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  • Writer's pictureDave Veale

‘I’d never do anything else’: Wealth adviser

Updated: Sep 23, 2021

Bob Manning

‘We’re very fortunate that we get to work with a clientele that are generally very engaged in the process and are looking to have a significant impact, either with themselves and their families, maybe with a business that they operate or, potentially, in the community if they’re planning on being philanthropic at any point in time,’ says Bob Manning of the Owens MacFadyen Group. Photo: Chris Donovan/Telegraph-Journal

Bob Manning has an impressive track record of business experience that he has carried forward into his wealth adviser role at Owens MacFadyen Group; executive-level business planning, operations and marketing experience in the information technology sector, consulting and management for startup companies in Atlantic Canada.

The knowledge he gained while working in multi-national, national and regional organizations – helping them deal with the challenges of growth through disciplined planning and effective management – has served him well in his wealth advisory role at OMG Wealth.

Bob, a St. Francis Xavier University grad with a bachelor of business administration, has made it a habit to give back to his community. He just finished a 10-year term on the board of the Saint John Regional Hospital Foundation (now a past-director) and is past chair of the Saint John Board of Trade and Enterprise Saint John.

I started my conversation with Bob by asking him to tell me what caused his mid-career move into a completely different sector.

A: When you rise to the level of a president within a multi-national, global tech company and get to manage at that level, it’s pretty exciting. When our family made the decision to return to Canada from New York, that experience wasn’t going to be available to me in a community like Saint John, so I had to find a new career.

Q: How did you end up landing at OMG Wealth?

A: When my wife and I first showed up in Saint John for what I call our first tour of duty here, we needed financial advice and we turned to a fellow that came highly recommended. His name was Bob Owens – a great adviser. He had started his own independent firm, Owens MacFadyen Group, with his partner Dave MacFadyen.

We were part of the first group of clients when he formed the business. He was our adviser until we came back here in 2002. Two years later, he convinced me that he was looking for succession and growth in the firm so I joined the firm and I’m now an adviser and a shareholder of the firm.

Q: You went from client to shareholder?

A: Well, not quite. I went from client to adviser, and then once we discovered that this career was for me, I was then offered the choice to buy into the firm.

Q: What was the best thing about your career change?

A: I liked the idea of being an entrepreneur instead of being employed by a large enterprise. I liked the idea of the financial flexibility, the flexibility in hours and being able to be there for my family because that was a big goal for me.

Q: Was it an easy transition?

A: The change was scary – I have to admit. I was going from something that I like to think I was pretty darn good at into an area that I didn’t know that well. Thankfully, people that believed in me early continued to stay with me as clients; I’m very thankful for them. They’ve been very supportive through the years. And here I am, 12 years later and I’d never do anything else. This is the career that I was meant to be in.

Q: What attracted you to the firm initially?

A: I had an excellent client experience. It wasn’t until I came in as an adviser and started to grow my own practice that I came to discover that the OMG way is quite different than everyone else in the industry.

Q: What advice would you give to someone who’s contemplating a shift in his or her career, like you did?

A: Well, first and foremost, you reap what you sow. You have to realize it’s going to take a lot of hard work, but if you’re willing to work hard, the rewards are fantastic.

Q: What are the biggest challenges?

A: The challenge of being an entrepreneur is recognizing that no one else is responsible for your career. You have to be learning every day. You have to do it yourself. No one else is going to take care of that for you.

When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re only as good as your next client. So you have to be continually putting yourself out there and asking people to trust in you, to believe in you and showing them how you can help them achieve what it is that they’re trying to achieve.

Q: What do you think is the least understood part of what you do for a living?

A: Well, the standard definition of the financial services sector has been established by the banks and the brokerage firms. So whenever you first introduce financial services, the first thing people think about is investing.

The thing that people come to discover when they work with us is that the investment management side of our business is a natural outcome that comes from finding solutions and doing some planning related to what people are trying to achieve and what their goals are.

Income planning, estate planning, all of those things are things that we deliver to our clients as part of our service offering.

Q: You have an interesting philosophy about how wealth creation supports people having a bigger impact. Can you explain this?

A: We have a philosophy here called “good, better and best outcomes.”Based on the processes that we’ve established, if we get the client fully engaged, we can move towards best outcomes.

We’re very fortunate that we get to work with a clientele that are generally very engaged in the process and are looking to have a significant impact, either with themselves and their families, maybe with a business that they operate or, potentially, in the community if they’re planning on being philanthropic at any point in time.

Q: Do you have any examples of how people are giving back or finding ways to contribute or give back in bigger ways?

A: There are three areas in which people contribute: their time, their expertise or their resources, in most cases, financial resources. The work that we do allows them, number one, to see what could be available to them in the future and then the process that we have shows them that the risk is mitigated in terms of making sure that they’re going to have that sustainability.

Q: Tell me about what you feel the civic duty of all entrepreneurs is in terms of giving back and how do you practice that?

A: Well, giving back to the communities that you’re involved with was instilled in me very early growing up in small town Alberta. You had to be involved. That’s what farmers did. They supported each other. They built communities. When my wife and I arrived back here in Saint John, we discovered this is a very welcoming community.

I’ve got a few scars to show for stepping out every once in a while. I’m a firm believer that people build communities and that all people should be engaged in building those communities.

I’m also a firm believer that governments aren’t the ones that should be tasked with leading. Governments don’t create wealth. People create wealth and people create communities.

Q: How would you finish the following sentence: A leader’s job is to …

A: Enable. I believe the biggest job of a leader is to help people see what the future could be, move them beyond mediocrity and then enable the environment for them to achieve everything they want to. That’s what I’ve always been about and that’s what I try to do within my practice every day.

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This article published in the Telegraph-Journal on Saturday, July 2, 2016.

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