Saturday, July 5, 2008

News Story: Million Dollar Round Table

Published in National Post. [Toronto magazine, July 5, 2008.]

Power suits and ties that bind
Why financial planners were spotted on a playground

For four days last week, the Metro Toronto Convention Centre was full of members of the top 1% of financial service providers from around the world. The Million Dollar Round Table's (MDRT) annual meeting brought out an eclectic crowd. In addition to thousands of life insurance providers from around the world, the meeting imported an Olympic gold medalist, a former child soldier from Sierra Leone, a survivor of the 1972 Andes plane crash that was turned into the movie Alive and Stephen Lewis.

"This is our annual crown jewel event," said James Rogers, MDRT president and Vancouver native.

Although professionally themed workshops such as Redefining Wealth Transfer: Planning That Goes Beyond the Estate Tax and the Role of Life INsurance in Business Succession Planning were well-received, it was the inspirational talks given by gold medalist gymnast Mary Lou Retton and ex-child soldier turned human-rights activist Ishmael Beath that inspired member Mukeshkumar Ratilal Sharma to give a thumbs up.

For Jerry Setton, another MDRT member, the meeting is about relaxing. Musically inclined MDRT members performed sets as part of the meeting's entertainment, and some, like Sletton acted as roadies.

"It's like one of the speakers said today: MDRT is an oasis," Sletton said. "It's a place in the desert where you can refuel."

This was the first MDRT meeting held in Toronto since 2001 (that event was rated the No. 1 meeting in the organization's 81-year history). While members spent the evenings riding on rickshaws and exploring the city, the organization had already left its mark in Regent Park.

"We spent a week building a playground at Lower Dufferin Public School and had financial service professionals building structures and using power tools," explained Nick Falco, MDRT Foundation executive director. "It's a sight to see."

Link to National Post story here.

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