Women of Influence: Sucharita Maitra

par Donna Glasgow | August 18 2014 09:00AM

Sucharita Maitra

Sharing the lessons first learned at home

Sucharita Maitra first began understanding the value of life insurance and investments as a child growing up in India.

Every Saturday morning her father would review his financial portfolio. Beginning when she was about age 10, he would ask her to sit down as he balanced his ledger and he would explain to her in a simple way his reasons for buying certain stocks, e.g., “We buy shares of a company that makes household goods because we use their products. We buy shares of a food company because we buy their tea and food." He also explained to her that his insurance policies would pay out benefits to the family if he died.

Unfortunately, Maitra’s father passed away prematurely, however due to his careful attention, his family was left financially secure. “My mom had more than enough through that insurance and a well-diversified investment portfolio that she could comfortably educate me and my brother and live comfortably for the rest of her life and even leave a legacy.”

Go forward with poise and also with some amount of patience and persevere. You will see the rewards.

Another kind of legacy he left Maitra was a strong interest in finance. “He didn’t have a finance background…but he liked investing and seeing his portfolio grow and he enjoyed sharing it with me. Seeing how his financial planning had an impact stayed with me and the fact that we need to share that idea with others – who may not be aware – became a part of me.

Maitra earned a degree in mathematics and became certified as a Chartered Accountant. She also holds an MBA in Finance. She worked for multinational companies such as Unilever and Mothercare in India and served as a business professor in the United Arab Emirates before moving to Canada.

When first in Canada, she worked as an international business professor at Sheridan College where she still serves on the Program Advisory Committee for post-graduate programs on wealth management, banking and finance. It was during her work at Sheridan that she came across an Edward Jones case study and was intrigued by their investment philosophy. Wanting to learn more about the firm, she had a meeting with one of the firm’s senior managers who a colleague introduced to her.

“My discussion with that person went in a different direction and I felt that I wanted to join that firm. I just took the plunge into something totally new, which I wasn’t sure I would succeed at, but I decided I wanted to take up the opportunity to be a financial advisor.”

She joined Edward Jones in 2001 as a financial advisor in Mississauga, Ontario, building the branch from scratch and became one of the top advisors in Canada. In 2006, Maitra was named a principal of the firm and became a part of the Home Office. From 2006 to present, her responsibilities have included Financial Advisor Training, Retirement planning and she is currently responsible for Canadian Insurance and Banking Services at Edward Jones. In 2012, she introduced the Edward Jones insurance specialist program in Canada. These specialists assist Edward Jones advisors in meeting their clients’ needs for advanced financial solutions. Since the launch of this program, the firm’s insurance business has increased on average around 30% year-over-year.

Maitra says the new insurance strategy has strong support from the grassroots of the firm to top level management. “Everybody supported it once they saw how the specialists helped our advisors meet the needs of more clients. We felt if we are going to be in the business of helping our clients retire comfortably, we have to make sure that we provide for the ‘What if’ situations otherwise our advice is not complete.”

Foundation of every financial strategy

We need to make sure that protection is at the foundation of every financial strategy we create with our clients. Insurance is as important as investments, and every client conversation needs to have the protection discussion in it.”

Due to the success of the program in Canada, it is now being expanded to the United States.

Maitra adds that much credit should be given to the team which has made this program a success. “I believe we have the best insurance specialist team in the field and a dedicated insurance marketing team at the head office... …If we are seeing success, it is a result of everyone aligning and rowing in the same direction.”

Advice for young people entering the industry: Maitra recommends developing the habit of regularly looking at a situation from another’s viewpoint and expanding one's vision to ensure collaboration and success. She adds that financial services is a great and growing industry and if someone has the desire to succeed and the willingness to put in the time, then they will find opportunity. “Go forward with poise and also with some amount of patience and perseverance. You will see the rewards.”

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