Gregory Stevens knows a thing or two about performance. Before he started managing the investment portfolios of his West Vancouver clients, Greg was part of a NASCAR pit crew and frequently found his way into the driver's seat in Formula 2000.
"It was a really good time, pursuing that dream," he said. "Growing up in Alberta, there wasn't much to do except slide your car around and I did that quite a bit."
After "getting that out of his system," Greg came back to the other half of his education.
"I really enjoyed math and pursued economics because of that. I really thought it was interesting how businesses decided on price and how governments made decisions that best suit everyone," he said.
Greg started his banking career with Toronto Dominion literally on the ground floor, as a teller.
"That was my foot in the door," he recalled, "but I always knew the investment side of things was where my interests laid. So I updated all my securities licences as fast as possible and made my superiors painfully aware of where I wanted to go and how quickly I thought I could go there."
You don't have to talk to Greg long before his passion for his work comes through. The importance of good advice hit home for him early on, he said, when he saw how badly his sister's file was being handled.
"I found most of the investments were designed to produce fees for the advisor," he said. "There's a lot of people in the same boat. They haven't had those conversations with their advisor about education and understanding what their portfolio was doing and where it was supposed to go - how to save, how to plan, how to budget, and what to expect from the economy."
Greg manages about 40 households' money now, and says the North Shore has been "a great environment."
"People on the North Shore are pretty down to earth and it's easy for me to relate to them," he said.
"I have a range of clients. Families, business owners and professionals. For the most part I work with people who need help - they don't have the time. Typically they are running a business themselves or they're a professional working long hours. It's quite a mix and that's one of the best parts of the job, meeting people and learning about their experiences. I have a client from India who came here as a teacher and she wrote a cookbook based on what she learned from her mother, who learned from her mother and so on. So now I have this cookbook with recipes that are probably hundreds of years old."
While it's rewarding, Greg said that level of intimacy - "an uncommon understanding," he calls it - is also his biggest challenge.
"It's a huge job. My job is to build a relationship with the client, understand their values and their core beliefs, and try to apply that to their portfolio. It's a lot of trust and a lot of responsibility."
Part of that trust, Greg said, as well as working towards his clients' varied investment performance goals, is providing a frank assessment of the economy and his own industry.
"I think there's a lot of skepticism - for good reason - with how the markets and the industry are looked at," he said.
"That's one of the challenges, making sure people are acutely aware of the fact that I share their values and I'm looking out for their interests."
GET TO KNOW ME
What are you reading or watching right now?
I read so many textbooks and research papers that it's hard to find the time to read a good fiction book. But I really enjoy watching Dancing with the Stars with my wife.
What are your hobbies or interests?
Racing is a huge interest, but it's kind of a selfish thing. Maybe when I'm older and have some money kicking around I'll take it up again. I'm newly married so most of my energy is focused on that right now.
But I'm still a closet F1 fan, and I play a lot of recreational hockey. We've got a great hockey subculture here. I like to get outside as well. The first thing my wife and I did when we got here was buy a couple of bikes.
Are you involved with any charity or commmunity groups?
When I got here I was really looking to get involved with the community. The Rotary Club seemed like a great way to network and also give back. I serve on their community service committee. Right now we are looking at a way to help people who are hearing impaired. We have a hearing foundation in St. Paul's Hospital and we help drill clean water wells in Africa.
key to success You have to have passion andbelieve in what you're doing. You have to have conviction.