A financial adviser with over sixteen years of experience, Bryan Dar Santos is very passionate about his work and his future.
Bryan sat down with Ashton College to share his experiences in the financial services industry and to encourage us in our career choice.
Starting Out in Financial Services
Bryan started out his career path in a different field. “Back in the nineties I was taking psychology courses and was working towards my career as a therapist,” shares Bryan. “In the meantime, I was learning to invest on my own and began to study things like mutual funds. I began watching a lot of CNN during my breaks, but I wasn’t listening to what they were talking about – I was just watching the numbers in the corner because I was invested in their growth. It almost felt like gambling, just watching the numbers go up and down. This was how I developed an interest in investments and the stock market.”
“I was really fascinated with the stock market – it looked like making money out of nothing! So I thought to myself: I need to get in on this.”
Having found his new passion, Bryan decided to completely switch his career path. “At that time, technology was booming, and the industry was hiring a lot of people. So I took a Canadian Securities Course (CSC) and was able to get a job easily. I remember getting to work at 6:30am and finishing at 1:30pm, when everybody was still working and I had a whole day ahead of me – it was a great time!”
At the same time, Bryan knew he needed to continue learning and growing in his knowledge and skills.
“In the financial services field, you never stop learning. Education and different designations are very important: they help you gain credibility and ensure you have the necessary knowledge of different financial products and services.”
Finding Joy in His Work
Currently, Bryan is the owner of FDI Financial Diagnostics Inc., a consulting service for financial advisers. He is also working with the Desjardins financial company as one of the Regional Directors of their Investment Centre. “I like to keep myself busy,” shares Bryan.
Bryan joined Ashton’s Financial Services faculty in 2014 and is currently teaching the Life Licence Qualification Program (LLQP).
“I really enjoy my work,” says Bryan, smiling. “One of the things I really enjoy is the fact that part of my job is to educate brokers and advisors on the topic of finance. I strategize how to most effectively present different concepts to different audiences and communicate information clearly.”
Even though he calls himself an introvert, Bryan likes to speak in front of an audience. “I’ve always felt comfortable doing it,” he shares.
“I aim to create presentations that are very clean, very sharp, with a clear message behind it, and I try to make them dynamic, understandable and graphically appealing.”
Sharing Life Lessons
One of the most important lessons Bryan received in his career was during his conversation with a few advisers. “I remember when I was discussing options [contracts that give the buyer the right, but not the obligation, to buy or sell an underlying asset at a specific price on or before a certain date] with advisers, it was clear to me that many of them did not understand what options even were. This was when I realized that some industry professionals seem to lose touch when things start to change.”
“The financial industry and the markets are always changing: there are always new ideas and concepts, and as professionals, we need to keep up with those changes.”
Another lesson that Bryan focuses on is helping people understand that they need to take responsibility for their financial decisions. “Don’t let your financial decisions be made solely by a stranger that you barely know. No one cares about your money more than yourself! The advisor and the bankers, of course, do their job the best they can, but they can only ask so many questions in order to understand what it is that you want and what you’re looking for. Remember that you can save (and earn) a lot of money by taking responsibility for your own finances.”
“I find it surprising that people are not interested in learning about finances. That’s why it became my goal to educate people and help them take control of their own money and their future.”
“I truly believe that, if given the right information, people will make the right decisions; so I choose to facilitate communication in the area of finance,” shares Bryan passionately. “I understand that the language of finances can stop people from wanting to learn more – especially in insurance, where we can easily have five different terms for the same thing. What I try to do, be it at Ashton College or at my job, is get the concepts with all the terminology that we have, break them down into individual components, and use plain language to explain them. I hope that after listening to me, people are thinking ‘wow that makes sense, now I can explain it to others’.”
Career Tips for Financial Services Professionals
When talking to the financial services professionals, Bryan has several reminders to them. “Number one: keep your eyes, ears and mind open. Don’t take anything at a face value, whether it is from a wholesaler, your instructor, colleagues or supervisors. You can listen to them, but you should always remember that there is more than one way of doing things.”
“Number two: be genuine and honest. If you are trying to be successful, you have to build trust with your clients.”
Bryan also reminds us to be humble. “If you’re an adviser, you are in customer service; you need to communicate and you need to continue learning. Don’t try to be the person who knows and understands it all.”
For students pursuing the LLQP certification, Bryan reminds to have a game plan. “You should understand what you need to do to succeed, and you should be comfortable with it. Don’t be afraid to look out for different options to understand which solutions work best for individual clients.”
LLQP is not about building complex investment portfolios, programs and strategies – it is about providing protection. I feel like sometimes this thought gets lost, and we focus on selling insurance products instead of offering protection.
And in general, Bryan reminds not to get discouraged. “Don’t be frustrated if you are not successful right away – keep trying. It’s a competitive world out there, and just because you are rejected, turned down, or even fired – it doesn’t mean that you are a bad person, or that you’re bad at what you do. Just go out there and do your best!”