100 Years in Finance
My family has been in the wealth investment industry for over a century. With my son Chris joining the business in recent years, he marks the fifth generation to work under the Bongard banner. In the past 100 years there have been many partners, changes, and developments, but we have always maintained a dedication to our valued clients. I want to share with you my family’s history in the industry and how vital family, loyalty, and hard-work have been to serving our clients successfully.
Bongard and Company
My family’s history in the investment business goes back to 1912 when my great grandfather, Robert Ross Bongard, obtained membership in the Toronto Stock Exchange for the hefty sum of $20,000 (that’s almost half a million dollars today).
In time, both my grandfather (Gordon Ross Bongard) and father (Gordon R. P. Bongard) joined the business and contributed to its growth. Over its first half-century, Bongard and Company continued opening offices in Ontario and expanded west before merging with G. E. Leslie & Co. of Montreal in 1965.
In 1977, Bongard, Leslie & Co. merged with Nesbitt Thomson which went on to become Nesbitt Burns and eventually BMO Nesbitt Burns.
From Fixed Income Trader to Wealth Advisor
When I graduated university I was not sure what I wanted to do, but I had a feeling of familiarity and comfort with finance and decided that maybe I should try the investment industry. I came to my dad’s office and observed the trading desk for one day, and as I sat there, excited by what I saw, I knew I wanted to try my hand at the family business.
I started by learning the ropes on my own, working down the street at another well-established firm, Wood Gundy, at their fixed income trading desk. After five years of grounding myself in my work, I joined my family at Nesbitt Thomson Bongard. I started as a retail broker with no clients, excited by the challenge of building my business from scratch.
Although my father was well established in the business, he left me to my own devices, wanting me to build my own business without his help. My father’s firm and fair intent taught me that you have to work for what you want, driving the development of my work ethic. When I was younger my father taught me many intricacies about finance, but as I grew older it was my grandfather who acted as my mentor. During the First World War my grandfather was exposed to mustard gas so he couldn’t see very well in the latter part of his life. Every single day he would wait on the subway platform for me and I would pick him up and take him on the train down to my office. He would sit in his chair beside my desk and we would discuss his finances. I remember him fondly, wearing his trademark fedora and a fresh rose in his lapel. We would go through his account together and he would teach me some of the most important lessons about wealth investment that I continue to use today. He played a huge influence in my development as a wealth advisor and I
still keep his chair in my office, right next to my desk, as a reminder of him and everything he taught me. My grandad died in the early 1990s, but his advice left a mark on me.
After that, slowly, bit by bit, my father moved his investments over to me. My dad was easily my toughest client ever. It always felt good when I could convince my dad to buy or sell something, because if he agreed with my decisions, I knew my investments were strong.
A Century of Investing
In 2012, The Bongard Family celebrated our 100th year in the financial advisory and investment management business. When I look at this business and where we are today, I realize that I’ve learned fundamental lessons from my family members that still impact me today.
From my great grandfather, I learned the importance of picking business partners you trust.
From my grandfather, I learned what a buying opportunity feels like and the importance of finding stable, predictable cash flow for your clients.
And from my dad, I learned the value of treating all of our clients like family. I choose to visit clients at home, discussing their finances around their kitchen table like I used to with my family. I have developed an incredible sense of dedication to my clients and my work is grounded in protecting their best interest and their investments.
In recent years, my son Chris has joined me in the business. It is extremely gratifying to have him working with me as it extends our family tradition of working in finance on to the fifth generation. Perhaps most importantly, having him working with me assures our clients that there will be continuity of care for current and future generations.