Economist and thinker, John Kenneth Galbraith, once said that “All of the great leaders have had one characteristic in common: it was the willingness to confront unequivocally the major anxiety of their people in their time. This, and not much else, is the essence of leadership.” In an era where the major economies are experiencing economic dislocation and restructuring, the ability to analyse and predict what will happen to your assets is the work of visionaries, or more specifically, forensic risk managers.
We spoke to Doug Ailles, President and Chief Executive Officer of Doug Ailles and Associates Limited, and winner of Business Worldwide’s Corporate Excellence Awards 2015 in two categories: ‘Forensic Business Integration Firm of the Year 2015’ and ‘CEO of the Year Canada 2015/Financial Services.’ We wanted to know what makes his role and business so unique, and what distinct ideas he brings to his profession.
What’s so important about what you do as a forensic risk manager and financial planner?
Forensic risk management aims to help business owners succeed, and we aim to make their futures more predictable. We evaluate their risk management framework and introduce them to key contacts of ours – Actuaries, Chartered Accountants and specialised lawyers – who will help them with various aspects of their business. We look at what their most pressing need is and how they can improve performance.
It is also about planning for the future. Do businesses have an exit strategy, and do they have a business will or a secondary will that deals with their corporate shares? We look at their audited statements if they have them, and whether these indicate an increase in the valuation of their company.
By identifying and prioritising their risks, we will create strategies to manage risk in their company. Do they have a bucket of cash as a protective strategy? As a Trust Specialist and a member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, I will discuss and recommend a particular type of trust account to mediate their risks, both personal and corporate. We will examine retained earnings and look at ways of minimising corporate and personal tax.
I also specialise in Forensic Business Integration, which is a precision analysis and ongoing monitoring programme. We analyse and articulate the vision of your company, problem solve around obstacles when they arise, analyse opportunities and risks, and make your company unique, in demand, and exclusive. We operate in a three-month world and strive to move your company forward every 90 days.
What’s distinctive about your business, or what do you offer that other services don’t?
I offer a personalised, thorough and connected examination of businesses and the risks which are emerging. I see myself as forming a strategic alliance with my clients.
I examine how new global trends might affect your business. One example of this is Bitcoin, the virtual currency created in 2008 as a means to bypass banks, and currently one of the least trusted institutions after the 2008 crash. Bitcoin offers a series of opportunities and risks for businesses. Opportunities, because it offers lower transaction rates and the potential for alleviating dependence on banks; risks, because as the Silk Road affair showed, black-market and organised criminal networks have made use of Bitcoin.
Another example of what we do that is unique is how to articulate a vision or goal for the company and for individuals who work there. All companies have a mission statement. I take it one step further and ask the CEO what their personal mission statement is. CEO’s don’t normally have one. This is an example of how I help not just companies, but company leaders.
You have said in previous interviews that the working culture you foster has been key to your success. Could you expand on that?
Five years ago I joined Strategic Coach, which supports and gives advice to entrepreneurs. Through this programme, I learned to delegate more effectively. Delegation is a key management skill and has been a central factor to my success. Why? Because you need to stop doing what is not your unique ability and delegate to other members of your company who have the right skills. Train people! Determine what is important and what is not important for you to do, so that you can pass things onto others.
What aspects of your life, work or educational experience led you to develop your business?
I am a mathematician, and I use these skills in my profession. I have written and published several books in mathematics over the years, taught at the University of Toronto and I am a public speaker throughout North America.
I constantly look for new ways to develop my skills and thinking. I hold a number of prestigious qualifications and designations including Fellow of Canadian Securities Institute, Chartered Investment Manager, Financial Management Advisor, and Certified Financial Planner.
I am a member of societies such as the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners and the Council of Advanced Life Underwriting (CALU). CALU regularly meet with Members of Parliament and their committees in Ottawa regarding tax changes which affect corporations, trusts, business owners and the general public.
I like to think that my educational history, business experience and institutional participation have meant I have developed a unique ability to add value to businesses, which is what I do. Ongoing learning and thinking are crucial.
You have said that the Bible has influenced your business. Can you be more specific?
My belief in the Bible has meant that I both espouse and practice the core values of truth, honesty and community. I have included quotes from the Bible in material I send out to clients, and have found clients keen to respond to these.
You will see in my Passport, which I hand out to new prospects, I stand strong on truth and honesty, and will discuss my beliefs openly with Christians, Jewish CEOs and non-Christians. I have been asked to speak at luncheons to “Christians in the Workplace,” which looks at ways to support Christian values and Christians in workplaces.
Lastly, I engage in charitable deeds. For example, I am involved in local car clubs – these are for car enthusiasts – who try to find ways of giving back to the community by raising money for charity.
Where do you hope Doug Ailles and Associates Limited will be in five or ten years’ time?
We have proved incredibly resilient in the midst of the financial turmoil dating from 2008, which I see as a testament to how our firm is organised and the fact we work on a ten-year target, which is very specific and measurable. The future? Watch this space!