Q: What makes BRP/Grenier different?
Pat: Our independence means we are completely objective. We can recommend whatever financial strategy we believe is the best for our client. Period.
Betty: Yes, and we don’t have any specific products that companies are giving us an incentive to recommend to clients, which means that we don’t have quotas. We’re not tied to any specific brokerage house or bank—and we do our own research.
Pat: Because we get to know our clients as individuals, we can focus our research based on what we hear. And all of our clients get the same level of treatment, regardless of how much they have to invest; being independent gives us the freedom to do it that way.
Betty: And I’m as thoughtful with my clients’ investments as I am with my own.
Q: What is your first objective when meeting with a new client?
Betty: I want to get a sense for them as people. Who are they? What do they do? What stage of life are they in?
Pat: I’ll also tell them a little about me, so that they can get a sense for how I work and approach things. So much of our relationship with our clients has to do with establishing trust.
Q: How does understanding them as people determine your approach?
Pat: You have to know what’s important to them if you’re going to make good decisions and sometimes that means setting realistic expectations. If they have a goal of buying a house in the next year or so, even if they’re in their 30s, you can’t invest 100 percent of their money. You need to fully understand their goals and the timeframe in which they want to meet them.
Betty: Look, money gives you the ability to do with your life what you want to do: caring for your children, taking vacations, or feeling secure that you can manage by yourself as you age. I really want to know what my client’s personal needs and values are so I can do what’s best for them.
Q: Do those early conversations also help you determine your client’s risk tolerance?
Pat: Absolutely. You can usually tell based on the lifestyle they lead. Do they like to travel? Do they spend very little and what are their hobbies…are they parachuters? Those details tell you a lot.
Betty: Between Pat and me, we have a lot of miles under our belt. We intuitively know what their risk tolerance is and can advise them accordingly.
Q: What experience do you want your clients to have with you over the course of your investing relationship?
Betty: [laughs] I want them to have made money!
Pat: I like to know that I have their confidence and trust. Very often a client will call me with questions not necessarily related to investing, but on some related life issue. I recently had a client ask my opinion on whether they should select a family member to be their power-of-attorney. That’s a very personal decision, but one that ultimately impacts their finances, so I appreciated the call. That kind of trust feels really good.
Betty: And often that’s very good, because it’s our job to give perspective—to show the other side of the decision.
Pat: Yes, they may be missing something huge because they’re too involved.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Pat: I received a note from a client recently that I found really touching. Actually, I have it here. She said, “Your skill, imagination, and creativity have made it possible to live my older life in a way I could not possibly have imagined…Thank you beyond anything words can say.” For me, that feedback is the most rewarding part of what we do.
Betty: It’s not about accumulating “x” amount of dollars. Investing is about accomplishing what you want to accomplish in life. To do that, you have to invest smartly. I’m happiest when I can help a client create a long-term plan and then watch them live as they want to live. Money does not solve problems—but it helps.