PEAK Financial Group
For almost a quarter-century, PEAK Financial Group has been promoting independent advice for clients throughout Canada. Since its inception, the Montreal based company has served 150,000 Canadians.
Offering advice to investors of any income level
PEAK Financial Group is comprised of four member companies (PEAK Investment Services, PEAK Financial Services, PEAK Securities and PEAK Insurance Services) and one division, PEAK Private Wealth. The Canadian Business Journal first featured PEAK in May, 2014. Since then, the company has approached $8 billion in assets under administration and grown to support a passionate team of 1,500 advisors, employees and registered professionals. PEAK has also recently acquired HBO Financial Services under their insurance arm and been named as a top Canadian employer by Aon. While the firm has seen recent significant changes, the core of their mission remains: to encourage independent advice for Canadian investors at all income levels.
“I think in general, Canadians are either not aware, not that interested, or in some cases not that familiar with what’s out there, so they rely on financial professionals. Getting independent advice is very important because there is no conflict of interest. A lot of people are looking for that: for advice first, before considering which products to choose. It’s kind of like going to a doctor and having a full physical assessment before getting any prescriptions,” explains President and CEO Robert Frances.
Frances states that when it comes to PEAK’s selection of independent advisors, “integrity is number one.” This is because PEAK values transparency with the end investor in all dealings. Moreover, their fully independent status is what sets them apart from many other financial companies that may only offer their house products.
“We are not owned, in whole or in part, by a company that has their own product. We do not create our own products. You won’t see a PEAK mutual fund for sale, for example,” he clarifies.
Their ability to offer completely unbiased advice in the customer’s best interest, coupled with an ability to offer a variety of products under one roof is what enables PEAK to meet the needs of so many Canadians, each with different financial needs.
“There was a time when financial advice was only available for the wealthy; now it’s available for everyone. No matter where you are—if you’re starting out, as well as if you’ve accumulated large sums of money, it’s critical to have a review from someone who is independent when you’ve worked so hard for your money,” Frances tells us.
Encouraging advisors’ entrepreneurial edge
PEAK’s well trained, customer-oriented advisors receive ongoing education from PEAK, as well as financial tools, access to a range of products, and opportunities to connect with other advisors and attend conferences, seminars and webinars. Although PEAK is there to provide ample support for their advisors, Frances mentions that having “an entrepreneurial edge” is important.
“It is a job where you’re going to have to work hard. You often have to work hard at meeting people, getting to know them and understanding their needs,” he emphasizes.
That entrepreneurial edge is what drove Frances to found PEAK in 1992, at the age of 27. Since PEAK’s foundation, the company has had a culture of internal succession, wherein Frances, as well as other members of the company, have had to learn and grow into new roles on the job, as the company itself quickly changed and grew.
“After almost 25 years in business, what we find very interesting is all of the challenges and excitement that comes with internal succession. Myself as well as many of the managers had to constantly reinvent these roles and be very cognisant that we had to maintain internal succession if we were to continue to grow. It’s been a pretty interesting learning experience. When we get to our 25th year, we’ll likely enter another exciting phase of growth,” states Frances.
Reaching the peak
PEAK is honoured to have been recognized as one of Canada’s best employers of 2015. Aon’s annual list considers companies with superior employee engagement, leadership and workplace satisfaction, determined from a survey of almost 200,000 employees from 280 companies from many different industries. Since PEAK began participation in 2013, they have achieved one of the highest improvement rates among participants. This is a result of the company’s continuous efforts to reach out to the Canadian investor and find ways to facilitate the lives of their financial advisors as they develop their careers.
“We’ve had some good growth over the last couple of years. We’ve seen some acquisitions and we hope to continue that. In the future, we’re also looking at adding some more people on the business development side so that our advisors have access to us even more easily,” Frances reveals.
The company also plans to widen their reach in the Canadian market, particularly in western Canada, where there are ample opportunities. Furthermore, with the transitional period that many Canadians are currently entering, having a solid network of advisors ready to help them navigate the world of finance is essential.
“Over the next five years, with the two trillion dollars transferring between baby boomers and generation X or millennials in North America, these younger investors will need good advice because they’ll be coming across money that they never thought they would have,” Frances says.
Whatever their financial situation may be, PEAK Financial Group is there for investors across the country to help them find solutions that suit their individual needs.