”If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you have no integrity, nothing else matters.”
Words to live by—and to operate a successful wealth management firm by. That’s what Jerry Witteveen and his team at Valcore Planning Solutions have been doing since 2000, growing from a small unit of two (Witteveen and Portfolio Manager Heather MacDonald) to a team of eleven in their Ottawa offices and three in their satellite office in Alexandria.
The collective noun “team” is not an idle selection. At Valcore—the name is a play on “core values”—financial services are a team sport. Witteveen and his fellow advisors and administrative professionals consider themselves a “family office.” It’s even truer in the literal sense: their client base features multiple generations of the same family, mostly introduced by referral. What draws them to Valcore is the firm’s self-styled approach, which company members proudly hail as “more than a little different.”
Valcore prides itself on offering simple solutions to complex problems.
Even its motto, all of three emphatic words, is steeped in a persuasive simplicity: Design. Implement. Manage. The company offers insurance and investment solutions, retirement, tax and estate planning. They also excel at working with business owners, offering group benefits and retirement products while helping owners manage their net worth, and succession, tax efficiently. Valcore is stocked with experienced personnel dedicated to the clear definition of their clients’ goals and the installation of investor confidence.
All of this operates by way of a unique internal architecture:
“Our practice is very much set up as a corporation,” Witteveen explains. “We have an insurance department as well as financial planning, portfolio management, tax and estate and group benefits committees. We have a central administration team, headed by Sylvia Giannetti, that ensures the same quality and continuity of service is delivered by all advisors to all clients. A key focus for us and something unique in our industry is that we have a central investment committee that meets regularly to not only make macro asset allocation decisions, but challenge each other on positions, products, and market assumptions. Our Portfolio Managers are able to ensure that our models and portfolios are put together with extensive research, followed daily, and changed when necessary.
Well thought out customized portfolios, not throwing darts.
When explaining how wealth should be managed to a business owner, this type of organization resonates. By nature, entrepreneurs are great at building their businesses, affirms Witteveen. That said, they need an advisor that not only understands the complexities of their corporate structures but is also able to fit those structures into a comprehensive financial plan.
“One of the best qualities most entrepreneurs have is the ability to delegate,” Witteveen cites. “A businessperson needs an advisor in their corner that not only can help manage assets but one that understands their business structure and can translate the legal and accounting noise into solid decisions. Delegating this responsibility to a trusted advisor allows the business owner to concentrate on their business while knowing thoughtful financial planning is being done. It’s also a benefit if the advisor is a businessperson themselves and knows what it’s like to sign the payroll in good times and in bad. I look at it as having a seat at the table of the business owner’s personal board of directors, helping him or her make decisions that will affect them and their family.”
Not an easy role, given the fluidity of the current financial landscape. But Valcore has a solution to that: “Market volatility can be taken advantage of by an investor who knows that there are no liquidity needs from a portfolio when a well thought out plan is in place. Every investment decision we make is made in the context of a plan. Goal-based investing ensures that assets that are required in the short term are not tied up in investments meant for the long term.”
The steady hand of a trusted advisor, adds Witteveen, referencing his much prized and growing team, has never been more important. “So much has changed over the last number of years: taxes are more complex, markets, products…and access to information is easier than it’s ever been. The industry is complicated, but the job is pretty simple: work hard, keep up with the changing landscape, and always do the right thing. If every action we take is made with integrity, and with the client’s best interest at heart, we know we will make good decisions.”
As for the future of wealth management, Witteveen and his team are brimming with excitement. “I’ve seen the role of a wealth advisor change from a sales job to a professional consultancy relationship,” Witteveen reflects. “There are still salespeople in our business, but the professionals have risen to the top. Wealth management teams with Portfolio Managers that have access to all markets, that take a goals-based approach to investing are managing the assets of Canada’s high-net-worth clients and their families. I do not see that changing. If anything, I think those relationships will become more entrenched.”
As the founder of Valcore Planning Solutions, Jerry is proud of the team and honored at the trust that clients have placed in them. The Team: Heather MacDonald (Portfolio Manager); Wade Bedard (Portfolio Manager); Matthew Patafie (Investment Advisor); Justin Downing (Investment Advisor); Loic Kamoso (Investment Advisor Assistant) and the operations team led by Sylvia Giannetti (Financial Advisor) are all passionate about being a part of cutting-edge wealth management office that certainly is “More than a little different” than the rest.
By Dan Lalande