Informed by nearly 40 years of financial experience, Rene Pereux splits his time between his own firm—Pereux Financial Services (PFS)—and as co-CEO of Daystar Financial Group. He was inducted to the Sun Life Hall of Fame in 2008, in recognition of lifetime achievement within the industry, has earned CLU, CFP, and CH.F.C. designations, and is a member of the Million Dollar Round Table, qualifying at its highest level. Advantage recently sat down with him to learn more about his work, legacy, and goals.
Advantage: What is the relationship between what you do with Pereux Financial Services and Daystar Financial Group?
Rene Pereux: PFS is an advisory business I’ve had for a very long time. I advise direct clients on corporate insurance, estate planning strategies, tax strategies, and other financial concepts. Daystar Financial Group, on the other hand, is an insurance distribution company, distributing insurance products and educational services to advisors like PFS. Though my businesses are in the same industry, they are still different businesses, and one challenge of that is they have both been fast-growing. Any time you grow quickly, you need to grow your capabilities to match. I have a deep passion and conviction for what we do for clients. The more we do through these companies, the more value we are to people.
How would you describe your style of leadership?
I don’t micromanage. At Daystar and PFS, we find good people to work in the organization—people with good knowledge, integrity, leadership skills, and all of the values we think are important. And we let these people do their jobs. We don’t just give them responsibilities; we give them authority. I enjoy giving people the opportunity to have the authority to make decisions, and I would rather that they occasionally make a wrong decision than never make a decision at all.
Does this play into how you develop clients and interact with them?
Most of my business comes from existing relationships and referrals. My approach is to listen. Ask a lot of questions and look to establish hard facts—statistical scenarios, who are the shareholders, and so forth—as well as soft facts, like asking what things our clients would like to see happen under different scenarios down the road. This involves a lot of listening, a lot of questioning, and a lot of information gathering, so we can then give advice and recommendations that we think best suits their objectives.
What is your greater vision is for Daystar?
When I founded Daystar, I felt that independent advisors like myself needed a value-added distributor—an organization that could bring and deliver value to these advisors that, in turn, the advisors could pass on to their clients. For Daystar, we wanted to grow an organization that didn’t just process paperwork but actually help advisors grow and develop. The clients will be the benefactors of this and ultimately all the work should be done in the best interest of the client.
Because Daystar is just over 10 years old, how have you helped it stay competitive in this fast-paced industry?
Keith Brown—my co-CEO—and myself are advisors, operating at a reasonably high level in this industry. As a result, we understand what advisors need; it is fairly easy for us to put that into our value proposition. This has been helpful for us to attract other like-minded advisors to join our organization. This is an ongoing process, and our philosophy is progress, not perfection.
Do you do any community work outside of the financial industry?
I’ve always had a philosophy that everyone should try to make a contribution in the community. Big or small—that contribution can come in many forms. Around 15 years ago, I was looking for a charity associated with children because I believe children are important. I was working with a client who shared with me her work with the Rehabilitation Centre for Children. I saw that it was and is a great organization where thousands of children are assisted every year in our region. I decided to make this my main charity and help in any way possible.
After more than three decades in the business, what are you most proud of?
Over the years, the work we’ve done has allowed us to see how many families we have helped and how many businesses we’ve helped get from one generation to the next. This is what takes me into the office every day. People have put their trust and confidence in us, and I’m proud that we can serve our clients in this way. Beyond this, my daughter joined the organization a few years ago and is doing a great job, so it makes me really proud that this business will itself be moving on to a second generation.