Recovering Bankster Origin
Updated: Aug 26
To begin understanding the Recovering Bankster journey, let’s begin with…who is Adrian Harasymiw? Tackling money, markets and investment topics, he must be a financial talking head from a network like BNN or CNBC.
Nice try but no, try again.
OK, then he’s probably some mega-rich guy preaching from the top of a mountain of money.
Nope, try again.
Then he must be a local bank advisor, teeming with “valuable” advice that sounds free but isn’t.
Great guess and it used to be accurate, until I ejected myself from what I amusingly call the financial industrial complex. My bankster days are behind me.
Now-a-days, you will find me running my own financial and investment advice practice, sharing my expertise with those for the need and desire for it. The number of zeroes in net worths no longer matter to me. I’m more interested in helping guide people’s financial journey, no matter how far along it is.
But humor me now and let’s rewind a bit further. Well, actually, let’s rewind right to the beginning.
I was born many moons ago to a civil servant lawyer father and an elementary school teacher mother, who took a leave from teaching to raise my younger brother and me. Our early childhood fit the bill of most middle-class children – a mother whose world revolved around us and a father trying to make ends meet for his young family. And both parents loved us dearly.
Heading into my schooling years, my school life was decent by most standards. I was the prototypical teacher’s pet, concerned about getting good marks, always worried about what others thought about me – were others laughing at me, was I giving stupid answers, and such.
In retrospect, I see my childhood and adolescents as a journey from milestone to milestone. What do I mean? I always had my eye on the next expected milestone. All through school, it was all about “what comes next”. So, by the time grade twelve rolled around, with all the glitz and glamour of graduation, it was time to decide what comes next. Besides, I was 18 so I was officially considered an adult, it meant it was time to man up and make something of myself. I figured this meant going straight into university, so I did. Isn’t that what’s expected of all successful students? I felt it was so what other real choice was there?
Then reality hit. What was I doing? I had no idea. So much so that I switched majors in university three times…and that’s BEFORE even my first semester was through. Then, by the end of year one, I switched my major another two times. Quick math exposes me for 5 major changes in year one. By that point, my head was spinning so, that summer I decided to re-evaluate my situation. Business school seemed interesting so, why not? Onward and forward, from a Science degree on to a Business degree.
Upon graduating from Business School, I decided I needed another breather. So, I worked at a local golf course for a summer and then packed my bags to travel for a few months.
It was soon after returning from my travels that adversity beset our family with the passing of my father, aged 63. In hindsight, it turns out to be a major event that shifted my life’s course.
At the time, my brother and I, in our early 20’s, were thrust into supporting our grieving mother. Given my business education background, I took on the role of her personal financial advisor. As with most married couples, it’s usually one of the two partners who handles the family finances. In our family’s case, that was my father’s domain, which means my mother did not know which way was up when it came to our new family financial situation. My father’s passing was not sudden. He had what turned out to be over a year to set the financial house in order. Nonetheless, given the new financial dynamics, my mother needed guidance. I stepped in.
It is at this same point in time that I started my financial career at one of the “big” banks. Having a Business Degree, I expected to be a shoo-in for a nice cushy job, earning decent salary with a nice office. And then, the shock set in when I was hired for…wait for it…is the suspense overwhelming yet…a teller position. To say I felt disrespected and frustrated would be an understatement. How could the bank do that to someone with a Business Degree? Don’t they know who I am? Did they not read my resume? Besides, how can these people with no Business Degree, not even post-secondary degree of any sort, not even a local college certificate, be hired into “better”, higher paying and higher authority positions than me?
In another case of hindsight, I strongly believe my time on the teller line was ideal in building the financial foundations I now rely on. Little did I know at the time that a manager at the bank actually knew what he was doing.
From the teller role, I transitioned into more financial and investment advice roles through the years, giving me access to knowledge, experiences and expertise that I use to this day. But no matter my role, I always found something lacking. For years I didn’t know what it was so every couple of years, I’d move to a new role or a new bank. And yet, the feeling of something lacking followed me everywhere I went.
Don’t get me wrong. I believed in the advice and guidance I was giving people. I never strayed from doing what I thought was best for the client. But in taking this route, I wound up dealing with significant sales pressure from above. For me, it was difficult to make the connection between doing what’s best for the bank (in other words, selling) and doing what’s best for the client (giving objective advice). I felt it was possible to meld the two. I figured if I’m building trust with clients, they’re bound to come back to me, and I’d make a sale when it actually counted for something for the client. But such thinking doesn’t mesh with the bank’s timelines of…how can I put it…RIGHT NOW.
It was dealing with all of this that I realized what was lacking. It turned out that in trying to juggle the two opposing forces, I didn’t find my work meaningful. I wanted to actually help the clients meet their objectives, regardless of whether or not a sale was made and regardless of the number of zeros in their net worth. I didn’t care about the hot bank product of the month that we were expected to sell. I cared about the client in front of me. That’s what mattered to me.
In the midst of my bankster career, I found myself working through the 2007-2009 financial crisis. This encouraged me to think about what was happening around me, and pushed me to learn more about personal finances, investment markets and even economics. I had this irking feeling that the wool was being pulled over my eyes so it would be up to me to uncover the missing pieces on my own.
Besides, Benjamin Franklin said it best: “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”.
There then came a day, after 13 years within the halls of the financial industrial complex, that it all finally dawned on me. I realized what it is that I wanted to do with my life. The answer actually came in that fateful year when my father passed away, at the very beginning of my career but took more than a decade to finally be conceptualized.
Guiding my mother through the financial labyrinth immediately after his passing and ever since is what I thoroughly enjoy. It was the sitting at the kitchen table making decisions about our family’s financial future, discussing financial gobbledygook which she didn’t understand but I was just chomping at the bit to learn more about. This is what brings me happiness, so this is what I wanted to do for other people. I knew there must be other kitchen tables that needed sitting at, that other people were not getting the advice and guidance they deserved. So, it was time to find those people and to help them.
I also felt I had some good and objective insights with fresh and unique perspectives to offer. But this would never be achieved through the “normal” bank channels.
And then came the matter of net worth. I’ve alluded to it here a few times already so far. The financial industrial complex today is outfitted to help those with the money. It truly is a “Show Me the Money” mentality, as Jerry Maguire taught us over two decades ago. To get the top-notch advice, you need to show the net worth and especially the investable assets. Everyone else was relegated to bank advisors selling products, not giving objective advice.
To me it made no difference how many zeros someone has in their net worth, or even if their net worth is positive or negative. If they needed and wanted help, I was going to give it to them. There may be short-term pain to be felt but I strongly believed it was worth it for the long-term prosperity, not just of me but the clients as well.
For the last few years, I have been diligently developing the framework to deliver on my wish to help people with their financial matters. From planning to advocacy to execution, investments to insurance, my small outfit grows steadily by the month. But a portion of what I do with and for clients is basic financial education. I want them to understand why I’m advising the course of action that I am and for them to see how it benefits them. I prefer not to lead the financially blind. I’d rather give them some semblance of their financial sight back.
To that end, I also decided to enter the podcasting market, as a means to share my insights, opinions and perspectives about all things money, markets and investments.
Furthermore, I also established five principles and themes that guide all my work, insights, and opinions:
1. Self-Reliance: Live your life dependent on no one person nor any one institution. Depend only on your family and yourself.
2. Personal Optimization: Live a life of always trying to be better today than yesterday.
3. Free-Market Capitalism: Reap the rewards of your own efforts and pay for the consequences of your own mistakes. Do not expect others to take the brunt for your errors.
4. Free Will: The right to make choices about your own life as long as you do not initiate harm against others, which includes not stealing the property and efforts of others.
5. Integrity: Choose courage over comfort; choose what is right over what is fun, fast or easy; and practice your values rather than simply professing them.
To conclude, you'll notice I mention Family in Principle #1. Family is a big deal to me. In fact, it turned out to be the other of two things that I always felt lacking. And it’s also why I regularly refer to my financial community as our extended financial family. But that’s not the only family I have. Through thick and thin, I know I always have the love and support of my brave and beautiful wife Halyna, along with our two children, AnnaMaria and Fillip. They are the rocks that motivate and encourage me along my professional journey.
With that, consider yourself introduced to and debriefed about the Recovering Bankster.
Until next time, stay safe, keep your integrity and see you at the pinnacle!