Women of Influence: Jocelyne Gagnon

By Alain Thériault | August 18 2014 09:00AM

Jocelyne Gagnon

Excellence through education

A founding member of Quebec’s Institut québécois de planification financière (IQPF), Jocelyne Gagnon was president of the financial planning Institute from 1990 to 1993 and has been an honorary member since 1994. Instead of simply taking the minimum continuous training required in her field, she has always chosen to strive for excellence.

Since joining PPI Advisory 25 years ago, Gagnon has coached high-calibre advisors in insurance and financial services aimed at business owners, as head of the tax planning. A graduate of Montreal-based business school, HEC Montreal, she also holds a Master’s degree in taxation from the University of Sherbrooke.

Out of 32 students, there were seven women...Nowadays, the genders are more evenly balanced.

She has coordinated the Round Table on the Taxation of Financial Strategies and Instruments in concert with the Canada Revenue Agency and Finance Canada since 2004. This event is part of the annual convention of the Association de planification fiscale et financière (APFF), a Quebec event similar to the Conference for Advanced Life Underwriters' (CALU). In addition to being an APFF member, Gagnon also belongs to the Canadian Tax Foundation and CALU.

An impressive track record to be sure, but there’s more. In her quest for excellence, Gagnon has been travelling to Toronto since early this year to participate in a program leading to certification as a Family Enterprise Advisor (FEA). Sauder School of Business offers this course in Toronto, Vancouver and Calgary, in collaboration with the University of British Columbia.

“This one-year course teaches us to work in multidisciplinary teams to better serve family enterprises,” she explains. Few Quebecers have taken this non-mandatory training, she points out. “I will soon go to Toronto for three days to attend an event linked to the Institute of Family Enterprise Advisors,” she adds.

She has always been a trailblazer. When she began her career, few women practised a profession related to insurance or financial planning. “I was the first woman in Québec to earn the title of Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU),” Gagnon says. This title was granted in 1973 by the Canadian Institute of Chartered Life Underwriters and Chartered Financial Consultants.

During her studies at HÉC, she could count the number of women students on her fingers. She entered another male-dominated field when she obtained her Master’s degree in taxation in Sherbrooke during her sabbatical in 1983. “Out of 32 students, there were seven women,” she recalls. “Nowadays, the genders are more evenly balanced.”

Skill development is behind her pursuit of higher education. “The diploma lets me be recognized in my profession and improve my skills,” she explains.  She can then focus on her passion. “I love my work as planner. I have always enjoyed working with people, sitting down with them around the table to understand their problems and find a solution.”

Gagnon will probably not rest on her laurels after obtaining the title of FEA. “I have other challenges to take on,” she says.

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