When Stephen Maser became a financial advisor 18 years ago, his goal was to create a calm and welcoming environment in which he could demystify the financial industry for his clients. He recently took that to the next level with a brand new bespoke Raymond James Ltd. office in Kelowna’s West Pandosy Village.
Stephen’s practice—Aura Wealth Management—moved just a few months ago but already the feedback from clients and the Aura team has been fantastic.
“For most people, when they walk into a financial institution or a bank, the experience is a bit dreary,” he says, noting that often it’s a traditional office building, with stiff chairs and a desk or other physical barrier between the professional and the clients. “We leaned really hard into creating a nice experience for clients and prospective clients to come into.”
The new space is ground level, accessible, bright with natural light, and entirely built around optimizing client interactions.
“All the seating is comfortable,” continues Stephen. “We were mindful of the little things: good coffee, nice tea, even a nice glass of wine if the occasion calls for it. We really wanted people to feel when they walked in that they were comfortable, and that it wasn’t an intimidating experience.”
And clients aren’t the only ones benefitting from the move, as the space is designed to support flexible schedules within the team as well.
“Our team does not have to go to an office if they don’t feel they need to,” says Stephen. “My assistant does 90 per cent of her work from home.”
Having that flexibility not only impacts and reduces the company’s environmental footprint—the new space is 588 square feet, rather than 3,000—but it allows the team to manage their own schedules in a highly efficient way. The office doesn’t have regular office hours, but rather operates on a “by appointment only” basis.
For Stephen, who’s often up and ready for the day before 6 am, that can mean having a day’s worth of work done by late morning.
“That efficiency allows us to focus on more client-focused things,” he says.
It’s also created more room for Stephen to find that elusive work-life balance with his wife, Laura.
“We’re both very focused and driven, but we’re trying to enjoy it,” he says, laughing. “We love to ski and we’re trying to travel more than we have in the past, now that the world has re-opened. We’re big food tourists.”
The couple moved to Kelowna from Alberta in 2011, and regularly get out to enjoy the abundance of food and wine in the region.
“We love pretty much everything that the Okanagan has to offer,” says Stephen. “It’s the best move we ever made.”
The 7 Sins
Whose shoes would you like to walk in?
Leonardo da Vinci. I’ve always found him fascinating and been really envious of his intelligence and ability to master multiple disciplines. After reading Walter Isaacson’s book about him, I began to wonder how one sees the world when possessing genius like his.
What is the food you could eat over and over again?
I grew up on a cattle ranch in Southern Alberta, so a great steak is always my go-to, paired with a red Bordeaux.
You’re given $1 million that you have to spend selfishly. What would you spend it on?
I’m not a hugely materialistic person, so I’d likely spend it on world travel. If I had to pick a thing, I’m a sucker for a beautiful car, so probably an Aston Martin DB9 Volante.
Socks with sandals. I mean, come on, people. Really?
Where would you spend a long time doing nothing?
Troncones, Mexico. Some wonderful friends of ours introduced us to this tiny little surfing village a few years ago. It’s quiet and relaxing with little to do but walk the secluded beach, read, eat at the local restaurants and generally unplug. It is old Mexico in the best way.
What is the one thing you’re secretly proud of?
I’m proud of the fact that I was able to successfully build my business from nothing, especially in an industry that’s very difficult to survive in.
What makes your heart beat faster?
Easily my wife, Laura. Not only is she beautiful, but also wickedly intelligent and accomplished in her own right. She challenges me in ways no one else ever has.