JOEL HIGGS, CFP, CIM, RRC, FCSI, Executive Financial Consultant IG Wealth Management, St John, NB
While growing up on a farm in rural New Brunswick, 12 - year old Joel Higgs was curious about the stock prices he saw on the Atlantic News. When no one in the room could explain what it meant, he decided to work things out for himself.
“I ordered up all these books that taught me about stocks and bonds and the market,” he says. “It started with how interest works, all the way up to how the market works and everything in between. I don’t know what got me into it at 12 years old. I just thought, somebody’s got to figure this out. So I ordered up all these books and got at it. I guess I’ve been at it ever since.”
Following his interest in finance has served him well. After completing a business program in college, Joel worked as a Financial Advisor for CIBC, where his educational background led him to become the first IIROC licensed Financial Advisor in the branch network for CIBC in New Brunswick.
“I thought it was pretty neat to be the first one,” he says. “Although some others did join me after that.”
His qualifications soon found him recruited by ScotiaMcLeod, where he got to experience the ups and downs of the market firsthand. “Living through the 2008 financial crisis as a stockbroker was an interesting place to be. Everyone thought the world was coming to an end.”
It didn’t, of course, but Joel says the experience taught him some resolve. “It made it easier, I think, to deal with clients who are worried about minor things. At the beginning of the pandemic a few clients called me thinking it was the end of the world, but you have to put things in perspective. We’ve seen the end of the world enough times now — this isn’t it.”
Having ridden out one of the largest financial crises in market history and lived to tell the tale (Higgs remained at ScotiaMcLeod until he was recruited to IG Wealth Management in 2011), Joel knows the value of keeping a level head. Now, as a Financial Consultant, he travels all across the province of New Brunswick, helping large network of our clients manage their money and plan for their future.
“The best part of it for me is when I give someone a road map for their life. We make plans for their retirement, and then I’m here to implement them. I get to watch it happen and answer their questions along the way.”
He also likes the autonomy of his role. “If you’re working in the stock market day to day, you’re pretty well tied to your computer. You have to be able to provide quotes and do transactions on request. Here, we do a financial plan that spans 10-20 years. We do make trades, but there’s less on the transactional end of figuring out what you're going to buy and sell.”
This means more time to focus on making strategic decisions and planning for the future, which is where Joel excels. Having worked with the market up close, he has insight into what drives trends, what to expect as interest rates shift, and where the economy is headed overall.
“I’ve seen what goes on under the hood, what goes on behind the scenes. I have some insight into what they’re doing and how they do it. That helps.”
It’s this insight that has allowed him to keep expanding his business over the past 11 years. That, and understanding our clients’ attitude towards risk.
“I’ve learned to have a steady hand on the wheel,” he says. “So our clients can feel confident, and my team doesn’t get stressed out. It’s also important to match the right portfolio to the right person.”
For Joel, this match is a crucial part of what he does. “Initially, when I make an investment for someone, I take my time understanding the kind of risk level they can tolerate and what kind of return they expect. Getting that right is really the key.”
Although he does have an investor profile questionnaire, when it comes to risk tolerance, Joel likes to have a conversation to make sure he and clients are on the same page.
“We use examples,” he says. “I always say to them, if 2008 were to happen again and your investments went down by 40%, a once in a couple of decades type of downturn, would you be okay with that? If your investment is $50,000 and went up by this amount, or down by this amount, are you going to be checking it every day? Are you going to be able to sleep at night worrying about what the value is? You kind of gauge that until you find a comfortable level.”
Once he knows clients are okay with a certain level of risk, and the returns associated with it, he can build a financial plan around them. This becomes the ‘road map’ he enjoys creating for their financial lives.
In his own life, Higgs and his partners — which include his son, Tyler Higgs — keep busy. Although they run a large book of business and often travel around the province to meet with clients, many days start off working from the home office he shares with his son.
“He did a business program too. I’ve been teaching him the ropes, getting him up and ready. We’re just building up his experience in client meetings now. Not because I’m planning to retire any time soon, just getting him established so I can take a vacation or two.”
Outside of the office, Joel prefers to spend his time outdoors. He enjoys fishing, boating, hiking, four-wheeling, and spending time at the cottage he owns near the farm where he grew up. “We lived way out in the country. That probably prepared me for just about anything.”
In his spare time, Joel likes getting involved with his community. He sat on the board for the local chapter of the Kidney Foundation, and recently spent time volunteering and fundraising for IG’s Walk for Alzheimers. In the past, he spent 5-6 years helping out with Ground Search and Rescue, where he often found himself knee deep in one of the area's swamps. “No one ever gets lost in the woods anymore,” he jokes. “It’s always a swamp.”
In his vision for the future, Joel hopes to continue building his business — and has no plans to slow down any time soon.
“I don’t think I’ll ever retire,” he admits. “One of my business partners is 76. I don’t know if I’ll stay that long, but I might hang on for a while. I love what I do. I never get up and feel like I don’t like my job. There could have been other jobs, but I know that if I would have taken them, I wouldn’t be as excited about them as I am when I get up every day.”
As for picking up finance at such a young age?
“I needed a hobby, and I didn’t play hockey,” he laughs. “You gotta do something.”
For Joel, that’s one investment that has certainly paid off.
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.
JOEL HIGGS, CFP, CIM, RRC, FCSI
Executive Financial Consultant
IG Wealth Management
100 - 55 Union St.
Saint John, NB, E2L 5B7
506 - 632 - 8228 ext. 233
Mobile - 506 - 658 - 0766
Investors Group Financial Service Inc.