Prem Ma­lik, an ad­vi­sor with Queens­bury Se­cu­ri­ties in Toronto — and an avid squash player — draws upon his unique back­ground to pro­vide cus­tom­ized ser­vices to his clients.

With a back­ground in ac­count­ing and the mu­tual fund busi­ness, Prem Ma­lik pro­vides a wide range of ser­vices to his clients. He be­lieves in lis­ten­ing to each client’s story — and re­vis­it­ing that story fre­quently

Investment Executive - - FRONT PAGE - JAIME HOGGE

prem ma­lik be­lieves that you should never use a cook­iecut­ter ap­proach i n pro­vid­ing financial ad­vice to your clients.

“No t wo peo­ple are alike,” he says. “In­vest­ment strate­gies should be as unique as the peo­ple for whom they are de­vel­oped.”

Financial plan­ning isn’t just about risk tol­er­ance and man­ag­ing money, he tells his clients. Rather, he says, “It’s about you, your fam­ily, your cur­rent goals and your fu­ture dreams.”

Ma­lik, an in­vest­ment ad­vi­sor with Queens­bury Se­cu­ri­ties Inc. in Toronto and an in­sur­ance ad­vi­sor with its af­fil­i­ate, Queens­bury In­sur­ance Bro­kers, also holds two ac­count­ing des­ig­na­tions: char­tered ac­coun­tant (CA) in the U.K. and char­tered pro­fes­sional ac­coun­tant (CPA) in Canada. Those qual­i­fi­ca­tions, he says, broaden the scope of ad­vice he pro­vides to his clients.

Ma­lik takes a holis­tic ap­proach to financial plan­ning. He spends co­pi­ous amounts of time dis­cov­er­ing and re­dis­cov­er­ing his clients’ de­tails to en­sure he has a com­plete un­der­stand­ing of their cur­rent and fu­ture needs.

Ma­lik has slightly more than $60 mil­lion in as­sets un­der ad­min­is­tra­tion, with ap­prox­i­mately 40%50% in­vested in mu­tual funds, 30%-35% in ETFs and 15% in in­di­vid­ual se­cu­ri­ties. He also of­fers life, dis­abil­ity and crit­i­cal ill­ness in­sur­ance prod­ucts.

In keep­ing with Ma­lik’s holis­tic ap­proach, he pro­vides ad­vice on es­tate plan­ning, liv­ing wills and pow­ers of at­tor­ney, which he typ­i­cally of­fers through his cen­tres of in­flu­ence (COIs) — lawyers and ac­coun­tants — af­ter he has con­ducted a thor­ough anal­y­sis of a client’s needs.

Once Ma­lik refers a client to a COI, he mon­i­tors that client’s progress with that COI.

“I fol­low up and re­ceive reg­u­lar feed­back from [that client],” Ma­lik says, “to en­sure that my clients’ needs are met based on plans we orig­i­nally de­vel­oped.”

Prior to be­com­ing a financial ad­vi­sor 17 years ago, Ma­lik, age 64, had a di­verse ca­reer in the cor­po­rate world span­ning more than two decades. He be­gan his ca­reer at Peat Mar­wick (an ac­count­ing firm, which now is part of KPMG LLP fol­low­ing a merger in 1987) in Eng­land in 1978 be­fore mov­ing to that firm’s Cal­gary of­fice in 1980.

He sub­se­quently joined Royal Trust Corp. of Canada as man­ag­ing part­ner of the divi­sion that ad­min­is­ters as­sets for mu­tual fund and pen­sion fund port­fo­lio man­agers. Later, Ma­lik joined the mu­tual fund firm Global Strategy Financial (ac­quired by AGF Man­age­ment Ltd. in 2000) as di­rec­tor of na­tional sales.

Hav­ing worked for 15 years in in­vest­ment funds ad­min­is­tra­tion and for 10 years in mu­tual fund sales, Ma­lik has a deep un­der­stand­ing of the dy­nam­ics in the in­vest­ment in­dus­try and the role of ad­vi­sors.

“I ad­mired the pas­sion [that ad­vi­sors] have for build­ing their busi­ness,” he says. “But I also saw their strengths and weak­nesses, [which] pro­vided me with

in­valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence that I can ap­ply to my own prac­tice.”

But more im­por­tant, he dis­cov­ered that one of his strong­est skills is in com­mu­ni­cat­ing with clients — which, he says, is crit­i­cal for ad­vi­sors.

Ma­lik be­gan his stint i n the ad­vi­sory busi­ness as a com­mis­sions-based ad­vi­sor un­der the purview of the Mu­tual Fund Deal­ers As­so­ci­a­tion of Canada. He later made the tran­si­tion to the In­vest­ment In­dus­try Reg­u­la­tory Or­ga­ni­za­tion of Canada plat­form in 2010 so that he could of­fer a broader range of in­vest­ment strate­gies to his clients.

Two years ago, Ma­lik be­gan to move to a fee-based ac­count struc­ture. Only a small per­cent­age of his client ac­counts re­main com­mis­sions-based.

“My goal,” he says, “is to be­come 100% fee-based soon.”

Ma­lik of­fers a tiered fee struc­ture, with fees de­clin­ing once cer­tain as­set thresh­olds are achieved.

Ma­lik does very lit­tle mar­ket­ing. He main­tains a per­sonal blog and also com­mu­ni­cates with his clients reg­u­larly via email.

“One hun­dred per cent of my busi­ness comes from re­fer­rals,” he says. “I am quite com­fort­able grow­ing my book one client at a time.”

(Re­fer­rals come pri­mar­ily from ex­ist­ing clients and of­ten are the chil­dren of those clients.)

Clients are more likely to re­fer you if you gain their trust and con­fi­dence, Ma­lik says. And build­ing trust be­gins at the dis­cov­ery phase and con­tin­ues through the life­time of the client.

As well, Ma­lik main­tains a group of 15 trusted clients who act as “in­for­mal cen­tres of in­flu­ence.” He meets with each of these clients for lunch on a ro­tat­ing ba­sis once or twice a month to gauge, by us­ing a soft, sub­tle ap­proach, how he can ob­tain re­fer­rals from them. He en­cour­ages these clients to bring their spouses to the lunch meet­ings.

“[Serv­ing clients well] is not just about in­vest­ments and financial plan­ning,” Ma­lik says. “It’s also about help­ing clients grow per­son­ally and pro­fes­sion­ally. Clients must trust you enough to call you about financial mat­ters at any time.”

En­gage clients i n con­ver­sa­tion and lis­ten to their story, he ad­vises, bear­ing i n mind that each story is unique. This is the only way to get to know your clients well. You also should re­mem­ber to re­visit their sto­ries at each face-to-face meet­ing — or more fre­quently, if war­ranted.

Al­though Ma­lik does not have a min­i­mum as­set thresh­old for clients, any clients he takes on must fit his val­ues. “[Prospects] must ap­pre­ci­ate what I bring to the table,” he says. “There must be good chem­istry be­tween us.”

Ma­lik may turn away prospects whom he be­lieves are not a good fit. In order to de­ter­mine if that fit ex­ists, he goes through a dili­gent process to en­sure prospects are com­fort­able with his ap­proach, his process and his fees. He of­ten asks straight­for­ward ques­tions, such as: “What are the key rea­sons for choos­ing me? Are you pre­pared to fol­low my rec­om­men­da­tions? Why are you leav­ing your cur­rent ad­vi­sor?”

Ma­lik aways dis­cusses the rea­sons for mak­ing his rec­om­men­da­tions with clients, but some­times finds that some clients pre­fer to make their own in­vest­ment sug­ges­tions.

He tells such clients sub­tly that he is “not an order-taker” and that he uses a dili­gent in­vest­ment ap­proach. Ma­lik’s ra­tio­nale is sim­ple: ul­ti­mately, he takes re­spon­si­bil­ity for the per­for­mance of his clients’ port­fo­lios.

Ma­lik em­pha­sizes the i m- por­tance of man­ag­ing client ex­pec­ta­tions. “Never over­promise clients any­thing,” he says.

Ma­lik trav­els to In­dia at least twice a year to help take care of his ag­ing par­ents, do­ing his part to share this re­spon­si­bil­ity with his sib­lings. He also uses this time to re­lax, re­flect and “recharge his bat­ter­ies.”

Ma­lik en­joys golf and is an avid squash player. He has been a mem­ber of a lo­cal squash club for sev­eral years, but, he adds, al­though he is well ac­quainted with mem­bers of his squash club, he never pro­motes his busi­ness to them. Peo­ple go to clubs to re­lax, he says, not to lis­ten to a sales pitch.

Ma­lik, al­though of In­dian her­itage, was born in Prague. His fa­ther was a diplo­mat who worked for In­dia’s for­eign ser­vice; thus, Ma­lik lived in sev­eral coun­tries as a child, in­clud­ing Nor­way and a num­ber of South Amer­i­can coun­tries.

One of the spe­cial re­la­tion­ships Ma­lik’s fa­ther de­vel­oped while work­ing in the for­eign ser­vice is with the Dalai Lama, whom, Ma­lik says, is a revered fam­ily friend: “His Ho­li­ness has blessed my fam­ily.”

As an adult, Ma­lik stud­ied in Eng­land to be­come a CA. He also is a Fel­low of the In­sti­tute of Char­tered Ac­coun­tants in the U.K.

Ma­lik and his wife, Nishi, a re­tired school teacher who had worked in the Montes­sori sys­tem, have two sons, San­jiv and Navin, both of whom have suc­cess­ful ca­reers on Bay Street.

When Ma­lik re­tires, he ex­pects to trans­fer his book of busi­ness to one of his sons. But don’t ex­pect that to hap­pen any time soon.

“I love what I do,” he says. “And I plan to stay on for a while.”

JAIME HOGGE

Prem Ma­lik, in­vest­ment ad­vi­sor with Queens­bury Se­cu­ri­ties Inc. in Toronto, de­vel­oped a deep un­der­stand­ing of the role of financial ad­vi­sors while work­ing in the cor­po­rate side of the in­dus­try.

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