RON LE STAGE, CIM, FCSI, Investment Adv., Le Stage Investment Group, BMO Nesbitt Burns, Kelowna, BC
RON LE STAGE
“Choosing the right Advisor has a greater impact
than choosing the right investments”
Ron Le Stage started his career in finance after more than a decade in the commercial fishing industry. Fishing to finance is not your usual transition. But then again, Ron is not your usual Advisor.
An indigenous Investment Advisor who understands the culture
Ron is an Investment Advisor with Le Stage Investment Group, part of BMO Nesbitt Burns in the Okanagan. His office is in the Bank of Montreal building on the Westbank First Nations reserve, and Ron himself is Indigenous – he’s a registered Metis title status cardholder. “I’m the most senior tenured Indigenous Investment Advisor actually located on a reserve,” says Ron. “I’m not aware of anyone else with this kind of unique situation.”
Ron’s clientele currently includes a few First Nation accounts, but it’s an area he intends to expand. He certainly has a lot to offer; on top of three decades in finance and his passion for investing, Ron brings an understanding of what it means to be Indigenous. He knows the culture and shares the challenges.
“I didn’t choose to be Indigenous,” he says. “I was born that way. I’ve got papers that I had to send to the Metis Nation to get my registered status. My dad and my aunt went across Canada to find all these documents, and they had “half-breed” on them. That was the term back then. If you were, you wanted to hide. That’s how I grew up. Don’t admit you’re Indigenous. Don’t admit you’re Metis.”
With the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s Call to Action in 2017, Ron is hopeful that times are changing. “We’re just starting to see this whole push of indigenous inclusion,” says Ron.
That includes greater inclusion in the investment world. And Ron wants to provide an option for clients who would like to work with an Advisor who is also indigenous, and who has the background and personal understanding of the financial needs and wishes of the Indigenous community.
From fishing to finance
He also has a passion for what he does. “My mother told me that I used to read financial books and magazines when I was young, even in elementary school,” says Ron. “I don’t know why, but I had a passion for the stock markets.”
Before that passion took him to the finance industry, Ron was a commercial fisherman. He owned his own gill netting boat and fished the entire BC West Coast, from Alaska to Victoria and all inlets in between. “I was 29 years old when I realized I had to leave the fishing industry. I had a passion for the stock market. I don’t know where it came from because I didn’t know anyone who even owned a stock.” Ron would pick stocks in the newspaper using an imaginary $100,000. Eventually, he took steps to turn his passion into a reality. “I went to the college and asked the counselor how to become a stockbroker,” he says. “Almost 30 years later, here I am.”
Ron has been with Nesbitt-Burns for 20 years – and in his current location on reserve land in West Bank for the last 15. He also has offices in Penticton and Kelowna and a small team that includes Kim Gudmundson, his administrative assistant, and Kali Le Stage, his investment associate (and youngest daughter). It’s a small team, but he has quick access to other experts who can help with all his clients’ needs – from financial planning to commercial banking. Together they look after clients who include First Nations bands, corporations, and individuals near or in retirement, who want to ensure their investments continue to support their retirement.
An investment approach that brings results
Ron takes their hopes to heart. He’s hands on with all of his clients’ portfolios and has developed an approach that consistently brings welcome returns on his clients’ investments. On his website, Ron lists eight pillars his approach is founded on:
1. We don't believe in diversifying for the sake of diversifying.
2. It's patience that makes a millionaire, not the investment.
3. Markets are difficult to time, but market trends can be more predictable.
4. During periods of volatility, non-correlation between asset classes evaporates.
5. Old asset allocation models are dangerously flawed.
6. Wealth building requires concentrated positions.
7. Markets are not a random walk; thus technical analysis is a useful tool.
8. Fundamental and technical analysis are most potent when combined.
“We’ve developed a system that works very well, and we’ve averaged double digit returns for the last three consecutive years,” says Ron. It's an approach that works.
Even during an extended period of market volatility, Ron sees reasons to be optimistic. “Downturns like this, well, they’re called a buying opportunity if you have a long-term horizon for investing”
“I’ve got history on my side. Show me a point in time that the markets never went higher. Eventually, they’re always going to move higher – it’s like inflation. I remember a bottle of pop costing $0.25. Now that same bottle of pop is $1.25. That's inflation. Everything just keeps growing proportionately. If things get more expensive, salaries grow; products get more expensive, you're making more.”
Markets aren’t scary. Fishing is scary.
Ron’s calm in the face of a volatile market is likely a result of working as a fisherman for so many years and having experiences far more frightening than a drop in prices.
“I was on a 30-foot gill net boat just outside of Port Renfrew near Victoria on the West Coast,” he remembers. “It was very, very foggy, four miles off the beach. There was the Canadian border, another mile after that is neutral, where the freighters travel up and down.”
It was pea-soup-thick foggy, and all my lights went out. I'm getting a ton of fish in the net and I know I'm drifting towards the US border. All I can hear are the fog horns of the big freighters. I have no lights, no radar and I can't tell when they’re coming or if they can see me. I'm so small in the water and I am fretting like crazy, deckhands running around, trying to pick the fish out of the net and rolling it in. We made it, but every time I heard one of the foghorns of those freighters coming through the shipping lane, I thought I was going to look up and see a 20-storey bow coming at me and with no time to do anything but jump.”
He laughs. “The stock market dropped over 50 percent in 2008, that was not stressful, that was exciting. I knew it would bounce back and everyone would recover. But suddenly seeing a 20-storey bow in front of you and you have to swim for it – that’s stressful.”
Carrying on in his passion for finance
Ron jokes that he views the stock market like soap opera. “The commodities, the individual stocks, it's all like different characters. They all come into the show and they create different situations. Every day I can't wait to see what's going to happen. It's like being addicted to a soap opera and all the different characters. ‘Do you know what so and so did today?’ Well, that's me with the currency, the market, the Canadian dollar, oil prices and metals, and all the economic news. I love it.”
What’s ahead in the next episode of Ron’s practice? He’s putting a greater focus on bringing on more Indigenous clients. He’s licensed in every province in Canada, so he’s hoping to work with First Nations bands across the country, but first, setting his sights on adding to his roster with more Indigenous clients in B.C.
He’s also adding to his team. His daughter Kali is working with him as an associate, and he’s preparing her to one day take over the business. Kali, like her father, showed an interest in finance at an early age.
“I knew early on,” he says. “I could see it in her when I was helping her with her algebra. ‘As soon as you understand this stuff, you're going to love it.’ Sure enough, after a few months, she caught on and I saw her smile and I said aha! I told you! And she even sounded like a female broker. She said, ‘I never want to depend on a man for money.’ OK you're going to fit right in.”
Out of the office, Ron is also passionate about fitness and staying healthy so he can enjoy all that life in the Okanagan has to offer. “I’m crazy about golfing,” he says. “I’m not a good golfer, but I’ve had two holes-in-one.” He won a car on his first one but took the cash instead. “Because I won more than a thousand dollars in prize money, I actually lost my amateur golf status. I like to joke that I’m the only pro who’s never broke 100!”
Passion, persistence, and perseverance: three words that sum up Ron Le Stage, who enthusiastically shares that he loves what he does.
Janice Tuff is a professional writer and communicator who got her start in radio copywriting.
Three decades later, she continues to draw upon the valuable lessons learned in her radio days: grab your audience’s attention quickly and always tell an engaging tale.
Ron Le Stage, CIM, FCSI
Le Stage Investment Group BMO Nesbitt Burns Westbank Office
101 - 3640 Gosset Road
Westbank, BC, V4T 2N4
Opinions are those of the author and may not reflect those of BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. ("BMO NBI"). The information and opinions contained herein have been compiled from sources believed reliable but no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to their accuracy or completeness. BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Bank of Montreal. BMO Nesbitt Burns Inc. is a Member - Canadian Investor Protection Fund. Member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada.