With 26 years in the business, Kari Leoganda, founder and president of Richmond, B.C.-based Leoganda Financial & Insurance Services Inc., says much of her success as an advisor is due to the team-work approach she has pursued in building her business.

Hire quality people and delegate

Leoganda says she built her own financial planning team with a view that to do the best job for her clients she needed to hire quality people and delegate any work that she did not feel comfortable doing, or did not have time to do. “In the present economic and competitive environment, I find it is very difficult to work alone. I like to work as a team.”

Over the years, Leoganda has hired administrative support staff and someone to do investments. Then, eleven years ago she hired Nancy Fong, a lawyer, who four years later became a partner. Fong, who is also a CFP, does not practice law for Leoganda Financial, but her legal knowledge is valuable when it comes to bringing clarity to retirement and estate planning tools, such as family trusts and shareholder agreements. Last August, Felicia Lee – a former business coach with an MBA – became a junior partner with the firm, after being hired on a year earlier.

Leoganda says having these partners enriches both her professional and personal life. “Without Nancy and Felicia, I would not be able to enjoy the other parts of my life. We share our lives together.”

One of the advantages that she has found in working with other women is they understand the need for flexible schedules to take care of  family obligations, such as attending school meetings.

Building to last

The goal of building a team-based firm is that the business could continue growing and serving clients even if Leoganda left the business. “Honestly, today if I fell sick or if I need to care for my loved ones, I can be away…because my company is ready. I am building my firm on the assumption that nobody is indispensable.” 

Establishing a system has also been key to building a firm that can last, she explains.

“We designed a process, our own client database system and we are very coherent, very deliberately ensuring that everyone follows the system, so that whoever picks up the file knows exactly what has been happening in the file…”

Asked if she has a plan to retire, Leoganda said her plan is to provide herself with options. “If I feel like working longer, I’ll work longer and if I feel like I want to travel overseas more because my family needs me…I feel like if I’ve set the system right, I can exercise any option.

Advice for newer advisors:
  • Invest in a personal assistant to do all the paper work, so that you have time to attend courses.
  • Be accurate. It is key.
  • Work like an entrepreneur not a salesperson. You are running a business, a practice.
  • Position yourself as a problem solution provider. Learn how to ask the right kind of questions.
  • Be willing to invest in the right kind of people.
  • Have confident humility. Be confident enough to know that you provide value to your clients but humble enough that you know that sometimes we need to upgrade ourselves, i.e. by taking courses.

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