March 28, 2017
Front Row Centre Presenting sponsor Sagium Wealth is a team of highly motivated wealth management professionals that demonstrate spirit and commitment through their work. They are a diverse group aligned in their values of providing innovative, personalized, and impactful financial services. Their work is meaningful because they help people realize new and purposeful futures.
Jeff Popiel is the President of Sagium and a lifelong music fan. The connection between NMC and Sagium was a no-brainer for our first year of the Front Row Centre Club. We spent some time with Jeff getting his thoughts on the importance of Sagium in the financial landscape in Calgary and the importance of supporting the arts, especially music.
Jeff Popiel – President, John Guderyan – Co-Founder and Principal, and Rick Green – Co-Founder and Principal at Sagium
NMC: Tell me a little bit about Sagium, its mission, goals, and background, and what makes Sagium’s strategy and perspective unique in Calgary, especially during these tough times.
Sagium was founded by Rick Green and John Guderyan (pictured above), to provide their clients with a higher level of stewardship than what was available in the market. Their inspiration was the absence of transparency, the lack of independent advice, the sales-centric approach of many institutions and the limited industry effort in deeply understanding the client. The objective was simple… help people build the future they desire. Today, Sagium helps our clients grow their wealth, protect their capital and create legacy through a comprehensive planning process that integrates all aspects of their lives starting with their vision and values. By adopting the client’s perspective, the firm can specialize in integrating personal goals into a personal plan that includes investments, taxes, estate, insurance and philanthropy. The result for our clients is clarity, security and peace of mind regarding their future through a simple, strategic wealth plan.
NMC: Sagium has a focus on inspiration, imagination, and empowerment for their clients during their financial journey. Why is this so important to how Sagium operates, and why do you think others in the financial industry ignore these key components of success?
JP: We believe that dreaming about your future is where the process to realizing that future begins. It makes our business very personal. There is an excitement when we dare to imagine a future that “could be” and from those seeds of inspiration, the future grows. Fully understanding our clients is the greatest service we provide to them and we think it’s the most vital part of the financial planning equation. A fundamental comprehension of their aspirations enables us to act in alignment with their goals to create one proactive integrated plan. Only then can we overlay strategy and coordinate execution through all areas. It’s very rewarding work when our clients fulfill their purpose and consider bigger dreams like philanthropy, legacy and generational wealth.
The industry has trained us to focus our attention on numbers and on rates of returns and we confuse financial projection with true financial planning. This approach is broken because it disconnects the plan from the passion of the dream. Empowering the client to define their own destiny and investing time and resources into that process requires specialized skill and a long-term view of the client relationship. It’s hard to profitably scale this type of client-first model and therefore the “product sales” approach taken by most institutions makes stewardship at this level almost impossible to find in the industry.
NMC: Clearly you have a unique approach to this industry. What else sets Sagium apart from other wealth strategy firms?
JP: I think “why” we do our work is what sets Sagium apart from other firms. Our people share common principles that underpin our “why”; the values of giving, serving and helping permeate everything we do. Yes, we have industry leading experience, yes we have an innovative planning approach and yes, we offer impeccable service but our motivations are what set us apart and make the difference in our client experience. These qualities are difficult to capture on a spreadsheet, graph or website but are the difference-makers. What we hear from our clients is that our firm “cares” and that our diligence is in the details. It’s our greatest compliment and the biggest reason why our clients choose to partner with us on their future, and why our relationships with our clients are life-long.
NMC: Let’s talk a bit about Sagium’s role in community investment. Why does Sagium (and yourself personally) think it’s important to give back to the community in Calgary?
JP: I believe strength is for service. I think it’s our basic responsibility as citizens (and especially as “one-percenters”) to use the resources at our disposal to make our community better. We have a belief that money can provide freedom but only when it is connected to purpose, does it truly become wealth and we try to live through that tenet. Sagium is very good at supporting the personal community aspirations of our employees as well as following it’s own community investment strategy. Our Chairman says “there are three ways to give; your time, your talent or your treasure” and we certainly try to ensure through our staff and our corporate partnerships we are active on all three fronts.
NMC: You also have quite a personal connection to music, tell us a bit about that:
JP: I am a huge music fan. My father was a musician when he was young and had a number one hit in Toronto so I grew up with band practice in our basement and music in my house all the time. There isn’t a genre that I dislike and I appreciate the art in all it’s forms – especially live performance. I was fortunate enough to work in the music industry for 15 years touring shows around the world and producing two music festivals in Calgary featuring many popular and Hall of Fame artists. I think back on those times fondly for the privilege it was to play a part in bringing music to the stage. Creating music (and the arts in general) is a noble pursuit – I come by that belief quite honestly. Albeit from different sides of the microphone, my Dad and I share a special bond because of what the music industry has meant to our lives.
NMC: You were on our inaugural 2014 NMC Out Loud gala committee, what is it about NMC that has inspired you and Sagium to get involved?
JP: Well I think that’s just it – the NMC inspires. At first glance, the architecture is brilliant – it easily gives Calgary one of Canada’s most distinctive landmarks. Just by its very form, the East Village is adorned by this beautiful symbol of creativity but inside, the NMC is a living, breathing tribute to our culture, not only as a vessel for our musical history but also as a platform for the development of new artists and the growth of Canadian music. The programming makes it unique and why it is such a valuable institution; from artist residencies to school programs (and even housing CKUA under it’s roof), the whole entity is built around connection. In fact, the bridge across 4th Street always makes me think of NMC as the connector of our roots to the future and in many ways, that’s what Sagium does for our clients too.
NMC: Why did the Front Row Centre Club strike a chord (forgive the pun) with Sagium, and why did you think it was important to bring your clients together through music event such as this?
JP: We had brainstormed with the development team for at least six months on how Sagium might support the NMC. Their brilliance really made the difference in allowing us to find an opportunity to partner on. It came down to understanding who we are and who our clients are – and I think they have knocked it out of the park. FRCC rewards the city builders, community leaders and visionaries who have donated to the NMC with unique, one-of-a-kind experiences. Our clients are cut from the same “community minded” cloth and share these values so there is great overlap. As such, we are excited to bring our existing relationships to these original events and to meet more like minded Calgarians as we celebrate Canadian music in Studio Bell.
NMC: What are you most looking forward to during the 2017 season of the Front Row Centre Club?
JP: Honestly, we don’t know very much about the four events and the organizers are keeping their cards very close to their vest but like everything the NMC does, we expect the events will all entertaining original experiences. There is however a rumour that one of the events may or may not be timed around the Canadian Music Hall of Fame induction and may or may not have a very special artist attend. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!
NMC: Now for the fun questions! What are some of your most memorable musical experiences, and what about them made them so powerful?
JP: This is the hardest question to answer. I remember hearing my Dad on the radio when I was a little boy which is a great memory. If I was a bit older I may have appreciated the novelty of that experience but at that age it just meant so much for me to hear my Dad singing a song “to the world” that he wrote for my Mom. Being in the house with a musician also gave me a front row seat to the creative process which was formative for me later in life. To this day, when I hear the scratch and squeal of fingers moving across acoustic guitar strings, it puts me right back in my basement in Lakeview where my Dad would have band practice.
Having been in the entertainment business for so long, there are so many other memories that are meaningful to me. I think my most cherished music memory however was with Chantal Kreviazuk at the Alberta Children’s Hospital and Rotary Flames Children’s Hospice. The impact of music on the human spirit was redefined for me in that private visit and has since remained one of my most treasured memories.
One of Rick’s favourite memories is of his Grade 5 teacher, a music aficionado, and whenever she would play music for the class, she would ask them to close their eyes and single out each instrument in the song. In doing that, you really focus on the different elements that make up one cohesive piece. He still does that to this day, 43 years later.
NMC: Finally, if you could only pick one record or artist to listen to the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
JP: Outside of my Dad’s album (for obvious reasons), it’s almost impossible to pick just one. I think I’d choose Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – so much to choose from but if I had to I’d go with Hammersmith Odeon London ’75 Live.
To learn more about Sagium and their services, visit: www.sagium.com
Check out www.nmc.ca/frontrowcentre for more details on joining today.
Interview conducted by Stephanie Pahl, NMC’s Manager of Supporter Relations