offer a diverse selection of investment solutions to best suit their investors’ needs. It’s not a revolutionary concept, but it’s one Riley has failed to see put in practice by the industry’s other major players.
Based in Toronto, with additional branches in Halifax, Charlottetown and Peterborough, Riley Investment Services operates within an independent advisor open architect dealer model, so his advisors, true partners — who serve as agents for the dealer, Worldsource Securities — can offer investment funds and other investment vehicles carried by other financial institutions and companies. As the Toronto Branch Principal, Riley leads a team that delivers excellence by understanding the unique needs of each client. His agency’s hand-picked advisors have the breadth of knowledge to provide seasoned advice, as well as the freedom to control their own time and processes. It’s an attractive model for investors and advisors alike.
In fact, it didn’t take long for many top advisors to see the value in Riley’s model. “We launched in 2019, starting with nothing but a concept that we believed would prove attractive for great financial advisors seeking the freedom to control their own destinies. We offered the support of a strong back office partner, and a full suite of investment options for their clients. Two years later, we’re at 17 advisors and 3,000 clients.” And growing.
The Riley Team
After finding his ideal back-office partner in Worldsource Securities — they only offer a principal agent, open architecture model, and are perfectly positioned to offer the products and support services necessary to make the whole thing work — Riley set out to attract a team of top producers. He began discussions with Brant Securities, a boutique Toronto firm he knew had a roster of talented advisors, and ultimately convinced all of them to join him as partners. Although the logistics were challenging, Riley says that both the model and the players made it an easy sell.
“I think we’ve found the dealer model that absolutely delivers to seasoned, experienced, fullservice portfolio manager-type advisors. And Worldsource offers an extremely competitive payout environment, a flexible and open architecture to pull products from, and a terrific corporate culture. They really are good people trying to do good things, which, frankly, is unlike what I've experienced at most of the other firms I’ve been at.”
He’s working to recruit more seasoned advisors to his concept, and thinks he has the tools to fuel that growth. “My perspective is that the principal agent model, as opposed to the employee model, is going to be very captivating to the top producers going forward,” he says. “That doesn't really exist in the large shops, so I'm thrilled to introduce it.”
The Road to Riley
Riley is no stranger to start-ups, or to starting fresh. He’s been a serial entrepreneur with ventures that included custom jewelry and accessories, small business consulting and life insurance, experiences from which he learned crucial lessons on shareholder relations and dealing with business turnarounds. When the consulting business left him emotionally exhausted from “all the marriage breakdowns, bankruptcies and even suicides” his clients suffered, Riley turned to a profession he felt was centered around making people’s lives better, and richer. He became a Registered Representative in 2001, was recruited to MacDougall, MacDougall & MacTier, and began down the road that led to his new beginning with Riley Investment Services. After three years at 3Macs, he spent three at Nesbitt Burns, and five with National Bank Financial before being recruited to RBC Dominion Securities. On the surface, it seemed like a storybook career arc. But Riley was still left wanting.
“I thought I’d made it to the pinnacle of shops in terms of full-service advisory practice. But when I got there, I realized it was mostly indistinguishable from each of the other places I’d worked.”
Recruited again in 2014, this time by Fisher Investments to be their first Regional Vice President in Canada, Riley’s eyes were opened to a what he felt was a better way of doing business. And through 200 prospecting meetings and 10,000 phone calls (with leads supplied by Fisher) over 11 months, he — by his own admission — “learned how to do the work as a real sales professional.”
Impressed by Fisher’s model, and confident in his ability to operate independently, Riley set out on his own. “I wanted to take what I learned from Fisher and apply it in the Canadian marketplace.” He started fresh again with Gravitas Securities, and with no book of business grew over three and a half years “from nothing to $55 million in AUM.”
Then came the partnership with Worldsource, which supported Riley’s vision of a principal agent model and was committed to providing a platform that allowed investment advisor professionals to best serve their clients, and themselves. “It’s a win-win formula that fits in with my vision of how the world should be,” says Riley. “It's been really gratifying to see it working for our partners, advisors and clients, and extraordinary in terms of the personal satisfaction it’s given me,” he says. “We're very excited as a group, and looking forward to the future.”
Janice Tuff is a professional writer and communicator who got her start in radio copywriting.
Three decades later, she continues to draw upon the valuable lessons learned in her radio days: grab your audience’s attention quickly and always tell an engaging tale.
Branch Principal & Portfolio Manager
Riley Investment Services / Worldsource Securities Inc.
220 Bay St., 3rd Floor Toronto, ON M5J 2W4