As a Partner at Fuller Landau and President of our Family Office Services group, Sloan Levett is an established authority on wealth advisory strategy for high net-worth individuals and their families. His proactive and results-oriented approach to service has made him a highly trusted advisor to his many clients.
But while his experience and accolades are numerous, Sloan is far more than the sum of his credentials. In our latest #FullerFamily feature profile, we sat down with Sloan to learn more about what makes him tick, both in and out of the office, to give you a better sense of the man at the head of our Family Office.
Q: You’ve been with Fuller Landau for over a decade now. How has Fuller Landau changed since you first joined the firm?
It’s been twelve years. Time flies! Since I joined Fuller Landau, we have doubled in size and have introduced and deepened our value-added service lines including M&A, forensic accounting, and consumer insolvency, which allow us to offer a true full-service offering to our clients. But even more impressive than our growth, is that our culture and values haven’t changed. Even with our steady growth over the last seven years, we’ve done a tremendous job at maintaining a people-first culture – with both our clients and team members. Expansion without erosion is not an easy task.
Q: You are President of Fuller Landau’s Family Office Services—what drew you to this specialized line of service? And how did you get to where you are today?
I knew I wanted to be a Chartered Accountant, and was equally drawn to the investment/personal financial advisory side of things fairly early on in University. After graduating, I worked with a mid-sized accounting firm in the audit stream, but I wanted to take my career in a direction that worked more in an advisory capacity, with a focus on investing.
Thankfully, opportunity called, and in a very literal sense: I got a cold-call from an executive recruiter to be the personal wealth advisor for a family member of one of the wealthiest families in Canada. This was exactly the opportunity that I had been searching for. I got my feet wet in the Family Office space by working in an ultra high net-worth environment, rapidly expanding my knowledge base in investment portfolio advisory, tax planning, insurance advisory, private equity investing, cash flow management, and budgeting.
I worked with the family for four years, but realized that I needed to follow my own financial advice about diversification. I effectively had one client and was looking for an environment where I could expand and work with dozens of high/ultra high net worth individuals. I met some of the partners at Fuller Landau and learned that the firm had a handful of clients who had recently exited their businesses and were looking for objective and holistic financial advice. Fuller Landau’s infrastructure offered a perfect platform for me to diversify my own career, and assist a variety of high net-worth clients with their wealth management needs.
A number of our Family Office clients are former business owners who have recently had liquidity events from the sale of their operating company. Some were existing clients at Fuller Landau; others have come to us through referrals from lawyers, bankers, and existing clients. In one case, the client had narrowed down their Family Office provider search to us and one of our competitors – she ultimately choose us after consulting with her psychic, who thought we’d be a better fit. We’ll take a new client no matter how they come to us!
Q: What is unique about Fuller Landau’s Family Office Services group? Why would a high net worth individual choose to work with Fuller Landau, in favour of other providers?
Fuller Landau is a true multi-client Family Office in the sense that we provide the full suite of services high net worth individuals want, under one roof. Many of our competitors use third-party providers to offer services like tax return preparation, bookkeeping, cash flow management, projections, and private equity evaluations, but we have the capacity and expertise to offer all of it in-house. Our business model prevents the risk of miscommunication or misaligned priorities across multiple providers.
When a client already has a strong team of advisors in place, we become part of that team by adding value where needed and collaborating with the existing advisors. We don’t take an all-or-nothing approach. Our role is to help the client achieve their objectives in any capacity.
What also sets us apart is that the service we provide really does extend beyond the technical and numbers. The gratifying evolution is that what starts out as a strictly professional client relationship extends into a personal friendship. Our objective with every client is to become their most trusted advisor and provide advice in any area they need. We earn that trust by being proactive, responsive, and very accessible – often fielding phone calls and replying to e-mails in the evenings and on weekends. As client relationships deepen over time, it’s not uncommon to be asked for advice on areas far outside our technical competency. I even had one client ask if I knew anyone who would be good enough to date his daughter, so I guess I can add “matchmaker” to my resume!
Q: What signs might indicate that an individual would be well-served by Family Office Services?
Family Office Services would certainly benefit anyone looking for unbiased financial advice with all financial matters managed by a centralized firm, and one point of contact to coordinate their needs on their behalf. We add tremendous value, particularly if the client doesn’t have the time, inclination, or financial expertise to either do it themselves or manage a number of disconnected advisors.
Objectivity is an important factor when considering a Family Office. Our clients choose to work with us because they want an objective advisor who isn’t tied to selling specific products. Cohesiveness is another major consideration. Our clients look for a truly integrated approach where decisions are made after considering all the different financial ramifications – from tax, to insurance, to estate.
Without a Family Office quarterback, the burden is on the client to make sure all their advisors are working cohesively with their best interests in mind. In this sense, a Family Office is the glue that holds everything together and gets everyone working in sync with each other for the benefit of the client.
Q: Any general words of wisdom for high net worth individuals or families?
When your kids are at the appropriate age and maturity level, making them somewhat aware of your family’s financial situation, and discussing your estate intentions, is very healthy. Transparency is critical. Share and include so there are no misunderstandings.
Your family doesn’t have to like your decisions, but they should at least be aware of them beforehand, so they have time to accept the situation. Conversation, dialogue, and transparency regarding the transfer of wealth is always the healthier way to go.
Irrespective of size of net worth, it’s important to set goals – both financial and personal – and more importantly, to monitor the results and make changes where appropriate.
A final piece of advice, as simple as it sounds…there is no such thing as a free lunch. If it sounds too good to be true, it is! Be wary of unrealistic outcomes. You should always take a step back and match up the risk with the expected reward!
Q: How would friends and family describe you?
They’d say that I’m even-keeled, sensible, and able to apply logic in decision-making. I believe this is why clients lean on us to provide clarity and solve such a wide variety of issues.
I’m also very approachable and generally a happy go-lucky person. I don’t take things too seriously, but I know when to get serious and stand my ground.
Q: Do you have any hobbies outside of work?
I currently keep active with golf, spinning, and tennis. I also enjoy hanging out with family and friends. I love people with a great sense of humour, and always appreciate a good joke. Now that my kids are older, I’m also starting to travel more with my wife.
Q: Tell us something that most people may not know about you.
I detest clutter! I grew up in a minimalist household, so any sort of disorganization really drives me crazy.
I’m also hesitant to admit that my three teenage girls have had an impact on the music I listen to. I sheepishly know all the latest Justen Bieber, One Direction, and Bruno Mars songs, and I often listen to them during spin class
Q: Is there anything else you’d like to add about what you do at Fuller Landau’s Family Office Services?
This is my dream job and I love what I do. It’s a people business. My fellow team members are great and we’re fortunate to align ourselves with interesting, respectful, and appreciative clients. I love the variety and unpredictability that comes along with an advisory role. It’s tremendously rewarding.