As 2020 dawned, Trixie Rowein looked forward to a year of celebration. That summer would mark her 20th anniversary with Raymond James Ltd., and she wanted to share the milestone with her clients by holding a client-appreciation event.
But when the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to socially distance made such a gathering impossible, Rowein was forced to improvise. So, beginning on Valentines’ Day, 2021, and extending over the next several months, the portfolio manager and senior financial advisor with PAX Portfolio Advisory in Edmonton, a branch of Raymond James, gave each client a small gift from a local business along with a handwritten note.
Rowein was moved by the outpouring of gratitude from her clients.
“All these stories of things that they were grateful for emerged because I took the time to write them a note and send them a wee gift,” Rowein said. “It felt great that I could make an impact — and not just dollars, but an impact on their lives.”
Rowein prides herself on the strong relationships she has established with her clients.
During the pandemic, Rowein, alongside her mother and her eldest daughter, conducted an online cooking class for clients featuring a Chilean recipe. Many of her clients, who are single, widowed or divorced, thanked her for keeping them company and letting them know she cared.
“One of our biggest taglines is ‘Feelings matter just as much as finance.’ We want to make sure that clients feel cared for, that what they feel matters,” she said.
Rowein, a 46-year-old native of Edmonton, was the first member of her family born in Canada. Her parents, Claudio and Sara, emigrated from Santiago, Chile, in 1974 along with Rowein’s two older brothers following a violent political coup in that country a year earlier.
She was also first in her family to go to university, attending the University of Alberta and graduating with a bachelor of commerce degree in international finance in 1998.
Rowein was hired by Goepel McDermid Inc. in 2000, a few months before the firm was acquired by Raymond James. She was assigned to conduct cold calls, in person, with people who worked in industrial parks. She did this for two years, learning valuable lessons about building relationships.
But signing new clients was tough amid a declining stock market.
“It’s not easy to face all that rejection,” Rowein said. “But you meet people that way. Some are lovely, and they’re still my clients, to this day. But after two years I decided, ‘I can’t cold-call anymore. This is just not my strength’.”
When Rowein informed her manager, Don Howden, that she wanted to quit, he surprised her by proposing a partnership, which Rowein agreed to. The Howden Rowein Group was formalized in January 2003, and she’s grateful for the opportunity the partnership provided.
“It was much better,” she said. “I didn’t have to cold-call anymore. I was playing more to my strengths and relationships and talking to people.”
The new partnership also allowed Rowein to focus on what she wanted to do. “Financial planning is what I gravitated more toward because I saw people had more issues apart from just investments — whether it was taxes, their children, retirement planning [or] an elderly parent getting sick.
“I thought I could add more value by putting together plans rather than just investments,” she added.
That focus on planning led to Rowein earning her certified financial planner designation in 2006, the financial management advisor designation in 2008, and the chartered investment manager designation in 2012, allowing her to manage client portfolios on a discretionary basis.
In 2006, Rowein attended her firm’s Women’s Symposium for the first time: “Being there is what spurred me to start doing ‘women’s only’ seminars, and that led to me hosting retirement planning seminars.”
Rowein writes a newsletter called Women & Wealth, which has allowed her to address gender lifestyle issues that affect finance. “I have a special affinity to women,” she said. “We have more challenges, financially, because we live longer. We often make less money. We have to take time off to have children.”
Howden retired in 2015. Rowein’s team currently consists of Taylor Cooper, her portfolio-manager assistant, and administrative assistant Alexa Cousino. Kelley Johns, Rowein’s assistant for 21 years, retired at the end of 2021 but is still available to work part-time on certain projects. Karine Orser rounds out the team to assist with estate and insurance issues.
“As a mom of two teenagers I rely on my team for support, and I value their assistance tremendously. They keep me organized and connected to what I need to know so I can be proactive and productive,” Rowein said. “I could not help as many clients as I do now if I didn’t have my team or my branch manager, Tage Cawley. He has helped me with many creative projects that help me serve clients better, and also my community and causes I care about.”
Rowein’s team currently serves 218 client households, with average assets under management of $720,000.
“When assisting clients to develop a financial plan that is suited for them, we recommend a balanced approach toward investments. Balance gives flexibility, which is needed during times of transition and dealing with the unexpected, such as death, divorce or illness,” Rowein said.
The average age of Rowein’s clients is 62. She recently earned the certified professional consultant on aging designation, which she sought knowing that many issues beyond financial considerations often arise with elderly clients.
Moreover, the aging population is affecting the profession itself significantly. “We’re often the first to notice when an elderly client is going through a cognitive decline,” Rowein said.
As a result, industry regulations have been tightened to provide advisors with more responsibility to watch for and report evidence or suspicion that a client may have dementia. Professionals need to be mindful of the growing incidences of elder financial abuse.
“The new thing for 2022 is we have to reach out to all of our clients and ask them for a trusted contact person,” Rowein said.
Rowein has two daughters: Roxana, 16, and Calixa, 13. Her partner, Pete Vandervelde, is also an advisor with Raymond James but with a different advisory team.
When Rowein is not spending time with clients or family, she devotes significant time to her community.
“My biggest passion is Little Warriors,” said Rowein, who serves on the resource committee of the Alberta-based organization that addresses awareness, prevention and treatment of child sexual abuse. “You really need to get to kids at a young age to heal them, to give them better coping skills, to teach them resiliency.”
The Canadian Cancer Society is also important to Rowein, who has lost friends to cancer. Last October, she chopped 15 inches from her waist-long hair to donate to Wigs for Kids and raise $3,000. She also participated in CIBC’s annual Run for the Cure in 2021, through which she raised an additional $8,000 for the Canadian Cancer Society.
Last year Rowein also participated in a five-kilometre walk benefiting Drug Free Kids Canada, sponsored by the Raymond James Canada Foundation Advisory Committee, of which she is a member. And she regularly volunteers for Soup Sisters, a group that makes and shares soup with women in a local Edmonton shelter.
Rowein was named a Woman of Distinction in 2021 by the Raymond James Women Canadian Advisors Network.
“I was completely humbled by it because I work hard,” she said. “I always have because I love helping people. It feels good to have your efforts and accomplishments recognized by your peers.”