Sandy Pollack, the Founder and Principal of Trimaran Financial, is on a mission. “I want to humanize the financial planning industry,” says Pollack, a Montreal native who has made her home in Ottawa since 1990. “While most financial planning companies focus on the what and the how, we concentrate primarily on the why.”
“We call ourselves a values-based financial advisory practice, because we place values ahead of valuables.”
Trimaran Financial provides a wide range of services for owners of small- and medium-sized businesses, self-employed professionals, and their families. Individual client net worth may vary from $1 million (sole practitioners) to as high as $80– 90 million.
“No matter the family's worth, we use our rigorous, trademarked process called the “Strategic Wealth Process™” to understand our clients' values, wishes, and needs. Working together with them and their families, we develop strategies to create a financial legacy and achieve financial independence and security.”
A typical client engagement involves a number of carefully planned steps.
Step 1 - Initial Meeting
At the first meeting, Sandy meets informally with the individual and the family. “There is no cost for this initial meeting,” says Sandy. “It is really just a get-to-know-you session. There is a lot at stake, and you want to know that there is a good fit.”
Step 2 - Discovery
If prospective clients are comfortable with the Trimaran approach and Sandy's team, they move to the Discovery stage, the first step in the Strategic Wealth Process™. This stage usually requires two meetings and takes from two to four hours. At the Discovery stage, the clients present their personal and business values, visions, and goals for their financial well-being, as well as business or family issues that might create barriers to successful outcomes.
Step 3 - Creative Strategies
At the next stage, Creative Strategies, the Trimaran professionals identify any potential gaps. They make recommendations in a number of areas, including risk management, legal issues, tax considerations, wealth accumulation, and investment planning. For example, they may make recommendations about insurance coverage or the content of wills and powers of attorney, and suggest tax-minimization strategies or specific investment instruments.
During the Creative Strategies stage, the Trimaran advisors may consult outside professionals, such as lawyers and accountants, either recommended by the client or from their own established contacts with these professions.
“Our approach is all about collaboration,” says Sandy. “I am so tired of savvy business people, who have taken big risks to build their businesses, wasting time, energy, and resources because their advisors are working in silos.”
Step 4 - Strategy Deployment/Implementation
The final stage involves the implementation of the strategies that have been developed with the clients, their families, and professional advisors. Periodically, usually annually, the Trimaran team will meet with the clients and their families to assess the results and make any necessary adjustments.
“One of our greatest accomplishments is taking away the worry when some major life crisis occurs. For example, the sudden death of the business owner. And this does happen,” Sandy explains. “I assure families that they won't have to deal with a mess if something unexpected happens.”
One of the tools that Trimaran Financial uses is a Family Desk Reference. It is a binder that keeps all of the client's information in one place, from bank statements and insurance policies, to locations of safety deposit boxes and important passwords. “Some of our clients also enclose legacy letters to family, employees, and others.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic heightened people's awareness of the need to get their affairs in order,” says Sandy. “It also drove home the uncomfortable presence of their own mortality.”
“We have never been so busy. Operating virtually was exhausting, but it was essential to keep on top of things as our business owners and sole practitioners dealt with their own changing business and personal circumstances due to the pandemic.”
As part of her continuing mission, Sandy Pollack is writing a book for business owners on how to plan their financial future based on values, not valuables. She also continues to mentor her Trimaran team as the advisory practice expands.
On a personal basis, Sandy stays active cycling, golfing, and hiking. She recently completed a seven-day hike on Vancouver Island’s West Coast Trail, one of the top 10 hikes in the world. “It is really an obstacle course through the Canadian rainforest.” Never one to rest on her laurels, Sandy wants to do another 100-km bike trip in Europe or the southern United States.
From her lengthy career in financial planning (Sandy started in the industry in Montreal during the early 1980s, then founded Trimaran Financial in Ottawa in 1997), Sandy picked out a couple of pieces of advice for people planning their financial futures.
“First, don't be too tax-driven in your approach. You will end up spending more time and energy with lawyers and accountants than is necessary. Focus on what you want and why. Understand your values.”
“Second, differentiate between building wealth and managing wealth. They are two different things. Building wealth is a lot more fun — I understand that — but you have to know where you are in life. Should you still be building? Should you remain static? Or should you be transitioning to retirement and considering your financial legacy?”
“Finally, as you journey through life and continue to build your wealth, your tolerance threshold for complexity changes. You want simplicity, not complexity.”
Sandy Pollack has obviously learned how to steer people towards what is important in life. Her book, when it comes out, is destined to be a bestseller.
Published by Elite Accounting Inc.
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