Why We Do What We Do

Mark

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Mark Neufeld

Financial Advisor, Associate Portfolio Manager, Director

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When I first started working in the financial planning profession, I had no idea what it was all about. It was late 1999 and I was 25 years old. Coming out of school, I thought the financial planning profession had to do with money and nothing else.

Growing up, I had what I believed was a natural ability to save money so I thought I should explore a profession that had to do with money.

I had the fortunate opportunity to be mentored by a senior associate in the firm (the late Ken Hawley) and for the first two years, I would observe his daily interactions with clients both in person and in writing. I absolutely remember the day I decided I wanted to have a career in financial planning.

A client was leaving Ken’s office after a meeting, and while sitting at my desk, I saw Ken and the client embrace. The light bulb went off – I understood that day the financial planning profession is not about stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, MERs, costs, income tax, etc. It is about connecting with clients on a human level. That is why we do what we do.

Relationships with clients are at the core of the financial planning profession. If we don’t have long-term, trusting relationships with clients, we are not in business.

I’ve learned it takes years to build trusting relationships with clients and seconds to lose it. That is why we have such high standards when it comes to confidentiality, service, and hiring.

In our profession, we share in all the highs of our clients’ experiences along with the lows and everything in between.

Whether it is the birth of a child/grandchild, marriage, divorce, the start of a new career, a promotion or salary increase, losing a job, retirement, the death of a loved one, the transition of a loved one into a care home, a family illness, a sale of a home, or the sale of a business.

Every client has their own unique journey, and we feel privileged to be on that journey together. Money is at the forefront of our discussions, and it is the jumping off point for our long- term relationships.

We have a genuine interest in our clients. One of the most enjoyable aspects of our profession is learning about all the different interesting careers, jobs, and businesses our clients are involved in.

We enjoy the networking aspect of our profession. With such a diverse background of clients, quite often we can connect clients together, creating mutual benefits.

Yes, we support clients through challenges they are facing in their lives, and we feel blessed for the support we receive from clients through any challenges we may be facing.

At our firm, we have a collaborative working environment. It is very unique in the profession. We are constantly sharing experiences with each other so we can collectively grow. Each one of my colleagues has their own unique experiences in the financial planning profession.

Over my career, I’ve had count-less experiences that reinforce the reason I do what I do.

I remember connecting with a client on the phone during one of the many stock market downturns we have been through. He was incredibly anxious about what was going and how it may impact his family’s financial future. At the conclusion of our one-hour phone call, he shared with me that he felt reassured about everything and remarked that in his profession, he would have sent his client a bill for counselling services – we still laugh about that experience to this day.

I recently chatted with a prospect who was looking for a service that it turns out we did not offer, and she was blown away that I talked with her for 30 minutes at my expense to simply point her in the right direction.

I recently worked with a client who was having trouble sorting out an issue she had with an external financial institution. It had nothing to do with her financial affairs with our firm. She was not being treated with the care and attention she deserved by this financial institution. It was not right, and together, we were able to sort out the issue successfully.

Over my career, I have received some powerful and highly emotional phone calls. On multiple occasions, I have had calls from clients who just experienced the loss of their spouse. In some of these situations, the calls were only a few hours after the loss, and it was shared with me that I was the first person they called as they were unsure what to do next.

I recently connected with a client who told me she had two days of work left before she was retiring. We reflected on the many sacrifices she and her husband had made over the last 10-plus years to get this point, and we celebrated their achievement together.

What brought me to the financial planning profession is not what is keeping me in this profession – the humanity of what we do is the attraction.

Thank you for allowing us to be part of your lives. ■

 

 


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