Sugi Kumaresan: Making Your Money Work With You
CIBC Wood Gundy Senior Wealth Advisor Sugi Kumaresan opens up about investing, travelling to clients and rethinking perceptions when it comes to wealth management.
Sugi Kumaresan’s journey into the world of finance has been interesting, to say the least. Originally from Sri Lanka, Sugi’s family fled in 1985 due to the country’s civil war. He grew up in Etobicoke, Ont., where he studied financial services and ultimately landed a teller job at 17 years old at leading bank. He has been on a mission to educate and demystify the world of wealth management ever since.
Today, he leads the vision behind Kumaresan Wealth Management Group (KWMG) at CIBC Wood Gundy. Sugi’s team is a powerhouse of experience, knowledge and commitment: Associate Investment Advisors Michelle Rowe, with whom he’s worked for the past 20 years, and Paul Mannu, and Administrative Assistant Angela Diamanti. Together, they provide clients with comprehensive wealth management services and insights of the highest quality, without ego or complication. “When it comes to investments, all clients want a similar outcome: to maximize return while minimizing risk, fees, and taxes,” says Sugi.
A typical day for the team includes helping clients manage their portfolios and wealth planning, such as retirement, business transition and private banking services. Another central focus is shaping a lasting legacy for families and communities through estate and philanthropic planning. As a proud resident of Vaughan for the past 15 years, Sugi understands the influence that community can have on his clients and its importance.
Sugi shares that he succeeds through a process of reverse engineering. “We don’t pitch you with investment deals showing you how we invest your money. Instead, we find out who you are, what you are and what your desires, needs and wants are. By finding the ‘Why?’ we figure out that goal, and reverse-engineer to build a path to get you there.”
This approach offers an insight into what drives the work that Sugi and his team do and, perhaps more than that, how focused it is on people. As someone who loves reading, psychology and how humans interact with each other, he understands the relationships people have with money and how those feed into their personal goals.
“How human beings connect with money is as important as how they invest that money. They say you’ve got to take the emotions out of investing, but money is an emotional thing for people. You have to address that and talk about how you connect with it,” adds Sugi.
Something Sugi and his team talk about a lot is re-shifting perspectives. They put a particular emphasis on education for clients and do away with complications so they can lead by example and empower whomever they work with.
For example, many people believe wealth management is a service reserved only for the wealthy. Sugi and his team believe it isn’t. “The less wealth you have, the greater the importance of estate planning. The word ‘estate’ has been changed to mean ‘wealth planning,’ when it’s not. Estate planning is for everybody,” explains Sugi.
The Word ‘Estate’ Has Been Changed To Mean Wealth Planning When It’s Not. Estate Planning Is For EverybodySugi Kumaresan
Continuing its focus on accessibility, Sugi’s office, situated at 4110 Yonge St., is conveniently positioned in the centre of the GTA. But beyond that, Sugi describes himself as being constantly on the road, taking an “old-school country-doctor” approach, making the effort to visit clients in their homes and places of business, where they feel more comfortable. “I’ve flown to Ottawa to meet clients and close to home in Woodbridge — wherever business needs to be done, we’ll go.”
Even in the way Sugi mentors and collaborates with his team, there’s extra attention given to relationships with clients. “The three things that dictate what we do are pride, leadership and joy,” he notes. “I hope everyone on my team is proud of the work they do every single day. I want them to walk in empowered — that this is their business to lead — and ensure they’re having fun.”
Particularly now, when markets are volatile and the future is uncertain, Sugi emphasizes the act of making a plan, and approaching finances in a way that’s personal, proactive and easy to understand. He believes in becoming an important, valued part of every client’s life.
“We work in a complex world, but it doesn’t have to be complicated,” Sugi summarizes. “It’s my job to manage the chaos and give you choices you can comprehend. It’s our goal to make you understand what you own and why you own it.”
CIBC Private Wealth consists of services provided by CIBC and certain of its subsidiaries, including CIBC Wood Gundy, a division of CIBC World Markets Inc. The CIBC logo and “CIBC Private Wealth” are trademarks of CIBC, used under license. “Wood Gundy” is a registered trademark of CIBC World Markets Inc.