The Early Riser

David Gorveatte is a Chartered Financial Planner and a Certified Professional Consultant on Aging and has been a leader in Financial Planning for four decades. He is a speaker and industry expert for various events and has been featured in numerous publications. He is a proud team member of Investia Financial Services Inc.

I came into this world fighting the odds. The doctors told my parents that I would not make it, so they did not name me for three days. When they finally did, my mom and dad looked at my small size and, instead of naming me Timothy as they had planned, they named me David after the Bible's small but mighty warrior.

My father taught me the value of time and it stuck. Once he posted an ad to sell our car and agreed on a time to meet the would-be buyer. However, when the buyer showed up four hours late, my dad told him it was no longer for sale at that time. Respect people's time said my father. He was always early, and I try to do the same.

My parents taught me to work hard and to always give 110 percent and I guess it stuck too. I will always fight for what is right and use common sense to figure things out. This is what drives me to be successful, not by what I possess but by what I am able to help others acquire. By doing that, I have in turn become successful.

My first foray into business was when I was about eight years old living in Dieppe, a small town in eastern New Brunswick. My father gave me a quarter to weed the garden. I took the money and paid two friends ten cents each to do all the weeding. That approach convinced my father that finance would be the right career path for me.

In twelfth grade, while attending high school in Moncton, I helped a friend restore a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. While tinkering in the garage, I would ask his dad, a bank manager, about his banking job. My interest was rewarded as I was offered a job at the bank right out of high school, which I declined. They approached me again after I finished my first year of university. I had a friend a few years older than me with a lovely degree and no place to hang it as he did not have a job. I opted for a job instead.

Small Steps, Big Impact

My first posting was as a management training with a bank in Chatham, N.B. I was a teller for three months, then became the auditor for three months. I was only eighteen years old. All of the people reporting to me were much older and much more experienced. So, I decided to create some team spirit. I noticed that when people were away from the office, their desks were piled high with work when they returned. I gave everyone a hilroy scribbler to write down what they did, step by step, each day so when they were out sick, someone could help by doing some of their job. It really boosted morale.

I had a funny experience while working there as I had come up with a new way of doing a task that would help the bank and the town. I was to present the idea to the bank manager, some city employees and the mayor. The manager selected the local tavern called the Whooper next to the bank to have the meeting and we were all assembled at two tables. I had made up a presentation but forgot it at the bank, so I excused myself and ran next door to get it. When I attempted to come back in, the doorman carded me and said I was too young to get in. I explained I had a meeting inside and needed to get back to it. When he refused, I said to at least let me go in with him to explain why I could not continue. When I got to the table, the doorman was shocked to see the collection of high-profile people waiting for me. I had to have them come back to the bank to do my presentation. Many of those in attendance were shocked to find out I was only eighteen years old.

That early banking experience was the start of my work with older individuals. I learned to treat them with respect and take the time to explain things to them in understandable terms.
The bank subsequently offered me three promotions. I turned the first two down, because the communities were too isolated. However, I accepted an offer to work in Fredericton, where I live today with my wife, Shirley and our three children, Matthew, Sarah and Emily. Once there, I was posted to the Nashwaaksis Branch, where I oversaw audits of both personal and commercial accounts.

People First

I love working with seniors and they had great attitudes and loads of patience. When I explained things, I would use word pictures or actual props to help teach them new things. For instance, back in 1982, when interest rates skyrocketed to about twenty percent, I called elderly clients to come into the bank and discuss their accounts. Some of them had checking accounts with large sums in them. I asked if they were planning on using some of the funds for any big project. If they said no, and I then explained that if they would move it to a new savings account, they would earn interest on their money which they weren't earning in the checking account. Many worried that would cause them to pay more taxes. That prompted me to get four quarters and put them in my customer's right hand and two quarters in their left hand. I would say that at a fifty percent tax rate you would lose half your earnings and promptly take half of the money in each hand. They looked at their hands, astonished by the results. Then I asked, "Which is better?" The response was always "The one with two quarters remaining". Then I would take the three remaining quarters away and say, "This is what you are earning now". The point was well-made, and I moved over six million dollars collectively to savings accounts at the branch. This made the customers very happy, but unfortunately the profits at the bank plummeted and I was reprimanded for this.

I had other instances when the bank was more concerned about profits than helping clients, which discouraged me about a long-term career there.

One in a Hundred Shot

When I was twenty-three, an investment firm tried to recruit me but then balked when they found out my age. The company didn't hire anyone younger than twenty-five years of age. I asked to meet with the interviewer's boss, and then when I was passed over again, I wanted to speak to his boss. At each stage I was told I was too young. Finally, I asked to speak with the firm's vice president, who was in Moncton at the time.

I was told that ninety-nine out of one-hundred people under the age of twenty-five would not succeed as an advisor. Nonetheless the vice president hired me because he liked my unstoppable attitude to get the job once I saw what opportunity it presented. I did well in the business and steadily grew my client base by working hard and helping people. One time the company had a contest to win dinner with President George Bush Senior, as he was going to speak at our national conference. I took the challenge. We received a ballot for each new transfer we gained. Most people had ten to twenty ballots, but I worked hard and had over 1,200 ballots. I still cherish the photo I have of Shirley and I with President Bush.

Independent Steps Taken

Several years later I was disillusioned with some decisions the firm made so I left and opened a new office of a large independent investment firm which did not have an office in Fredericton. I stayed with that firm, which was subsequently purchased by a large insurance corporation. Then, after some disagreements, I left that firm and joined Investia Financial Services Inc.

I have made some inroads and rose to some challenges along my career and even made the cover of Investment Executive in March 2016. I have been a bit of a rebel and advocate for the customers and think outside the box a lot. When the publisher of this book, Paula Morand, came to speak about how to interact with strangers at an Advocis conference in the summer of 2013, she challenged us to try out her suggestions. I looked around at all the advisors talking to each other and I marched up on stage and introduced myself to Paula and followed her interview advice. We have kept in touch ever since, which is how I was invited to be a contributor to this book.

Planning for Succession

As time went on, I began looking for my successor and finally found him after a lot of trial and error. I found Colin when he arrived at my office in 2001 to sell me on an investment and debt strategy using a line of credit product. I was intrigued, not by the product, but by the individual who was presenting it. I listened intently but informed him I did not require it. Then, I asked him if he had an office to work from to which he replied no. I offered him a spare office I had for the sum of one coffee for me each time he used it. Then I started to observe his moves and began to mentor him in what I did. This eventually paid off as he accepted my offer seven years after that first cup of coffee.
My succession plan was unique in the industry as most advisors just sell their book of business and walk away. I valued my clients too much to turn my back on them and I set up a new joint code for my clients to have both Colin and I service them together over a ten year period, after which time I will hand over the reins to him. This new approach was so popular that I was interviewed by a major bank and they have adopted my succession plan as their new plan for all representatives.

By starting succession planning for my business early, I know that I will be able to spend more time with my wife and family and devote my time and energy to my church and local charity activities.

Building Relationships

I believe that keeping clients happy means keeping in touch. I review every client's account each month and schedule up to three, two-hour meetings with them a year, if they want.

You need to have constant contact and I want clients to have a chance to ask questions. I don't want to be the rep no one hears from. These client meetings involve more than just getting together and checking in. Being a Certified Financial Planner, I want to fully understand what is happening with my clients.

I review my clients' tax returns annually and documents like wills, powers of attorney and living wills. If I see any issues, I get them to do a holograph will and then send them back to the lawyers to get the existing wills amended.
I like helping clients with all aspects of their financial needs and have taken courses in contract law, accounting and other degrees to enhance my understanding and skills in these areas.

This is where I met Shauna MacKenzie in 1990 as she worked at the Law Society of New Brunswick's office down the hall from mine and taught courses for them. She was part of the original group that created the Muriel McQueen Fergusson Foundation, which was created to be a catalyst for the prevention and elimination of family violence. It was an interesting initial board meeting with many high-powered women to get this off the ground. We had a lot of fun and today it is a thriving organization from its humble beginnings.

Planning for the Next Generation

When building my client base by using referrals, I didn't ask for the names of those potential clients but said I would provide a free, two-hour consultation for them, which I still do today.

I also use a strategy to pass assets on to the next generation early so the children of clients get to meet me and see what I do long before they end up inheriting their parents' assets. I suggest that the parents gift a small portion of their assets to their children by way of an ‘in kind' transfer. This way, I get to meet the children to do the paperwork to move the asset. This has resulted in me being in front of their children to explain what investing is about and many decide to keep the assets with me. I also tell them not to spend the gift foolishly, so use it wisely to pay down debt or for investing. This keeps the parents happy and when the assets do eventually transfer, I have already made the connections. I now have many third generations of client families by using this method.

Final Thoughts

I have used referrals and free consultations to build a successful business from a standing start. I offer some tips for building a practice.

Don't be afraid to educate. Well-informed clients are satisfied clients, I teach all my clients how to use online websites. All reps should be teaching their clients about what they have and how well they are doing. This way they feel confident when talking to friends which leads to more referrals.

Find your passion. Locate a group of people who are interested in the same things you are, get to know all about those subjects and become a resource person for those people. I joined a Rotary club and worked hard to help make a difference in the community. People noticed and asked me to help them I turn.

Build your business organically. In today's market, it's tough to build a business from the ground up. I suggest finding someone you like and whose approach is aligned with yours. Then, you can work with that person in their business, and ultimately take over the business.

I believe that if you are willing to work hard and make others successful, they will in turn make you successful.

David's Top Tip for Being Unstoppable:

Always do what is best for your customer even if it costs you money. It will pay off in the long run as integrity is a scarce commodity.