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This article was published 10/11/2018 (805 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
You’re not likely to sit across a desk from Kristin Ramlal and talk about your financial plan. Nor is she going to chat with you about buying the next big stock.
As far as financial advice professionals go, Ramlal may seem like a ghost.
Yet the highly skilled investment expert helps thousands of individuals in Manitoba and across the Prairies. Her title doesn’t offer much insight to lay folks, though. If anything, it’s opaque and a little long-winded — like that of an 18th-century noble: Securities Specialist and Qtrade Advisor Product Solutions Centre, Mid-West (MB & NW Ontario) Great-West Life | London Life | Qtrade Advisor.
But all the corporate, nomenclatural gobbledygook aside, her role with one of Canada’s largest financial firms is helping advisers and their clients streamline their portfolios.
Ramlal wrangles wayward investment accounts and unites them under one financial plan.
"I often deal with high-net-worth asset-consolidation cases that arise during major financial milestones, such as retirement, intergenerational asset transfers, and business and property sales," says Ramlal, a 35-year-old mother of two.
If Great-West Life advisers are helping guide their clients through one of life’s big deals, Ramlal is often there to ensure the investments will live up to the task.
She has deep knowledge of the investment world, and plenty of education and professional accreditation to back it up, including a bachelor’s degree in actuarial mathematics and finance from the University of Manitoba.
Her efforts to remain at the top of her game haven’t gone unnoticed. This month, Ramlal will receive the Distinguished Young Advisor Award in Quebec City from the Winnipeg-based Knowledge Bureau.
Like Ramlal, the Knowledge Bureau is another gem hidden in this Prairie city — often considered a fly-over town by the Bay Street big shots in Toronto.
It has quietly built a reputation as a leading provider of financial literacy for those already well steeped in the art of investment, planning and other areas of finance.
And its president — Evelyn Jacks — knows when an adviser has the right stuff.
What’s more, Jacks says it’s important to recognize the efforts of young financial professionals who seek to arm themselves to the teeth with knowledge — given the industry has more than its fair share of grey-haired professionals.
"At a time when more than half the financial advisers in Canada are over the age of 50, we feel it’s important to recognize the new up-and-coming leaders," says Jacks, one of the pre-eminent Canadian boosters of financial literacy.
"And Kristin has demonstrated her commitment to out-of-the-box thinking in a rapidly changing new economy."
That continual search for knowledge about investing and finance translates into better outcomes for the pros she helps and their clients.
What’s more, because she works with so many advisers, she knows what makes a good one.
Considering this month is Financial Literacy Month in Canada, we asked Ramlal what common qualities she finds in great advisers. She offered up these three traits to look for.
A master of one… not a jack of all trades
Good financial advisers should be experts — no doubt. But by no means do they need to be good at everything in the world of finance. "As advisers, we often wear a lot of hats, but it can be challenging to specialize in every hat," Ramlal says. Good advisers seek the assistance of other professionals to help their clients. The best in the biz work with a team: investment managers, estate planners, tax professionals or business advisers — to name a few. The reason being is they recognize it’s impossible for a one-woman or one-man show to have all the necessary expertise required to help clients with all their complex needs. A good adviser recommends seeking help from another expert when needed — e.g. a lawyer for thorny estate-planning issues or an accountant for tax advice when selling an investment property. Moreover, the best advisers "know what their specialities are and then they partner with other experts to deliver solutions across a variety of areas," Ramlal says.
Translating jargon into plain language
Plan, save and invest. It’s a simple formula for building wealth. Yet the industry often makes the recipe much more muddy, ripe with impenetrable jargon. And that’s where great advisers provide clarity. Ramlal says "financial literacy is the most important component of wealth advice." Among advisers’ chief roles is providing education and understanding to clients about how their finances and situation fit together in the context of the markets and the economy. More broadly, good advisers know there are no stupid questions. Nor should you ever be afraid to ask one. And let’s face it: lots of us have gapped out in the face of financialese. While it’s often up to us to step back and say, ‘I don’t get it,’ Ramlal says the best advisers are proactive. They understand the limits of their clients’ financial literacy and consequently provide proper context. "I often say, ‘Clients don’t know what they don’t know’… a good adviser is the one who will take the time to educate you so that you understand all your options before you make a decision."
A road map to the end of your rainbow
Pardon the cliché, but when it comes to your wealth, it is true that failing to plan is planning to fail. And great financial advisers shine like a precious metal when it comes to planning, whether it’s a financial plan, investment plan or tax plan. If it’s something to do with your wealth, it can and should be planned for in detail. "To me, a financial plan is a road map to achieve peace of mind and live a truly fulfilled life," Ramlal says. The best advisers go beyond plugging your data into computer software that spits out cookie-cutter strategies. Good planning is all about customizing life’s details into a formula that ensures you reach that pot of gold at the end of your rainbow. "Comprehensive financial planning is so much more than saving, (investing) and budgeting," she adds. "It’s about understanding your unique goals and dreams, quantifying these life events (and your lifestyle) and then implementing them into a long-term financial plan to most effectively reach your goals." Whether that’s snowbirding in Arizona, puttering around the veggie patch in July or becoming a greying cannabis connoisseur, your adviser crunches your data and personal details, and integrates them to create as accurately as possible a financial forecast of your future self. In short, great plans — and the advisers who make them — are worth their weight in gold (again, apologies for the platitude) because they offer clarity. As Ramlal puts it: "When you have that confidence about your future, it really does help you live a better life today."