TD Bank's Peter Mottek on Wealth's Immense Potential, Staying the Course Amid COVID-19 and Family Time

Peter Mottek and his family

How the Wealth leader is putting the 'new normal' into perspective

TD's Peter Mottek is the Head of U.S. Wealth for the Bank, which is far more about human relationships than it is about growing and accumulating assets, he says.

Mottek takes building strong relationships very seriously to make sure TD is fulfilling the goals set out for its growing client base.

Nevertheless, he's just as serious about the importance of making time for his family. So, when the workday is done, Peter becomes a combination of chef, coach to his triathlete daughter and doting husband.

Peter and his family

He knows the importance of time away from his home office, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, and is aware of how hard it can be to take breaks or step away from his laptop.

Here's a candid conversation with Peter Mottek:

You head up U.S. Wealth for TD. What does that line of business do for the Bank?

We are in the Private Banking, Investment Management and Trust & Estate planning business. We primarily serve two client segments – High-Net Worth (more than $750K in investable assets) and Mass Affluent (more than $100K in investable assets). But we are trying to take our core principals and see how they can be applied to anyone who is a customer at the Bank.

Private Banking is where banking and transactions for High-Net Worth individuals are done, which includes borrowing money and transaction services. Often, High-Net Worth client's requests are the same as everyone else's, just in greater amounts. These customer's financial matters are sometimes more complex, as they often are business owners or partners in a firm, versus employees of a company.

On the Investment Management and Trust side, we are a full-service discretionary investment advisor. That means that we manage our customer's wealth on their behalf (as Fiduciaries), with the responsibility to meet their unique set of goals over time. Goals can include a certain level of lifetime savings, maintaining their current lifestyle during retirement, or perhaps managing where their wealth goes during and after their lifetime – or all the above.

All these goals require a lot of planning and advice. A lot of people think advising is selling. But I think it's actually helping our clients balance their day-to-day financial needs, while effectively investing and saving for the future.

What's a common misconception TD Wealth is working to change?

A common misconception surrounds the definition of what "wealth" is exactly and when someone should reach out to an advisor.

Someone recently asked me, "What business is TD Wealth in?" They were surprised with my answer. I told them that we are in the "financial wellness" business. Once I saw the intrigued look on their face, I continued by letting them know that here at TD, we believe that "financial wellness" is a lot like any other kind of wellness, such as physical wellness or mental wellness. If our Advisors can successfully help our clients effectively manage their daily financial needs and build a game plan for the future, then they will be working towards achieving their goals after retirement. The intended result will be that our clients will have more peace of mind regarding their financial health – and that is what we mean by "financial wellness".

If we look at a broader view, we also ask, are we accomplishing our customer's daily needs in planning for the future? And if we are, then why would this just be done with High-Net Worth and Mass Affluent clients? Why wouldn't you scale this to a much broader set of customers? Why couldn’t we think about advice for every customer of the Bank? So, that's our broader thinking for the future and how the disciplines within TD Wealth can apply to the other parts of the bank. There's a standing myth that the Wealth business is for people with lots of money. The truth is, planning and "financial wellness" is important for everybody.

With COVID-19 and its impact on customer's lives, not to mention the impact on the Financial Markets, customers are seeking advice from their bank to help them prepare for the future, now more than ever.

What's unique about Wealth at TD?

One of the important shifts in our approach with clients is from planning a client's investments to planning a client's goals. To plan for our client's goals and aspirations, we need to have very different conversations with our clients. Learning about our clients through initial conversations is vital in allowing us to personalize our business.

We work very, very hard to formulate a discovery process that really uncovers an individual's or a family's need. You can only imagine those amazing conversations. You find yourself playing a vital role with family members, who, in many cases, are having honest conversations about life goals, money, how they want to live their lives through retirement and what happens when they are gone.

When we present to our customers a personalized game plan, or what we call a TD Wealth Plan, and show them a path to achieving their goals, it is remarkable! It's incredible to literally feel the sigh of relief and the look of satisfaction on their faces.

At TD, there's an authenticity in our relationship with our customers that's simply different than our competitors. It's that critical connection and authenticity that makes us different.

What should people be asking their advisers in an uncertain time like now amid COVID-19?

We always encourage active conversations with clients, and during times like this, we also recommend participation in our Client Outreach sessions where we share our latest views with clients on the current market conditions and ways forward.

Currently, our customers are asking a variety of questions. The majority want to know that their current Investment plan still makes sense given the market volatility, and if not, what changes should be made.

But given these unprecedented times, connection is most important.

Our Wealth Investment team and our Advisors have been connecting with clients proactively to have those conversations and video calls and see how they are doing. That's key.

You started the Wealth Specialist Program two years ago, what is that?

The Wealth Specialists are essentially Wealth Ambassadors that act as team coaches at TD stores. They provide onsite expertise, direct sales of annuities and insurance and also help the Stores to refer business.

We did this initially in two markets/four regions and had 150-200% better performance consistently in stores that had Specialists.

Our target this year is to have 75 Wealth Specialists, which would create a team that can cover between 300-400 of our high operating stores. At the end of the day, we want to continue to provide helpful advice to our customers. This plan will expand our reach to a group of customers we haven't touched before. This helps the customer start their investment journey in a thoughtful, diversified way.

What's your morning routine like?

I'm up every morning at 5 a.m. My routine, which I love is a boxing and kickboxing MMA type training. I hit the heavy bag and do jump rope or a CrossFit-type workout every morning.

It's such a stress reliever.

How do you unwind after a long day, especially amid COVID-19 and stay-at-home mandates?

When this started, I decided that I would have an at-home "office" routine.

I found that it works best for me if I dress in business casual for the day – I never go to work in my home office in my gym clothes. In my mind, I need to separate both worlds. I dress for the office, which is where I am going each morning just as if I were going to a TD location – but it's my home office.

Prior to COVID-19, when I got back from a trip or arrived home from the office, I'd take my phone and sit on the couch and while I was trying to unwind at the end of the day, I'd go through emails. I don’t do that now. Now, when I leave my home office, I'm done for the day. When my family sees me come out of my office, they know I'm not working. That mental set-up and separation has really worked for me.

How is your family during this time?

My children have come home during COVID-19, instead of living in their apartments. Being able to have dinner with my wife and kids every night and their two golden retrievers, well, just to have that is a blessing. With all that's going on, I feel incredibly lucky. My family is here, they are safe, and I get to see them. It's truly things like that which make me happy and feel blessed.

Any advice to your younger self?

Be patient and be positive. I can't imagine any leader not consciously making the important decision to remain determined in holding a positive outlook at this point. As a leader, it's impossible to think as clearly and be able to see the big picture, I believe, unless you have a positive outlook.

But, just as important, is to be patient and slow down. When there are dramatic things happening like right now, there's a feeling you need to react quickly. Critical decision making requires you to be patient and think things through. There are a lot of old adages out there about acting rashly, without thinking. My motto is to be patient and thoughtful about all important decisions. It's better to act thoughtfully, than to react without thinking.


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