Women of Influence: Diane DupuisBy Kate McCaffery | August 18 2014 09:00AM
A commitment to lifelong learning
When Diane Dupuis started out in the business at age 22 she knew, even before getting started, that she wanted to create her own firm.
Five years later she realized that ambition. In the 29 years that followed, she’s built a well-respected practice with three distinct business lines and 14 employees who strive to uphold a reputation for excellence, following their leader who is committed to lifelong learning.
Like a lot of the industry’s influential women, Dupuis gives her time to causes. Where some devote hours to industry committees (she does this as well, with the Estate Planning Council of Vancouver), she also chooses to give back to the industry by paying for the education of employees who join her firm. More than an employment nicety, however, the pursuit of continuing education for those in her business is strict job requirement.
“People are entrusting you with their life savings. If you are willing to work hard, and learn as much as you can, it’s a great business,” she says. “Our culture here is one of ongoing education. If you join our firm, but stop going to school, you need to walk out.” Financial planners at the firm have their CFP, and account managers have three years to get their GBA (group benefits associate) designation.
Dupuis’ other professional affiliations include work with the Insurance Council of British Columbia, and service on the board of the Richmond Hospital Foundation. Top of the Table member, National Quality Award winner for 27 years, several other honours for service and volunteer work, and memberships with the Richmond Chamber of Commerce, the Vancouver Board of Trade, We Connect Canada, and Advocis, also stud her resume.
Whether you want to call her visionary, or simply in tune with client needs, Dupuis is also asked to sit on insurance company advisory boards. “I think they know I’m a creative thinker, a forward-thinker and a problem solver,” she says. “How does anybody grow? If you ask your clients what they want, and you keep hearing the same thing, but nobody is offering it, you go to the insurance company, and let them know (what clients are asking for).”
Today, Dupuis’ favourite professional topics of conversation revolve around planned giving. Her own life circumstances have allowed her to evolve her personal estate plans, as well. Once just a bequest in her will, Dupuis recently established ACT WEST Community Foundation, to fund full scholarships for Canadian women in need.
“I spoke with my husband, and he said ‘Well, if you’re comfortable with the percentage, do it now,’” she says. “We started it last October.”
In her practice, meanwhile, Dupuis focuses solely now on the group benefits aspect of her business. “I think my favourite part is when we actually design a plan for an organization, put it in place, and see it in action. It’s very rewarding to see we’ve solved a problem for the client,” she says. “I love problem-solving, and I love helping companies. Benefits today are a huge cost for companies; you can have a huge impact. When you go into a corporation with 100 employees, design the plan and sign the contract, you’re ensuring that 100 employees instantly have some form of coverage and security for their families. It’s huge.”