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LAKSHMI PILLAI, PFP®, Senior Investment Advisor, Manulife Wealth, in Oakville, Ontario


“The goal is to empower clients with the knowledge

to make more informed financial choices”

Lakshmi Pillai, Senior Investment Advisor for Manulife Wealth based in Oakville, Ontario, offers a distinctive blend of passion and expertise. On a mission to make financial planning more accessible, Lakshmi's career goes beyond a mere profession as she dedicates her efforts to offering informed choices, enhancing family decision-making, and encouraging women to play a bigger role in joining the financial conversation.

Embracing a holistic approach, Lakshmi's services encompass comprehensive financial guidance: spanning Planning, Investments, and Insurance.

How and when did the story of your career begin?

Growing up in Hong Kong, Lakshmi reflects on her roots, stating, “This city has long been recognized as a financial hub. The irony is that we've never heard of financial planning, even within my own family.”

Driven by a passion for education, she aspired to help people better understand their options, allowing them to make more informed decisions. “Once you understand your options, you have more control and peace of mind over what to expect, as opposed to blindly trusting or relying on an Advisor, friend, or family member. You can rely on your intuition and understanding of what’s being explained by the Advisor, and I thought that was important.”

Fast forward to her education, Lakshmi mentions taking a more unconventional path.

“I was studying Biochemistry during the financial crisis,” she begins. “At the time, I realized I did not want to go into research but wanted a more hands-on approach to making a direct impact on people’s lives. During this period, I continued my studies focusing on Economics as well and developed a strong desire to increase financial literacy so I could help families improve their financial health.”

Upon graduating, Lakshmi joined Manulife Wealth Inc. working with Advisors specializing in financial planning and investment management. This experience facilitated a deeper understanding of clients’ situations, providing valuable insights into areas of improvement and highlighting the distinctions between their existing strategies and alternative paths to further strengthen their situation.

“I appreciated the idea that this field was goal-focused,” she says. “You’re helping people build a personalized financial plan to ensure they’re on track to achieving their goals while becoming informed about opportunities available to them along the way.”

“The core of our work revolves around planning, investments, and insurance.”

As a Senior Investment Advisor and Senior Financial Planner at Manulife Wealth, Lakshmi’s primary focus is retirement planning, with her core clientele being individuals who are either a decade into or away from retirement.

“I’m often asked, how much do I need to retire comfortably? What should I do today to ensure I can retire in the next 10 years? What will my cash flow and lifestyle look like when I stop working? How can I reduce my taxes, keep my capital intact and enhance the legacy that will be passed onto my children?” “Insurance is another aspect we cover,” she mentions. “I aim to help clients understand their coverage needs — if what they have is sufficient, if they require a top-up, or if they are under or over-insured. Discussing hypothetical scenarios allows them to imagine what they can expect and fill any gaps identified.”

To help facilitate learning, Lakshmi actively organizes virtual webinars/corporate workshops throughout the year, ensuring clients grasp financial concepts more comprehensively and have a chance to ask more questions. “I have been engaging in this educational initiative throughout my career, extending it to not only clients but different companies and community groups at times.”

These workshops add a dynamic layer to her work, reaching beyond standard client meetings. “The education sessions cover different topics for clients and community groups, such as newcomers to Canada, guiding them on what they can do today to financially succeed tomorrow. I thoroughly enjoy these sessions as they provide me a chance to give back to the community, provide valuable information and answer questions they might otherwise be shy or hesitant to ask a professional.”

“My hope is that you will gain actionable ideas for yourself and your loved ones to ensure no one is missing out on opportunities available to them.”

Navigating Financial Terrain: Lakshmi's Approach to Comprehensive Understanding

Lakshmi’s advice to clients is tailored to their unique financial situations. The educational aspect plays a significant role in her approach. She dedicates substantial time to ensuring that clients not only comprehend their current financial status but also grasp the reasoning behind investment decisions.

“A common scenario I see involves clients who already have some form of financial plan in place. In these cases, I review their plan, highlight what's working well and identify any missing pieces. I quantify the potential difference any adjustments could make to their overall financial health. This prompts a thoughtful discussion of potential changes and the opportunity cost of continuing with the status quo.”

“I relate this process to having a GPS or a roadmap that helps reduce the risk of traffic jams, wrong turns and accidents to help you get to your end destination comfortably and on time,” she says. “Following these conversations, clients are not only equipped with a clearer actionable plan but are also prompted to consider avenues they may not have previously, resulting in more holistic financial strategies being used.”

Lakshmi finds immense fulfillment in the meaningful moments when clients not only share their accomplishments but also express gratitude for the profound impact of her guidance.

“There have been times when clients express sentiments to me regarding their hope to exceed a certain financial milestone, and how my guidance has helped them achieve that. In family scenarios, many clients have introduced me to their parents and adult children allowing me to create a more comprehensive plan covering multiple generations.”

“Knowing that loved ones are well cared for provides reassurance for the entire family, helping them stay on track to their long-term goals, and maintaining peace of mind, especially during market downturns.”

Individualized Connections, Holistic Strategies, and Mentorship

In the pursuit of becoming a well-rounded professional, Lakshmi seeks opportunities to attain the qualifications or designations necessary to better help clients.

“While seeking external expertise is sometimes necessary and valuable for a different perspective, I find that personally handling certain aspects, like insurance, has its advantages. Managing this personally allows me to better understand the client's needs and preferences more intimately and ensure there are no gaps in the insurance, estate and financial plan than if I were to bring in another professional.”

Lakshmi credits a significant portion of her success to the presence of an exceptional team, underscoring its pivotal role in cultivating a collaborative spirit that propels both growth and development for everyone together.

“I want to acknowledge Abraham Tachjian, Senior Investment Advisor - Manulife Wealth Inc. who I have had the opportunity to work with and learn from since the beginning of my career”, she says. “Abraham’s long-standing experience in the industry has been and continues to be an invaluable resource. From the early days, his mentorship has provided me with insights and guidance to help me progress in the right direction. Together, we collaborate by sharing ideas, incorporating fresh perspectives, and continually evolving our approach to serve clients better.”

Lakshmi also takes pride in developing other team members, emphasizing the dual importance of both having and being a mentor. “Sam Kontos joined our team in 2022 as an Investment Advisor Assistant and has done an incredible job in growing and taking exceptional care of our clients. He brings great product knowledge and industry experience from his previous work at Manulife Investment Management and continues to do a fantastic job further developing his skills as he helps solve varying clients’ needs. Seeing him grow and develop has been particularly gratifying.”

Professional Reflection and Personal Well-Being

On a broader professional scale, Lakshmi eagerly anticipates each new year as an opportunity for goal-setting and improvement. “I revisit past conversations with clients, contemplating better ways to fulfill their needs and expectations,” she says. “As a team, we like to explore innovative approaches and think about what we can do differently to make the overall experience more enjoyable and rewarding for clients.”

She notes that “The work itself is rewarding, it allows me to build strong connections with clients who, to some extent, have become friends and family over time.” Since much of Lakshmi’s family is spread across different parts of the world, including Hong Kong, England, and India, she values the network of connections created through her clients.

Outside of work, Lakshmi prioritizes activities that contribute to her well-being and personal development. “I practice yoga regularly, love cooking and trying out new recipes, painting, pottery, and cherish opportunities to travel. I make it a point to try different activities to develop a new skill every year.”

Taylor Stranaghan is a skilled business content writer and editor for My Business Magazine, who brings forth a wealth of knowledge and expertise. With years of experience crafting compelling narratives, she excels at producing high-quality, engaging content that informs, educates, and inspires readers.

Lakshmi Pillai PFP®

Senior Investment Advisor |  Manulife Wealth Inc.

Life Insurance Representative 

Manulife Wealth Insurance Services Inc.

Suite 200 B – 2010 Winston Park Drive

Oakville, Ontario  L6H 5R7

Direct Line: 416-832-3995 

Office: 289 291 7747

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