“My job is not to predict the future. My job is to prepare for the future”
Sabu Varghese learned early on that life can throw curveballs, especially when you least expect them. Sabu is a Senior Investment Advisor at SV Wealth, part of Raymond James in Toronto, where he’s been since 2008. But when he first came from India to work as a Financial Advisor in Canada, the entire world suddenly turned upside down.
“I came to Canada in 2001,” says Sabu. I had an offer from a firm to start on September 17. Then September 11 happened.” Fortunately, the offer stood, Sabu joined the firm, and he stayed there for nearly eight years.
Sabu left to join Raymond James on October 8, 2008. That was the day of one of the worst market crashes following Black Monday, when stock exchanges across the United States, Middle East, Europe, and Asia saw a sharp drop in stock prices. Despite the uncertainty the crash created, more than 90 per cent of his clients followed him over to his new practice, demonstrating the faith they had in their advisor.
“I don’t worry about the market crashing,” says Sabu. Instead, he focuses on connecting with his clients, preparing them for whatever may come their way financially. “Uncertainty can strike on any day. Our job is to prepare for that uncertainty. My job is not to predict the future. I don't know when the market will crash. We need to be vigilant in what we're doing.”
A quarter of a century in the industry
His vigilance has served him well. Sabu has been in the financial industry for 25 years, beginning his career in India in 1996 at the Bangalore Stock Exchange after completing his MBA at the University of Madras. His interest in entering finance started a few years earlier when he’d read a story of a scam going on in the Indian stock market. Because of a lack of transparency, disreputable brokers were manipulating the system and taking advantage of clients. “A lot of people lost a lot of money during that time,” says Sabu. “That story touched me, and I wanted to see what value I could have in the industry.”
Quite a bit, as it turned out. At a young age, Sabu was part of a leading broking firm, one of the youngest members to work at the senior management level. “That was a big break for me. I worked with a few people, was able to connect with them and got a good understanding at that early stage.” He left the firm – one of the leading firms in Bombay (now Mumbai) – and came to Canada in 2001.
Serving clients with a wealth of expertise and a dedicated team
Today Sabu is a Chartered Investment Manager and a Professional Financial Planner with SV Wealth Management, part of Raymond James. He is also dually registered in Canada and the U.S., which means he can provide comprehensive wealth services for clients no matter where they live.
His team of committed professionals includes Ramzy Saad, CFA, MBA. Previously a Portfolio Consultant with Raymond James’ corporate office in Toronto, Ramzy is now an Associate Portfolio Manager at SV Wealth. The team also includes Sabu’s wife, Anu Sabu, a Portfolio Manager Assistant, Ingrid Delisser, Branch Administrator; and Jose Varghese, Business Development Coordinator. And as part of Raymond James, his clients have access to all the strengths and resources offered by the leading North American independent full-service investment dealer.
Sabu’s clients are primarily doctors, business owners and retirees. He focuses on not only growing wealth, but also maintaining it. With most of his clients being high net individuals, Sabu strives to preserve capital, maintain a good cash flow, and, of course, ensure his clients are prepared for whatever the markets may bring. “It’s all about understanding the client first, then creating a plan,” says Sabu. “Then to achieve that goal, we create investment structures.”
A rules-based approach that works
One of the structures Sabu created is the All-in-One Portfolio®. It’s an innovative approach that provides his clients solutions in meeting their life goals without taking unnecessary risks. Essentially, his process is about achieving balance with his clients’ investments, while also staying within their comfort zone. It includes both active and passive investment management, which, he says, means setting some rules and maintaining the discipline to follow them.
One of the most rewarding aspects of Sabu’s practice is the change his team can help create within families. “We help create a strategy that benefits them, achieves a specific goal, and then we see that impact across the families, says Sabu. “The focus is on creating a financial bridge and a connecting link between the families. We can help with kids’ education, retirement planning, nest egg planning, passing the wealth onto the next generation. It’s a circle, actually. And we are part of the centre, we can see around.”
Staying focused in a noisy world
On the flip side, one of the things Sabu finds most challenging in the finance industry is the amount of financial information people have access to. When he began his career in India almost three decades ago, the problem was a lack of information. Today, it’s an oversaturation of it. “Everyone has all sorts of information,” he says. The information flow has changed drastically, but I'm seeing that it doesn't help. People have so much information that they don't even know what to do.” He adds, “Staying focused with all this noise around us, focusing on the goal, and achieving that particular strategy, that is the most challenging thing.”
Providing information and educating his clients is a priority. Sabu regularly invites a variety of experts to speak on topics his clients are interested in, and that he knows will help prepare them to make informed decisions about their finances. His firm’s website also shares information and resources, including a monthly newsletter that communicates his team’s strategies, as well as news articles on everything from tax audits to wellness. Sabu himself was recently asked to write an article for Bombay Stock Exchange Members’ main magazine. A few months ago, that article was featured as a cover story.
Sabu is also helping to shape future Advisors. Every six months or so, his team brings on a university student, providing paid training and the opportunity to go off and begin their own careers in the finance industry. Hopefully, those careers will be as long and successful as Sabu’s.
“I enjoy what I do, and I have no shortage of energy when I come to this business,” he says. He also brings that same energy to his home life, where he enjoys playing soccer with his kids (he has three), walking his dog (he has one), and giving back to his community.
And while Sabu is adamant that his job is not to predict the future, he does have one prediction: “I’ve been in the business 25 years. I have a least another 20 to go!’
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.
Sabu Varghese, Senior Wealth Advisor
SV Wealth I Raymond James
8500 Leslie Street, 450A
Markham, ON L3T 7M8
t: 416-499-1555 c: 647-985-2510