Caldwell hails college for producing fresh advisor talent

VP recommends students to others because of the goals-based financial planning foundation they receive

Caldwell hails college for producing fresh advisor talent

 When Rick Wood of Caldwell Securities Ltd. goes looking for new financial advisors, one of his first stops is Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ontario.

“There are a lot of colleges, but we work with Mohawk, and we have a great relationship with them,” Wood, who is Caldwell’s Vice President Client and Advisor Success, told Wealth Professional, adding he also recommends young people going into the industry develop their skills and competency there.

“Many students in the class are new immigrants, but they’re all amazing. They do a fantastic job. They really get it,” he said, recalling the financial plans they presented at the end of the sessions he’s led.  “Mohawk gives them that foundation of goals-based financial planning and doing the work, not taking the shortcuts, which is going to serve not only them, but their clients due to the fact that their priority is financial planning and advice.”

Wood noted that 80% to 90% of people’s rate of returns come from having the proper asset allocation, and ensuring they maintain it relative to the client’s risk profile, and Mohawk’s students get that, too. He credits Christine DiCarlo, who helped launch McKeil School of Business’ diploma program.

DiCarlo is a certified financial planner who came from the banking industry 12 years ago after being an employee trainer. She’d worked at Scotia Bank and CIBC before launching this program, where she was the program coordinator for eight years. While she’s now relinquished the program coordination, she enjoys staying on the leading edge of the training the industry requires.

“The financial services regulations are changing in Ontario, and they’re regulating the titles of planner or advisor,” she said, adding the Mohawk program’s core curriculum will allow students to become either certified financial planners (CFP) with FP Canada or personal financial planners with the Canadian Securities Institute. She said Mohawk’s program may be the only one that can provide that in two years – although students will need a degree to become a CFP.

“Within our program, since its inception, we’ve been very much about experiential learning and being very practical,” she said. “We want people to get the designation, but we want them to be able to not just get the job, but do the job. So, we emphasize those soft skills and the application of them.”

While that’s been tricky to do on Zoom during the pandemic, she held firm with requiring students to acquire those since, “when I was in the industry, I just had to turn on a dime.” But, she’s also taught her students how to prospect, so they can generate their own leads if they’re on commission, by doing things like blood drives, where they had to fill the schedule with blood donors, or raising funds for Food for Kids.

“The program is always changing in response to the students and the environment,” DiCarlo said, adding they’ve also done interesting educational seminars, just as credit repair with a risk group, Healthy Moms, Healthy Babies, so the students could learn to present to an audience. They’ve role played interviews for initial client meetings with CFPs playing the clients.  She’s also asked students to get someone’s pension plan to check if it’s defined benefit or defined contribution, which can be a challenge for international students who don’t have family or friends near to draw on for that.

She’s also tried to help international students, who may not be as confident or comfortable presenting if English is their second language, by organizing seminars in Hindi or other languages with interpretation. “It was amazing to see these international students flourish in their own language when their ‘clients’ had the same language, too,” she said, noting she’s also had people in the industry ask if they have Mandarin students to hire.

DiCarlo doesn’t provide students with rubrics to work with and says, “if I don’t, they will blow me away. They go outside the box and really think it through.” They also learn to apply what they’ve learned because, as she said, “it’s your last chance before you go out there.”

“I love the students. I love the program,” said DiCarlo, whose enthusiasm shines as she describes how most students – 20 to 30 – graduate each year and most end up with jobs. She also feels rewarded when grads return and tell her how well they were prepared for their financial planning careers.

“We always have more opportunities than graduates because we’re a small program, but part of why there are so many opportunities is the turnover,” she said. “So, as much as we help them get that job, and we pat ourselves on the back for our grad rates and employment rates, I think we could do even better to increase the retention.”