When you read an account of a topic like this, the writer usually starts with a story such as “when I was a child, we had no money” or “I always knew I wanted to be…”. I have no such story. I’m from a working-class family and my parents were practical, no-frills people. But I can’t say that I ever felt poor. I did recognize that some people had loftier lifestyles than us and it gave me something to which I would aspire. But it was in no way a turning point that made me say, “I want to manage money!”
In my youth, I flirted with many career paths. Sports medicine. Broadcast journalism. Law. I don’t get bored easily. In fact, I find almost everything interesting in some way. Except for playing cards, dancing and James Bond movies. But I digress.
I’m passionate about what I do now, but it feels more like life brought me here than it does a path I went seeking. The first jobs I had when I finished school were with the Federal government at the pension and tax offices. I loved the subject matter, but not working in the public service. So I leveraged my knowledge and my experience dealing with people to land a job in Toronto at the head office of a mutual fund company. I was promoted several times and then took on a role as the head of business development at a self-serve brokerage.
I acquired a lot of investing and planning knowledge as well as the required courses to become licensed as an advisor. I had the privilege of speaking in front of large groups of people – mostly employees that were part of group savings plans. I felt at home doing that. I always had a long line of people who wanted to speak with me afterward and I often got feedback along the lines of “you’re good at explaining things”. It seemed natural to begin building a practice of helping people in the same way with their finances on a more personal level. That was 18 years ago. I’ve learned even more since then. The learning never stops. And it has been incredibly fulfilling. I often say, sitting down and talking with people, formulating their plan and handling their investments, doesn’t feel like work to me.
That’s what lead me to where I am. These days I do it because the subject matter still fascinates me. And a group of people has entrusted me and are counting on me to take that passion and use it to put them in the strongest position. It’s a commitment I’ve made. It’s not a chore. Quite the contrary. It’s something that makes me very excited about starting each day.
Every time a situation arises in a client’s life, and every time I sit down with someone new and hear their story for the first time, I feel a surge of energy and I can’t wait to sink my teeth in and begin sorting things out for them. The plans I formulate and the proposals I put together feel like works of art to me. Sometimes I go back and look at them long after they’ve been presented and I relive the conversations with the clients the way an athlete would relive a great game. Why do I do this for a living? Why would I not do it when it makes me feel that way?
Marketers will tell me that I need to articulate my unique value proposition. What is it that makes me different? Why should people deal with me and not someone else? I don’t know what all the other advisors out there offer. I’m sure many of them are passionate about investing and about helping their clients too. It would be arrogant of me to suggest that I’m better than all of them.
But over the years, people with a need have sat down with me and found that there is a fit with how I do things, how I communicate and what they are seeking. Many have said to me things such as, “no one has ever told me that before” or “this goes way beyond what we’re used to.” I’m very happy to hear that. But I can’t say if that makes me unique. It just makes me the right person for them. We can both be happy that our paths have crossed.
In the same way that life brought me to this work, life has brought me together with my clients and we enjoy a wonderful relationship. This blog has been the impetus for many people to reach out and seek my help. I’m grateful for how my practice is growing. I’m eager to see who I cross paths with next.