Some financial professionals have been hitting the campaign trail in recent weeks, with their experience in the investment industry inspiring them to serve their communities as members of Parliament (MPs). The lessons learned from serving clients’ needs and supporting colleagues are driving their plans for change if they’re elected to the House of Commons on Sept. 20.
As financial advisors are often involved in their communities and well-versed on economic issues, it’s natural for some in the profession to be interested in politics, says Adam Chambers, candidate for the Conservative Party of Canada in the Ontario riding of Simcoe North.
“This industry – as a precursor or a primer for learning about the importance of people and relationships, the importance of understanding your client, and helping people simplify and achieve their goals – is a great background to enter the political sphere,” says Mr. Chambers, assistant vice-president, virtual advice, with Canada Life Assurance Co., and former director of policy for former federal finance minister Jim Flaherty.
Mr. Chambers’ professional role, from which he is on leave, involves working behind the scenes to deliver tools and support to advisors to help them to build better, more efficient businesses to serve their clients and reduce their administrative burden.
This work, he says, runs parallel to his interest in striving to find opportunities to simplify government and the tax code, if elected. Having a background in financial services is also useful to understand and identify opportunities for improvement with respect to legislation and regulatory issues impacting the industry, Mr. Chambers says.
“There are certain, very complicated situations that people bring to you that you do your best to help and try to navigate through the bureaucracy in Ottawa,” he says. “There are many similarities between that and helping clients navigate through bureaucracy or, in my case, helping advisors navigate through the bureaucracy that we have in the industry.”
For Mimi Lee, it was also political involvement – recent lobbying activity and work on initiating House of Commons petitions – that inspired her to run in this year’s election as a candidate for the Green Party of Canada in the Ontario riding of Markham-Thornhill.
Issues that clients, many of whom are immigrants, have brought forward during her 18 years as an advisor have also inspired the managing principal of TruFinancial Consultants, which provides insurance and investment advice, to seek a more public role.
“When new immigrants come in the country, they have big challenges in being able to get integrated to mainstream [society], and a lot of [them] were not able to get back into their profession. That [poses] a big, big challenge, not only to the person, their family, but to Canada,” says Ms. Lee, who is seeking to revamp the educational credential assessment system as part of her platform.
“That financial impact affects [people’s] emotional [well-being] and then it leads to social problems.”
When it comes to campaigning, Ms. Lee says running her own firm gives her the flexibility to dedicate time to meeting voters while serving existing clients as needed, and putting a hold on new business for now. Should she be elected, Ms. Lee has also considered how to minimize the impact on clients by keeping an advisor in mind that she would recommend.
Margaret Bennett, a certified financial planner and Liberal Party of Canada candidate for the Ontario riding of Hamilton Centre, also has someone willing to take care of her book of business should she be elected to office. In the meantime, during the campaign, she has a service agreement with another advisor – her father – to handle client matters in her absence.
Ms. Bennett is a financial security advisor with Freedom 55 Financial and Quadrus Investment Services Inc., and also works with those companies’ parent firm, Canada Life, in a national recruitment consultant role on a strategy to attract more women and diverse candidates into financial services.
She says millennial clients, in particular, are facing several concerns, including housing affordability and the cost of child care, which Ms. Bennett and her party are addressing in this election through policies like $10 a day child care.
“Everybody should have the choice about what’s best for them, for their family, and for their careers because we know that time out of the workforce impacts women’s long-term earning potential, which affects their and their family’s financial security,” she says.
For Suresh Arangath, an independent financial advisor and New Democratic Party of Canada candidate in the riding of Kitchener South-Hespeler, campaigning has been an after-work endeavour as he continues his work with clients.
Although Mr. Arangath does not have his own book of business, he supports the clients of a large national independent firm in situations in which there is no advisor at a particular branch.
The opportunity to understand people’s needs and work on their behalf is behind his drive to run this year, and the characteristics that he says MPs share with advisors.
“[Clients] are hard-working Canadians and they need someone who is a professional to support [them]. At the same time, we have to be trustworthy so they can depend upon us. That’s the kind of thing I’m considering in politics also. So, it’s the results that matter, not the promises,” says Mr. Araganth, who is focusing on issues such as affordable housing in his platform.
Ultimately, he says, the campaign and being elected are only the start of the process.
“The main part is to help people toward their dream, and that’s what I’m doing in my job as an advisor and what I plan to do in politics.”