Q&A With Riki Roy
When did you come to Canada?
Born in Delhi, I immigrated to Canada in 2004, and Edmonton was the city I chose to make our new home. Roy (my husband) joined me in June 2006.
We had the opportunity to live in many countries because of the nature of our work – I was associated with Microsoft and Gilat Satellite Networks. Roy had worked for Unilever and also did some consultancy work for them. We have both been serial entrepreneurs and tried a number of businesses – some failed and some succeeded. During our journey, one of our stops was East Africa. We lived in Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania. In Tanzania we started another business but with the help of two partners this time. It was OLTP – simply speaking, we would be the central hub which would clear all Visa, MasterCard and debit card transactions on behalf of banks, and also own the ATM network.
Our work involved transfers to new countries, cities and an extreme amount of travel. So to give our son stability, we enrolled him in a boarding school in Kenya. In grade seven, he made a decision to pursue Nano Engineering. The only University that offered this program as an undergrad program was the University of Alberta. I shared with Roy that Canada was open to immigration, and if our son studied at U of A as a citizen rather than a foreign student it might be less expensive. We applied for immigration, and within a year we were asked to land in Canada.
I landed with our son in Edmonton in 2004. The plan was that we were going to settle our son, and then I was going to join Roy back in Tanzania…Edmonton’s charm and its people grew on us, and this is now our new home, and the rest is history.
How and Why did you establish this Omnus Investments Ltd?
We did not know a single individual when we came to Canada. I met Brent Larison and we realized that we loved chatting about investments. We got to thinking of starting a company in the financial field, and I shared with Brent my husband’s experience. Roy used to come visit us once every three months. During one of the visits Brent and I, and a few others, started talking about how we should set up a company to look at investments where clients actually made a real return. We could use the vast knowledge we had acquired living in all these countries. Eventually when Roy moved to Canada in June 2006, the Company was set up by the three of us. What is interesting about our brokerage is the fact that we have as many women brokers as men. We have broken the myth that women leave the investing to men. We love to invest.
What experience do you bring to the exempt market?
Roy and I retired financially just before my 40th birthday as per our plan. We teach clients how we did it and how simple it is. It is not rocket science!
Let me share with you an interesting story to illustrate how important the Exempt industry is – when we had eventually decided to settle here in Canada we started to look for a Mutual Fund (MF) Company to park our funds. We had dealt with a very large MF Company overseas. We met their Canadian counterparts in Calgary. We asked about the MER (Management Expense Ratio) before the transfer. We were shocked to hear of they much higher MERs they are charging here in Canada versus what the same fund same Manager was charging overseas.
The Exempt Market – the Industry itself is not new. It has just got regulated under the Alberta Securities Commission in 2010. The Exempt Market works for the Canadian Entrepreneur to help him/her access Capital and while growing the Company takes care of the investors that helped it to become successful. Small business force is a driver of the Canadian economy! And that is why Exempt market is so key as an investment option. No idea is bad; it is the people who run the businesses when intentions may change. Having lived across the globe and dealing with so many kinds of businesses and ideas gives us the ability to assess people and share with our investors our knowledge. We have always known that the best investment is to invest in people – the Exempt Market does just that and in the process strengthens our economy.
What prompted you to join WEMA?
The regulated version of the Exempt Market is in its infancy. If we wish for the industry to survive and do not wish to pay fancy MERs then the Exempt Industry needs to stick together and WEMA will create that platform of having that ONE voice.
What is the future role of WEMA?
I am going to take a very simple analogy of a cable – if you strip a cable you will find it is made of very thin wires. These wires are delicate and you can easily break them individually, but a cable can be strong enough to support a bridge. The task of a cable is to connect two points and when connected it might even start something. Each Exempt Market Dealer I am saying EMDs are like a thin wire capable of not doing much on their own...but together we become the cable. The future role of WEMA is to keep those wires connected and we can get stronger as we go along.