TANNER MICHALEK, Portfolio Manager, Senior Wealth Advisor, Scotia Wealth Management, Waterloo, On.
"Instilling peace of mind through open conversations and understanding risk"
Tanner Michalek has always believed in planning for the “what-ifs” in life. In fact, when he asked for a briefcase for Christmas – as a five-year-old – he may have been thinking, even then, “what if I grow up to be an Investment Advisor?”
He did get the briefcase for Christmas. And many years later, he did indeed enter the financial industry. Tanner is a Senior Wealth Advisor and Portfolio Manager with the Grand Advisory Group, a part of Scotia Wealth Management in Waterloo, Ontario. While that briefcase is now a distant memory, planning for life’s ‘what ifs’ is a cornerstone of Tanner’s practice today.
Tanner started on his path into finance while he was attending the University of Guelph. “A group of us rented a cube van and drove down to Ottawa for a stock market competition,” he says. “That’s probably what piqued my interest in the work of investments, wealth planning, and finance.”
After majoring in Economics and minoring in Finance, Tanner started at a small firm making 300 cold calls a day – about 1,500 calls a week. “Ridiculous! My former employer didn’t believe me – I had to bring the call list to show them in my second interview!”
That was more than 15 years ago. And while the callouses on his dialing finger may still be healing today, Tanner doesn’t regret the dues he paid in those early days. “There’s no better way to build some tough skin than to call 300 people a day who tell you where to go or simply hang up the phone and everything in between. Like anything, you become good at it.” His persistence paid off, and soon people stopped hanging up and started meeting with him.
Working as a team to hit it out of the park
“I love working with a team where we all have the same goals in mind – helping our clients and their families,” says Tanner. Grand Advisory Group has that one common goal, while at the same time, each team member has their area of expertise to ensure they perform at their best. Tanner uses the analogy of a baseball team to explain what’s different about being a part of a large investment team. “All individuals on the field know how to play ball. But in a professional league, some people perform the best pitching, and some are better at covering first base. All of us have an investment or financial background, but we all perform our best in our areas of expertise. We capitalize on this to bring the best of many areas to our clients, prospects, and community.”
For Tanner, one of those areas is Portfolio Management. He has the expertise to make investment decisions on behalf of his clients while adhering to a strict Investment Policy Statement that outlines a client’s goals, risk tolerances, and investment preferences. This type of discretionary investment approach holds high fiduciary accountability and truly benefits clients, specifically those who are affluent.
“One of the key benefits of a larger professional portfolio management team is the ability to ascertain bulk pricing on securities for clients. Whether a client invests $500,000 or $5 million, we can fulfill investment orders simultaneously; this ensures fair and equitable pricing for all our clients. Markets move up and down, sometimes quickly, as we have seen recently. It can be inefficient and costly to clients if you have to place each trade individually, as is the case for some advisors who are not discretionary licensed.”
Discretionary money management offers a convenience that is not available in traditional transactional or fee-based models where an advisor has to choose “which client they call first, what if a client does not answer, or calls back when the price is much higher? Do you call your biggest client first? Or the client you just saw last week? The benefit of our investment models is that every client gets the same price on an investment.”
Every client needs a “Fire Drill.”
Tanner’s clients trust him to make the right decisions, but he understands how important it is to communicate openly and ensure they understand their investments. “There was an article many years ago discussing the top reasons clients leave their Investment Advisor. One of the top reasons people leave is the lack of understanding of their investments and what would happen in a market downturn.” This has stood out to Tanner throughout his career. He is passionate about educating clients about what they are invested in and the impacts of those investments during market fluctuations.
“Most recently, there has been some market volatility; our team has not received a lot of clients calling in a panic or questioning our team’s investment philosophy. We have already had those conversations with our clients; we communicate our investment decision and how we are prepared for the ‘what if’s’ and instabilities in the market,” says Tanner. Those conversations are an important part of what Tanner and his team call “the Fire Drill”; planning for situations that you hope you never encounter but having the peace of mind of knowing there is a plan, should you need it.
Uncomfortable conversations are important
“We want our clients to think deeply about their personal and family circumstances. We tend to dig deep and get into areas of conversation with our clients that push their growth boundaries, and these conversations can be difficult, but they're important,” he says. “What happens if you lose a loved one? What happens if a family member was to become terminally ill? We want to make our clients think like they never have before, and have a realistic understanding on how certain factors could impact their lifestyle. "Ultimately, we have found these conversations bring about comfort for clients in knowing they have a plan for all life can throw in our direction. Having this approach allows for profound conversations that go beyond just money management to a point of ‘true-life planning’.”
Emotions can be one of the biggest risks
Those deep conversations enable the team to help a client remove emotions from important decision-making when a potentially stressful situation arises. “That’s one of the reasons why clients should have an Advisor. As humans, if we are making a decision when we are emotional, we are more likely to make irrational choices. For example, if the markets are volatile and a client is worried about their investment portfolio, they could be inclined to sell their holdings while the market is down but have instant regret when the market rebounds. As an Advisor, I help clients avoid emotional investing decisions. I help clients understand where those emotions are coming from and to bring them back to their ‘true-life planning’.”
Paying it forward
Tanner doesn’t take his success for granted. Nor does he downplay his good fortune in being able to work with amazing clients and a fantastic team that allows him to give back, whether it’s coaching a soccer team, supporting local not-for-profit organizations, or volunteering in the community he grew up in.
In his downtime, Tanner can often be found on the golf course, pursuing his love of the game. But most of his time is spent with his wife Kailee, their 8-month-old daughter, Willow, and their dog, Bentley.
While Willow is not yet a year old, Tanner is already thinking about how, in a world much different from the one he grew up in, he will teach her the value of a dollar. “My parents would say, ‘we’ll always put shoes on your feet, but if you want Nike shoes, you have to make up the difference’,” says Tanner.
Who knows, if Willow takes after her father, instead of Nikes, she might soon be asking for a briefcase.
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.
Tanner Michalek Senior Wealth Advisor Portfolio Manager
Grand Advisory Group Scotia Wealth Management, a division of Scotia Wealth
115 King St. South Suite 210
Waterloo, Ontario, N2J 5A3
T: 1.800.966.9460 C: 519.772.0921