We are always curious about people’s decisions concerning the financial institution they deal with for their day-to-day banking and lending needs.
For instance, we have reviewed situations where clients hold multiple bank accounts among multiple institutions. I’ve also seen multiple bank accounts held at one institution. Finally, we have seen situations where significant cash levels in bank accounts earn little to nothing.
We understand that some people categorize their money into different accounts; this is often the case with younger people. For example, they may want to segregate savings into a travel account, new car account, emergency fund, etc.
However, we typically see that this compartmentalization shifts as our clients get older and accumulate more wealth. As a result, there is a desire to simplify and reduce the number of accounts and the number of financial institutions they are dealing with.
In addition to a Wealth Management division, all large financial institutions have a banking side. They have more locations, have large signage, and you can walk in during normal business hours.
As an example, Scotiabank has 19 branches on Vancouver Island. The wealth management division has fewer locations and less prominent signage; meetings are done by appointment. The wealth management division is ScotiaMcLeod, with 4 locations on Vancouver Island.
When we are onboarding new clients, we are required to ask for their banking details. The request often creates a discussion regarding whether they have any outstanding loans, lines of credit, and their overall cash flow and banking needs. Almost always, periodic, or monthly transactions are planned between banking and wealth management divisions.
When we ask people to provide their banking details, we often get asked the two questions below:
1) Are we required to have a bank account at Scotiabank when we open investment accounts at ScotiaMcLeod?
The answer is “no, clients can have their banking relationship at any Canadian financial institution.” Changing wealth management firms is normally a first step and a big step for many of our new clients. We explain to them that we could link their existing chequing account, regardless of the financial institution, to their ScotiaMcLeod investment accounts.
2) Should we have our bank accounts at Scotiabank?
When new clients ask us if they should open bank accounts at Scotiabank, we will review their current banking situation and needs. We make notes of any debt balances, maturity dates, banking goals, etc. Part of this discussion then leads to us explaining the many benefits that wealth management clients have by having their bank accounts at the same financial institution. Approximately 70 percent of our clients have their day-to-day banking relationship with Scotiabank.
Below are some of the main discussion points we have talked to clients about when considering aligning their bank and wealth management accounts to be at the same financial institution.
Relationships Are Key
The services the bank offers are very much complementary to the services we provide; however, our services are different.
Every day we talk with our partners at Scotiabank. Knowing the key people helps our clients by connecting them with the right specialists to help them with their banking needs. If a client has borrowing needs for a business venture, real estate transactions, etc., we can direct them to the right people at Scotiabank.
If our clients do their banking at another institution, we would not be familiar with the right people at a different financial institution. If a client is frustrated that they are not getting good service at the bank they are using, we are always available to introduce our great clients to great people at the bank that we know will be able to assist them.
Verbal phone calls
In talking to clients, we put a lot of emphasis on building a good relationship with your banker. They can be an enormous asset to you. When a banker knows you, they can often help you over the phone and by email. If they don’t know who you are, this is generally not possible.
When a need arises, we can phone the staff at the bank with our clients in our office to address the need. Often, the bank will require some financial information that our division has, and with the client’s consent, we can share this information. This combined collaboration is truly what total wealth management is about – making things as easy as possible for our mutual clients.
Canadian financial institutions offer various services with specialists to fulfil our clients’ needs. For example, Scotiabank has Small Business advisors to service our small business owners/clients with comprehensive advice and engage in long-lasting and successful business relationships while offering product solutions such as business bank account openings and business lending, among others.
Like other financial institutions, Scotiabank dedicates a team of advisors to assist with various personal borrowing (i.e., mortgage specialists) and savings solutions, investment, and financial planning. Having a team of specialists dedicated to clients’ unique life stages and needs allows the bank to develop long-lasting relationships with its customers while having a team with the expertise to help with any task or client’s need.
Clients with banking and wealth management services at one financial institution can easily track their financial position. With just one login to online services, you can see all your bank accounts and investment accounts in one combined view. This can be useful when managing cash flows, transfers between accounts, and financial planning (monitoring finances and preparing net worth statements).
Moving Funds Is Easier
Often, a client will want to move funds from a bank account to an investment account. In years past, clients would typically write a cheque. Cheques involve time to physically write the cheque out and deliver it to the wealth management firm. Delivery was typically done by driving to our office and dropping it off or sending a cheque by courier or regular mail.
Today, nearly all our funds’ transfers are done through online transfers, setting up payees, or direct debit requests. Below we have outlined all three of these options.
Online transfers are seamless when using the Scotia Online services. Our clients can easily transfer funds online from a bank account to their non-registered investment account. This feature is useful when clients want to send money to make a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) contribution, to top up Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSA), or to contribute more money to their non-registered investment accounts, such as a corporate account.
Online transfers can be relatively efficient; however, some financial institutions will limit the daily transfer amount. Scotiabank limits daily online transfers to $100,000.
Setting Up Payee
One way around the daily online transfer limits is to set up the non-registered ScotiaMcLeod investment account as a payee under the bill payments section of online banking. This action is very similar to making a utility bill payment. We encourage clients to send $1 as a test before sending any larger dollar amounts. We know that this system works seamlessly between Scotiabank and ScotiaMcLeod.
Direct Debit Request
For clients that have a Scotiabank chequing account, we can have our clients sign a direct debit request form. Internally, we use a CA41 Form. It enables us to pull funds from our clients’ Scotiabank bank accounts and transfer them into their non-registered ScotiaMcLeod investment accounts (i.e., individual cash account, joint with right of survivorship account, and corporate account).
A simple phone call can do this, and there is no dollar threshold to transfer. If we receive the request before 12:30 p.m., we can ask for the funds for the same day. This process saves our busy clients a substantial amount of time. We can only use the CA41 form with clients who hold their bank accounts at Scotiabank.
Canadian Bank Account
When clients come to see us, they often have two or more different Canadian bank accounts. In some cases, they have multiple bank accounts at different financial institutions. Our recommendation is to simplify the banking component to have one chequing account. This is particularly important as our clients get older and want transactions to be automated as much as possible.
We encourage our clients collecting OAS, CPP, or other pensions to have these payments paid into a single chequing account. Withdrawals from ScotiaMcLeod investment accounts are set up as a Systematic Withdrawal Plan (SWIP), lump-sum requests, or type 3 account (transfers income only) – all get paid into the Canadian bank account.
U.S. Dollar Credit Card
Many clients that travel frequently may benefit from a U.S. dollar visa card. When traveling in the U.S. or ordering items in U.S. dollars on websites, they have a credit card that will maintain the charges in U.S. dollars.
Although clients can use a Canadian dollar credit card, the ultimate conversion costs would be determined at the time of the transaction, whether that is favourable or not. Also, smaller transactions on a credit card would have a wider spread for currency conversion. Typically, our clients with a U.S.-dollar Scotiabank credit card also have a U.S.-dollar bank account.
U.S. Dollar Bank Account
Many clients have U.S. dollar Scotiabank accounts linked to their Scotia Wealth Management account. For example, the investment portfolio at Scotia Wealth Management would have many U.S. dividend-paying equities.
Whenever our clients need U.S. cash, we can move U.S. dollars directly from their investment account to their bank account through a verbal phone call, provided the U.S. dollar bank account is at Scotiabank and we have the details (i.e., full U.S. account number linked to their account profile). There is no cost to transfer funds from ScotiaMcLeod to Scotiabank.
This facility is convenient for our clients who are away for over a month and must pay U.S.-dollar expenses. They may call us to move U.S. funds into their U.S. bank account. Our client will then log into Scotia Online and transfer U.S .funds to pay for the U.S. visa.
When our clients are contemplating a move from one personal residence to another, helping an adult child buy a home, or needing banking services, we are in a better position to ensure they are speaking with the right person based on our relationships with Scotiabank.
For example, there are Home Financing Advisors that we work with. With the client’s consent, we can easily share information with them through our intranet, a private network system, to maintain security and control. This referral action typically saves our clients a considerable amount of time.
The first item we review with clients in every meeting is how much money they have in the bank and whether they need us to send any money to them. In addition to asking them what they currently have in their bank, we will ask them what their cash flow requirements are over the next 24 months.
It is always a balance of ensuring cash balances are getting an appropriate return while ensuring cash is available when needed without having to sell investments at the wrong point in the equity market cycle.
We often recommend that our clients close all unnecessary bank accounts, making cash flow management and tax reporting easier. More importantly, it will simplify their life. With many savings-type accounts, you get a higher rate with higher balances.
Simplifying is especially important as our clients get older and request assistance from family members. Making things easier for yourself will also make it easier for others to assist you.
Banking Power of Attorney
We find some of our clients need assistance with banking activities. When clients are aging, we often talk to them about setting up banking power of attorney. This document differs from a legal power of attorney done through a lawyer.
A banking power of attorney would enable a named individual they trust to deal with the day-to-day savings and chequing accounts. It also enables them to deal with credit cards and other debt products, such as lines of credit and mortgages.
A banking power of attorney can assist with monitoring transactions to ensure no irregular activity. Assistance can be provided by accessing and reading bank statements. Because mobility issues may limit the ability to go into a physical branch, online options exist.
Sometimes online options are a challenge because of poor eyesight or possibly not understanding new technology and the implementation of security measures to protect accounts. In most cases, when we discuss banking power of attorney, this same individual(s) will also have financial power of attorney set up on the investment accounts within ScotiaMcLeod.
Sometimes, we are asked whether to have individual non-registered bank accounts and investment accounts or whether they should add a trusted individual (i.e., adult child) joint on the account. This can be a long conversation regarding finances, incapacity, probate discussion, and estate planning. Having an integrated plan for the banking and investment divisions is always important.
Kevin Greenard CPA CA FMA CFP CIM is a Senior Wealth Advisor and Portfolio Manager, Wealth Management with The Greenard Group at Scotia Wealth Management in Victoria. His column appears every week at timescolonist.com. Call 250.389.2138, email email@example.com, or visit greenardgroup.com.