UBC Alumni Viewpoints Newsletter, Spring/Summer 2016

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The Spring/Summer 2016 of Viewpoints, the alumni magazine for Sauder School of Business at UBC.

The UBC Sauder School of Business is one of the world’s leading academic business schools. Located in Vancouver, Canada’s gateway to the Pacific Rim, Sauder provides a global business perspective at a dynamic crossroads of the international marketplace. Dedicated to rigorous and relevant teaching, our programs generate business leaders who drive change and shape industries and organizations around the world.

View the article here.

The Province Newspaper Article: 9/11 affected life priorities of high-achieving money expert – by Wayne Moriarty

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Maili Wong of CIBC Wood Gundy in Vancouver wants to help Canadians think about risk and how to invest their money.  (Arlen Redekop/PNG)
Maili Wong of Wellington-Altus Private Wealth in Vancouver wants to help Canadians think about risk and how to invest their money.  (Arlen Redekop/PNG)


Wayne moriarty
The province

As the abridged resumé of Maili Wong pours into my digital recorder one over-achievement at a time, somewhere between “school valedictorian” and “first vice-president investment adviser for CIBC Wood Gundy,” I drift off and wonder how “astronaut” got away.

There’s still time, I guess.

I am meeting Ms. Wong over drinks at the Fairmont Waterfront. We are here to talk about her book. Yes, she’s an author, too. A best-selling author, in fact. Smart Risk, subtitled Invest Like the Wealthy to Achieve a Work Optional Life is No. 1 in its category on Amazon.

What I know about investing can fit in a thimble and still leave room for my net worth. A man sophisticated in the ways of money, I am not. That said, I’m not here to put the paddles to the lifeless corpse that is my portfolio, I’m here to appreciate the magnificence of Ms. Wong, as I said, one over-achievement at a time.

The serious business of being perfect began for Maili at Alpha Secondary in Burnaby where she managed to, um, out-alpha everybody. By her own admission, the pre-med track was obvious to the point of cliché.

“It was my dad who said, ‘Why don’t you forget this whole med thing and consider a career in business. I thought that he was nuts.”

Her dad, Terry, has been advising clients on investing for 45 years. At the time of this counsel, he probably wasn’t suited to evaluate his daughter’s acumen in the field of, say, brain surgery, but he knew he could help her help others make buckets of money.

Long story short, she fell in love with high finance and, well, high finance fell in love with her.

In 2001, after graduating UBC as “the most outstanding female graduate,” and with a bachelor’s of commerce in finance with honours, Merrill Lynch called to offer a position on the trading floor in the options and derivatives side, a rather new area of investing that required, among other skills, a deep knowledge of global events and their impact on the global economy.

One of those events, and its impact on the global economy, happened on Day 2 of her freshly minted career in New York on Sept. 11, 2001.

“Coming out of a morning meeting around 8:30, everybody was staring at these giant TVs on the trading floor. The message was ‘everybody get back to work. Don’t worry. Two idiots must have been drunk and flew a Cessna into the building. The market opens in 45 minutes.’ ”

The Merrill Lynch trading floor was connected to the second tower.

“Fifteen minutes later, the second tower was hit. Our building shook. A friend said, ‘Maili, let’s get out of here … When we got outside, one of my colleagues started to lose it. I put my hand on her shoulder and said, ‘Are you OK?’ She said, ‘No, I just saw two people jumping. They were holding hands. They were on fire.”

Maili articulates the story of her minutes, hours, days, weeks and months that followed 9/11 in a breathless staccato rhythm.

“September 11th put a lot of life in perspective for me … In 2006, I knew something was missing. I had this great job with this great title and other flashy stuff. But something was missing.

“I decided to quit my job and move back to Vancouver.”

And so began the latest chapter in what has become, in the end, a magnificent father/daughter story. Together, Terry and Maili formed the Wong Group within CIBC Wood Gundy. He had decades of experience with clients in Vancouver; she knew what worked on the trading floors of the world’s most progressive financial centre.

The student, you see, had now become something of a mentor.

“Initially, our relationship with clients was recommendations-based investments. As the trust blossomed, it transitioned into helping investors develop a plan whereby we make the day-to-day decisions on how to make their plan work.”

This fresh approach to portfolio management required dad go through the same journey as his clients in order to be fully vested in his daughter’s progressive ways.

And that brings us to today, and the book.

“Smart Risk is about creating and starting conversations about how people think about risk and helping people understand that sometimes it takes a mindset shift in order to really get to financial empowerment and freedom.

“This is a really interesting time for Canadian investors. I’m really excited to start this revolutionary financial conversation. What started out as just this book is evolving into something of a call to action around social media, around a smart-risk revolution — not only in investing but in how we look at our careers and how we teach our children to build careers.”

The woman radiates. NASA really ought to give her a call.

Wayne Moriarty is editor-in-chief of The Province. His financial portfolio is a fairy tale. Grim. Smart Risk, Invest Like the Wealthy to Achieve a Work-Optional Life is published by Advantage Press. More information available at


Women on the fast track – the really, really fast track – The Globe and Mail

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The 12 women taking part were winners of the Mercedes-Benz emerging leaders award.


Here today, some of Canada’s most influential women – women who have fast-tracked their careers – are starting from scratch on an actual racetrack to experience another type of high performance.

Twelve women, 40 and under, are taking on the Circuit Mont-Tremblant about 145 kilometres north of Montreal for the first-ever “Women on the Fast Track” event. They are winners of the Mercedes-Benz emerging leaders award – a new category in the Women Executive Network’s Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100.

The chief instructor for the day, Melanie Paterson, a former race car driver and Mercedes-Benz Driving Academy instructor, begins with a brief in-class session on the do’s and don’ts of driving on the track. After an hour, it’s time for the ladies to gear up and let loose on the 4.26-km track. A dozen vehicles are up for grabs including a 577-horsepower Mercedes-AMG GT R Coupe that’ll hit 100 km/hour in only 3.6 seconds from a standing stop.

They’re all nervous. No wonder.

Most have never been in a Mercedes; none has ever driven on a track. They’re completely out of their element.

Genevieve Pinto, a partner at Renewal Funds, flew in from Vancouver for the event.


“The worst part is always the beginning,” said Genevieve Pinto, a partner at Renewal Funds who flew in from Vancouver. “You take a deep breathe and you go to it. The nerves are there, but once you get going you, get into your groove and realize you can do it. You’re capable of doing it even if its new and scary,” she says, grinning ear-to-ear after the morning track exercises covering the importance of vision, trail braking and vehicle balance.

In the afternoon, it’s time to tackle the entire track – an instructor in the lead pace car heads out first, followed one-by-one, by three other Mercedes-AMG vehicles with women at the wheel. At first, they all drive slowly and cautiously with huge gaps between cars. But it doesn’t take long to gain more confidence and speed, especially for Toronto-based Zahra Ebrahim, executive adviser at Doblin. By late afternoon, driving a Mercedes-AMG S 63 4Matic+ coupe, she sticks to the pace car like glue with each passing lap.

Zahra Ebrahim, executive adviser at Doblin in Toronto, says the experience was ‘awesome.’


“It was awesome,” she says. “I’m not a person who physically likes to move fast and it was such a great process learning the techniques. You didn’t even realize you were driving really fast and doing all these things that you watch on TV and think are terrifying – but they’re actually just a set of moments. It really decreases the anticipation or anxiety you might think that you feel in driving a car really fast around a corner.”

Maili Wong, first vice-president, investment adviser and portfolio manager at CIBC Wood Gundy in Vancouver, typically drives a minivan with kids in tow. She admits getting behind the wheel of a powerful Mercedes-AMG C-Class is intimidating and completely out of her element. Still, she soaks up the technical aspects of the track like a sponge and draws parallels between high performance on the track and in the boardroom.

“Knowing what the plan or the course is – what to aim for and what to look ahead to in terms of the apex and when to be able to accelerate again can be applied directly into the boardroom,” she says. “You got to know when to be able to push forward and when to just sit back, listen and feel your way through the path. It’s a bit of a negotiation on the track – same way in the boardroom.”

Trust is also key in both scenarios.

“Trust in your people,” Ebrahim adds. “We not only had the tribe around us because you’re playing and negotiating with your trust in the instructor, who you met an hour ago, and the trust for the people around you, who are in front of you and behind you, so you quickly overcome any unknown unknowns and put your trust in the tribe really fast.”

With trust comes speed for many of the women including Sherri Stevens, chief executive of WXN. She emerges from the GT R coupe, her favourite vehicle of the bunch, surprised yet thrilled for the once-in-a-lifetime shot to drive this speed demon. She also learned a valuable lesson about slowing down.

“Because sometimes we just go, go, go – fast, fast, fast,” she says. “Really, it’s about putting on the brakes and looking to the next thing down the road. The vision. Make sure your focus is way ahead and not looking backwards in a different direction.”

Emily Mills, founder of How She Hustles. says she enjoyed ‘the energy around us.’


By day’s end, the women are unexpectedly exhausted – mentally and physically. Some, such as Toronto-based Emily Mills, founder of How She Hustles, takes a much-needed break from the fast-paced track to reflect on the whirlwind day.

“I like the energy around us,” Mills says. “Being able to connect with other women and knowing there’s a female driving instructor has been pretty cool. I’m all about women so having these elements it was a nice theme that has carried through the day and of course, it was a lot of fun.”

Twelve women, all 40 and under, took part in the first-ever ‘Women on the Fast Track’ event.


The writer was a guest of the automaker. Content was not subject to approval.

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Do You Need An Advisor Or An Advisory Team For Your Retirement?

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The new complexities of older age require retirement advisors to become leaders of longevity... [+] advisory teams.


Most people would agree that the context of retirement has changed – but has retirement advice changed along with it? This was a key question at the Health & Wealth: Investing for Longevity forum that I recently participated in, sponsored by leading financial services firms and the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Massachusetts Bay.

The primary goal of traditional retirement planning has been to provide financial security in life after work. Consider this example: Dave, a construction manager for nearly 35-plus years, and Barbara, a stay-at-home mother, saved, sent their children to college and planned for a predictable retirement in upstate, New York.

Dave’s employer provided a defined benefits package, from which he and his wife could anticipate a steady income supplemented by social security and personal investments. Their children live nearby and are available not just to visit, but to help their parents whenever necessary. An occasional vacation and time with the grandchildren are the reward for decades of work.

Dave and Barbara are living out the classical ideal of retirement—predictable, linear, and filled with leisure. But they are becoming the exception rather than the rule. Today, the entire context of retirement is different. Life itself has gotten longer. The fastest-growing portion of the population is people 85 and older. Retirement is no longer a few short years punctuated by trips to Disney and beach walks. For many, it is an entirely new life stage, one that encompasses one-third of adult life.

These additional decades of life bring added complexity with them. People are now looking at retirement not as an endpoint but as a series of transitions. For some, “retirement” is merely leaving one career to take another job, to start a new business, or to volunteer.

Income in retirement is not nearly as predictable as it was for Dave and Barbara. The transition of most employers from defined benefit to defined contribution programs demands that employees be far more aware and active in the management of their retirement investments.

Family dynamics have made retirement more complex. Children have always been the real social security to age well. But the Baby Boomers and Generation X had fewer children than their parents. Moreover, their children are likely to be part of a dual-income household with limited time to care for parents. Unlike in Dave and Barbara’s retirement life, many Baby Boomers’ adult children have found jobs and started lives far away from their parents, making it difficult for them to help out or provide care.

What’s more, couples that have spent decades together may call it quits in retirement. As I wrote in a previous article, gray divorce—splitting up after age 50—transforms what was to be a life stage of leisure into a time of tumultuous transition.

To retire well, money is critical, but not fully sufficient. Given the changing context of retirement, retirement advice must move beyond mere financial planning to longevity preparedness. With longer lives, changing family dynamics, and entirely new ideas of what older age is, today’s retirement (or longevity) client has new expectations and needs. More than a financial advisor, today’s client is seeking a navigator to provide information to actively anticipate what is likely to come in older age, give recommendations and access to services to adapt to those transitions and, of course, effectively plan and invest to ensure adequate financial resources.

Do clients need an advisor or an advisory team? Research conducted by my colleagues at the MIT AgeLab suggests that the complexity of tomorrow’s retirement makes any single source of expertise inadequate to address the unprecedented challenges that will be faced by the next-generation retiree. Rather, valued advice is likely to come in the form of what I would call a longevity advisory team.

In a longevity advisory team, a single advisor owns the relationship with a client and her family. Clients typically want at least one person that they know well, understands them and ultimately can be held accountable. However, clients also see greater value in an advisor who is a gateway to an advisory team that can provide access to a diversity of expertise and services to address the new complexities of longevity itself.

Advisory teams are not entirely new. Countless advisors have accountants, lawyers, and real estate agents on speed-dial, some even on staff. However, the new longevity advisory team will include more—much more.

Dave and Barbara have children to help them with everything from home maintenance to home care, but not everyone will. Tomorrow’s longevity advisory team will provide clients with access to trusted home services, home modification contractors, home care aides and more—not just at the time of need, but as part of educating a client family and creating a longevity plan that anticipates future life transitions as well as their costs.

As the science fiction writer William Gibson observed, the future is already here – it’s just not very evenly distributed. Chuck Bean of Massachusetts-based Heritage Financial Services explains, “We’re expanding beyond traditional wealth management services to include client concierge offerings. We have a relationship with Prime Motor Group for preferred pricing on auto purchases and are considering relationships with P&C insurance carriers and travel agencies for discounts.”

CIBC Wood Gundy’s Maili Wong in Vancouver, Canada goes beyond financial security alone to include discussions that consider both the quality and quantity of life in retirement. Wong notes that this “means helping them (clients) find new joy from a positive living environment and meaningful relationships – a revolutionary way to live in retirement.”

Raymond James is now offering longevity planning resources to its advisors that include health care concierge firms, transportation service providers, and other sources of both expertise and services that are essential for modern living in retirement.

These practice innovations go well beyond simply meeting a client need; they make good advisory business. While money may not be the first thing that comes to mind when we think about providing care to a loved one, more than 90% of caregivers say they are also financial caregivers, according to a report on Caregiving from Merrill Lynch.  Surya Kolluri, Managing Director at Merrill Lynch, believes that they have identified a big and growing need.  He says “Advisors who engage clients on life events and stages find their practices transformed by establishing deeper connections with their clients and their families.”

These innovations are the beginnings of an evolving comprehensive longevity advisory business model. Linking clients to resources and conversations are a start. As clients and financial services firms discover the new needs and opportunities of living longer in today’s longevity economy, we will see the business of advice transform into an entirely new industry of longevity preparedness and solutions, as well as a new model of advisory practice dramatically increasing the perceived value of advice by clients.

How 9/11 horror changed advisor’s life

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Portfolio manager, Maili Wong, reflects on surviving terrorist attack and how the kindness of a stranger inspired her approach to clients

How 9/11 horror changed advisor’s life

When the first plane crashed into the north tower of the World Trade Center, coffee splashed over Maili Wong’s new dress and heels. She was just two days into her dream job as a derivatives trader on Wall Street. The Merrill Lynch floor was glued to images of a fiery plane sticking out of the famous building, only for her boss to casually dismiss it as the actions of a drunk pilot.

Wong buried her fears and went back to her desk, wary of looking like the nervous new girl. Then the second plane hit the south tower and an earthquake-style tremor caused phones and computer screens to go flying. Her manager told people not to stay put and that the markets were opening in 45 minutes. Wong’s instinct was to obey but there was a nervous chill in the air. She heard her mother’s voice reverberating around her head to get out. She walked out the door and raced down the stairs.

When she stepped into the morning sunlight, the stench of burning flesh and steel hit her instantly, followed by the screams of a colleague, who had just seen a man and women, holding hands and on fire, fall from the tower above.

Survival mode kicked in. Wong ran through the screams and sirens, slowing leaving the burning people, glass, dust and debris behind her. She ran up the West Side Highway before stopping for breath. Scared and afraid to reach out for help, all she knew was she couldn’t go home.

Against her perfectionist nature, Wong then allowed herself to be vulnerable. She walked through the city for hours before knocking on a family friend she barely knew and asking for help and shelter.

Survival mode

Almost 19 years later Wong tells WP it took her a long time to come to terms with what happened on September 11, 2001 – she was incredibly back at work just three days after the attack – but there is no doubt of the impact it’s had on her life and career. The Vancouver-based investment advisor and senior portfolio manager said that moment, as she cried helplessly on the highway, has since informed the way she builds relationships with clients and even her investment philosophy.

Being open and authentic, and “dropping the veneer of professionalism”, is a strength not a weakness, she now knows.  Her ability to incorporate the emotional aspects of life and money into her work has proved hugely successful and she is now relishing the next stage of career, having joined independent Wellington-Altus from a bank-owned brokerage firm about six months ago.

The memories of 9/11 and the lessons it taught her live on, though.

“I have great compassion for the families who lost people in that terrible event and also gratitude for having gone through it, survived and been fortunate to have a life where I can look back at it with perspective on how it challenged me to be a better person,” she said.

“At the time it was more about survival mode and it took me years to get to a point where I was comfortable revisiting that experience and processing it.”

Her protector in the immediate aftermath holds a special place in Wong’s heart and is now a dear friend. From such a moment of crisis has come a deeper appreciation of the importance of relationships.

She added: “I was very lucky. It was basically a stranger who took me in and gave me shelter. This woman was also shocked and scared but yet she offered me an opportunity to have a place to stay. At the time, I had not met her before. It was a scary and vulnerable thing for both her and I.”

Wong admitted that even with the perspective this horrific event gave her, in the immediate aftermath, old work habits died hard.

More motivated than ever to make the most of her time in New York City, she “busted her gut” to get the Chartered Financial Analyst designation, while working full-time on Wall Street. She became an expert in evaluating risk at a top firm for an “elite” hedge fund spun-off from Goldman Sachs that managed billions for some of the wealthiest individuals and institutions in the city.

She competed hard, with 6am starts in the office so she could “shine” at meetings before going home to trade the Asia overseas markets from 7pm to midnight every night.

It was a punishing schedule that would lead to a second life-changing event.

‘Quit your job or it will kill you’

When Wong looked at her closet one winter afternoon, it struck her that she hadn’t worn any of her summer clothes that year because she’d been too busy working. Not long after, the stomach pains started, growing worse and worse until one day, after doubling up in pain and hiding in the office bathroom, she booked herself into a hospital emergency room.

Fearful it was the cancer that had also taken away her grandmother, she instead hoped to be handed a pill or vitamin that would get her back on track and able to work. The doctor sat down and hit her with the truth: “Quit your job or it will kill you.” The excruciating pain wasn’t cancer but stress-induced ulcers burning holes in her gut.

It dawned on her that she’d had her priorities upside down and was measuring life by the wrong metrics. She hadn’t listened to her body and now knew that she had to let herself be vulnerable again and make a choice.

Human connection is a super power

The decision to go back to Vancouver 13 years ago and “create a more meaningful life” was a scary one at the time. Was it career suicide? Had she failed? Once it was done, however, she felt only free and, armed with stark first-hand knowledge that volatility is a given, Wong has since thrived.

This approach to volatility has fed into her investment approach about managing client expectations, using an evidence-based approach rather than past performance and making market swings work for clients. She seeks to ensure that clients capture the good times but that there are mechanisms in place to protect them and provide stability when times get tough.

Wong said: “[My experiences] taught me that we should expect volatility – in the markets and in life. Too often, I find that investors or even professionals try to resist it; they’re fearful of it. I’ve learned that, guess what, life is full of volatility. Accept that fact and then you can prepare for it.

“I use the phrase ‘dance with volatility’ and compare it to martial arts where you use the force of your opponent and roll with it to then put the force into your own momentum.  That’s how I started to think that an investment philosophy could be built around the notion that there will be volatility. Then it was a case of, how can we use this to our clients’ advantage?”

One of Wong’s mantras is that “human connection is a super power”, meaning advisors have to drop their professional ego and share some of themselves to get to a client’s inner space. Once there, an authentic connection can be made and financial decisions become easier.

She believes her open approach to conducting business has given her a distinct advantage. Rather than becoming just another advisor, she lets her guard down, embraces vulnerability and builds new relationships, just like she did on that frightening night in 2001.

The Gold Standard Interview with Golden Girl Finance

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Rita Silvan, editor-in-chief of Golden Girl Finance talks to Maili Wong, author of the bestselling book Smart Risk: Invest Like the Wealthy to Achieve a Work-Optional Life. In 2018, Maili was named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women by WXN. Maili is a portfolio manager  based in Vancouver.

Book Contest – Enter to Win a copy of Smart Risk Visit Golden Girl Finance for more information. 


GGF: In your book, you give examples of people, including your Mom, taking “smart risks”. What is the difference between a ‘smart risk’ and a ‘dumb risk’?

MW: A ‘smart risk’ is one where the likelihood and magnitude of a good outcome outweighs the likelihood and magnitude of a bad one. For example, taking a smart risk when investing can involve looking for an “asymmetric payoff” where the likelihood of a large profit outweighs the likelihood of a large loss. A ‘dumb risk’ is when there’s a low chance of success and high potential of a significant loss. For example, enabling a friend’s gambling addiction. In investing, taking smart risks means acting in a consistent and disciplined way so risks are more in your favour and there’s a high probability of good results over the long term. I always say, “hold a space” for long-term results.

GGF: What’s the biggest risk you took?

MW: The two biggest risks I ever took were both personal. Staying in New York after the September 11 attacks was a smart risk. Of course, it was distressing to stay but I felt it wasn’t the right time to leave either, as it was my second day on the job. After period of market volatility had just started and there were many layoffs during this period and that opened up possibilities for earnest people like me to step into more responsibility and leadership.

My second smart risk was leaving New York five years later to move back to Vancouver. I had reached some career milestones and had matured and was ready to lead a more purposeful life.

GGF: You give the example of the Nortel meltdown and the risks of herd mentality. How can investors learn to spot herd mentality?

MW: The first clue is when friends or colleagues boast about the investments they’re making and say these are “a sure thing”. Get underneath why you’re attracted to an investment. Is it a case of FOMO (fear of missing out)?

GGF: The Chinese phrase wei chi translates as danger + opportunity. Yet, most of us are risk averse. How can investors deal with volatility?

MW: I think of it as learning to ‘dance’ with volatility. We should expect volatility because it’s a normal part of investing. If you build in the expectation, then you’re not as shocked when it happens. I use my five-point “Smart Risk Road Map” as a guide. It helps take the biases out of the process as it bakes volatility into the plan.

GGF: Most people would say that a ‘work-optional’ life is very desirable. However, there are factors today that make generating sufficient passive income more challenging. How are you advising clients to prepare for retirement?

MW: There always has been and will be uncertainty when planning for retirement. With our clients, we plan for longer and more expensive life spans. I find that oftentimes, people haven’t thought much about how much they will actually need to fund retirement. We may start the process with clients as young as 30 or 40. We then see a 180-degree turn in their behaviour—from carrying huge lines of credit to being more mindful of their spending, but not any less happy. My advice is to plan an independent retirement portfolio and don’t rely on your employer to do it.

GGF: You recommend that investors not focus on the rate of return but on the risk of outliving their capital. How should investors adjust to a potential future of lower-than-historical returns?

MW: You’ve got to assess your lifestyle costs against the long-term returns of different asset classes. Asset class allocation is very important because, historically, equities have outperformed fixed-income over the long term. Of course, there’s always a range of outcomes and we run best- and worst-case scenarios.

GGF: There’s a lot of pessimism in the markets today and talk of slowing global growth. Where do you think we are in the market cycle and what is the best investment approach at this time?

MW: I think we’re late cycle in terms of economic expansion. In fourth quarter of 2018, investors saw a 20% correction from peak to trough in the U.S. equity market (S&P 500 Index). However, just because we’re late cycle doesn’t mean you can’t make money. Statistics have shown that, in Canada, after a market decline of 10% or more, the average annualized return one year later was 15.2%, and over a three-year period it was 11.8%. So, the long-term trend is growth and the trade-off for that is short-term volatility.¹

¹Based on MSCI Canada Index (gross dividends) returns from 1/1970 to 12/2017

GGF: What financial advice would you give to a young woman?

MW: That it’s never too early to start building financial independence. I’m like a warrior to free women from financial fear. Women can feel very vulnerable and they need to gain confidence on how to make good financial decisions.

GGF: What money lessons did you learn from your parents?

MW: To value money and the freedom it can bring. If you can earn it, it gives you the ability to create more choices. Money is an enabler. My kids have three bank accounts: one is money to spend now, another is money to save and spend later, and the last one is money to give to others who may need it more.

GGF: What’s the best/worst piece of investment advice that you’ve received?

MW: The best advice is to always seek clarity, to keep asking questions and to not be afraid of looking stupid. Get to the real truth of what the issue is. Take your time, use your emotional intelligence and embrace your feminine energy.

The worst advice is sometimes from friends with sales pitches, “You gotta buy this…!”

GGF: What was your best investment?

MW: My best decision was choosing whom to marry because it’s a life investment. I met Keith in university and then we had a long-distance relationship while I was working in New York. I am thankful for our relationship, to have someone who is my partner, emotionally and psychologically. I have a high-stress job that’s emotionally draining sometimes, so it’s great to have a partner who supports my growth.

GGF: Maili, thank you for sharing your experiences with us.

MW: My pleasure!

Visit Golden Girl Finance, the financial voice for women for more information.

Rita Silvan

Rita is the former editor-in-chief of ELLE magazine with over 20 years’ experience as a leader in women’s consumer magazine publishing. Her mission is to educate, inspire, and lead women to enjoy more rewarding and fulfilling lives. Rita is a financial journalist, author, and public speaker on financial wellness for women. She is a registered Chartered Investment Manager (CIM)™.

Introducing: Smart Risk Magazine – Winter 2018/2019 Edition

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I’m pleased to share with you the 2nd issue of “Smart Risk Magazine” – a lifestyle magazine about wealth matters.

This magazine brings thought leadership articles from across Canada and a variety of industries and contributing partners together to inspire readers to think differently about risk…and ultimately, empower readers to make better financial decisions and create lasting financial freedom.

You can now access it instantly HERE for your free digital copy, or contact our Smart Risk team ([email protected]) for a paper copy.

Most recently, I was honoured to be named one of Canada’s Most Powerful Women: Top 100TM.  When asked what does “powerful” mean to me?  My response, “powerful” means “impactful”.  I hope by curating high quality financial educational content through platforms like this Smart Risk Magazine, I can inspire more women and men to turn challenges into a source of strength, and find in their vulnerability the courage to achieve a deeply-rooted state of financial security.  And ultimately, by relieving us from financial limitations, we are free to create exponential positive impact!

Don’t miss our health and wellness tips like overcoming the “human energy crisis” by learning how to manage stress, or how “grit will take you farther than talent”, how to become “irresistible”, and how to change an unhealthy mindset into a perspective that can ultimately create a happy and purposeful life… and more!

I invite you to continue the conversation with me, and I welcome you to ask any questions, share your feedback with us, or join the Smart Risk community by emailing me at [email protected].  We look forward to hearing from you.


Maili Wong, CFA, CFP, FEA

Bestselling Author of Smart Risk: Invest Like the Wealthy to Achieve A Work-Optional Life (available at

My Unforgettable Navy Experience – Lessons Learned

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Written and as experienced by: Maili Wong

I recently joined the Royal Canadian Navy as part of the Canadian Leaders at Sea (CLaS) program. I spent 4 days aboard a naval ship and it changed my perspective forever!

Picture this: 12 leading Canadian business women are invited to leave their stilettos at home and join the Canadian Navy aboard the HMCS Ottawa warship, stepping outside their comfort zones and into the foreign lifestyle of a military warrior. Some of my highlights included:

  • Sleeping in tri-level military bunk beds complete with seatbelts for rough seas
  • Surviving the rockiest night at sea, highlighted by 4 meter swells while sailing at 24 knots 100 miles offshore California to Esquimalt, BC
  • Participating in military surface firing exercises, Man Overboard exercises and “battle problem” demonstrations
  • Be-friending a Naval Tactical Operations Group Leader (i.e. “Navy Seal”) and taking a selfie with him while fully-loaded in military weaponry
  • Within 45 minutes of landing after the 4 day open sea adventure, cleaning up and dining at a formal reception at the official Government House in Victoria, with the British Columbia
  • Lieutenant-Governor Janet Austin, the senior Canadian Naval leadership and Commander of the Pacific Fleet

Would you believe it? Well, it happened, and I’m grateful to share with you the lessons I learned from this incredible life adventure. Upon reflection, this experience has helped me be a better mom, friend, leader and trusted strategic advisor to my clients, by enriching my perspective after “walking the walk” and after gaining a deeper understanding about how to help others find stability amidst turbulent situations. It has also helped me gain a new perspective on how to build a stronger and more deeply rooted foundation, upon which to build sustainable growth.

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Wealth Matters Podcast: Re-Defining Retirement – Lifestyle and Housing Choices for a Work-Optional Life

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As a Vancouver-based Portfolio Manager, I often meet with people who have questions about retirement. In some cases, they want to know if there’s a better way to maintain or even improve their lifestyle in retirement in the face of risk and uncertainty. I’ve dedicated my career and published a best-selling book to help clients take smart risks in investing, learn to feel at ease during market volatility, and achieve a sense of strength and resilience as they reach a place of financial security and freedom. I created a new podcast series called Wealth Matters to start revolutionary, meaningful conversations about retirement living and, of course, risk and investments.

On our second episode on Wealth Matters podcast,  “Re-Defining Retirement – Lifestyle and Housing Choices for a Work-Optional Life”, we have our special guest, Candy Ho, Vice President, Marketing and Corporate Relations of Element Retirement Lifestyles Inc, a leading retirement community developer with a focus on intergenerational living. Together, we discuss revolutionizing the perception and experience of retirement living.

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Canada 150 Women: Conversations with Leaders, Champions and Luminaries

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In honour of Canada’s 150th birthday, I’m honoured to be one of the curators behind the new book launch of “Canada 150 Women: Conversations with Leaders, Champions and Luminaries”, written by the brilliant Paulina Cameron.  This timepiece is now available on and features 150 of the country’s most influential, courageous, powerful and inspiring women – many of whom took smart risks to achieve great progress for Canadians.