Caroline Dabu is a strategic marketer, communicator, and Head of BMO Wealth Distribution and Advisory Services. After earning her journalism degree and working for various publications, Caroline transitioned out of journalism to work in Communications in the Financial Services sector. Since joining BMO Nesbitt Burns in 2000 as the Head of Marketing, Caroline has held various leadership roles in Marketing and Client Strategy, and established BMO’s Enterprise Wealth Planning team in 2012. Today, Caroline is responsible for guiding a team of people that provide wealth planning, estate, and advisory services for BMO wealth clients.
My first job was… an intern cub reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press. I think I got paid by each word I wrote!
I chose my career path because… I became fascinated by the impact financial decisions can make. After graduating from Journalism School at Carleton University, I worked at Financial Post Magazine and it was such a rush working at the magazine, and in particular, learning more about personal finance. After that experience, I wanted to be in a position to be able to communicate how meaningful of an impact financial decisions have in people’s lives. Taking a communications role at a bank was a pivotal moment that set me on my career path.
My boldest personal or professional move to date was… to move out of my comfort zone around Marketing and Communications. I moved out of a senior role in Marketing and Communications ten years ago for an opportunity to build up the retirement, financial, and wealth planning area of BMO. It was a risk because I didn’t go to business school, and my career to date had been focused on being a strategic Marketer and Communicator. This role was developing a strategy that not all our businesses bought into at the time, and its value was not well understood. It tested me as a leader in many ways and starting up in a new area required evolving and learning well outside of my comfort areas. This move has broadened my leadership and helped me tackle additional opportunities and challenges in my career.
The thing I love most about my role as Head, Wealth Distribution & Advisory Services is… working with an incredible team of professionals who are passionate about what they do and the direct impact they can have on helping individuals, families, and businesses achieve their goals and dreams for the future and be prepared for some of the challenges that may come along the way. Our team provides wealth, tax, estate, business advisory, philanthropy and insurance planning, and not a week goes by where I don’t hear about the meaningful difference they are making for BMO Wealth clients and their families.
Having a wealth management plan is important because… together with your advisor, it helps you identify and get specific around your wants, needs, and goals and helps you stay the course. A plan helps you prioritize what is truly important and gives you the confidence to stay focused even when there are things happening in the short term that can veer you off path. A wealth management plan also gives you the ability to thread all the different aspects of your financial picture together, rather than in disparate pieces.
“The best piece of advice I would give to someone who wants to use their wealth to make a positive impact is to think about how they want to give “meaning” to their wealth, what they are passionate about supporting, and then speaking to an advisor about how to do this strategically.”
One misconception about wealth management is… that it’s intimidating and that it’s not accessible. Wealth management is really about having a comprehensive view of your financial goals and managing how you will achieve them — whether you are a young family with goals to save for your kids’ education, a professional early in your career just starting to make some investments, or if you have a family business and want to plan for your business to be passed on to the next generation. If you’ve got a goal, you need wealth management — whether that means working with a financial planner or a Wealth Advisor.
If I were to pick one thing that has helped me succeed, it would be… being open to feedback and being willing to evolve — this attitude opens up so many more pathways and doors. And embracing every opportunity to learn. (Ok, that’s 3 things!)
The first thing I would suggest to someone that wants to set financial goals is… categorize your needs, your wants and your wishes — and be specific about them. This will help you prioritize and set a realistic plan. Your needs are what you need to make sure is fully funded, full stop. Then, you can plan for your “wants or must-haves.” Your wishes are your “nice-to-haves” after you can fund the first two buckets.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… that I never saw being a hockey mom in my future!
The best piece of advice I would give to someone who wants to use their wealth to make a positive impact is… to think about how they want to give “meaning” to their wealth, what they are passionate about supporting, and then speaking to an advisor about how to do this strategically.
I stay inspired by… tackling at least one new personal challenge every year that takes me out of my comfort zone.
The future excites me because… technology in financial services is accelerating in such a way that we’ll see the convergence of the power of human advice with digital to make personal finance and wealth management even more engaging, easier, and collaborative.