- GARY MILAKOVIC
DAVID DICKSON, CFP, RRC, Regional Vice-President, IG Wealth Management, Peterborough, Ontario
“I think the main difference between our industry and many others is that ours is still growing every single day,” said David Dickson, CFP, RRC Regional Vice-President, IG Wealth Management. “In fact, we’re probably the only industry that’s actively hiring right now. There’s never been a higher demand for financial assistance and advice in navigating a challenging economy.”
David would know.
As Regional Vice-President for IG Wealth Management, some of his core responsibilities include recruiting, training, and mentoring new Advisors. “You’ve got to love working with people,” said David. “It’s non-negotiable. Our business is people-first, always: your clients need to be your priority.”
It’s also flexible and goal oriented.
“In the new economy flexibility is key,” especially for those who hate punching a clock and are inspired by the idea of building a schedule that works best for them, instead of what works best for someone else. Time management and discipline are key to success, but “hard work pays off.”
Setting the right targets are important too because it’s easy to get frustrated or discouraged. Making small but critical evaluations, and measuring goals regularly, are ways to keep people on track. David sees that as one of his most important jobs.
“It’s important to see the bigger picture. Nobody starts their journey to success at the top: there are steps, and floors, and there are no shortcuts. I know that sometimes it’s hard. Looking up to the top floor and wondering how colleagues got there is so easy, but that’s the wrong place to put your energy. My job is to help refocus their perspective. If you’re on the second floor, don’t look at the top floor; let’s talk about how to get you up to the third floor, and then the fourth. I’m trying to give them the support they need to get just a bit better.”
It’s this measured approach and critical thinking that has made David so successful, and in turn, supported the success of all the advisors with whom he works.
A life of coaching
Coaching is in David’s blood.
He’s been a coach since he was 16 years-old and he absolutely loves it. “I’m passionate about helping people,” said David. “Coaching is about seeing the bigger picture, the final goal, and to make the small, frequent changes needed to reach it. But as a leader you need to be willing to sacrifice; to take on more than your share and be accepting of it.”
David didn’t accept his first offer with IG Wealth Management. He was interviewed twice, but it wasn’t the right move for him at the time. “I was originally approached in 1998. I was working for a famous retail video chain at the time. I loved the job, but the hours were brutal, and I was intrigued by the flexibility, and ‘be your own boss’ nature of the business. Ultimately, I passed, because I wasn’t ready.”
Jump forward seven-years and David was ready.
He was working at a printing company, in a full-time position that was winding down. He was again approached by IG Wealth Management, and this time, after a few months of consideration, he accepted.
He studied. He worked hard. He grew in the business. He excelled.
Eventually, he was promoted to a director role. Personable, competent, and effective, David became responsible (primarily) for developing the skills of other Consultants, though he maintained his evergrowing portfolio of clients, because “starting as an Advisor was the first step on my path to success.”
David became a leader in recruitment, as he regularly attracted more and more new talent to the company. For him it was becoming clear that this wasn’t just a job, it was a career.
Leadership noticed his continued success and he was appointed to serve as a Division Director. He would continue to acquire new clients, and provide advice to his existing ones, but his new role was very much divided into two parts.
Serving clients was the first, but recruitment became the second. He was both an Advisor and a Manager, and he was busier (and more successful) than ever.
Over time, coaching new Advisors became a bigger and bigger part of his day. He was introducing more and more people to this new and potentially lucrative career and he became a leader in his field, both in recruitment and training.
Within three years of starting with IG David was appointed Division Director, and nine and a half years after joining IG Wealth, he was appointed Regional Director and his portfolio, and life, changed.
For the better.
A fresh start
“My family and I moved to Peterborough to start this new chapter, but we had no network here. All of our friends lived in Durham Region; we had to start all over again.”
They had to rebuild a life from scratch.
It meant new sports teams and school for their son, Daniel, and getting Joanne, his wife, established in a new home, with a new career. Building new relationships with people in the community.
“But after almost seven years, we’re becoming more and more entrenched in the community. Every day we see familiar faces, and take the time to stop, and chat. Daniel has become more acclimated to his surroundings and is thriving. It was a leap, true, but it was a risk that led to incredible success.”
In his now current role as Regional Vice-President, he’s primarily focused on developing Advisors rather than actively working with clients. “But it isn’t just about training Advisors; a lot of it is about building relationships, too.”
And not just with Advisors, either.
David is responsible for coordinating events in the region to keep clients engaged and comfortable with the company; actively developing charity partnerships and building the brand; marketing, Advisor recruitment, retention, and so much more.
He’s seen his fair share of challenges throughout his career, particularly when supporting new hires. The advice he has for new Advisors is simple: “start by analysing the situation: is this a serious problem or a minor issue? Once you’ve figured it out, provide energy proportionally toward it. Sometimes it’s natural to panic when a problem arises, but thoughtful analysis always helps. It doesn’t hurt to ask for advice, either.”
One of the important lessons David tries to impart on new Advisors is that there’s no shame in saying “I don’t know.” In fact, it’s better to say “I don’t know, let me get back to you” than to feel pressure to provide an answer immediately and give the wrong information.
If you provide the wrong information too often, it can lead to a lack of trust, which is crippling for an Advisor. Open, honest, and transparent communication is key. Saying ‘let me get back to you’ is a completely acceptable thing to say, so long as it’s followed up by action.
“Not providing an answer just gets under everyone’s skin. If you say you’ll get them the information, provide them a reasonable timeline for when you’ll reply. Nobody expects an Advisor to have all the answers, but following through engenders a lot of trust, which is crucial. As I’ve said, our business is people first. Your people need to trust you. It’s these little things that instill that trust.”
Making it better
The pandemic changed how many businesses operate. It was a natural consequence of isolation. In an industry like personal finance though, maintaining the feeling of business as usual was vitally important because people need to feel like their interests are being protected.
“At IG our team was fortunate because we had many systems in place already; we just weren’t using them as much as we are now. Our company was already amid a transformation, spending millions of dollars to update our infrastructure; then COVID hit.”
The company has never operated so efficiently. They converted to digital. Microsoft Teams catchups are the new coffee meeting, and Docusign has become the go-to way to get authorization.
Even as pandemic lockdowns become a distant memory, it’s likely that much of this infrastructure will remain active, but because a big part of personal finance is the personal touch, it’s likely some things will return. In the future, for every Teams call or Docusign contract there will be a coffee shop or office meeting. Getting back to building those personal connections will be an important part of the hybrid industry that will emerge in the future.
The time away from the office also allowed David to do a self-evaluation, something many have taken the time to do during the endless lockdowns, and he made the decision to complete the pursuit of his CFP designation.
“The pandemic has been difficult for everyone, but I wanted to take the time to do something important that would benefit both myself, and my team. I’ve been preparing for the CFP for some time, but it felt like now was my opportunity to complete it.”
After a few months of waiting, David just learned he was awarded the designation. It’s an important career achievement, in an already distinguished career.
The Right Job for the Right Person
“I’ve been fortunate to grow in this business. I didn’t take the first opportunity when it presented itself, but I jumped at the second, and I never looked back.”
David credits his work-ethic and discipline for much of his success. He worked hard, expanding his knowledge of the complexities of the business, building relationships, and supporting others on their journey toward success.
He didn’t succeed alone. He had the support of his wife, and family, and of others in the business who gave him the advice he needed to stick with it and find success. Now, David is providing coaching and mentorship supporting the next generation of Advisors in achieving their very best.
“It wasn’t always easy, but the opportunity is there; you just need to take it.”
Gary Milakovic is a veteran writer with more than a decade in the public sector and corporate communications. He has covered a wide spectrum of topics and his work has been featured by large and small organizations across Canada. Gary is passionate about communication, his writing often focuses on uncovering the “story behind the story.”
David Dickson, CFP, RRC
Regional Vice-President at IG Wealth Management
1743 Lansdowne Street West
Peterborough, ON K9K 1R2
1 - 888 - 334 - 7721