Smart Exit: The Power of Wealth Management

In the latest episode of The Selling Successfully Podcast, Portage Founder and Partner Jim Friesen was joined by Ed Lee, Investment Advisor at RBC, to talk about the importance of holistic wealth planning and management now to set business owners and their families up for a successful future. 

Here are the 5 key takeaways for those thinking about or ready to sell.

1.Think big picture.  

Running a successful enterprise involves wearing multiple hats and juggling numerous responsibilities. From managing operations and driving growth to serving customers and leading a team, business owners have a full plate. However, amidst the daily hustle, it’s crucial not to overlook the long-term financial health of your business and your personal wealth.

Big-picture planning goes beyond “in-the-moment” decisions and success and considers what you’d like life to look like for yourself and your family when you exit the workforce or opt for a change of pace. The first step is finding an investment advisor you can trust with your aspirations and apprehensions. They will listen to your needs and wants and evaluate those against multiple factors including your debt situation, revenue, investments, tax and estate planning as well as legacy considerations and wishes for the next generation in order to develop a comprehensive guide for the future. 

By aligning personal and business financial planning, business owners can optimize their overall financial health, reduce conflicts, and ensure that both their personal and business goals are met. It’s not a set-it-and-forget-it approach either, but a dynamic and iterative process that requires regular assessment and adjustment as circumstances change.

2. Start small, start early.

Many people think the planning begins when the exit cheque is delivered, when in reality the planning begins much earlier and is updated as the business owner progresses. Ed refers to this as a “living document.” And while he believes that it is never too late to begin investing, he encourages everyone to start as soon as they can. The key here is to develop good habits which will put you in a position to secure a solid business valuation for a successful exit down the road.

This proactive approach is important because many do not feel financially ready for that next stage of life. A recent survey from tax preparation firm H&R Block Canada found that more than half (52%) of Canadians feel they are behind on retirement savings. They say they’re unprepared for retirement because they don’t have enough money left at the end of the month for savings, and that they are planning on working part-time when they do retire.

Under the guidance of an investment advisor, this can be avoided. In fact, those who have diligently invested and planned may be surprised to learn they can sell their business and retire sooner.  

3. Cut the cookie-cutter approach.

Online financial plans typically provide a one-size-fits-all approach. They may not account for your specific financial goals, income, expenses, debts, assets, risk tolerance, and life circumstances. While online financial tools and templates can be a helpful starting point, they often fall short of providing the depth and personalization that a professional advisor can offer. They also tend to lack the flexibility and ongoing support that a properly prepared and managed financial plan requires. This is not a static document and should evolve as you do. 

A customized and holistic financial plan provides this fluidity along with accessible and consistent expert insight. This type of plan is created after a thorough assessment of your individual financial situation and takes into account your personal and business objectives, current financial position, and any unique challenges you may face. This tailored approach ensures that your plan is aligned with your specific needs and aspirations, making it more effective in helping you reach your goals.

4. Tap into Top Tools.

From the outside looking in, the planning process can appear to be a monumental undertaking. Although it is comprehensive, investment advisors with the right tools can make the exercise quite seamless.

Ed uses RBC’s myGPS, a foundational tool that guides business owners from startup, through operational growth, to succession and exit planning. It provides an overview of your financial picture and how you are tracking against your short-term and long-term goals. It also helps answer key questions that can easily keep you awake at night. And it’s all mapped out visually with easy-to-digest-graphs. 

Although Ed may not have a crystal ball, this tool comes pretty close with its smart projections!

5. Get all access.

Investment advisors should have access to a wide range of internal and external resources to better meet your needs. Ed explains his role can be described as the “project manager” or “quarterback” for the business owner and their wealth planning. 

Internally Ed and RBC have all of the specialists they need at their fingertips. These include commercial account managers, business and cross-border planning specialists and private bankers. Externally, Ed looks to partner with the business owner’s M&A advisor, accountants and lawyers. 

Having all of these players on your deal team, coordinated and collaborating, ensures you’re coming to the game prepared to make a winning deal.


Business owners, due to the nature of their work and setup, often face more complex financial factors. However, having an expert (or a few!) in your corner can help simplify and streamline the process. 

Ed’s parting words stress the importance of starting early in terms of planning and investing to set yourself, your business and your family up for success. However, he also understands that every situation is unique. Those who feel they are playing “catch up,” can take comfort in knowing that it is never too late to invest and develop a plan.

If you’d like to get in touch with Ed you can email him at

To learn more listen to the full episode, Smart Exit: The Power of Wealth Management, here.