• Grant Dawes

More Than Asset Management

Updated: May 9, 2020

I joined Northland Wealth after working as a research analyst at a major bond rating agency, as the executive assistant of the CEO of a Middle Eastern family business that controlled over 30 companies globally, and lastly in financial services with a Canadian bank.

When I worked in the Middle East, I was the conduit between the CEO who ran the family’s business operations and family office. Being the executive assistant to the head of a family with immense, almost unimaginable wealth by western standards, I had the opportunity to see and do things I never dreamed of as a kid from Aurora - from leasing yachts in the Mediterranean, facilitating delivery of exotic cars through the port authority, and arranging travel to Davos for the World Economic Forum. It was my responsibility to facilitate and expedite the business and personal affairs of the CEO and his family to make their life easier. I was ‘their man Grant’ and no request was too excessive or too difficult - the ability to resolve issues and get things done was critical.

As rewarding and exciting as my time in the Middle East was, I came to a point where I wanted to take the next step in my education and career progression. I returned to Canada, and joined a bank to re-integrate myself into the Canadian financial markets. My time at the bank was worthwhile - I learned how a large financial institution provides products to the mass market. However, the shortcomings of a large institution, such as a noticeable lack of personalized service and the ability only to ‘think in the box’ soon became apparent. This experience of institutionalized discontent differed drastically from my role working for the Middle Eastern family and I knew I could offer more to clients if I was ‘outside of the box’, so to speak – so I left the bank.

I wanted to further expand my education and skill set while leveraging my diverse experience. Through my family, I had known the principals of Northland Wealth for more than 15 years. I saw a real difference between Northland Wealth and the bank, but also saw great similarities between them and the family I worked for previously. It was good to see that Northland Wealth had expanded on the traditional definition of what wealth management was believed to be in Canada and how they assisted and guided the families they served in both the financial and non-financial decisions they face every day.

It impressed me that Northland Wealth utilized a consultative process, providing detailed insight into the financial goals, needs, wants, and even fears of the families they served. They combined this deep understanding with advanced financial planning and institutional quality investment management practices, which access the same alternative investment managers that many pensions, sovereign wealth funds and ultra wealthy families invest with. In addition, they had experience advising on the sale of businesses, both public and private, and dealt with family wealth preservation and continuity matters such as family governance, next generation planning and financial education. Another significant differentiator was the extensive concierge services that had been performed by the firm for clients. The approach and delivery of all of these facets is what I felt, and still feel, make Northland Wealth and its people unique.

Traditionally, many associate the term ‘concierge’ with services offered at five star hotels. This high-end service may include arranging reservations to the hottest restaurants, providing luxury transportation services such as helicopter taxis, or even procuring tickets to a “sold out event.” There are now numerous companies catering to this service, such as Quintessentially, High-Life Asia, and One Concierge to name a few, all of which come with very expensive membership fees.

While these flashier services are indeed concierge, Northland Wealth provides a more grounded and value-added service that goes beyond what is typically expected from wealth managers and borders on what is provided by a family office that looks after the needs of a single family. Northland Wealth provides concierge services by utilizing a wide array of contacts that the firm and its people have and leverages these connections for the betterment of the firm’s clients.

Here are a few examples of the types of services that have been provided. At the extreme of the spectrum, one of the projects involved the construction of a cottage from the ground up for one of our families. This was no small task and required a considerable amount of the firm’s time and resources, including finding a suitable property, builders, contractors, as well as providing guidance throughout every stage of the project.

Other services that have been performed for clients include: • Research, negotiation and acquisition of artwork and jewelry; • Purchasing and installation of medical equipment; • Setting up a cell phone for a university student attending school in Canada on a Visa; • Working with realty contacts in finding and purchasing homes; • Assistance in moving clients from their homes to seniors’ residences; • Providing support in both automobile and apartment leasing negotiations and contracts; • Coordinating and arranging travel itineraries; • Even walking of the family dog!

This list is in no way exhaustive. At Northland Wealth we delighted in every new opportunity where we can work more closely with you and your family to make your lives more comfortable. Please feel free to contact us at any time for assistance.

Grant Dawes, CIM, CFP, TEP

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