Running a business isn’t always about creating processes and making sales. It’s also about measuring your business processes every now and then to make them more effective. In fact, streamlining your processes is a lot like sales.
They talk about investment styles, how streamlining operations of companies is similar to sales, advice for others who want to streamline their companies, and the conjunction between work members in the company and newer technologies.
0:26 – Dr. Jeremy Weisz shares the best solution that makes documenting standard operating procedures drop-dead easy, highlighting a 14-day free trial. No credit card required.
1:38 – Dr. Weisz introduces today’s guest, Sophie Blais, the COO of WealthCo, and shares the company’s mission.
2:01 – Ms. Blais gives some insight into what WealthCo does, the kind of work they’re into, and the clients they work with.
2:57 – The guest talks about the growth/evolution of her company through the last 10 years.
4:02 – Ms. Blais describes how some demands that clients needed shaped the services that she provides.
5:35 – The guest addresses some of the entrepreneurial stereotypes.
6:45 – Ms. Blais talks about her investment style.
8:35 – The guest speaker explains ways through which clients can come in contact with her firm, whether through their accountant or not.
9:11 – The guest talks about how people can work together with technology and with each other to build a supportive team within the company.
10:25 – Ms. Blais shares some software and hardware she uses on a daily basis, highlighting the HP Surface Pro as her favorite PC to use, and OneNote as her favorite app.
13:38 – Ms. Blais talks about streamlining operations of her company, and discusses the similarities streamlining operations of a company shares with sales.
15:33 – The guest shares advice for those who might need more streamlining within their company.
16:52 – The guest explains “the client journey,” and puts in place what defines the client journey, highlighting one of the processes called the “wow menu.”
17:58 – The guest talks about what the “wow menu” comprises.
20:22 – The guest speaker shares information on how the company can be reached, especially if you are a CPA Firm.
21:04 – Ms. Blais talks about her own $25 indulgence.
21:49 – Ms. Blais talks a bit about some of her favorite books.
She studied economics and French studies at the University of Alberta, French language and European economics at Université de Caen Normandie, and acquired her Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Saskatchewan.
She has multiple skills ranging from wealth managing and public speaking to coaching/mentoring and estate planning.
Speaker 1: Welcome to The Process Breakdown Podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks, and giving your employees all the information they need to be successful at their jobs. Now let’s get started with the show.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Dr. Jeremy Weisz here, host of The Process Breakdown Podcast, where we talk about streamlining and scaling operations of your company, getting rid of bottlenecks, and giving your staff everything they needed to be successful at their job. Past guests include David Allen of Getting Things Done, Michael Gerber of the E-Myth and many, many more.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Before I introduce today’s guest, this episode is brought to you by Sweet Process and Sophie, you maybe relate to this, but if you’ve had team members ask you the same questions over and over and over again, and you this the 10th time you spent explaining it, there is actually a better way. There is a solution. Sweet Process is actually a software that makes it drop dead easy to train and onboard new staff and save time with existing staff. And I was talking to one of the founders, Owen, not only do universities, banks, hospitals, and software companies use them, but first responder government agencies use them in life or death situations. So you can use Sweet Process to document all the repetitive tasks that eat up your precious time so you can focus on growing your team, and there’s a 14 day free trial, no credit cards required. If you’re interested in testing it out, go to sweetprocess.com, sweet like candy, S-W-E-E-T Process.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I am excited to introduce Sophie Blais, and Sophie is the COO of WealthCo. And their mission is simple. It’s to provide personalized advice and direction to their clients through trust and transparency, and they do things in asset management, insurance, and much more. Sophie, thanks for joining me.
Sophie Blais: Awesome. Thank you for having me.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So talk a little bit about what WealthCo does.
Sophie Blais: We call ourselves a WealthCo group of companies. And the reason being is we’ve got different arms underneath the umbrella. We’ve got a portfolio management firm called Wealth Class and Management. We also do insurance and estate planning, as well as financial planning and group benefits. And so our mission is a little different than most firms in that we work directly with entrepreneurial CPAs in order to deliver an integrated advisory experience to them, to their clients. And the idea being is that the CPAs often are the trusted advisor for clients, and they look to them for a lot of different advice and they need to have a trusted source to provide that advice and that support.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: -So talk about the evolution over the last 10 years. 10 years ago, were you really focused on entrepreneurial CPAs?
Sophie Blais: So our firm has been around for 20 years. I joined the firm 10 years ago and there was two people. So there was David, our CEO and founder, and his right hand person. And he’d always worked with CPAs. Both he and I came from more the larger institutional sales side of things. And when he started the business, he knew that he wanted to work with the accountants. He believed there was great opportunity there. And so we have always worked with them. I say we’ve honed our craft, especially over the last five to six years into being really specific about how we provide those firms with coaching, with advice and how we can best get the synergy working between them and us and ultimately the clients.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I imagine, working with entrepreneurial CPAs has helped shaped what you do. What were some of the demands? I don’t mean that in a negative sense, I mean, demands of the entrepreneur. What did they want from you throughout the years that have shaped some of the services you provide or branches you started?
Sophie Blais: Yeah, I think basically is CPA’s by nature are conservative, so they want to make sure that your-
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So was entrepreneurial CPA an oxymoron or no?
Sophie Blais: Not really, because a lot of them are… When I look at some of the great CPAs that we have relationships with and we’ve been able to work with over the years and continue to work with, they want to work with their clients. They’re creative in what they’re doing. They’re planners, they’ve got good ideas. What they don’t want to do is they don’t want to partner with somebody who will add risk unnecessarily to their clients. So we’ve got a portfolio management arm. They’re not looking for somebody that manages money in a way that’s saying we’re going to put it all on black in Vegas. They want to know that your philosophy is very much in line with theirs. And our investment management philosophy is very pension-oriented. It’s very endowment-oriented. It’s growth at a steady and reasonable rate.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah. I think there’s a stereotype with entrepreneurs of being maybe shooting from the hip, but I’ve met so many that are super conservative and they just wanted to control their own destiny. And so even when they first started, maybe they kept their full-time job while they started. And then turn that on once they had enough revenue. So they just handled it in a conservative fashion.
Sophie Blais: Yeah. Well, if I look at a lot of the firms that we’re working with, and again, you and I chatted a bit earlier about the difference between the CPA world in the US and Canada. And things are changing. If we look at here in Canada in particular, the banks are doing personal tax returns. The banks are doing corporate tax returns. They’ve got planners. They’re looking to effectively steal the CPA firm’s lunch. And the larger firms are able to, they may have put all that stuff in-house, but a lot of the smaller to mid-size firms don’t have that opportunity. And so in working with us, they actually have the opportunity to be able to compete, to create residual revenue and effectively grow their business and grow their multiple.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah. So you create this kind of wing for these entrepreneurial CPAs.
Sophie Blais: That’s what we’re trying to do.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah. That’s awesome. Well, before we hit record, you also mentioned something about investment style. So I’d love to hear your investments style, and you said bring pension investment style. And I love to hear what you meant by that.
Sophie Blais: Yeah, sure. So it’s really interesting and I’ve been in this business for, I hate to say how long, but over 25 years.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So you were like five when you started.
Sophie Blais: You know, what, I’ll talk to you. So really what normally happens, especially for smaller clients and again, even for clients that have a million dollars in assets, they don’t have access to alternatives like private equity, real estate. It requires larger sums of money to be able to adequately diversify in there. And so what we did, early on, we recognized the need for those sleeves, those investments to be part of a client’s portfolio. And the pools that we have, which are proprietary pools, do have that pension focus. So you’ve got equity and just getting into some details, I apologize, but that equity, you got fixed income, you have alternative income. And also some alternative growths, private equity, and really what you’re doing is you’re smoothing out the ups and the downs, and that’s what resonates with the CPAs as well.
Sophie Blais: So when the markets are running really high, we’re never going to be as high, but when the markets are in the tank, we’re never going to be that low either. And so really when we look at the pensions, especially in Canada, that’s the experience they’ve provided. And the endowment south of the border is the same thing, you’re generating regular income. And for us, we believe that everybody should have an opportunity to invest that way. Not just those that have a lot of wealth.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So my question, so someone hears you talk, Sophie sounds really knowledgeable. I love this. They go to WealthCo.ca, they check it out. Do they have to go through their accountant to work with you? Or can they go to you directly?
Sophie Blais: Most of our clients, I would say today, historically they came to us by various routes. Some were through CPA firms, some weren’t. But today the lion’s share of our clients actually do come to us through their accounting firms. If somebody were to come off the street and not work with an accountant, we would certainly try to accommodate them, or we would provide them with a referral to an accounting firm, so that they could get that full service planning through it.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Got it. We also talked about the importance of people. And people versus technology. What are your thoughts on that?
Sophie Blais: So I don’t think it’s people versus technology. We’re always say that we’re a technology enabled company. And it’s interesting. We actually talk about our technology as being a teammate and making sure that we’re working with that technology to deliver a Wow Client Experience. And so they work together and my belief is we will never be able to replace people totally. And that ability to connect, that ability to build a really strong team to support the firms, to support our clients is super important. We spend a lot of time and invest a lot of time in our people and getting to know them and making sure that we help them be the best they can be, so that they can then deliver the same to the CPAs and the clients.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I want to talk about streamline the operations of a company and how it’s a lot like sales, but before I ask it, you just mentioned technology. So I’m curious, some of your favorite software and hardware that you use on a daily basis. And I know we were talking about one of the hardware pieces you use. So I’d love to hear some of the things that you, your go-tos. It could be an app, it could be a software or a hardware.
Sophie Blais: Sure. So we were actually talking about my Surface Pro and-
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: You made me want to buy one after we talked about it.
Sophie Blais: You know what, we invested in the surface Pros. This is my second, maybe the third Surface Pro. And part of the reason why we did is we’re not an Apple organization, we’re a PC organization, but with a lot of travel and when we still could travel before COVID, it is a really light but super powerful PC. And so you can use it like a tablet, so on the plane, it’s great. But you can also, there’s a keyboard that’s attached. And so everything is in here. It’s perfect. So I’d say that that’s my favorite little piece. In terms of-
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: You said there’s a pen though. What do you use the stylus thing for?
Sophie Blais: If I turn it over and I turn it to be a tablet, I just write, and I can convert that to text. I can work in OneNote. I do a lot of work in OneNote. That’s if you want to talk about applications that I love. OneNote is like my brain, all of the different aspects of the business, different pieces are there. I take my notes there and do my one-on-one meetings with my team. Everything’s captured in one place. We’re a Microsoft shop. About 24 months ago, we decided that given our growth, where we were wanted to go, that we would invest in one major platform. And so Microsoft is what use and what we’ve been spending our time on. And things like that. Did a bit of work with Sweet Process and really like what they’ve come up with as well in terms of… Making things simple is the hardest thing you can do.
Sophie Blais: And so I like to simplify it. I actually started on sales side of the business. Keeping things concise, making things understandable as always then what’s motivated me to work. And so that’s just a game changer, I think, is that the more you can simplify your business, the easier it is to articulate what you do, the easier it is for your clients to understand what you do and how to work together.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Any other apps, software, technology recommendations?
Sophie Blais: Well, I love my podcast app that I use.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: What do you use?
Sophie Blais: Just Apple podcast.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Oh, Apple podcast, okay.
Sophie Blais: Yeah. Another one that I use a lot of is, it’s called Enpass, which is a password app. That’s huge.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Nice. I like LastPass. I use LastPass.
Sophie Blais: So I started with LastPass and then I forget why I made the change, but I made a move to Enpass probably six years ago.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Enpass. Okay. Yeah. I think I was at an event and I think someone used one password and I said it LastPass. And they were really passionate about what they use. And they were trying to convince me. I’m like, "I’m not that passionate about it." So from the streamlining side of things, streamlining the operations of the company is a lot like sales. What do you mean by that?
Sophie Blais: It’s interesting. About four years ago, my business partners asked me if I’d be willing to step in in a more full-time capacity on the operational side of our business. We started as individuals. We had our blocks of business. We came together and we all really were salespeople working towards things and understood the need to create more process around what we were doing to systematize so that we could grow, because you can’t grow if you can’t replicate yourself, if you can’t replicate the work. And I thought it would be a lot different, even though I’ve been involved in pieces of our operations all the way through as a small company, you have to. But what I think the biggest piece was is operations isn’t so much just about being inside your office and closing the door. It’s talking about relationships, which is just like sales.
Sophie Blais: It’s also a lot about team and on the sales side of your team’s a little bit different, but on the operational side, it’s that same type of work. You’re working to help people recognize and realize their potential, you’re motivating people to take action, which is what you do in sales. And all of that ties together. Communication is another huge part about sales versus operations. And I think that’s why I’ve had a certain amount of success on the operational side, because I bring my sales personality and who I am and how I like getting to know people. I like getting to know what makes them tick, which enables us to make more progress on the backend of our business.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: What advice do you have for someone who just needs to do more streamlining and simplifying? And it seems like you think about that and you may even do it naturally. If someone’s like, "This is not my natural way." What advice do you have to streamline operations?
Sophie Blais: So I think the biggest piece to streamlining operations, and I had to remind myself this few times, is to take a breath and to step outside of what you’re in and look at the bigger picture. One of the things I’ve been the last 12 months, I spent a lot of time looking at all of the different processes that we have within the company and all of our different divisions. They’ve been built by different people at different times. And we’re talking a lot more about the client journey. So what is the client journey? Whether that client is a CPA firm, an end client who is investing with us or purchasing insurance, whether it’s a vendor that’s working with us, how do we want that to work? What are the outcomes we’re looking for, which is not much different than what you see a lot from a technology perspective, is what is the client journey? If you can determine what that client journey is, you can then slot the different pieces in there. And you know what, just because you’ve done it one way doesn’t mean it has to be done that way going forward.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I love that. We should all think about that, the client journey. What are some of those pieces you put in place that would be fun to share as part of the client journey?
Sophie Blais: So I’ll share. So we’ve been working on a project, we call it the Wow Clients Experience. And one of the things that I’ve always naturally done in my life, it’s I’m that person that picks the right gift. I am the person that tries to remember birthdays, holidays, special occasions. And so there’s always a little something. And, and we’ve been working to build that through our entire company. And we’ve empowered actually, each team member to deliver a Wow Client Experience. If they hear something from a client or from a CPA or anything like that, they want to send a note. They want to send a gift, they can. We’re in the process of finishing up. We call it our Wow Menu, where our team members can actually pick and choose. And then our administrative, our business services team will deal with the logistics of it. But it is a way to make… Oftentimes it is very transactional, much more personal. And I think that that’s you differentiate yourself in the world we are in today.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Thanks for sharing that. I love that. What’s an example on the Wow Menu?
Sophie Blais: So there’s a few things on the Wow Menu. There’s the [scattered 00:18:01], there’s flowers, there’s chocolates. We’ve done different things. We actually, for our clients that have babies, we’ll do an RESP contribution. So that’s our welcome to the world’s gift for them. Some other things that we do-
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I thought you were going to say you send them a babysitter.
Sophie Blais: No, we should. You know what? That’s not a bad idea.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Have a night on us. Here’s a babysitter.
Sophie Blais: We’ve done different things. If client is in a new house or [inaudible 00:18:36] is getting into a new house, we might send pizza on their first day, the day that they’re moving in. We’re looking at a bunch of different options right now. We’ve done these, these are Yetis. We love the Yetis.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I always love hearing these ideas. So it’s funny you say this, because I listened to this a couple of times because I’m a slow learner, but I listened to Never Lose a Customer again by Joey Coleman. It’s turn any sale into a lifelong loyalty in a hundred days. And he helps you think about mapping out your first 100 days of a client journey. And so I always like getting creative, fun ideas. That’s why I asked.
Sophie Blais: Yeah. Well, it’s really, the sky’s the limit when it comes to this kind of stuff. I truly, truly believe there’s… In our interview process, we try, don’t always remember to ask, but they’re 20 and this, I got this from Cameron Herold from the COO Alliance was, what is your $25, what’s your $25 indulgence. And so we’ll try to do that as well when we’re interviewing, , we’ll find out what somebody likes. They always have a card when they start, normally a little gift. That Wow Client Experience isn’t just for clients, I believe we have to deliver a Wow Client Experience to our team as well. They’re our number one resources are our people.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Totally. Sophie, I have one last question, but first I just want to thank you. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. And I have also listened to, I think, all of Cameron Herold’s books on Audible before. I love his work. People can check out wealthco.ca. You can check out Sweet Process. You can check out more episodes of the podcast. My last question, Sophie, is-
Sophie Blais: Can I?
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah, go ahead.
Sophie Blais: So if a CPA firm is interested in looking at the integrated advisory process, I would actually go to www.integratedadvisory.ca. So that’s the landing page for that line of our business. So that’s where I would go.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Itegratedadvisory.ca. Any other places we should point people towards?
Sophie Blais: That and our website. Those are the best spots to go.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So wealthco.ca, integratedadvisory.ca, especially if you are-
Sophie Blais: A CPA firm.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: A CPA firm. Cool. Last question. Your $25 indulgence?
Sophie Blais: Oh, that’s a great question. So I like to read, and I think that my $25 indulgence, and I do a lot on audio now ,would be to get a book. I’d buy the actual book.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Oh. So buy the book. Are you a big Audible?
Sophie Blais: So I am a big audio. Yeah. A big Audible person, but there are some books that they’re just not the same. You need to have them in… And I’ve got a whole bunch of them around me right now, but where you want to have the actual hard copy of the book. [crosstalk 00:21:41] is always nice.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: So I lied. Okay. That’s not my last question. My last question, because I would love to know your favorite books. What are some of your favorite books?
Sophie Blais: Oh, that’s a great one. So business books?
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Yeah, business books.
Sophie Blais: Business books. So I am a huge, we implemented Traction in our firm, so want to talk about process.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: I’ve talked to Gino Wickman. Yeah.
Sophie Blais: So the Gino’s Traction is my Bible. I’ve read that book probably a dozen times over the last six years since implementing it in the firm. Another one, I love Cameron’s Meetings Sucks. We share that actually with all of our team. Difficult Conversations, I find that whole idea about communication and making sure you say what you mean and what you say. That’s another good one. What else do I have sitting here? Some of the other good books I’m actually reading or listening to right now. The book from Disney CEOO-
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Bob Iger.
Sophie Blais: Bob Iger book, which is fantastic. Measure What Matters by Doerr. I think for me, it’s a balance between running a really efficient and effective business and about people and motivating people and being a great leader and coach. So my books usually fall under those categories.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Sophie, I’m going to be the first one to thank you. This was awesome. Everyone check out their website, WealthCo.ca and integratedadvisory.ca and we’ll see you next time.
Sophie Blais: Awesome. Thank you.
Dr. Jeremy Weisz: Thank you.
Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to The Process Breakdown Podcast. Before you go, quick question. Do you want a tool that makes it easy to document processes, procedures, and/or policies for your company so that your employees have all the information they need to be successful at their job? If yes, sign up for a free 14 day trial of Sweet Process. No credit card is required to sign up. Go to sweetprocess.com, sweet like candy and process like process.com. Go now to sweetprocess.com and sign up for your risk-free 14 day trial.
Owen: Hi, this is Owen, the CEO and co-founder here at Sweet Process. If you’ve enjoyed listening to this podcast interview, actually, you know what I want you to do? Go ahead and leave us a five star review on iTunes. That way we get more people aware of the good stuff that you get here on this podcast. Again, go on to iTunes and leave us a five star review. Looking forward to reading your review. Have a good day.