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"Catching the Right Waves"

Originally hailing from South Korea, Financial Planner Jason Park spent his early years assuming he’d join his father’s forestry business overseas. However, after a couple summers spent immersed in Asia’s 24/7 work culture, he started looking towards a career a little closer to home.

“I like dealing with people face to face,” he says. “I really enjoyed the dynamic of the investment field, so I decided to become a Financial Planner. I was pretty happy about working in the whole sector and wanted to develop myself for a career.”

After starting off as a teller at his local retail bank, Jason soon found himself working as an assistant Branch Manager, and finally, a Financial Advisor. When it became apparent his interest in financial planning wasn’t going away any time soon, he pursued the Professional Financial Planner designation and his career was born.

“I worked at RBC as an Investment Retirement Planner, and then at BMO as a Financial Planner. During my career there, I grew my book to the point where I wanted to move to the next level.”

Park quickly found himself shooting up the rankings at BMO Bank of Montreal, leading the organization’s list of top Financial Planners for three years in a row from 2012-2015. His success attracted the interest of soon-to-be-mentor Peter Szeto, who had worked at the same location where Park was assistant branch manager. The two stayed in touch, and eventually, Szeto would add Park to his own team at BMO Nesbitt Burns.

“When I was a Financial Planner, [Peter] was an Investment Advisor in the same region. My job title was Financial Planner, but I was primarily managing clients' portfolios at the retail level. Peter had experience in capital markets, so occasionally I sought out his advice on what would be a best practice when handling a client’s portfolio.”

Eventually, after both he and Szeto found themselves at the top of the bank’s performers lists, the pair took a gamble on working as a team.

“In a joke way, we did say we should talk about working together in the future.” He laughs. “And then the reality came when we were both at a conference – I was the top Financial Planner and he was the top Investment Advisor, so we had a further conversation around that possibility.”

Already a mentor to Jason, working with Szeto was, as Jason says, ‘a no brainer’. Park moved on to Szeto’s team at BMO Nesbitt Burns, where they spent more years topping the performance charts.

“One thing our team has a lot of pride in is that although there are a lot of metrics you’re measured on to be one of the top teams in the country, a big portion of the pie is your client satisfaction. We came out on top, and personally, I value that the most. Banks obviously care about the revenues they’re generating, but at the end of the day you also have to make sure you have happy clients and grow your business.”

Which is exactly what he did. When Harbourfront Management eventually offered Jason (and Peter) the chance to make a move, they took it — which is where the pair of them remain today, along with the rest of their original squad from the previous firm: Jennie Chen, Marie Wong, and Adam Conconi.

Now splitting his time between Harbourfront’s offices in Vancouver, West Vancouver, and the office he has at home, Jason and the Harbourfront team are still high performers. This is a factor he contributes almost entirely to the relationships he builds with his clientele.

“Dealing with people is just in my nature,” he says. “The satisfaction the clients have, and the confidence that they have, it’s pretty satisfying. This is more of a relationship based job than anything, and in order to have that relationship you need to put time into it. Build a relationship with someone and grow with them. I love watching them hit life milestones.”

Jason attributes these relationships not just to his skills with people, but also to his ability to keep a level head, something he learned from growing up around his father’s forestry business.

“Natural resources as a commodity can be super volatile,” he says. “I’ve seen it work really well, but there’s a huge risk there too. I’ve seen both sides of the roller coaster ride my entire life and witnessed what my father had to go through as a businessman.”

Commodity prices have their ups and downs, but Jason knows how to ride the waves.

“Performance wise, obviously we try our best but nobody has a crystal ball. Being an Investment Advisor can be overwhelming and stressful — you can literally jeopardize someone else’s wealth by making one wrong decision,” he says. “The one thing you can guarantee is that you’ll maintain that client relationship: following up, keeping them up to date with what their portfolios look like and what to expect down the road, and giving them peace of mind that someone is staying on top of this. I am grateful for all my clients who continue to put their trust in me and allow me to do my best to steer the ship.”

This peace of mind is why Jason is so committed not just to reassuring the clients he works with, but also educating them on the dips and swings that make up part of the life cycle of a portfolio.

“My clients have been with me for many years now,” he says. “We’ve gone through a lot of things together. We rode the market together and a lot of education and guidance has been done along the way. I get nervous myself when I see a big drop in the day, but I’ve learned to stop getting emotional. When the markets are volatile like this, you don’t want to be selling at the wrong time. If you’re holding good quality names they’ll bounce back. That kind of reassurance goes a long way.”

In his spare time, Jason rides a different kind of wave: he’s recently taken up surfing, an activity he shares with his wife and two young sons.

“We have two boys, 6 and 4, so I’m constantly saving lives,” he jokes. “Beautiful wife, two beautiful kids, and a small dog. It’s busy, but it’s happy busy. We’re a very active family.”

A former athlete himself — Jason played high-level basketball in high school — he now focuses his athletic talents on coaching his sons’ baseball team and helping them learn jujitsu.

“Competitiveness and playing sports is in my DNA. It’s always been in me to try my best and work as part of a team.”

As for teamwork, sports aren’t the only way Jason knows how to work towards a common goal. Earlier in his career, he left banking for a year to open a restaurant with a friend on Robson St, a busy area in the core of downtown Vancouver. The restaurant is still running well today, but, as Jason says, “spending 24/7 there just wasn’t my thing.”

“That’s when I realized how much I valued what I was doing,” he says. “Thanks to the time I spent as a Financial Planner, I know how important it is to have a sound financial plan in place and review it on a regular basis. You need to ensure you’re on track to fulfill your goals. It’s helped me a lot, even now. I really believe it’s one of the most important tools for your future.”

So what does he see in his?

“I’m now at the stage where I could do what Peter did for me, take some younger guys under my wing and be that kind of mentor for them. I’m not in a hurry for that, but if there’s a good fit, I’d do it,” he says.

For now, Jason is happy to ride the waves with his clients, his team, and his young family.

“This is a job that you want to look at the bigger picture,” he says. “Be patient.”

Always good advice.

Kristen Campbell holds a BA (Hons) in Political Science from McMaster University and spent a year in the University of Calgary's MA Political Science program before completing her BComm in Accounting. She enjoys blending her research & financial background with her passion for telling stories and creating content that's as fun to read as it is to write.

Jason Park, PFP, Investment Advisor,

Harbourfront Wealth Management

Royal Centre, 1800-1005 West Georgia St.

PO Box 11118

Vancouver, B.C. V6E 3P3

t: 236 - 521 - 8747 c: 604 - 767 - 1315


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