Women of Influence: Francine LavalléeBy Alain Thériault | August 18 2014 09:00AM
Born to be an entrepreneur
While working as a public servant, Francine Lavallée realized that she was born to be an entrepreneur. This financial planner, financial security, life insurance and group annuity advisor, and mutual fund representative has proven that her leadership skills cannot be confined to a 9 to 5 schedule.
In addition to serving as president of Services financiers Francine Lavallée Inc. since 1995, Lavallée acquired Centre Financier Vaudreuil-Dorion in 2003. This multidisciplinary firm located west of Montreal groups professionals in finance, law, insurance, investments and mortgages. She trades with SFL Partner of Desjardins Financial Security and SFL Placements, and has racked up over 23 years of experience as an independent advisor with these two companies.
What fires me up is comprehensive financial planning, to bring different professionals to act together in one direction.
She completed training in coaching for entrepreneurs with Alliance Services Conseils and is currently studying in the same field with Strategic Coach, in Toronto. “I want to put best practices in action,” she says. Steeped in entrepreneurship since her youth, Lavallée inherited leadership genes. “My father was in business all his life, as an electrician. He had trucks, employees and my mother did his books,” she recalls.
You can be born into business, but the road to success may still be winding. Lavallée was administrative director at Bank of Montreal from 1978 to 1983. “I led a team of 12 people. I saw that I didn’t like managing people that much, but that I was good at meeting with customers, summarizing what someone feels, desires, fears or hopes for. I’m a good salesperson because I know how to simplify aspects that may be very technical and put myself on the level of people’s knowledge,” Lavallée says.
Between BMO and starting her own firm, Ms. Lavallée dabbled in nearly everything. She even offered swimming lessons in her own pool. She and her husband took a hiatus and spent five years in Mont-Laurier where she worked for the government in the social aid program to support unemployed youth.
“I met young people who I asked: what is your dream, to become a pastry maker? Then I tried to find them workplace placements. I saw the dedication of entrepreneurs and their openness to young people. I understood that I was born to be an entrepreneur.” Next thing she knew, a car dealer talked her into selling cars. She finally moved to her husband’s hometown: Les Cèdres.
In 1990, an acquaintance from SFL approached her and convinced her to start her own business and join the network. So began her illustrious career in financial products and services. “What fires me up is comprehensive financial planning, to bring different professionals to act together in one direction.” This fall, Lavallée plans to launch Serenity Concept, a select estate planning service.
“We explain to our clients what we can do for them by teaming up with other professionals like a notary and accountant. We offer everything in one place. It’s just my nature to make my clients’ lives easier,” she says.