- GARY MILAKOVIC
MELISSA PEREMAN, CFP, CLU, EPC, RRC, Senior Wealth Advisor, IG Wealth Management, Surrey, B.C.
"The right Advisor can make all the difference"
Melissa Pereman, CFP, CLU, Senior Wealth Advisor, IG Wealth Management knows better than most how difficult financial conversations can be. Some are raised not to talk about money at all; some have intense financial anxiety that arises from a host of reasons; some marriages even fail because partners don’t communicate effectively about money.
She’s seen it before. It’s why Melissa views one of her most important jobs as making the uncomfortable comfortable. She does that with information. A lot of financial anxiety stems from a lack of knowledge - after all, many fear the unknown, regardless of the context. So, Melissa offers clarity to the complex; context to the challenging; and answers to many client questions about their finances.
To Melissa, the best client relationships are transparent and accountable. Clients are comfortable asking her questions, patient enough to listen to her answers, and willing to provide answers of their own to some deeply personal questions.
“There is no understating the importance of having a client relationship built on trust, where clients feel comfortable opening up; about asking questions when they don’t know the answer. Some Advisors hold themselves out as an unapproachable expert, with a very ‘thou shalt’ energy. That’s the last thing I want. To me, there are no stupid questions. Clients need to understand, not only what I’m doing for them, but how and why.”
The how and the why are just as important as the what. Without the context, clients may not fully understand their plans; if they don’t understand their plans, they won’t be fully on board; and if they aren’t fully on board, they may not be empowered to make the best financial decisions for themselves.
That’s why Melissa is so emphatic about effective communication.
It can make a real difference to a client’s financial outcomes. A client needs to be as invested in their financial planning as she is.
Consistency is the key to financial success
Melissa has been in the business for almost twenty years. Some clients have been with her since the beginning, and others she’s picked up through referrals along the way. What’s remained unchanged since she started her career is how she approaches her work.
“When I take on new clients, I don’t do it for the short term; it isn’t temporary. Over time, I almost become an extended member of the family. I’ve been invited to retirement parties, birthdays, and funerals. Some clients have never had another Advisor. That’s where my business differs from some of the larger firms, which have a lot of staff turnover. The employees are qualified, but sometimes clients find themselves having to tell their life stories to a new Advisor again and again. When clients call my office, they know I’ll return their call.”
Melissa takes pride in the number of clients who’ve remained with her since she started her business almost two decades ago. For her, that’s the biggest indicator of success.
IG Wealth Management is home
Melissa’s relationship with IG Wealth Management extends a long way, back even before she could drive a car. She comes from a middle-income family, who didn’t have a lot of extra money saved for retirement. Despite that, her parents saw the value in meeting with a professional to see how they could better manage their money. They met with an IG Wealth Management Advisor when she was 11 or 12 years old, and he worked with them to establish a plan on making their money work for them.
But he did the same for Melissa. The Advisor put her on an ambitious savings plan, which she kept through a series of part-time jobs. They continued meeting throughout her teenage years, helping her build her confidence with money and improving her financial position.
In university, she studied to be a chartered accountant, but she wasn’t passionate about the work. It wasn’t social enough. She realized that her future could look very isolated, crunching numbers, and with little to no human interaction. It wasn’t what Melissa wanted, but she wasn’t sure how else to direct her skill with numbers into a career. A coop placement for accounting students solidified what she was already feeling: accounting wasn’t for her.
That same summer she had the occasion to meet with a different IG Wealth Management Advisor. Her previous Advisor had since retired, and Melissa wanted to talk to someone about her plan going forward. At some point during her meeting, a lightbulb went off.
Financial planning would allow her to work with numbers, but also with people.
That was all it took.
Melissa’s parents were still in touch with their original IG Wealth Management Advisor, and when they told him about Melissa’s plans, he was thrilled. He had given Melissa the passion she needed, and it ignited an exciting career.
“The process of learning what I wanted to do, really what I wanted to be, taught me an important lesson. Conveniently, that lesson is very applicable to financial planning as well. It doesn’t matter where you start, or when, but if you take that first step, all those next steps become possible. If you stand still…you’re going nowhere.”
Melissa isn’t a salesperson. In fact, she admits, she’s “terrible at selling.” Fortunately for her (and those she works with,) she isn’t trying to hit arbitrary sales quotas. She’s trying to help clients succeed.
The last few years have been tough - on Financial Advisors, on clients, on everyone. But, despite the lows of the pandemic, she can’t imagine herself doing anything else. That’s how she knows she’s chosen the right path for her.
It also doesn’t hurt to know that her work is having a demonstrably positive impact on clients’ lives, and they aren’t afraid to tell her. Clients will sometimes call Melissa and express just how much her support has meant to them during a challenging time.
“In almost 20 years of planning, those are the most genuine compliments – when my skills have made a difference in someone’s life for the better. Estate settlement and retirement can be stressful on everyone involved like few other events in life. If my work has made that even slightly easier for a client…then I’ve done my job well.”
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.”
Melissa Pereman, CFP, CLU
Senior Wealth Advisor,
IG Wealth Management
Investors Group Financial Services Inc.
#120, 2121 152nd Street
Surrey, BC V4A 4P1