Steele and his partners conducted a comprehensive search for a new firm. They talked to the banks but found many of the same constraints and challenges they were encountering at Sun Life. They spoke with a number of independents, as well, who offered them generous transition loans, but found those firms delivered a rapid download of information, without enough time to reflect. Steele says it felt a bit like ‘drinking from a firehose.’ Despite a smaller transition loan, Steele and his partners decided to move their practice to CI Assante Wealth Management.
Assante, Steele says, took them through around six of seven meeting before he and his partners even agreed to join. Steele and his partners met with different departments, one day talking about website capabilities, another day talking about CRM tools and trading platforms. A whole meeting was dedicated to compliance. The care and diligence involved in those meetings convinced Steele and his partners to join.
While Steele was making one of the biggest decisions in his career, he was bound to silence with his father. At his retirement Steele’s dad had been legally separated from any decision making related to the practice. Steele says he would have loved his dad’s advice, but couldn’t tell him anything for contractual reasons. Steele’s dad was so in the dark that he booked the extended family a cottage getaway in Muskoka for the week The Steele Group moved to Assante. Steele says he spent his days talking to clients about the move over the cottage’s less-than-ideal wifi, and his evenings with the family. Thankfully his father fully supported the decision-making process and move once he learned about it.
When he made the move, Steele was worried — as any advisor would be — that his clients might not come with him. He was bound by non-solicitation clauses and had to trust in the strength of his relationships. He’s grateful that many of his long-standing clients chose to make the switch and he says the new infrastructure at Assante has begun another stage of growth for his team.
Within Assante, Steele now says he can spend more time with clients and less time on the ‘overabundance’ of compliance that many advisors struggle with. There’s more efficient administrative follow-up too, and with those capabilities Steele says he and his team can offer more proactive wealth management services. The tech stack, that should be viewed as table stakes, is more efficient and worry free. The fully open product shelf, too, has allowed Steele’s clients to fully discuss and access any product or strategy they want. Steele likes a discursive relationship with his clients and now he can fully discuss ideas and new products with his clients.