More than just an advisor

Raymond James' Mary Hagerman has been a financial advisor for 30 years, and she applies the discipline of a black belt to her work

More than just an advisor

She’s a mother of three, an author, a financial advisor, a black belt and so much more.

Mary Hagerman is a portfolio manager and investment advisor with Raymond James based in Montreal, and she has been an advisor for more than 30 years. She’s been a discretionary portfolio manager for almost 10 years, and it was after the financial crisis of 2008 that she made a dedicated switch to having discretionary portfolios that are primarily ETF based.

“ETFs were becoming more and more common at that point for advisors, but not so much for our clients,” she explained. “The statistics on returns coming out of the Great Recession showed that ETFs had in fact done very well compared to a lot of the managed money products that people were using.”

So, that’s when she started using ETF based portfolios, and offering them on a discretionary basis to her clients.

However, there’s more to Hagerman than her career, as she spends a lot of time at the dojo practicing martial arts, and is also a fan of other sports.

“I think it’s great to have that outlet when we do the work that we do. It can be very stressful,” she explained. “This past year, even through the pandemic, my karate sensei had a very small group of us and we’d practice karate outdoors – it was quite something.”

She also spends her free time on the slopes skiing, and calls herself a “mushroom picker.”

But before the black belt, before the ETFs, the mushroom picking, the portfolio management and Raymond James in general, she worked in journalism.

“I decided that instead of talking about people who were making the news, I wanted to be a builder and be the sort of person who makes the news,” she said.

She really enjoyed the investing she’d done on the side, and after taking some courses, she became a financial advisor, and left the world of media behind her. She then became licensed in mutual funds, insurance and stocks, and evolved from there.

“You’re always studying, always doing courses. I did my licensing to be able to use derivatives, then it was licensing to become a discretionary manager … so it seems like I’ve almost always been studying something over the past 30 years,” she said.

Hagerman was recently nominated for the ETF Champion of the Year Award at the 2021 Wealth Professional Awards, and said her work with ETFs harkens back to the Great Recession in 2008, which she called the worst bear market of her career.

“It was a terrifying period, and our clients lost a lot of money on paper over that time, and coming out of the crisis, if people held on to their positions, they ended up getting back their money around four years later,” she explained.

Over that time, she did a deep dive into what had worked and what hadn’t from a money management standpoint during that period, and that’s when she began to look at how ETFs were holding up.

“We had access to more and more industry statistics at that point, and I decided that I was going to make the switch,” she said.

She didn’t have a fee-based book at the time, but she transitioned to one, and got her discretionary portfolio manager license. She then put together ETF-based portfolios and began an intense education process for clients and investors at large to learn why they are a valuable investment tool in a portfolio.

Hagerman also wrote a book in 2016 called The Black Belt Investor: A Martial Arts Guide to Wealthness; How to Kick Butt, and Feel Rich! It was based on the discipline principles of a martial artist, specifically someone who Hagerman said wants to achieve black belt status.

“In it, I incorporated the use of exchange traded funds in the portfolio management process. It’s not a book necessarily on how to invest, but it does have a portion of the book which is dedicated on how best to succeed with an investment portfolio, and it talks about ETFs,” she said.

But, the book talks about much more than that. It addresses how to have a disciplined process in your life, how to build wealth over time and be happy at the same time.

When discussing ETFs with clients, Hagerman will break down how to use ETFs to build a globally diversified portfolio, noting it can be diversified with equity, but with a portion also in fixed income for a balance portfolio.

“I explain to clients first why I build these portfolios with ETFs … Then I explain how I diversify internationally, and then I explain the discipline within the parameters that I use to invest. That ensures that we manage risk efficiently over time for the client, and don’t take any unneeded risk to achieve return,” she said.

As she’s evolved in her career, Hagerman has seen much recognition, and she was recently nominated for two Wealth Professional Awards – the ETF Champion of the Year Award, and the Award for Portfolio/Discretionary Manager of the Year Award. The awards took place June 2 to June 3. To find out more, click here.