’s introduction to the investment industry was anything but glamorous. After graduating, Larson got his start in the business making cold calls for an advisor at one of the big banks - he was making $10 an hour and had to take a night job on the other side of the city just to stay afloat.
It was not exactly what Larson had imagined when he decided to enroll in a Bachelor of Arts in Economics at the University of Calgary, but he was determined to make his mark in the industry.
“When I graduated, I was introduced to the investment business through a friend and the industry really intrigued me,” says Larson, who is now Senior Vice President, Portfolio Manager at MLD Wealth Management. “I saw an incredible value in being able to help people. I talked to my parents about how investment advice and money management skills were not taught growing up and how no-one, no matter how wealthy, had these skills.”
After a period of doing seven hours of cold calling each day, Larson’s parents told him to look up their old advisor, Curtis Mayert, to find out a bit more about the industry. It took Larson a month to track Mayert down and arrange a meeting, but it would turn out to be a pivotal moment in both men’s careers.
“It was supposed to be a casual, mentor-style meeting and I showed up to the meeting with nothing in mind and nothing in my hand,” Larson says. “Over a coffee, Curtis told me that I reminded him of himself when he was my age; so he shook my hand and asked me to be his partner. Curtis had just got back into retail wealth management after working on the institutional side. So, we started the business together from scratch in 2004, and from there it started to grow very quickly.”
The partnership between Larson and Mayert has certainly been a success. Larson is the team’s registered portfolio manager and manages the discretionary portfolios and team baskets; Mayert concentrates on individual stocks, special situations, income and dividend strategies, and other tax-advantaged investments. The pair has achieved impressive growth consistently, and Larson describes the journey over the past 13 years as “better than anyone could have imagined”.
Larson’s rise in the industry has been rapid and has not gone unnoticed. He is one of the youngest people to be recognized as a Presidents Council member and was recently nominated for the award of Discretionary Portfolio Manager of the Year by Wealth Professional. Larson was also nominated for the award of Top under 40 Investment Professionals in Canada by the IIAC (Investment Industry Association of Canada
But, despite all of the successes and landmarks, it’s not been all smooth sailing. In fact, Larson describes facing “endless challenges”.
“We’ve seen oil crashes, credit crashes, regulation changes and tax changes,” Larson says. “With the big reforms of CRM2, POS3 and the implementation of a fiduciary standard, the business has changed more in the last two years than it had in the previous 15. We’ve had to go back to the drawing board a number of times to make sure we’re at the forefront of the changes.”
Larson has also been eager to continually evolve the business as the aims and desires of his clients have shifted. Although he’s taken on new clients along the way, Larson has retained many of the clients he started out with 13 years ago.
“The wealth pocket has aged so the conversations are different – it’s no longer about wealth creation, it’s often about wealth preservation or wealth transition,” he says. “Everyone’s goal posts have been moved and going through those transitions of investment focus can be difficult for people to accept. But, so far, we’ve managed to help our clients successfully.”
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