Throughout his career, Ruben Antoine has made a habit out of seizing opportunities as they’ve presented themselves. This flexibility and foresight has enabled him to travel the world, while progressing rapidly in his career; working in the financial sectors of Montreal, London and the British Virgin Islands. After many years in alternative investments and international finance, Ruben felt the desire to work more closely with people to manage their finances in order to have a positive impact on their lives, leaving the institutional side of the business to move to private portfolio management, a move motivated by his passion to work with private investors in achieving their financial goals.
“I needed to expose myself to an experience that was different from what I was used to.”
How would you describe your role to someone who has no knowledge of what you do?
I help affluent investors and wealthy families invest their assets and preserve their wealth. I serve, among others, busy senior executives and professionals who want to delegate the management of their investments so they can focus on their careers and families. I also work with successful entrepreneurs looking to diversify their wealth independently of their company. My clients trust me for everything that encompasses their financial affairs. I am like their personal “CFO”.
What milestone kick-started your career?
The moment I decided to step out of my comfort zone and jump into the unknown. After my university studies, I found an interesting job for a small accounting firm, located 5 minutes from home, serving a local clientele. I enjoyed the daily routine and job security. However, my ambition urged me to aspire for more. I needed to expose myself to an experience that was different from what I was used to: I wanted to work and live abroad, in a completely different environment, in a new language, for a large firm with international customers. After a lot of networking and perseverance, this opportunity finally came and it launched my career.
My international experience began when I accepted a senior auditor position at Deloitte in the British Virgin Islands. This opportunity has led me to provide professional services to various global clients, including oil trading corporations, fund managers, investment firms and trust companies. A few years later, I moved to England and worked for the London-based investment firm ESO Capital Group. I was responsible for all financial and operational matters, investor reporting, as well as foreign exchange risk management of the funds managed by the firm.
What was the biggest risk you have taken in your career?
Back in Montreal, I took on the role of Vice President at MaplesFS, a global firm of fiduciary and investment fund services. The biggest risk came when I left this stable, well-paying job to specialize in private wealth management. Having worked with investment bankers, private equity and hedge fund managers in the past, I came to realize that some areas in finance were focused on closing multi-million dollars deals, trading risky securities and increasing profits, often to the detriment of investors. I, therefore, felt the need to work with people to help guide them towards better ways of investing. The change was not easy but was one of the best decisions in my life. I am passionate about finance, and I find it very rewarding to use all the skills I’ve acquired to work directly with people to help them achieve their financial goals and preserve what they’ve worked hard to build.
What would you describe as your biggest accomplishment that you are the most proud of?
One of the biggest challenges I had to overcome was really just starting my professional career. Finding a job in an accounting firm at the end of school was not easy. I sent about 200 resumes and went to around 20 interviews, sometimes blaming the color of my skin as the cause of the lack of positive results. With persistence, the opportunity I was searching for finally came. I then concluded that all that matters is hard work and perseverance. I am now realizing that with time, our gained experience and professionalism precedes us, which attracts opportunities themselves. I stopped seeing challenges as obstacles in my path, but rather as opportunities to learn from and to surpass myself. My greatest accomplishment is my career achievements. But what I am most proud of remains my family: my wife Marie-Hélène who supports my wildest dreams and my adorable little girl Maëlla who is the source of my motivation.
How did you envision your career before experiencing it within its current reality?
Before starting this job, I thought that serving a wealthy clientele meant working with people who manifested all the clichés that one tends to associate with rich people. I quickly realized that the vast majority of the people I work with were nice, humble and hardworking individuals. They have the same concerns as everyone else. They are not all born with a silver spoon in their mouths, many of them come from modest backgrounds and have worked very hard to improve their financial situation.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I see myself helping my community create, grow and preserve wealth. This starts with financial education from an early age. I therefore see myself sharing my knowledge and experience to inspire young people and motivate them to take action. I also want to share my expertise with various organizations, and be involved in various projects to contribute to the growth of my community, my city and the province of Quebec.
How do you separate work life from home life?
Private portfolio management is not a 9 to 5 job. Some days are busy, but I make sure to get the job done at work before leaving the office. I do not bring any files home, and I do not open the computer when my daughter is in bed. But the nature of my work means I need to always stay connected; in the end I am managing people’s lives. My clients’ portfolios are often their largest asset, and making financial decisions can be an integral part of their daily lives. I must therefore remain available if they need my advice or send me an urgent request related to their portfolio.
“Do not stay in your comfort zone. When we are stuck in the familiar, we stop learning and evolving as people.”
What was the best advice you have ever received?
My dad always told me to make all decisions with my head, but to define my values, my vision, and my goals with my heart. The head must perform the actions in the service of the overall plan of the heart. He always reminded me that we should not let emotions guide our actions, but rather reason. But that any action taken must be in harmony with empathy and love for others.
What would be your best piece of advice?
Do not stay in your comfort zone. When we are stuck in the familiar, we stop learning and evolving as people. Take risks! Jump on new experiences and opportunities as this is where the magic takes place.
Who has been your greatest mentor?
I have had a lot of mentors throughout my career. My greatest mentor, the one who made me who I am today is my father, Paul Antoine. He taught me the meaning of hard work, the importance of education to become an expert in your field or simply to broaden your knowledge. He served as a great example as he studied anthropology, journalism, holds two masters degrees in communication sciences and international law, as well as a PhD in social communication. My work ethic and my insatiable thirst for learning were instilled by him.
On the professional side, my current mentor is Keith Matthews, with whom I currently work. More than 20 years ago, Keith left the lucrative world of bond trading to engage in private wealth management. He is a successful entrepreneur who remains modest and always puts the interest of the client before his or that of his firm. I’m learning a lot from him. His unparalleled integrity, empathy for others, dedication and exemplary leadership make him one of the greatest mentors I’ve ever had.
Can you share a moment that strongly impacted your life journey?
I grew up with 140 orphan kids who ended up becoming just like my siblings. I was born in Montreal to Haitian parents, and at the age of 4 my parents decided to return to live in Haiti. My father, who was working for Radio-Canada at the time, had just accepted a position as Director for one of the SOS Villages in Port-au-Prince. SOS Villages d’Enfants is the world’s largest charity working with orphaned and abandoned children. The organization creates and administrates villages, providing children with warm homes, food, healthcare, and education. I spent my childhood, and part of my adolescence, with other young people like me, but who had difficult childhoods and lost their parents. My father and my mother really became parents to these children in a sense. This period of my life taught me the values of sharing, caring for others and appreciating every moment in life.
Ruben Antoine is a licensed portfolio manager at Tulett, Matthews & Associates, a private wealth management firm servicing high net worth individuals and affluent families, where he advises a clientele of entrepreneurs, professionals and senior executives of large companies on structuring their investment portfolio and managing their wealth. Holder of the professional titles of Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA, CA), his clients greatly appreciate his expertise, which combines his knowledge and experience in finance, investments and tax. Ruben also holds a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration, as well as a Specialized Graduate Diploma in Accounting from the École des Hautes Études Commerciales.