Roy Janse, CFP®, AIF®, managing partner of Goldfinch Wealth Management, was five years old when he watched the opening ceremonies of the 1976 Montreal Olympics on TV with his family. He thought the athletes marching in to start the Games was the “coolest thing” and immediately decided he wanted to be an Olympian someday. Over the next 20 years, refusing to simply dream about his goal, Roy put in the time and work necessary to get to the Olympics. The long journey, driven by “blind dedication, mostly,” was ultimately successful. In 1996, he participated in the Atlanta Summer Olympics as a member of the Canadian Sailing Team.
With the Tokyo Summer Olympics just two days away, you might think Roy would be excited to watch the competition. But that’s not the case. He has fond memories of the Olympics, but, as a sports fan, he’s more interested in casually following European soccer. These days, his laser focus is on business and family (with some light training for half-marathons thrown into the mix).
Since beginning his career as a financial advisor in 2002, Roy has put the same hard work and grit into managing his business as he did into achieving his Olympic goal. We spoke about how his lifelong history of athletic training and competition gives him the mindset to succeed as a financial advisor. His perspectives on that topic, as well as some others, are down-to-earth and insightful—and not always what you might expect.
Q: How has your journey to becoming an Olympic athlete helped you in your career as a financial advisor?
A: When people think about the Olympics, they’re imagining two weeks of exciting competition, filled with aspirational performances. For me, the 1996 Olympics was like an exclamation point in a winding run-on sentence. Before getting there, my team aimed for a slot to represent Canada in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, but we lost to another team. So, by the time I made it to the Atlanta Olympics, I’d been training for many years. A lot of that work was painfully boring and repetitious. And the water was often very cold! Competitive sailing is not glamorous.
Similarly, helping people with their financial planning, investments, and overall wealth management isn’t one big event, where “Boom!”, something exciting is achieved. In reality, the everyday work is a lot like the daily training I did for the Olympics. As a business owner and advisor, I think successfully helping clients isn’t like trying for a home-run swing. It’s just that regular, everyday dedication, continuing to do what you need to do.
Q: How do you help clients achieve their goals? Do you have a defined process?
A: My process is to focus on where clients want to go. It’s not about telling them what they must do for the next steps of their journey. I ask my clients, “What do you want to do?” Then, I’ll make sure we work together to flesh out their goals properly. My team and I figure out how we can use our experience to build the financial plan each client needs. So, yes, we have a process, but it’s more about figuring out how we can create a custom solution for our clients to help them pursue their goals rather than fitting them into something pre-designed.
Q: In 2019, as a Wealth Management Thrive Award Recipient,* you were recognized as one of the fastest-growing advisors in the U.S. How did your Olympic mindset translate to setting goals for business growth?
A: As with athletics, I think of business growth as a long-term endeavor. Bill Gates once said, “Most people overestimate what they can do in a year, but underestimate what they can accomplish in 10 years.” That’s a great insight. To apply it to my business, I’ve set a goal of growing an average of 20 percent each year for the next 10 years.
But I don’t worry about that on a day-to-day basis—that would be a waste of time. Instead, I try to do what my team used to do back in our sailing days. We would focus on specifics, such as getting better at boat handling or improving our sail trimming techniques.
So, now, although my goal is in the back of my mind, I work on figuring out how to make investment management more scalable, whether the firm needs to bring on another advisor or to restructure the office director role—things like that. My partners and I ask, “How do we become more efficient, give better client service, and create a better client experience?” If we do all of those things, I believe that, short of the market going flat, we’ll grow our business.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you ever received?
A: I’m sort of like the antithesis of broad advice, since so much about advice is situation-specific. You need the right advice at the right time in the right situation. Given how complex and changeable life situations are, simplistic advice can fall short or be dead wrong. That’s why I focus on designing solutions tailored to specific situations.
Q: You founded your firm, Goldfinch Wealth Management, in January 2021. What led you to make that move during a pandemic?
A: Quite simply, I wanted the freedom to go in exactly the direction I envisioned because the former partnership I was in was restrictive for many years. Last year brought on a lot of changes really quickly and forced us to adapt. That’s part of the fun of life—going in different directions and finding new challenges so that you can grow.
Q: How did the pandemic affect your business?
A: We have clients all over the country, some of whom I’ve never met face to face. As many advisors found out, the pandemic meant clients got comfortable doing Zoom meetings. I also had video meetings with other Commonwealth advisors to talk about different ways to work. Sometimes, they send quick videos or a personal podcast that helps me learn where they’re at and where I should be.
Q: What qualities make an advisor successful?
A: The people skills. There’s that saying, “Nobody cares what you know, until they know that you care.” That’s not going to change anytime soon. Aside from that, quite bluntly, success comes from working your backside off. It’s just a lot of hard work.
Q: How has Commonwealth supported your firm’s achievements?
A: I love that Commonwealth’s philosophy is “We’re here to serve you, to help you go in whatever direction you want to go.” From a philosophical standpoint, Commonwealth has been a perfect fit for me and my partners.
Q: If you do watch the Olympics, do you root for Canada or the U.S.?
A: The U.S., with one exception. When it comes to the Winter Olympics, I still want Canada to win the gold medal in hockey as I know how important that is for the Canadian people. Otherwise, I cheer for America 100 percent.
*The 2019 WealthManagement.com Thrive Awards list was compiled by measuring
percentage revenue growth over the previous three years. Revenue was measured
as gross revenue from AUM fees, commissions, trails, hourly or subscription
fees, retainers, and other similar wealth and investment management revenue
before any costs or expenses. Overall, more than 435 advisors were considered,
and 250 (57 percent) were recognized. This award is not indicative of the
advisor’s future performance. Your experience may vary.