Owner Stories, Steven Persaud, President, Everest Financial Services, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
Steven Persaud has a love of helping people achieve their financial goals. His company, Everest Financial Services, is designed precisely to help guide people towards those goals. Steven loves the end results, which is making a difference in people’s lives. We met Steven via 10|20 Marketing’s friend Nikki Gillingham. Our interview with Steven is below. Let us know your thoughts in the comments. Also, make sure to read our Owner Stories series and remember to support local businesses in any way you can.
10|20 Marketing: Hi, Steven. Thanks so much for agreeing to this interview. When it comes to financial matters, it’s crucial to establish trust with your clients. So maybe let’s start with your background. How did you get into this field? What did you study? Why finance?
Steven Persaud: The field of finance was never in my scope. I never thought I would work in this field growing up. My father has a background in commerce and accounting, while my mother is a master statistician. I, on the other hand, always wanted to be an architect without knowing what that meant. I just knew I liked drawing and design.
I moved to New Jersey in my senior year of high school when my father started working with my uncle as a CFO for his financial firm. They employed traders in financial markets, and their company was my first exposure to finance and the business world. Living so close to New York, I got to experience firsthand the ups and downs of the New York Stock Exchange and the speed of trading in this industry.
10|20 Marketing: That’s amazing. So what brought you to Montreal and a career in finance?
Steven Persaud: When I graduated high school, I moved back to Montreal and pursued a commerce degree, bachelor’s finance. Every summer, I would return to New Jersey, spend some time shadowing traders, and had the opportunity to intern for a New Jersey-based hedge fund.
While all that sounds exciting and interesting, I quickly realized that I did not want to be a trader or stockbroker. You can make your annual salary as quickly as you can also lose your shirt. My family had great relationships when they were living in Montreal. When I graduated, I was introduced to my father’s Financial Advisor, Gord Shipley, who took care of him and us as children. Meeting Gord was the beginning for me and led me to the career I am so fortunate to have today.
10|20 Marketing: What a fantastic backstory, Steven! What is your approach to helping your clients succeed with their investments?
Steven Persaud: Financial advice and what I do is so much more than returns or dollars; it’s about educating clients and taking care of people—understanding that everyone is different and has different needs. One size fits all doesn’t work in today’s economy. A tailored approach with careful consideration of a client’s goals and helping them achieve them is why I do what I do. Assisting clients to find simplicity among all the noise of where to invest, what tools do I use, what insurance they need, how to protect their business, and the list goes on is what makes me different.
10|20 Marketing: So how many years have you been in the industry, and what are the things you like the most about what you do?
Steven Persaud: I’ve been in the industry for 13 years. You can see on my website that I was a manager/director for eight of those years.
What I like is the fact that doing what I do doesn’t feel like work. Don’t get me wrong, yes, it’s a career and some days are more complicated than others. But in a given day pre COVID I would have breakfast, lunch and sometimes dinner with clients, helping them while joking around. In between eating and drinking, I’d be making calls and doing some paperwork. So every day was different and always super rewarding.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that working didn’t feel like work. The absolute best thing about my job is seeing what my advice and help can and have done for clients. Seeing them retire, buy a house, and achieve their goals is super fulfilling for me. But by far, the most significant impact I’ve had on some clients is the death benefit checks or critical illness claims I’ve settled. Knowing that the products I use work and give people hope and peace of mind.
10|20 Marketing: How has the last year been in terms of what your clients need most from you? Have you seen a shift?
Steven Persaud: My clients are used to the level of service I give them and are not very demanding. I have found that many clients have taken to self-investing and playing in financial markets since they’ve been stuck at home. While I encourage clients in this area, I also encourage them to play with a small portion until they are comfortable. There is too much noise in the market with tech companies and cryptocurrencies. People feel they can do it all themselves when, to be honest, they cannot, at least the majority.
The main question is that while everyone is happy and riding the stock market wave last year, what are they doing now? Where are their opportunities now? Did you sell at the right time? What advice are you getting now? It’s easy to advise when things are going well, but when things are flat or not doing so well, how are clients treated and serviced?
10|20 Marketing: So how has that changed your approach?
Steven Persaud: One thing that has come out of this in the last year is the efficiency of meeting clients. We were starting to get into video conferencing and meeting virtually and electronic signature, among other things. But with the pandemic, I have seen a considerable shift in how we reach clients. The accessibility and ease of virtual meetings have made it easy for them and me too.
A lot of the travel time has diminished. But with all the good comes some negative. What I have seen is that relationship building and conversations are now lacking. A virtual meeting I always say is basically “Hi, how are you, now let’s get down to business,” whereas meeting a client in a café, restaurant, or even their homes allows for a much friendlier experience.
Conversation and the overall client experience is what we pride ourselves on—being client-centric and having an inviting space to receive clients and give the option to do things virtually. Everyone has different preferences and precautions when it comes to business, so adapting to the client you are dealing with is paramount in helping them.
10|20 Marketing: One last question. How has the advice you give your clients changed in the last year? Any words of wisdom to share with our readers in terms of investing?
Steven Persaud: The last year has been a crazy time for investing. We have experienced some of the most significant returns I have seen in my career. At the beginning of COVID, I would often hear questions and concerns that clients wanted to pull their investments due to the uncertainty of the market. When everything rallied, I would listen to the same clients suggest that there would be another drop and we should pull back.
The fact is this: clients who try to time the market always end up buying high and selling low. My approach to giving financial advice has never changed and never will. What I do is take the emotion and stress out of the equation. I always tell clients and prospects that if you have a financial plan that you follow, you don’t have to be nervous. Making sure your asset allocation is in line with your time horizon and risk tolerance is the key.
If there are any words of wisdom to share, it’s this. Review your financial plan and make sure it is still in line with your goals, then circle back and re-align your investments to that plan.
10|20 Marketing: Thank you, Steven!
Steven Persaud: Thank you!
This interview is part of our Owner Stories series. If you’re interested in having your business highlighted, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you’re interested in a free online small business marketing consultation, we’re happy to set up a time to discuss your situation as well.