SEBASTIEN BERNIER, CMT®, CIM®, RIPC®, Wealth Advisor, Associate Vice President, Franklin Templeton
Sebastien Bernier, CMT®, CIM®, RIPC®, Wealth Advisor, Associate Vice President (VP) with Franklin Templeton in Montreal
"A Sports Mentality Approach to Being the Complete Finance Professional"
If there’s one thing to know about Sebastien Bernier, Wealth Advisor and Associate Vice President (VP) with Franklin Templeton in Montreal, it’s that he’s not afraid of a challenge. In fact, when adversity crosses his path, it only drives his determination further and grows his thirst for knowledge.
A talented top-level competitive hockey player in his youth, Sebastien played all throughout Quebec from the time he was three years old all the way up until Junior level in the Quebec Hockey League of Excellence (LHEQ) in the East. He may not have thought about it at the time, but the many skills developed playing at the high-level team sport would naturally transfer and serve him well throughout every step of the path to where he is today.
“At 17 I received a bursary to go and play at Bishop’s College, a prep school in Sherbrook, QC.,” recalls Sebastien. “The first time I walked into their halls, I didn’t speak a word of English and I was working in a totally foreign environment. It was a bit lonely and isolating learning to speak and study in English for all my classes. In the first semester, the school counselor told me that I might not make it through because learning English and keeping up in all the classes was going to be too much. But I did make it through successfully. Of course, it was a challenge, but I made it through.”
Moving straight into university studies at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business, a young Sebastien again faced some struggle. “I was 18 and one of the youngest students in my program there. That was tough, I was too young, too immature, and I ended up failing a few of my classes in that first term,” says Sebastien. “That was the first time I experienced a reality check and really faced adversity in a major way. I realized if I wanted to make it, all I could do was to work harder.”
That work and dedication paid off as Sebastien pulled himself up from a first term with a few failing grades to achieving his goal of graduating in the entire Bachelor of Commerce program’s top 15, continuing to work on his English, and still playing competitive hockey. “This was a struggle I recall today, but it was a great learning experience and time of growth,” says Sebastien. “Unfortunately, in my Junior year, I endured a concussion and the doctor suggested it may be time to stop playing hockey and focus on something else. With my background in sports, I brought that passion and competitive nature over into my focus on the financial world.”
Applying the competitive sports mentality to the world of finance
“I’ve always had passion and a strong mindset, along with an ability to work hard,” says Sebastien. “These things always came naturally and were easy for me. I love to hustle; I love to work hard. Each day becomes an opportunity to stay in shape, not just physically, but mentally. I already had these basics and that mind-set that in life we must work hard. I knew I needed to apply this to my educational and professional path.”
With this realization, Sebastien says the way he viewed learning was transformed and continues to this day. His collected education and certifications earned so far is impressive, robust and constantly growing. So far, Sebastien’s list of academic achievement includes: the Canadian Chartered Market Technician (CMT®) designation; the Chartered Investment Manager (CIM®) designation; and, the Responsible Investment Professional Certification (RIPC®). Not one to sit still, Sebastien is also continuing his studies as a Certified Financial Analyst (CFA®) level II Candidate; a Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA®) level I Candidate, and finally, he has nearly completed his MBA in Investment Management at Concordia University while at the same time he will complete his CFA with the class of 2022.
“I combined my hockey experience, my athletic mindset and my love of the MMA
competition, including the many disciplines and skills it encompasses – wrestling, striking, Brazilian jiu-jitsu and karate. You have to learn all of these styles to be successful,” says Sebastien. “I applied this same concept to the study of finance. So, if I’m good at numbers and I have a passion for finance, how do I continue to be better? I saw there were many fields and avenues professionals can take in order to be a complete expert in finance.”
Using his passion for MMA as an analogy, Sebastien takes an all-encompassing approach to his financial practice. “My bachelor’s degree is the first level, the base knowledge. Now, how do I climb up the ladder, such as going through the coloured belts at each level of Karate up to my Black Belt? So, I started with my CIM designation,” he explains. “Then I realized my interest in the cycle of finance, so I earned my CMT.”
As he works to reach the top levels in his CFA certification, Sebastian attacks the learning process with the same focus he would apply to athletic training. “There’s always an improved skillset and training to achieve,” he says. “At the end, my goal is to be the complete financial professional.”
Sebastien says there are good financial advisors and wealth managers out there in specialized areas, but his approach is different. “They don’t necessarily pursue the complete comprehension of the entire business. They’ll be successful in one aspect of the business, such as a wrestling professional versus the complete MMA athlete,” he says. “If you want to give the absolute best service and complete service to your clients, I think by being knowledgeable and experienced in every aspect of the entire practice, that’s when you can deliver them the best and most complete value in building their portfolios.
“I think about everything in this business from a really holistic point of view, as I do in the sports I love,” adds Sebastien. “As in hockey, or any sport, there’s inevitably always something unexpected thrown your way. You must be well-rounded in any situation in order to react successfully to that given situation. In everything I do, I never want to be surprised by anything.
I want to ensure I have the best and latest knowledge and expertise to react to that situation. Whatever issue any client may be experiencing, it’s my responsibility to ensure I have the tools, and the confidence, to guide and support them towards the right solution.”
The professional coach approach
Given Sebastien’s immersion in top-level competitive sports for as long as he can remember, it’s no surprise he’s extremely comfortable taking on a coaching role within his client relationships. “The most meaningful part of my work, and what I really love doing, is educating my clients,” says Sebastien. “Not only do I want to assure them they can rely on my skills, but I’m here to share any of these skills with them they’re interested in.”
Sharing that knowledge so transparently builds a deep trust with his clients. “I want them to trust that I have the skills, the experience, and expert knowledge of what’s happening around the financial globe, and know that they can depend on me,” says Sebastien. “They can ask me any question, and I will give them the most objective answer. I will not window-dress this information as many others do to make advice seem more appealing. They can trust that I will give them the most honest, objective, concrete and research-based answer.”
In his current Associate Vice President role with Franklin Templeton, Sebastien is especially interested in serving high net worth investors passing from the phase of wealth accumulation and growing closer to retirement. “Those five years prior to retirement, and then actually going through the retirement transition, are the most stressful for so many people,” says Sebastien.
“I want to serve, support, and guide them every way I possibly can. The diverse skillset I’ve been working so hard to assemble into one complete service is all about ensuring we can work together to understand the unique past situation of these clients. We can then create the best possible personalized solution. “I want them to trust in my process and come out with confidence that I’m leveraging an extensive education to make the most knowledgeable decisions on their behalf,” he adds. “All of my education and professional development has meant that I can relate to them, where they’re at, and support them to feel comfortable at all times.”
Having great respect for the work his clients have done to accumulate and save their money, Sebastien takes pride in seeing them enjoy the lives they’ve worked so hard to build. “I’ll be the one they can call with any question,” he says. “They can enjoy life while we plan for their children and their grandchildren, they can travel and explore their next chapter. I’ve got the burden of trustworthy and valuable knowledge taken care of.”
A natural talent
Looking back, it’s not surprising that Sebastien has a natural knack for wealth management. “Growing up in my family, there was always a caution towards money management,” he says. “As an engineer, my dad has always worked with numbers. My mom also works in finance. So, I naturally grew up being educated about always being aware of and taking care of money, thinking about savings, and growing personal wealth right from a young age. I always had this foundation built in from an early age.”
Going back to those days of adversity at Bishop’s College when Sebastien’s English placed hurdles within his studies, his familiarity with numbers saw him through. “I defaulted back to my trust and confidence in numbers. It just made sense at the time,” says Sebastien. “Numbers, math and finance were what I knew, and they carried me through. I returned to that passion for finance and numbers during my undergraduate studies at the John Molson School of Business. I had a vision of what I could do.”
Natalie Noble’s love of writing stems from her passion for hearing and sharing people’s stories. Over the years she has written for various business, real estate, and agriculture publications. At the heart of her work is a desire to continuously learn and connect.
Sebastien Bernier, CIM® CMT® RIPC®
Associate Vice-president, Sales