Erin Roy, a financial advisor with Edward Jones in Bayfield, Ont., has always enjoyed her work in the financial services sector. But after two decades in the business, some things are definitely a better fit today than in the past.

“I don’t just get the ‘size large’ men’s golf shirt anymore, which is really exciting,” says Roy, 41. “I used to get a lot of large men’s golf shirts. Now, I sometimes get one that fits.”

After almost 22 years in the wealth-management industry, 18 of those as an advisor, Roy has had plenty of time to collect those often oversized shirts. She started her career in the industry with Toronto-based RBC Dominion Securities Inc., for which she worked in the training division at head office. In 1996, Roy brought those skills over to Edward Jones, for which she worked as an academic training leader in charge of training the firm’s first 150 advisors. Seeing the success of those advisors pushed Roy to try out the business herself.

“The whole opportunity just seemed so appealing after having trained [other advisors] at it for two years,” says Roy, “I just wanted to get out there and do it and be the financial advisor.” Roy did just that, beginning in July 1998.

Roy started her business in another small town, Tillsonburg, Ont., and eventually became a regional leader. However, in 2007, Roy and her husband decided to move to Goderich, Ont. – a short-lived venture, as their office was destroyed by a tornado in 2011 – and later to nearby Bayfield to be closer to family.

“It was a very difficult decision,” says Roy, about uprooting her Tillsonburg business. “We ended up designing a marvellous life for ourselves, but it didn’t come without difficultly and hard years.”

Today, Roy works with about 325 families who live in the area and represent many demographics. “When you’re in a small community,” says Roy, “you’re like a general physician – you have all sorts of clients.”

Moving back to Bayfield, the area where Roy and her husband grew up, also allowed Roy to pursue post-secondary education. She went to school part-time at Brescia University College, which is affiliated with the University of Western Ontario, and graduated in 2013 with a bachelor of arts (honours) degree in leadership and psychology. In the autumn of 2015, Roy completed a master’s degree at the University of Guelph. Roy also earned her certified financial planner designation in 2002.

Roy began to notice more women in attendance when getting together with other advisors at events, either with the company or the industry as a whole. “We kind of joke that there never used to be a lineup at the women’s washroom, but now there is,” says Roy.

However, attending professional events, whether it’s a conference or a meeting on the golf course, still can be a challenge for Roy, given the demands of family life; she is the mother of two children, ages 12 and 10, and has been married to her husband, Dennis, for 13 years. Still, Roy says missing a networking event or two has not been a problem. “There are a lot of events that I probably don’t get to attend because they don’t fit into a family life,” she says. “But that doesn’t ever seem to come to bear on [my relationship with other advisors] nor does it limit my opportunities.”

Roy also has noticed that in recent years, it’s become a little harder for her male colleagues to attend events. For example, in the past five to six years, Roy says, she has noticed more male financial advisors taking short parental leaves or organizing their schedules around female spouses working outside of the industry.

Roy sees change both within the ranks of advisors as a result of the rising number of women in her field and among her clients. Increasingly, Roy finds herself working with women – often, recent widows -on their retirement finances. Introducing women to the ins and outs of their finances also is more challenging than in years past, according to Roy, because of today’s low interest rate environment and market volatility.

“That [situation] is different than when I first started,” says Roy. “I mean, you [previously]could get 5%, 6% investments without an issue.”

When Roy is not with her family or working on her business, she volunteers with the YMCA Celebration of Youth scholarship and sits on the Brescia U Foundation’s board.

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