Danny Popescu, Harbourfront Wealth Management’s ‘White-Gloved’ Transition Process Helps Drive Up Advisor Numbers


Over ten years ago, when Danny Popescu was transitioning from an exit as a partner in a buyout, he was considering how to create the ideal atmosphere for wealth advisement – ideally, free of constraints on pursuing non-traditional assets for investment.

Danny Popescu saw a path to success in having true independence to do what’s best for the client, and ultimately, for the firm – as having a shared-equity model was built into that ideal atmosphere.

Now, Danny Popescu’s firm, Harbourfront Wealth Management, has grown to over 30 branches with a workforce of nearly 300 people. He attributes this growth to his ability to attract “entrepreneurial advisors” who want to pursue investments beyond traditional stocks and bonds.

That lure has proven powerful, as attested by the 22% growth his advisor team experienced this past year. To accommodate such sustained and significant growth, Popescu’s Transitions team has been tasked with developing what he calls a “true concierge” experience for advisors to transition into his firm.

“We are a fast-growing firm,” says Geoff Pilgrim, Harbourfront’s Director of Operations and Transition Services. “We’ve recently doubled our capacity, and we’ve developed a seamless transition experience. We’ve learned to handle anything, any province, any size of book. It’s white-gloved all the way through.”

There are indeed several layers involved with making this kind of transition as a financial advisor.

But Pilgrim believes Harbourfront’s transition process will alleviate most anxieties for advisors.

“The goal is seamless,” says Pilgrim. “We want our advisors up and running full speed within a month or two of their arrival. We bring over their assets, their personal business modes. We handle all the service, marketing, legal aspects of transition, and of course administration. We succeed with clear messaging, and we have a strong duty of care.”

Danny Popescu’s financial advisory model has proven to be attractive for entrepreneurial advisors. But this transition process is making a jump to his firm seem more and more irresistible for a certain caliber of wealth managers.

“[At Harbourfront] one of the big attractions for successful advisors and portfolio managers is the cash and equity opportunity as they join,” says Brian Mennis, Head of Corporate Development with Harbourfront Wealth Management. “With us, you own three businesses. You own your practice, you own shares in Harbourfront and you own shares in Willoughby Asset Management, our investment manufacturing arm. And you have true independence in offering the best products for your clients while using the best technology tools.”

Leonard Trigg, Harbourfront’s Chief Technology Advisor, adds: “[Advisors] don’t want to spend time duplicating the same request into three different systems. We use a data lake that we built over the last couple of years, which helps give us kind of an independence and put best-of-breed modern solutions on top of that. It’s designed to work with the advisor and to help deliver solutions that they need for their clients in their practice.

As pension-style investments continue to grow in popularity among retail investors, firms like Harbourfront Wealth will continue to see exponential growth.

“Our team sees the growth we’re experiencing, and there’s a shared sense of accomplishment in what we’re all doing together. It’s a fun place to be.”

The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of The World Financial Review.