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Iqbal Haer shares his passion for finance

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Iqbal Haer shares his passion for finance

Iqbal Haer is the Branch Manager of the BMO University and College branch in downtown Toronto. With over 15 years of experience in the retail banking services sector, he is committed to advising and guiding clients to achieve their financial goals. He came to Canada four decades ago as a young child and has built a successful career in banking. He was a speaker at the 2020 Canadian Immigrant Virtual Fairs.

Tell us about yourself
In 1972, I left India with my mother and my siblings and moved to British Columbia, Canada. Growing up, I would attend kindergarten in the morning and would focus on learning English in the afternoons. As I became more fluent and confident with my English, I was able to communicate with the children in my class and build memorable friendships.

What led you to choose a career in banking?
My passion for learning and self-development, combined with my experience as a BMO co-op student while studying accounting at Kwantlen College has really been the catalyst to my career.

Starting my first day as a co-op student at BMO, leaders jumped in and began coaching me right away on all there is to learn about retail banking – such as investments, loans, and customer service. I quickly learned that working in banking aligned with my passions and I too wanted to be a financial expert focused on helping clients reach their financial goals.

Even to this day, the greatest satisfaction and pride I have for my job is to see the financial progress of my clients and watch them achieve their goals.

How has COVID impacted what you do?
Since the beginning of the pandemic our priority has been to help and be there for our clients, communities and colleagues through these challenging times.

Although COVID has altered how we interact with clients, my role as a branch manager has remained unchanged. I’ve remained focused on supporting customers, whether virtually or in person.

In response to the pandemic, and to help limit the spread of COVID-19, BMO has introduced new digital options for virtual appointments and e-signatures for signing documents to help serve the needs of our clients in an efficient and timely manner.

What are your future plans?
The financial industry is constantly evolving, and that means financial professionals like myself need to evolve with it to meet the changing needs of clients. I am committed to growing and learning both personally and professionally, and regularly explore online courses, both offered internally at BMO and externally, that will help improve my skills.

On a personal level, like many Canadians, I am focused on achieving financial independence to allow me to retire between the ages of 50-55. Of course, to achieve this goal, there are many small goals I need to focus on – such as investment goals and exploring a secondary income stream beyond my pension.

What financial advice would you like to share?
1. It’s important to build your savings and an emergency fund now to ensure you are financially prepared to cover any unplanned expenses.
2. Learn about investing your money. It will help you achieve your short, medium- and long-term financial goals.
3. Borrowing money isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you manage it carefully. It will help you build credit for larger borrowing needs you may need like buying a home.

What is your advice to immigrants and newcomers?
Network, network, network. It’s important to build your network to help you connect both professionally and personally.

Also, take advantage of various resources and products, specifically designed with newcomers to Canada in mind, to help you navigate your journey in Canada.

Most importantly, remember that the financial advisor at your bank is one of your most trusted relationships and should be treated as equally important as your relationship with your doctor or dentist. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, it’s important you understand and are comfortable with the decisions you make.

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