Meet Lianne Di Rocco, a top wealth advisor and leader of an all-women team.
Now a Senior Wealth Advisor and Portfolio Manager at BMO Nesbitt Burns, she’s been a trailblazer for thirty years.
A Senior Wealth Advisor and Portfolio Manager at BMO Nesbitt Burns, Lianne Di Rocco has been advising high net worth families, foundations, and institutional clients since 1994. After a bold career transition — she originally owned a catering business — Lianne has since earned designations as Personal Financial Planner (PFP®), Certified International Wealth Manager (CIWM), and Chartered Investment Manager (CIM®). In 2015, she became a Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute (FCSI), the most senior credential in the Canadian financial services industry. Starting out at a time when the industry was overwhelmingly male-dominated, Lianne’s trailblazing 30-year career has led her to be recognized as one of the top women advisors in the field of wealth management, and she proudly manages an all-women team. Building her business on meaningful connections, Lianne truly enjoys sharing her years of human and financial insight with her clients.
My first job ever was… in my family business, when I was about 12. On Saturday mornings, my sister and I would walk to our father’s office where his bookkeeper had left us tasks to complete. I remember in particular needing to organize the blank ledger books by measuring and penning the columns, filling out the titles, and numbering the pages. This was when everything was still handwritten.
My boldest move to date was… switching careers. I had a catering business in Belleville, the small community where I grew up, and realized that due to the long and unconventional work hours, it would not be conducive to having a family and raising kids. I decided I wanted to become a stockbroker and took the train to Toronto to interview in different departments at an investment firm. For the most part, it went absolutely nowhere; I was told “You’d be good in the back office,” and “Maybe you could be a sales assistant.”
By the end of the day, I was so frustrated that in my meeting with a retail manager I just said, “Listen, I’ve got to go get the train back to Belleville, I have to feed 250 people in a field tomorrow.” We got to talking about my catering business and how I had grown it, and afterwards, I was asked if I wanted to join the rookie training program. I signed the contract without reading a single ounce of anything. I just knew it started in September, and it was June.
My biggest challenge was… my very first day at the rookie training program. I had sold my business, moved to Toronto, and I didn’t know a soul. The instructor said, “Take out your pen and paper and start writing down where your clients are going to come from.” My stomach still drops when I think about this, because I had assumed they were going to give me clients, not that I had to go out and find them on my own.
I overcame it by… realizing I had to differentiate myself. It was 1994, and everybody was talking about stocks and trading equities, so I learned everything I could about the fixed income market. I called myself the “Bond Girl” and conducted seminars to educate about buying bonds versus GICs, and the advantages of buying bonds in a declining interest rate environment.
In hindsight, I was already differentiated because I was a woman — there were only two others in my rookie training program. That in and of itself could’ve been the steppingstone to use, but it wasn’t even on my radar at the time.
“When a new client comes in, I don’t request statements or bring account opening documents. Instead, we have a meaningful conversation about who they are and who the people most important to them are.”
My approach with clients is… focused on connection. When a new client comes in, I don’t request statements or bring account opening documents. Instead, we have a meaningful conversation about who they are and who the people most important to them are. To be able to pass these assets on to the children and the grandchildren — that’s what we’re about.
One of the most important things I’ve learned about myself since getting started is… trusting myself intuitively. We know when something’s wrong, and we know when we’re on the right path. My ability to honour that and to follow through comes more naturally now then when I was younger, due to my years of experience in the business, building my confidence and trust in myself.
My advice for women interested in a career as a financial advisor is… you can’t overthink it. If you do, you’re going to talk yourself out of it. It’s going to be hard, but if you trust the process and you’re honest about the effort that you’re putting in, you will be successful. Set big goals and if you don’t achieve them, that’s okay. You had the courage to set it and try.
I’m passionate about having all women on my team because… when I started in the business 30 years ago, it was completely male-dominated with the opportunities being afforded primarily to men. The system has changed and things have improved, but I still feel that I have a responsibility to bring women onto my team and to continue to grow it, and I’m very passionate about calling out any unfair treatment, or when I see a woman being taken advantage of in the business. At some point, when I retire, I will absolutely have a woman carry on and grow what I’ve built.
The thing I love most about what I do is… being able to connect with clients, and to empower them. I have a multi-generational book of business and have clients who may no longer be with us, but I have the opportunity to deal with their grandchildren and even great-grandchildren. To be able to pass that legacy down, to be able to say, “Your grandmother was like this,” or “Your grandfather would be so proud of you that you’re buying your house” — it’s an honor that I get to be in their lives.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… that I am very passionate about growing organic food.
The future excites me because… we are finally embracing diversity. We’re moving at an exponential rate now after little change in the last 25 plus years. There’s opportunity for women and other historically marginalized communities. It’s amazing because we are going to get a better input and output that will translate into even stronger relationships.
My next step is… building out my team. I have always said, “We don’t have to be the biggest, but we do have to be the best.” I’ll need to change that as my goal is for us to be the biggest all-female advisory team in Canada, while still providing best-in-class service. That’s the next chapter and it’s going to be phenomenal.