Forging his own path

TD investment advisor Cory Garlock needed to carve out his own approach to find success in the industry. Now he’s helping others plan for their financial success

Forging his own path

TD investment advisor Cory Garlock needed to carve out his own approach to find success in the industry. Now he’s helping others plan for their financial success

Cory Garlock traces his interest in the financial industry to a stock challenge he participated in when he was just 16. He quickly took charge of the project, and the combination of numbers, analysis and working with people made him realize that he wanted to be a financial advisor.

What he didn’t realize then, however, was just how hard it would be to succeed in the industry. After earning an economics degree from Western University and completing the securities course, Garlock struggled to find a position in the industry.

“It was a combination of no industry experience and the start of the high-tech meltdown,” he says. “Places were looking to cut staff as opposed to adding.”

He eventually landed a position at a call centre, working on balance transfers. His job was to get people to transfer their credit card balances at a lower rate. 

“It taught me not to be shy, to pick up the phone and not be afraid of hearing no,” he says. “I got told no several times.”

After a couple of months, Garlock realized he wasn’t going to find success with the script he’d been given. “I contoured my own approach,” he says. “It worked for me – the clients responded, and I got results. I would ask, ‘Is there anything I can do to improve your experience as a cardholder?’”

That was just the first instance of Garlock crafting his own approach. After the call centre, he moved on to Sun Life, where he spent seven years focusing on life insurance and investments. There, too, he found plenty of challenges to overcome. 

“Being 25, I realized I had to get in front of qualified people,” he says. “I would make 150 to 200 calls a week, looking for clients. When the weather was nice, I would go to new subdivisions and prospect new homeowners for mortgage insurance.” 

His persistence paid off and led him to a position at RBC, where he spent another seven years before shifting to TD. He immediately gained an appreciation for the banks, sensing the affinity for them among Canadian consumers.

“The brand and sector inspire confidence,” he says. “I also think they are important in this electronic age because people like logging in and seeing the state of the union of their financial affairs.”

Garlock adds that there are also advantages for advisors in working with a major bank. “A lot of the people I work with have been in the industry far longer than me, so it’s great that I can learn from them. My impression is you get more continuity of advisors at a bank than with some other channels.” 

Along the way, Garlock took numerous courses and earned multiple certifications (CFP, PFP, CIM, FCSI), and eventually he no longer had to prospect the way he did in the early years of his career. He even carved out a niche with physicians, who currently make up 20% of his client base.

“I think the main reason is doctors really appreciate planning,” he says. “I fell into doctors by referrals, but the funny thing is, when I sit down with one, I know their typical challenges, so the meeting tends to resonate.” 

This past May, Garlock was recognized for his success as a finalist for Canadian Advisor of the Year at the Wealth Professional Awards, which he says was a pleasant surprise. “There is a lot of competition – I can’t put a price on being nominated with that group,” he says. 

Moving forward, Garlock says he’ll continue to focus on planning and strengthening the relationships he has created. 

“The cornerstone of my business is I do a lot of planning,” he says. “There are all types of issues that come up through the planning process that, when advising on, help to enhance the relationships I have with my clients.”