This is sponsored content submitted by Sun Life Financial.

One of the responsibilities of my role that I especially enjoy is working alongside and supporting our team of advisors in Quebec. The reason for that is simple: advisors make a noticeable difference in people’s lives! In doing so, you play a true leadership role.

I know I’m not telling you anything new when I say that we’re living in an era of major economic challenge and choice. At the same time, individuals are finding that responsibility for the big decisions around personal finances lies increasingly with them: planning for retirement, saving for a child’s university education, ensuring there is protection in place should health issues arise…It’s no longer the company or the government that’s going to look after things. It is up to individuals to make their own decisions.

The 2014 Sun Life Unretirement Index1 shows that Quebecers have limited knowledge when it comes to finances. When asked if they think they have the financial understanding needed for developing a plan for their retirement, only 40% answered yes. The situation with women is of even greater concern, given that barely 30% of them feel they have sufficient knowledge for creating a retirement plan.

These findings are one of the reasons Sun Life Financial has taken on the society-wide endeavour of ensuring that we, as Quebecers, have the means and the tools for making the most of our money: that we do simple and concrete things that will allow us to take charge of our finances and our retirement planning.

On a broader scale, this means that you will be the leaders, the facilitators of this grand initiative. As advisors, you are in the best position to support and guide Quebecers toward their goals, by making a difference in their lives and by equipping them with what they need to live their retirement, their way – a retirement that will last much longer than their parents’. It’s a task – I’d even call it a mission – that will be exciting—and highly rewarding.

A very tangible way to make a big difference in people’s lives

Being a leader means encouraging people to follow, and that means following us in executing a game plan that calls for discipline and effort. We’re aiming for lofty heights and we’re setting the bar high and telling ourselves that nothing is impossible. A leader has to inspire, mobilize and persuade, not force, frighten or coerce.

How does that translate into the work you do? Of course, the advisor role is founded on a body of knowledge and a high level of expertise that has to be conveyed in plain language. But to me, developing strong relationships with clients means first and foremost that you have to listen, so that you can understand their real needs and hopes, and support them as they work toward their goals. Then, you have to provide the leadership needed to motivate them to move forward.

This style of advising – giving clients the knowledge they need to fully understand their situation then be in a position to make better financial decisions – is not only increasingly in demand, it has become a necessity.

The good news is that academic researchers also share this point of view. A study conducted by researchers at the Center for Interuniversity Research and Analysis of Organizations (CIRANO) has objectively demonstrated that there is a connection between the value of an individual’s assets and the use of an advisor’s services. In other words, the longer your relationship with a client, the greater your impact on that client’s personal wealth.

But that’s not all: after 15 years of working with an advisor, your clients are nearly three times more likely to have increased their assets than people who don’t have an advisor and who therefore don’t have the benefit of this added value. It’s clear to see that as a result of the advice they receive, your clients are more disciplined in their saving and are able to grow their assets more quickly.

No matter what our life stage, having someone to count on who is competent and can help us stay informed and up-to-date, who will make things easier to understand and help guide us toward our goals, is invaluable. It’s no coincidence that the idea of an advisor providing added value at every stage of life was made central to Sun Life Financial’s Money for Life campaign.

I’m sure that if we compiled all the stories and anecdotes each of you probably have about the impact you’ve had in your clients’ lives, it would take several days to tell them all! In many respects, I think this is what gives the advisor role its most ringing endorsement. And what makes what you do every day so inspiring and vital.

1 2014 Sun Life Unretirement Index:

Isabelle Hudon is Executive Chair, Quebec, for Sun Life Financial. Her mandate is to provide strategic input and support to the President, Sun Life Financial, Quebec, and to continue representing the company in the community.

In addition, she has significant national responsibilities as Senior Vice-President, Client Solutions. She leads the national growth strategy for a pivotal and innovative business that differentiates Sun Life Financial in the Canadian marketplace.

Isabelle had been Sun Life Financial’s Quebec president since August 2010. Under her leadership Sun Life Financial has seen impressive growth in all business lines in Quebec and once again figures prominently in the community.

Isabelle is well known as a businesswoman with outstanding leadership skills. Her strong business experience, boundless energy and deep community involvement help her forge connections among many organizations. From 2004 to 2008 Isabelle was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Board of Trade of Metropolitan Montreal, where she contributed significantly to the revitalization of the Board’s activities. She then served as President of Marketel, a position she held until joining Sun Life Financial.

In 2014 Isabelle was inducted into the Hall of Fame of Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100, after being named to the list of the 100 most influential women in Canada in 2006, 2012 and 2013. She also received the Réalisations award from the Réseau des femmes d’affaires du Québec in 2014. She is a recipient of the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for helping raise awareness of the importance of culture in Canada, and in 2005 she was named one of the 40 most successful Canadians under the age of 40 (Canada’s Top 40 under 40).

Isabelle is very active in the business community and sits on the boards of many organizations. She is currently a board member of Hydro-Québec, Holt Renfrew Canada, the Mount Royal Club and the Canada Council for the Arts. Isabelle is also enrolled in the corporate governance program at the Collège des administrateurs de sociétés, affiliated with Université Laval. She is a past member of the federal government’s advisory council created to promote the participation of women on corporate boards.

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