January 2018 marks the third anniversary of CV TrustCo. It has been an interesting ride, so we thought we would share some of our insights, observations and challenges. Whether you are a start-up, or a well-established enterprise you might find this blog post offers a bit of guidance or a reflective read.So, what did the last three years teach the CV TrustCo team? Maybe the best way to answer that question is year-by-year.
Year One – build out the backbone first
We started a new business and to some extent created a new market – a trust company that also provides Family Office Advisory Services. Long before things got out of hand, we had to:
- Understand that the executor and trustee business is highly regulated. We have been dealing with the CPABC for years, so learning to report to and communicate with FICOM wasn’t too much of a stretch, but each regulator has their quirks.
- Build out quality and risk management protocols inclusive of engagement letters, fee agreements, operational policies, etc. Our regulator requires risk based policies ranging from investment of client funds to independent Board of Director protocols. And they are there to ensure compliance – this is a good thing.
Take away – irrespective of being in a regulated industry, build protocols and policies on the premise that if there was a really bad bus accident, your company is built.
Year Two – throw a lot of spaghetti at the wall
A few throws were:
- Understanding the sales cycle. Selling tax solutions in our previous lives had a quick sales cycle – a client has a problem and you have a solution, negotiate the fee and be done. Starting a conversation about a client’s legacy both in terms of their family and business and ensuring their plan can be met is a whole other ballgame. Even the simplest planning can be kicked down the road for another day. It surprised us how many entrepreneurs have a 20-year-old will that is irrelevant, or worse, have no will at all.
- Understanding sales channels. We believe in focused business development, so where to spend your time needs to be tested. Trust and estate lawyers, investment and insurance advisors are excellent channels as they are often the initiators of legacy conversations. Networking groups, not so much as there is a baked in perception that everyone is competing with one another (however they can be great for building your brand). Accountants are a bit of a mixed bag as they each have a unique way of spending their client’s professional fee budget – compliance only or compliance and planning.
Take away – be adaptive – test your assumptions. If they work, great, if they don’t, change.
Year three – it’s all about the team
It’s a tough spot for a start-up to hire seasoned professionals. How we approach this is to broadcast to the market about the entrepreneurial approach we take to a long-established industry. This attracts talent that don’t want to spend their career in a Toronto centric bank. We attract talent that are entrepreneurial and want to be part of something they can say they help build. Also;
- It’s not only technical expertise – values are extremely important. We are not good employment interviewers, so instead of asking a candidate about how they dealt with a difficult manager or what their weaknesses are, we would discuss where we came from, the risks we took, how we make discussions and the vision for CV TrustCo. This starts a conversation about their values and if their values align with ours. It becomes clear who will be a great team member.
- Collaboration is of great value. Our team is highly talented in many disciplines – taking a collaborative approach to client issues and business decisions may take longer, but will result in a better decision that aligns with your client’s objective and the firm’s values. As well, a collaborative approach gets complete buy-in from the team.
- It’s not all about me. We advise our clients about succession and continuity, and have an obligation to do the same in our business. Hungry junior partners are highly effective. Being the only owner of a client relationship is a losing proposition.
Take away – have your team directly build trusted relationships within your sales channel and build out a business that will prosper for years to come. That’s what the marketplace expects of CV TrustCo. Oh, and share the pie.
2018 will see CVTrustCo’s team building trusted relationships and bringing our unique and entrepreneurial approach to the market. You know what – CV TrustCo is built, and it’s working.
Happy New Year! And keep you eyes open for a post about a few exciting team additions.