Even the best-laid plans can be derailed in the blink of an eye. Dian Chaaban, an investment and wealth advisor with RBC Dominion Securities, knows that all too well.
A little less than a decade ago, Chaaban was an aspiring corporate lawyer getting ready to write the LSAT.
However, an awkward tumble at a cottage left her with a broken neck. Following a seven-hour surgery, her sixth vertebra was replaced, and Chaaban was back at square one, learning how to walk again. Little did she know that the accident would lead her into a series of unexpected job and career opportunities as she discovered a world beyond law.
“In that moment, my entire life just changed,” Chaaban says. “I had this perfectly calculated trajectory planned, and then I couldn’t write the entrance exam. In hindsight, I dodged a bullet by not writing the LSAT because I don’t think I wanted to be a lawyer for the right reasons.
“I’ve always been a positive person, and this injury gave me the gift of perspective,” she continues. “My x-ray is blown up and framed in my office as a constant reminder about the obstacles I’ve overcome. Even when there is a bad day in the markets, I’m reminded to always keep a positive outlook.”
Realizing that she loved the economics portion of her commerce degree, Chaaban decided to go into banking, where she initially worked as a banking advisor at RBC
in Toronto. She eventually moved on to the bank’s Dominion Securities arm, where she worked as a national business development consultant.
Travelling across the country, Chaaban educated advisors on best practices, ideas and tactics to grow their businesses and better serve clients. Eventually, Gary MacDonald, VP and regional director for Metro Toronto and Northern Ontario at RBC Dominion Securities, suggested Chaaban consider becoming an investment advisor herself.
“I was flattered by his support in me,” she says. “It was a no-brainer that this is what I was meant to do – so I slept on it and decided to follow his advice the next day.”
Starting from scratch
Chaaban has no regrets, but it wasn’t easy.
“I had to build my business from scratch,” she says. “However, I had become an expert in the business development side, and I knew that being a part of RBC Wealth Management would allow me to offer prospective clients resources and scale that are unparallelled in this industry. It was a significant advantage as I stepped into this new role.”
Chaaban was able to build a strong client base by networking, approaching clients with a long-term relationship in mind, and leveraging RBC’s leading resources.
“One of RBC’s unique offerings is our Wealth Management Services team,” she says. “This is a team of several hundred professionals who support RBC advisors with tax, estate and financial planning for our clients. I am in constant contact with this team to bring in the right specialists to solve client challenges and provide value-added planning services beyond investment management.”
This collaborative approach has been a big help in fostering relationships with her clients, from individuals and families to business owners and entrepreneurs.
“Throughout my time at RBC, our approach has always been, and always will be, to put the needs of our clients first,” Chaaban says. “Through our collaborative process, we help clients define, reach and preserve what is most important in their financial lives.”
In addition to her work as an advisor, Chaaban is also a member of the RBC Dominion Securities Women’s Advisory Board.
“As the transfer of wealth to women continues to increase, the wealth management industry will need to adapt to the change in demographics,” she says. “RBC has made it a priority to hire more women advisors, and I’m proud to play a role in shaping the next generation of advisors.”
It might have taken a broken neck, but in the end, Chaaban is in a career where she’s found some meaning. “It’s really a privilege and a beautiful thing to have people trust you with their life savings and to know that I will be able to grow with them over the years and mange their money, their kids’ money and their grandkids’ money,”
she says. “I’m excited to do that over the next 30 years.”