Businesses and non-profit organizations regularly open and move in Saskatoon. Today the StarPhoenix talks to Jay Stark and Andrea Hansen who recently moved Sutton Wealth Planning and Sutton Benefits & Pension into a combined building in Saskatoon’s north end.
The brightly-lit and homey large building allows the two divisions of the company, founded in 1994 and formerly known as Sutton Financial, to complement one another’s services in a relaxed environment for clientele and staff.
Q: What led to your decision to move?
Jay Stark: As part of planning for Sutton’s future, we had been searching for a new building that aligned with our vision. We needed more room for what we want to do for our clients. And maybe it’s like Cinderella and the slipper, we just found a home that fits perfectly in our new location. Our team is very proud of this new home and very excited.
Q: What stands out about your new location?
Jay: Together with Mid-West Group of Companies (real estate developer), we invested in this 10,000 square foot suburban office in Silverwood overlooking the 8th and 9th holes of the Silverwood Golf Course. Mid-West is an expert in this space. We are way further ahead with them than we would be if we had embarked on this on our own.
If we learned anything from our clients, they want easy access. We have no parking meters, free parking and a safe place to come. We doubled the size of our sidewalk. Accessibility was very important. We have no stairs. We have more space than we actually need. It doubled the amount of space we had from our old location. We invested in little things that you would never notice but we want people to feel safe and comfortable. We’ve only been here a few weeks and the positive feedback has certainly been exceeding my expectations.
Q: Are other companies located in your new building as well?
Jay: We invited a few of our favourite people. So we have three offices that are not associated with us that are really good businesses that provide support to some of our clients. We have a bit of a collaborative mindset. Eventually we’ll fill the whole space ourselves but if it’s here, we want it used.
We have a nutritionist who provides guidance and coaching. We have an HR consultant and we have a leadership development company. It’s a complement to any executive team when their team is well-rounded. They’re very complementary to us.
Q: How has your company grown and changed over the years?
Jay: A few years ago we were called Sutton Financial Group. We have a team of wealth planners, but we also have a team that is completely focused on benefits and pension. Instead of continuing to be called Sutton Financial Group we decided to become more clear in our name and brand of the company and give each division its own name. So we became Sutton Wealth Planning and Sutton Benefits & Pension.
Q: Could you tell us about your wealth planning division?
Jay: We want people to have an abundant life. A lot of our decisions have a financial implication. We work with people and help them make good decisions and over time, usually a long period of time, good decisions compound and help people grow their wealth. Then we want to help them make good decisions on how to protect it and how to enhance their wealth, and also how to pass it on wisely to the family that they care about and the causes that they care about. That is all the type of planning that we have developed an expertise at and enjoy working with our clients on.
Q: What services does your benefits and pension division offer?
Andrea Hansen: We work with successful employers, most of which are in Saskatchewan, to help them to optimize and maximize their total reward strategy. Our expertise is in group benefits, group retirement savings and pension plans and health and wellness. We don’t look at those in isolation. So I think that’s what makes us different is that we look at all of those intangible elements to their total rewards plan, like how to make sure their limited resources are working wisely and allocated in the right areas. Instead of having an adviser for their benefits plan, a different firm that’s looking after their group retirement, and a different firm that they’re engaging with on health and wellness, we bring all those pieces together. It simplifies things for businesses and brings a lot of clarity to help them use their limited resources the best way for attracting and retaining employees.
We take a holistic view. When we engage with employers we definitely need to understand the culture of their organization and their values and their vision and mission so we can make sure all of these different pieces align with that and are working together with that in supporting it. Then we create efficiencies around it.
Q: What sets you apart in your space?
Jay: With both sides of our business we dive a little bit deeper to customize what we recommend to our clients. Some of what works for one company or one family doesn’t work for another. So we use our tools and our expertise to customize things so that they work best for each client. It takes more time, but it’s a way better foundation and the solutions align with arriving the best results for people.
Q: How have you been successful in your industry for so long?
Andrea: We are a second generation business now and are very proud of the success we have achieved. Bob Sutton founded the firm in 1994. His son Stuart has been a partner in the business, along with Jay, for about the past 20 years. My husband Tim and I have been partners for about 12 years now. Bob retired in 2014 but our partnership continues successfully.
Jay: Only three in eight second-generation businesses survive the transition from one to a next. We are one that have not only survived but are thriving. We’re still putting our client interests first. We’re all very aligned as business partners and we have our own unique skill set. We’re doing what we were made to do. We’re all in our own lane doing good things and then we come together and believe in the synergy that comes together. When people with aligned values and an aligned vision get working together, good things happen.
Q: What do you see as the long-term future for your company?
Jay: We’re in the line of work where people’s need for our care extends beyond our careers. So it was very important to Bob that he find people and mentor them to be able to take over. That is very important to the four partners here today, and aligned with why we decided to invest in this building. We have more space. We want to grow and mentor and lead the future advisers that are going to take over when we’re ready to pack it in. We’ll have confidence in the people who will continue to serve our clients successfully into the third generation of ownership.
Andrea: Part of why investing in this building was important to us was just so that our messaging to all our clients is clear — we’re here to stay. We’re investing in more ways than one and not just growing our team but in the space because we’re going to be here long term for them. Not just for this generation but the next generation in our client’s lives.
Q: Is there one piece of financial advice you can offer?
Jay: The best time to plant a tree was 30 years ago. And the second best time is today.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Sutton Wealth Planning and Sutton Benefits & Pension
Owners: Stuart Sutton, Jay Stark, Tim Hansen & Andrea Hansen
Address: 143 Wheeler Street
Hours: Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
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