Meet the team: Jennifer Armstrong
An occasional blog series that introduces you to our Newport Private Wealth team members
In this occasional blog series, we take you behind the scenes to meet members of the Newport Private Wealth team, who work with our clients and Portfolio Managers (PMs) to provide that special Newport touch. This time around, we’re highlighting Jennifer Armstrong, Portfolio Administrator, who joined the Newport team in 2010.
We chatted with Jenny to find out more about what a Portfolio Administrator does, what led her to Newport those many years ago, and what her personal customer service motto is. Plus, we’ll find out what new skills Jenny’s acquired during the pandemic and why she mastered the art of working remotely long before March of 2020.
Jenny, you’re one of a team of 18 Portfolio Administrators (PAs) here at Newport. What exactly does a PA do?
The PAs work hand in hand with the PMs to take care of every aspect of a client’s account. I work very closely with Andrew Thomson, one of our PMs, mainly with clients based in western Canada. While there’s a lot of administration that comes with the role – everything from opening accounts, transferring funds, client reporting and so on – I also have the opportunity to really get to know our clients personally. It allows me – and all the PAs – to provide the extra attention to detail and care that I think our clients really appreciate.
So, what brought you to Newport in the first place?
For many years I worked for a local insurance and financial planning company based in Edmonton, doing a variety of jobs, from being an assistant, then the client service area for life insurance and finally moving to the investment side as the firm’s only PA. That last move was the best, as it gave me a much broader understanding of the business, and I loved the client work. In 2010, Newport began working with the company to provide its clients with investment management services, and I was offered the opportunity to stay on as a PA with Newport. I haven’t looked back since!
What was the biggest change for you in joining Newport?
Although I had performed as a PA for three years before joining Newport, I was the only person doing that job, and it was a bit scary to learn something new. So, immediately being part of a whole team of peers was really motivating. The Newport PAs are a tight-knit group – always calling upon one another to help with situations or challenges we might not have faced before. It’s so helpful to have such a great support system.
You live in Sherwood Park, outside of Edmonton, so working remotely isn’t new for you. What’s been different during the past year?
It’s one thing to be the only person that remote on a conference call or a meeting; it’s another thing entirely when everyone’s remote. Although it’s always been easy for me to connect and communicate with my colleagues in Toronto and elsewhere, now that we’re all working remotely, I find that there’s an even greater connection. Our weekly companywide meetings have been fantastic as we’ve all been able to get to know one another in a new way. The communications evolution I’ve seen during the pandemic has made me feel like an even bigger part of the team.
What keeps you motivated and engaged?
I’ve always adhered to the personal motto that customer service is an attitude, not a department. When you’re working with clients, you don’t know what personal or professional issues they may be dealing with. So, I try to be optimistic and friendly. I’m a “glass half full” kind of person and giving clients more than they expect or ask for is genuinely satisfying. That’s always been what keeps me going.
You have two daughters, the oldest in university. What have you been up to as a family during these trying times?
Like so many families, our daughters had to make a big adjustment to accommodate remote learning and curtail activities like hockey and dancing. But that didn’t stop us from getting outside. When you’re as close to nature and the beautiful Rockies are only a few hours away, it’s easy to find yourself outdoors a lot. This year, we really took advantage of that. We’re an active family, so snowboarding and skiing is part of our routine, with regular outings to Banff and Jasper. Friday nights have become games night, with lots of Monopoly and cribbage, to go along with the homemade pizza I’ve started making. And I think I’m not the only person who has discovered the wonders of the Air Fryer during the pandemic!
While we’re not quite back to normal yet, as things begin to open up, what are you looking forward to the most?
I’ve missed being in the gym and my lunchtime jogs in Edmonton’s beautiful River Valley, but my 12-year-old Schnoodle, Sadie, keeps me going on long walks, so that’s been great. I also joined a ladies’ ball hockey team just before the pandemic and that’s something I’m looking forward to getting back to, although I don’t know how good I’ll be at it! Most of all, I’ll enjoy being able to be connected with friends near and far on a more regular basis and keeping up the close family connections we’ve created during the pandemic.
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