Giving back to community crucial, says WP awards judge

Every winner of a coveted Wealth Professional award has been painstakingly selected by our respected jury panel.

Greg Pollock, president and CEO of Advocis, is one of those judges and believes the competition from nominees across Canada gets more intense year on year.

The ceremony, which is WP’s salute to the industry’s top performers of the year, is now open for nominations and the fifth annual Wealth Professional Awards night is once again being held at the Liberty Grand on May 30.

The black tie, Oscars-style event will feature 20 hotly-contested organizational and individual award categories, with more than 600 snappily dressed professionals gathering to recognize the excellence of their peers.

For Pollock, it’s the culmination of a vigorous process, which involves studying finalists’ applications, and re-reading and examining many of the outstanding contenders who prove difficult to separate. The nine-strong jury work independently from one another and, once decided, they then inform WP of their winners.

Pollock said: “To be candid, when you end up with two or three [finalists] that are clearly different and better than the rest, I have to go back and decide between those two or three. It’s not often a slam dunk where there is clearly a top candidate, it’s often about a difficult decision. At the end of the day, there are some really good candidates out there.”

Central to the integrity of the awards is that judges come to their final decisions independently and Pollock emphasized there is no communication between them before the ceremony itself. He said: “I think [WP] has designed a pretty robust but also independent process so that it treats all candidates fairly.”

While each category is obviously markedly different, there are some general themes that Pollock says he looks for in an award candidate. Naturally, there is a focus on money and generating wealth but he also believes that financial advisors have a responsibility to support their community and give back. A nominee that only talks about money, he said, rarely rises to the top of his pile.

He added: “The other thing that stands out is the whole ESG factor, where investors again are not only looking at the investments that return the best money for them. But there are some issues around social, environmental and governance responsibility that investors are interested in so, therefore, advisors are learning more and more about those areas.

“Those are challenging areas to figure out because one might find that at the end of the day you haven’t selected the advisor that had the highest returns on behalf of their client because they were looking at other variables that were important to those clients.”

Pollock also said that it is important to celebrate excellence in a job he believes is a public service. Being an award-winner, he said, can ultimately benefit the winner’s practice. “When prospective clients come through the door and see [the award] it will help one’s business. And there is word of mouth – people talk and so in that sense I think it’s helpful for people for sure.”

Another member of the WP jury panel is Camilla Sutton, president and CEO of Women in Capital Markets, who is judging the awards for the first time having already served on the panel for WP’s inaugural Women in Wealth Awards last year.

She said she is not just looking for excellent candidates who watch up well against the criteria but also nominees who go above and beyond the normal expectations for an award.

She said: “The awards give others in the industry ideas and role models for what they are aiming for. It’s critically important on that front. Also, recognizing the work that’s been done and the commitment to the industry is very important with regards to the personal recognition of people winning awards.

“It’s also about the industry itself; people have the wrong idea about what the industry is about. Most people in the industry are working really hard to serve their clients in generating wealth and helping people reach their goals. Recognizing that effort in a positive light is very important for the industry as a whole.”

The WPAs follow a comprehensive selection process involving three months of nominations, industry research and finalist submissions in the lead-up to the night itself. A judging panel comprising independent experts in the wealth managemnent and finance industries determines the winners.

Nominations for the WPAs are open until Monday, February 25, 2019, 11:59pm EST.

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