- GARY MILAKOVIC
WADE BALDWIN, CFP, ICD.D, Financial Advisor, Baldwin & Associates Financial Services Ltd, Calgary AB
"Your strongest advocate ™"
Wade Baldwin, CFP, ICD.D, Advisor, Baldwin & Associates Financial Services Ltd. believes that a Financial Advisor is a client’s most passionate advocate, whose jobs include educator, cheerleader, and confidante.
All those jobs require the most important asset between an Advisor and a client: trust. Trust begins and ends with a focus on the client. What are their needs? What are their goals? What are their dreams?
A solid understanding of where they are now and where they want to be is also a good start.
Taking an exhaustive approach to building that client relationship, while time-consuming and seen as overkill by some, is the best, and the only way to foster a genuine relationship.
It all starts with a plan
Without understanding a client’s goals, building an effective plan is impossible. Do they want to pay down their mortgage or debt? Maybe they want to have a wedding or buy a house. Identifying those short, medium, and long-term goals provide milestones and direction. But it still takes a good advisor to draw the map.
“The best advice, I think came from my mom. Even though I was ten, I still hear her voice to this day. ‘Plan your work and work your plan.’ Bad things can happen, but if you are focused on what you want to achieve, you’ll get there. Even if the road may be winding.”
Wade takes a holistic, client-centric approach to planning. For example, he avoids industry jargon and buzzwords as much as possible. He speaks plainly because sometimes the language Advisors use is unfamiliar to clients, and they may tune out.
Clients, Wade has discovered, prefer being talked to; not at. Some Advisors don’t know the difference.
He counsels his clients not to fret about things that they can’t control. Instead, focus on the things they can and make the best decisions that align with their goals. For example, saving for retirement, paying down debt, and buying a home are things that a client can control.
Death, illness, or disability are things they can’t.
“Sometimes clients aren’t really focusing their energy in the right place. I try and offer guidance to help with that. I’ve been in this business for 26 years and I’ve seen a lot. Fixating on things like death or illness isn’t productive…but we can introduce solutions into a plan to account for some of it and reduce the stress. Life insurance is a given, of course, but over the past two decades, I’ve been strongly recommending critical illness insurance. I’ve had thirty-two claims come through for clients who were perfectly healthy at the time of their application. During a serious illness, the insurance payout allows a client to focus on getting better, without having to worry about their finances. It’s life changing.”
Once insurance needs like critical illness, disability, and life are established, Wade can focus on delivering on the investment planning portion of the overall financial plan as the risks of noncontrollable events have been addressed.
There are some clients who aren’t as disciplined as others. They want to deviate from the plan because they got a hot tip from someone they trust. Maybe it’s the latest cryptocurrency or a cannabis stock that’s set to “blow up.” It’s easy to get swept up by financial fads – Wade has seen a lot of them during his time in the business. They are often unproductive because they can distract from a client’s goals, taking clients too far away from the path they’ve laid out.
It's possible to have some success in fads, but it’s exceedingly rare. Staying the course, and making minor corrections along the way, is the tried-and-true method of wealth accumulation. New shiny solutions can’t compete.
Wade believes that he is a client’s strongest advocate. He will work for them; fight for them; no matter what the circumstance. Wade’s experience with advocacy started early in his career, with Advocis.
Advocis is The Financial Advisor’s Association of Canada and is the voice of the industry, particularly related to regulators and government relations.
He became heavily involved. Wade started with the organization at the local chapter level and became the Calgary chapter President in 2007. He then went on to the chapter leadership council, followed by the national board. Wade became the national chair of the board of directors in 2016-2017, and currently holds the position of chair of the legal and regulatory policy committee.
The financial industry is one of the most heavily regulated in Canada – and while clients need to be protected from predatory Advisors and the shills who have someone else’s best interests at heart, the good advisors are currently enduring what some call overregulation.
Advocis gives Advisors the opportunity to advocate for each other and for the industry. It allows for a cohesive voice to say, “let’s consider the real-world implications of this policy.”
Wade has learned just how important advocacy can be. “I’m willing to give some of my heart and soul to protect colleagues, clients, and the industry. I’ve worked diligently to make sure things are done the right way. I’ve been passionate about Advocis for a long time – I started working with it very early in my career. I saw just how vital it was for Advisors to not only advocate for themselves, but for their clients as well. Eventually, I became chair of the national board of directors. Seeing the whole of the organization, and the efforts of its members is where my thoughts on advocacy crystallized: you aren’t selling your clients a plan; you’re advocating a better future for them. You become their biggest cheerleader.”
Wade is focused on the success, health, and wealth of his clients above anything else. Their results are what drive him. Yes, he’s been named the Advisor of the Year in Calgary for his company 20 out of the last 26 years, but what gets him out of bed in the morning is that elated phone call telling him that the client got the house they’d planned for, or their retirement is going as expected because of the work Wade did for them. It’s about client success, first and foremost.
“If you aren’t focused on a client’s needs, what are you doing? This business is about them. I’ve always told my kids that a person’s reputation is their most valuable asset. If you get a reputation for not being focused on doing the right things, it’s going to get around. I’ve always worked hard to make sure that I am someone that both clients and colleagues can trust. I look people in the eye, and I do what I say I’m going to do. I follow through. When someone mentions my name, I always want the reaction to be ‘Wade’s a good guy.’ I’ve worked hard with both clients and through my volunteer work to build that reputation and show clients I’m someone they can rely on.”
Despite a thriving practice, Wade is still accepting new clients. Most often they come through referrals due to his excellent work, but sometimes people just decide to pick up the phone and give him a call. Potential clients are often curious about Baldwin & Associates Financial Services Ltd.’s comprehensive service offerings. Before accepting a new client though, Wade is keen on having an in-depth conversation about their wants and goals. It’s important that they are both on the same page.
The client needs to be open and transparent about their financial history and be willing to commit to the planning process. Wade will ask questions, then dive deep into that history so he can chart a path forward that leads them to their goals. If a client can’t make that commitment, Wade may not be the best advisor for them.
He knows money can be a difficult subject, and the in-depth nature of the process isn’t always easy; but for those clients willing to do the work, Wade’s experience and wealth of industry knowledge can be worth the time.
All it takes is a phone call to Wade to start on your path to success.
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.”
WADE BALDWIN, CFP, ICD.D
Baldwin & Associates Financial Services Ltd.
5980 Centre St. SE
Calgary, Alberta T2H 0C1
(403) 266-2061 Ext. 2254