In the world of professionals, lawyers and accountants have learned to chuckle at jokes about ‘billable hours’ and long client lunches. But in reality, these professionals hit the ground running – and continue to sprint – from the day they begin their studies through the time they make ‘partner’ or open their own firm.
Fortunately, Scotiabank has more than three decades of experience understanding the distinct financial needs of professionals, from ‘legal eagles’ and ‘ledger leaders,’ to architects and engineers. The key is offering a dedicated Professional Specialist who accompanies these individuals on their career marathon.
Sprinting out of the gate
With over 15 years experience serving professional clients at Scotiabank, Lia Donatelli, Toronto-based Director and Group Lead, Professional Banking can describe their common traits: “Each of our clients is very different, however they are each highly-educated and they face a lot of pressure ‘right out of the gate,’ while they study, when they join a practice or start their own, and as they build their book of clients.”
“Their working hours can be intense, based on their own clients, and the deadlines and deals they need to close,” notes Julie Trembelas, Senior Manager, Professional Banking, who serves clients around their 60 to 80-hour work weeks.
Trembelas emphasizes that, though these professionals may be on the track to high incomes, their financial pressures are many:
“While typical students graduate and get a job to start paying down their student loans, these professionals – who likely studied longer and acquired bigger debts – may need to take-on more financing, either to join an existing firm or start their own, plus their personal needs, like a mortgage or car.”
“It’s not unusual for a professional to accumulate sizable student debts and then, if they are invited to become a partner at a firm, they are expected to put capital into the partnership, varying from a hundred thousand to half a million dollars initially,” explains Donatelli.
In light of the long work hours, it’s easy for these time-pressed clients to overlook important financial planning matters. “We suggest that they meet with qualified advisors, including their banker and tax specialist, to talk about putting money aside, and to take advantage of tax savings opportunities,” says Trembelas. “The tax planning piece is very important, and their strategy should evolve at different stages of their career. And, if they are starting a family, they should not delay will and estate planning.”
Donatelli notes that some time-crunched professionals postpone these crucial tasks: “One big surprise they might face is when they make partner, and essentially become business owners or are self-employed and get a large tax bill each quarter or year-end that must be paid. Also, they may have irregular income but regular debt or tax payments to make. Fortunately, our team is composed of experienced Professional Specialists who know how to work through these situations, whether it is preparing for tax obligations, planning to start a practice, or buying a property, saving for retirement.”
The runner’s companion, taking care of everything
But how do you advise an ‘on-the-go’ professional for whom time is their most valuable and finite resource? Picture those marathon volunteers who dash alongside the runner to hand them water.
“It’s true that these professionals are busy, and if we can get two minutes of their time that’s a lot,” says Donatelli. “That’s where our experience really helps, so we can make each minute count. Our team can explain things efficiently, and follow-up on the details while they run to their next commitment.”
In fact, Scotiabank provides a dedicated Specialist to serve as each professional’s primary contact. And, they are completely mobile, so they can go to the client and work closely with other specialized partners to provide tailored advice. Then, they deliver relevant solutions for their client’s life stage.
“The Scotia Professional Plan covers all their milestones, from student, to early career, to our unique loan program to help new partners finance their equity stake in their firm.”
She refers to Scotiabank’s established relationships with many accounting and law firms that allow a new partner to easily access the capital they need. “It’s a great relief to a new partner when someone can tell them, ‘Congratulations on making partner – Now your dedicated Professional Specialist at Scotiabank will take care of everything.’”
Donatelli recalls a client who appreciated such end-to-end service: a lawyer who was unsure how to proceed when her firm offered her a partnership. “We delivered a solution very quickly and we earned her trust to come to us for each new financial need,” she recounts “We offered real continuity of service when she wanted to buy another home, begin an investing and tax strategy, and when her grown daughter needed a loan for law school. Now, we are helping that daughter access financing to become a partner in her firm. This continuity of service made a big difference for these clients.”
She points out that she has observed how the team is serving an increasing number of female professionals who are achieving career success in some traditionally male-dominated fields: “I’m proud that we are delivering customized advice to meet their distinct financial planning considerations, including helping some clients defer loan payments during maternity leave to help manage their cash flow.”
Such perspective on the changing demands upon professionals is distilled from Scotiabank’s history serving these clients for more than 30 years and, introducing the Scotia Professional Plan years before most financial institutions awoke to professionals’ needs.
“We have understood them, and worked with them, longer than the rest. They hit the ground running, and we partner with them, deliver the simplicity professionals appreciate, and holistically take care of everything they need.”