Rekindling connections

Advocis Toronto IWD 2024

Manal Ali, Wealth Professional Canada 

March 18, 2024 – The power of in-person connection remains unparalleled, a sentiment echoed through Advocis Toronto‘s: A seat at the table, advisor networking event. The event, aimed at fostering camaraderie, mentorship, and empowerment within the financial advisory community, kicked off with vibrant energy in a dynamic room, filled with early arrivals engaging eagerly.

Cindy Marques, President of the local Advocis Toronto Chapter, shared, “The in-person events are really at the core of what I remember Advocis as being… that community of other advisors to be able to uplift you, to act as your North Star.”

The overwhelming response to the event, with tickets selling out weeks in advance, with no marketing to boot; highlighted the hunger for re-engagement and re-connection post-pandemic. The financial advisory landscape, much like many other professions, faced the Herculean task of bringing its members back together in physical spaces. This year’s women’s event, according to Marques, shattered expectations, marking a pivotal moment in the organization’s journey towards revitalizing in-person gatherings.

Kicking off the day, full of vigour, Sim Gakhar – prominent member of the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT) – spoke of her journey from modest beginnings as a newspaper salesperson to professional success as an advisor making is to the MDRT club, with a seat at her desired table. Her story highlights the transformative power of leveraging personal networks, embracing continuous learning, and focusing on becoming a solution provider.

Adopting Dan Sullivan’s “Who Not How” philosophy marked a turning point for Gakhar, shifting her approach towards collaboration and efficiency. This mindset, coupled with the mentorship from MDRT – an organization that does not gatekeep their wealth secrets- has been instrumental in her ability to identify and capitalize on opportunities within the industry.

Reflecting on growth and the journey ahead

Regional Sales Director at Desjardins Life Insurance, Tara Pollard’s introspection on her personal and professional growth opened a window into the soul-searching questions that guide her journey. “What is my table like that I’m going to sit at? Who else is at my table? And am I there yet?… How did I get here?” Her narrative underscores the importance of self-reflection.

Parenting, as Pollard highlights, mirrors the complexities of guiding clients and teams, emphasizing the importance of nurturing confidence and resilience. She marvels at the adaptability and growth of her daughter, reflecting on how these personal experiences shape her professional ethos.

Pollard also touched on the significance of gender parity and organizational values in shaping a conducive work environment. She proudly notes the achievements of her organization in fostering gender parity and supporting education, underscoring the critical role of access to information and education in professional development.


Inclusion and empathy: the heart of change

Keynote speaker Elke Rubach, through her career transition from law to financial advising, touched on the nature of advice and specialization, emphasizing the unique perspectives brought by investment and insurance advisors. Her commentary on the industry’s design—by men, for men—opened up a crucial dialogue on inclusion and the varied pathways through which women enter the financial advisory field. Rubach’s insight into the irreplaceable role of empathy in financial advising highlights the profound impact of understanding and relating to clients on a human level.

Rubach says, “Ask tough questions… Because if not, you’re not advising you’re just selling and the depth of the relationship with your clients will be so much more satisfying once you really get in there.”

Financial literacy as empowerment

The discussions around financial literacy, spearheaded by Zainab Williams shed light on the significance of understanding financial principles not just as advisors but also as individuals navigating their own financial journeys. Williams’s narrative on the value of jewelry as an asset and the lessons learned from traumatic investment mistakes underscores the importance of financial education and the empowerment that comes from taking ownership of one’s financial health.

As Advocis and it’s Chapters look forward to more future in-person events and initiatives, such as the mentorship programs, it remains committed to fostering a space where all financial advisors, financial planners and industry professionals can find their North Star, and contribute to a more inclusive, empathetic, and literate financial world.