June 19, 2019 in Invested In Transparency | by Mark Gehlbach

Financial Advisors That Help You Live More Fulfilled Lives

At True North Advisors, our mission is to fulfill lives. That means we don’t force-fit our clients into cookie-cutter financial models. We know each client has a unique situation with specific goals, which we strive to understand before we even begin financial planning.

Our mission extends beyond our clients to our employees and vendors as well. We constantly challenge our employees to sharpen their professional and personal skills so they can achieve greater success. When working with our vendors, we treat them like they are part of the team by fostering positive interactions and open lines of communication. We want to help them be successful in the same way they have helped us.

Our relationship-driven mission trickles down to every level of our firm, setting us apart in our industry. We’ve broken down what we believe to be our differentiators into three high-level behaviors: building transformational vs. transactional relationships, being relationship driven vs. monetary driven, and being mission focused vs. business focused.

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Transactional vs. Transformational Relationships

At True North, we believe that we approach client relationships differently than our competitors. Many  firms take on transactional relationships with clients, rather than transformational relationships (more details in an earlier post). At a high level, a transactional relationship is built purely around buying and selling investments. This business style is a historical byproduct of how the financial services industry is structured and is commonly seen in typical wirehouse/brokerage environments. Wirehouse advisors have an unbalanced incentive to sell as many services and investments as possible to clients, even if those recommendations may not be in the client’s best interests.

On the other hand, a transformational relationship focuses on the client first and finances second. At True North, we dedicate time with our clients to define their goals, aspirations, and fears before finances ever come into the picture. Our hands-on approach results in a living, breathing plan customized by an advisor who has spent quality time with a client and understands what’s truly important to them. That way, the stress of managing money is no longer an issue, and they trust we’re always working towards building and adjusting a strategy that meets their unique goals.

Monetary vs. Relationship Driven

When taking a closer look at financial advisors at large institutions, the reason they're able to sell so much to their clients is due to the suitability standard. The suitability standard allows wirehouse advisors to sell as many products as possible, as long as they are suitable to the client -- but not necessarily in the client’s best interest. Remember that the loyalty of these wirehouse advisors lies with the company first, and the clients second. For these advisors, the most reliable way to grow their compensation is through a bonus that is scaled by hitting sales targets.

Taken to the extreme, impossibly high sales targets can create situations where advisors may take fraudulent actions to protect their bonus. And since bonuses tend to be such a large portion of a financial advisor’s compensation, there is the inevitable urge to sell as many services as possible (even if many of these services may not be needed at all).

At True North, we remove all incentives to push products onto our clients. Our advisors do not get commissions from investment sales, nor do we tie compensation to product sales. As fiduciaries, we can only recommend investments that are in our client’s best interest. This means our advisors increase their compensation by growing client portfolios. Since our only revenue stream is a fee for service, there is never an incentive for us to push unnecessary investments onto our clients.

Remember how we dedicate time to understanding our client’s long term goals? We take all of this into consideration when it comes to recommending investments for each client to best suite their long-term objectives. To do this, True North relies on building deep relationships with clients. We want your advisor to be one of the first people you reach out to when something happens that impacts your financial picture.

Business vs. Mission

Perhaps one of the most important questions we ask ourselves is, “Why do we do what we do?” For many large financial institutions, the answer is simple: to grow the business and make more money for shareholders.

At True North, our mission is to fulfill lives. We don’t aspire to make money for the sake of making money, but instead we are passionate about working alongside every client to enhance their overall livelihood.  We want to help our clients live with peace of mind by tackling difficult financial decisions with them.

As advisors, we find ourselves in a very privileged role where we have vulnerable conversations with clients about an array of topics beyond finances. Oftentimes, these discussions have little or nothing to do with money, as we’re always working towards finding ways where we can help alleviate their pain points.

Our mission is focused on more than just our clients, it extends to everyone our team touches. One of our core tenants is Others First, which means we put the needs of others ahead of our own and seek to add value wherever possible. This could manifest as encouraging an employee to grow their professional skill-set or building a long-lasting relationship with a vendor. We treat people like human beings and treat them the way we want to be treated.  

At True North, we aspire to be trusted advisors for all our clients. To achieve this, we work towards offering a unique experience that is transformational, relationship-driven, and mission-based. To find out why our clients tend to stay for life, reach out to one of our advisors today.

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