- SUZEN FROMSTEIN
BRENDA WILKINS, B. COM., CFP®, FMA, CIM, FCSI, FINANCIAL CONSULTANT, IG WEALTH MANAGEMENT
“The ‘Sheldon’ and ‘Penny’ (Big Bang Theory) Hats of Financial Planning “
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional, Brenda Wilkins, believes that being a Financial Planner and Investment Advisor are two distinct roles requiring two different hats. “Financial planning has very little to do with money. It’s about what you want out of life. It’s about goals, dreams, and ambitions. When people confide in you, they need to feel comfortable sharing their life goals. This is my Penny hat. It’s critical that I ask the right questions, listen, and provide insight and support,” Brenda says.
As an Investment Advisor, one focuses on businesses, the markets, economic indicators and investment solutions. “It is critical to ensure each portfolio properly aligns with the person’s goals, time frame and risk tolerance. It also critical to be a rock in a storm. People need to know their assets are being well looked after and want to work with someone that is analytical, strong and steady, especially when the markets are volatile. This is about being focused and disciplined - it’s about being Sheldon,” Brenda explains.
Brenda has a Bachelor of Commerce degree and commenced her professional career in financial services more than 20 years ago. Her first role was with Peter Cundill & Associates, a boutique investment firm. Brenda worked on a small team responsible for processing, order verification, and compliance. The same team also acted as the customer service centre for advisors and clients.
“Although several calls stand out, one impacted me more than the others. An elderly client called after our flagship fund issued a large taxable distribution. She thought she would have to sell her home to pay the ensuing tax bill. After putting on my “Sheldon” hat, and asking a few pointed questions, I knew it wasn’t necessary to take such a drastic step,” Brenda adds. “I quickly shifted to my “Penny” hat to reassure her that her financial well-being was secure and there was a simpler solution”.“I recall asking her why she didn’t speak to her Advisor. She didn’t have one! This made me realize there was a great need for financial planning and education within the Canadian financial landscape. I credit this client for leading me to my career.”
Brenda explains, “I am proud to work with a company that is aligned with my beliefs. IG Wealth Management understands that financial planning and asset management are two distinct, yet critical, components of clients’ financial success. This philosophy starts at the top with our CEO and is carried throughout the company. Accessing the best financial planning and investment management resources for my clients is essential. IG has worked hard to put these in place and continues to work hard to ensure we have the best resources for clients.”
Philosophy & Approach
Brenda is very passionate about financial planning and investment management. Though she sees it as two distinct roles, they go hand in hand when building and maintaining a proper plan. She uses a four-step process – discover, design, discuss, and deploy – to optimize each person’s plan.
Once an individual or a family agrees to work with Brenda, the first step in their financial planning journey is to identify and understand their personal goals - what is important to them - and what they are currently using as financial strategies. Brenda then puts on her Sheldon hat to prepare a detailed financial plan assessing current net worth, budget, and expenditure patterns. It also projects future required net worth, budget and projected expenditures.
Once complete, the client(s) and Brenda sit down to review the financial plan, to ensure it meets their stated goals, to make any necessary modifications, and to discuss implementation. Brenda also focuses on identifying any potential weaknesses, such as not having a will, and on implementing personalized strategies for current and future well-being. The final step is for Brenda to assess whether the current portfolio structure and underlying investments are properly diversified and suitably positioned. All of these steps are instrumental in establishing a disciplined approach to ensuring clients are on track.
“Over the years I have helped people transition through many phases of life such as weddings, maternity leave, education for the next generation, buying a home, becoming empty nesters, transitioning through to retirement, leaving an enhanced estate and mitigating unnecessary risk. By focusing on the person, I can properly align clients for success. The whole idea is to ensure we are doing everything we can to optimize their efforts – enjoying life now while planning for the future. Meeting periodically to keep up to-date with the plan and the clients’ ever changing lives is key to long term success."
Brenda’s background as a Portfolio Manager gives her a deep understanding of portfolio structures and the right to wear her Sheldon hat. “I have high expectations and can easily make a short list of what investment opportunities are worth assessing further. I wear my Sheldon hat before recommending any changes, especially during market turmoil, and when I assess whether investments remain suitable based on individual client intent.”
Clients describe Brenda as a patient educator, and a transparent communicator. “It’s easy to tell someone what to do; it’s hard to get them to do it. I want clients to be engaged and to make informed decisions. I pride myself on being able to make complex topics easily understood.”
Up Close & Personal
Brenda is a lifelong learner. Having earned her Bachelor of Commerce degree, majoring in finance (1993). She obtained several licenses and industry designations since then. These include Financial Management Advisor (FMA) in 2001, Life Insurance License in 2001, Canadian Investment Advisor (CIM) in 2007, Chartered Financial Divorce Specialist (CFDS) in 2013, and Certificate in Advanced Investment Advice in 2015.
Brenda earned her CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER (CFP®) designation (the industry gold standard of excellence for financial planners) in 2006 and has been a Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute (FCSI) since 2002. She also held the coveted Portfolio Management designation from 2008-2015. “I want the very best for my clients and the more I know, the better I can assist them.”
Brenda is a military brat and was raised mostly in Atlantic Canada. She has enjoyed living in Germany as well as 5 provinces across Canada. Ottawa has been home for 25+ years. She and husband, Kent, have been married for 19 years and have two teen-aged daughters. Between school activities, social events and sports the girls keep Kent and Brenda on the go.
Brenda believes in giving back and was active on student council, organizing school events and as a Girl Guide leader when her daughters were young. She continues to give back by mentoring new CFP® professionals and students at IG Wealth’s Ottawa South Branch.
As a last word, Brenda says, “Many Canadians find financial planning and investing overwhelming, yet don’t seek professional help. Sometimes having a CFP® professional provide a bird’s eye view is all it takes to rest easy at night. Sometimes a few tweaks to an existing strategy can get you to where you want to be. Other times, it’s a complete revision. Whatever your story, whatever your path, my experience and knowledge allow me to blend “Penny” and “Sheldon” in a way that will engage and encourage you to identify your short and long-term goals, to build strategies, and to enjoy life now while optimizing your plans for the future. Financial planning isn’t about retirement planning. It’s about life.”
This article is a general source of information only. It is not intended to provide personalized tax, legal or investment advice, and is not intended as a solicitation to purchase securities. Brenda Wilkins is solely responsible for its content. For more information on this topic or any other financial matter, please contact an IG Wealth Management Consultant.
Suzen Fromstein is the author of Suits and Ladders, Ten Proven Ways to Keep Your Job Safe - with a few jokes thrown in. Suits and Ladders was an Amazon Best Selling Book in the Career Guides C
Brenda Wilkins, B. Com., CFP©, FMA, CIM, FCSI
Financial Consultant, Financial Planner
500-2 Gurdwara Road,
Ottawa, ON, K2E 1A2
(613) 723-7200 ext 6223 Brenda.Wilkins@IG.ca