International Student to Investment Advisor – Here’s How

In this edition of Devant’s blog post, we are featuring an active contributor to the Devant team, Vicky Liu. Vicky, a former international student who is now an investment advisor, tells us about her unique career journey in Canada.

We hope this feature will inspire some of you to continue to work through the ups and downs of navigating the Canadian job market and take the next steps towards your career goals.

If you’re interested in learning more about Vicky’s story, consider registering for our upcoming Expert Panel: Careers in Accounting for International Students on November 11th.

A Word from Vicky

What is your current role?

I am an investment advisor at TD Canada Trust for high net worth clients. I create and manage holistic wealth plans for clients who are investing millions of dollars. This includes retirement planning, estate planning, and tax planning.

My daily routine starts with checking financial news, trends, and the market (Canada, USA, and international). Most of my day involves interacting with clients (now virtually) to monitor and review existing plans or to advise them on new investment opportunities. I also have prospect meetings for anyone who is seeking an investment advisor.

Tell us about your career path.

There is no right or wrong way to plan your career journey. Your personal career goals, strengths, and experiences will impact our career trajectory, so I encourage you to be open to various opportunities.

My career journey is not a typical one, so I will start by explaining the traditional path to investment advising.

A traditional advisor candidate has generally graduated from a financial management program. They might start their career at a bank as a teller before they move to financial advising and, finally, to investment advising. This path usually starts with a client-facing role with investment banking being the destination.

For me, I started in an accounting role with a CPA designation. Then, I moved to TD Bank on the analytics side. This is vastly different from advising: Analytics roles focus on building banking models and monitoring current best practices. From there, I got my CFA designation, which helped pivot me into an investment advisor role.

In some cases, the traditional path is what gets you to your destination roles, but it’s okay to try alternate routes. I have a more diverse portfolio, credentials, and experiences because I didn’t take a typical route. I am also one of the youngest female advisors in my department and I don’t think I would have gotten to where I am today without taking some risks and being open to non-traditional paths.

What are some ways job seekers can keep up with current trends in the sector?

One of the biggest changes that we’re experiencing in the sector is the move to a more digital environment. Before the pandemic, advisors used to meet with current and prospective clients quite frequently in order to build relationships, as well as signing documents and handing over assets. Now technology has taken on a more prevalent role in how we conduct our meetings. For example, the use of phone/video calls and the acceptance of e-signatures. It is important to recognize these changes and learn how to incorporate them into their daily work.

We also continue to see changes in client perspectives and needs. 20 years ago, advisors would simply pick stocks for clients. This is not enough in today’s economic landscape. Clients are looking for a more holistic approach to wealth management. They may require assistance in day planning, retirement planning, their children’s education, and much more. The scope of services continues to evolve.

Finally, I would encourage individuals who are interested in a similar career path to consider boosting their overall profile through course certifications. For me, these designations were key to opening up new opportunities. Even if you are not directly utilizing what you learned in the classroom, it will still provide you with foundational knowledge that is becoming increasingly transferable across roles in the financial world.

What is the future for investment banking and the role of an investment advisor?

As investing becomes more accessible, I often hear the role of an advisor will phase out, especially with the growth of alternate financial institutions offering self-directed investing and lower fees. I tend to disagree because technology and efficiency can never replace human interactions, which is why the investment advisor’s role is crucial.

The need for a human advisor is even more apparent during our current economic climate. With COVID-19, I’m finding my clients are more interested in talking through their options. It is very difficult for technology to replicate the human interaction that an investment advisor can provide.

This doesn’t mean advisors should stay stagnant in their work. We should continually try to improve our knowledge and develop our soft skills. We need to think about what we bring to our clients and always work to improve them.

Overall, I encourage international students to explore this space as it offers many diverse roles. Start by stacking your portfolio with the appropriate education and soft skills, and keep up with new market trends. You’ll be well on your way to success.

If you are considering a career in finance, but now sure how to get started, reach out to our Career Coach for a free career assessment.

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If you’d like to ask a question about something you’ve read here, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Director, Operations & Client Experience, Sejal Ahir at sejal.ahir@devant.ca or by phone at 1 (647) 781-2945.