Passion for numbers turned into successful career

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer

A resume was submitted in response to the part time receptionist position advertised in the Fort Frances Times. The job advertisement did not include the name of the organization Susan Bodnarchuk applied to.

After years working and progressing through the organization, Bodnarchuk became the owner of Holmlund Financial for 17 years. She joined Holmlund Financial in 1987 and will soon celebrate 34 years with the organization.

“Working with numbers is right up my alley,” Bodnarchuk said. “Call it luck or destiny. I was at the right place at the right time. I always liked business classes in high school and worked well with numbers. It seemed like a good fit.”

Although Bodnarchuk always had a passion for working with numbers, she started out in a retail position before opting for a career shift due to family demands.

“I felt like I was missing out on my [children’s] school events,” Bodnarchuk said. “My husband and I needed to have two incomes, so a career change was the option.”

Bodnarchuk then went off to Confederation College and took a one-year business administration course before getting hired and mentored by Bruce Holmlund.

Holmlund also encouraged Bodnarchuk to get her certified financial planner (CFP) certificate.

“Bruce was a great mentor,” Bodnarchuk said. “He encouraged me along the way and helped me with my courses. He did not have a CFP, but he encouraged me to take that direction. I had to take 11 courses including trading courses in order to get my insurance licenses and my CFP.”

Bodnarchuk’s job revolves around working with clients and helping them achieve their goals in life and getting them where they need to be. This includes RSP savings to help their children through post-secondary education and tax-free savings for vacations or long-term retirement goals.

“It’s helping them through life with different changes to reach their financial goals,” Bodnarchuk said. “That is our ultimate goal. I’ve helped lots of people set up their retirements and it’s a good feeling knowing that I’ve helped them get to where they are.”

Most of Holmlund Financial’s clients are 50 to 80 years old, but Bodnarchuk said they are always happy to see young individuals who just got their first job think about long-term investment.

“I think a lot of people feel that they do not have enough money to start, but they really do,” Bodnarchuk said. “Start young and a small amount is fine. You do not have to have a lot of money to start saving because the long-term compounding over the years adds up. I have clients who look back and are happy that they started young. I have clients that wish they would have started younger.”

While Bodnarchuk had her passion in the right place, challenges occasionally presented themselves, one being the scarcity of women in the industry.

 “I would go to conferences and training sessions and meet other male advisors,” Bodnarchuk said. “There were not a lot of women in the business, but that has changed a lot. It was a bit of a challenge there too, because you’re always surrounded by men. People were mostly great and accepted me as one of the group. We all work independently, so we’re not competing with each other.”

Bodnarchuk said as a small business owner, she learned to do everything, from managing the staff and negotiating contracts to the marketing, advertising and bookkeeping.

She also said it is important for business owners to volunteer and get involved in their communities, something Bruce Holmlund taught her.

“It was very important to participate and sponsor local events and associations,” Bodnarchuk said. “Be involved in committees, meet people and be part of the business community. Over the years, I chaired a few committees and participated in lots of boards to meet people.”

Bodnarchuk is set to retire next year, with Adrian Chapman taking over as the new owner of Holmlund Financial. After retirement, Bodnarchuk is eager to spend more time with her grandchildren, traveling more and spending more time at the lake.

“My biggest advice is to be proud of your accomplishments and celebrate them along the way,” Bodnarchuk said. “Don’t hesitate to accept the next opportunity whenever it presents itself.”