Reid Couture is a Financial Analyst with RBC Bank in Toronto, Ontario, where he works with financial data to provide statements and information to RBC stakeholders. Originally from Barrie, Reid has worked in the finance industry for several years, beginning as a branch teller, and then as a financial advisor, working with people to meet their financial needs and provide services and products such as investment accounts, mortgages, credit cards, and everyday banking.
Reid got into the financial industry through his interest in math. “I happened to be (good at) math from a young age, and then movies and television pushed me towards finance. I just saw people, they were always dressed up real fancy in New York and places like that. I had no experience with finance or anything when I was growing up. I didn’t know a lot about it, just what I saw in movies and television and they seemed to have a pretty interesting and an exciting life. And I was like, ‘What can I do with math?’ And that’s the path I decided to go down and stuck with it, and that’s how I ended up to this point now.”
In addition to his career with RBC, Reid works as an Indigenous Role Model with TakingITGlobal, where he provides advice and support to Indigenous youth who are pursuing or considering post-secondary education. Reid himself benefited from an Indigenous training program from RBC, which helped with his education and guide him to his current career.
“I started off in high school taking the courses I needed to get into university. And then once I got to university, RBC actually had the Indigenous Peoples Development Program. I applied in my first year of post-secondary, and it is a rotational program where they train you in all aspects of the branch. You start off as a teller. That’s how I got my foot in the door. It was a summer internship. And then every following summer, you get to do a different role. I got a lot of exposure across the bank, which is why I know a good portion of different things about the bank.”
“I got a lot of on the job experience. Just talking to people, sitting down with as many people as I can, hearing them and taking their knowledge and trying to soak it all in, but (my education) was also formal in the way that I did go to school for financial math. Not something that’s necessary, I would say, to start working in the bank and to grow within the bank. You can definitely learn a lot just from getting your foot in the door, but my studies were in finance and math.”
Reid’s combination of post-secondary education, on-the-job training, and support from RBC made it possible for him to pursue this career. But he still faced challenges along the way. “I would say there’s two obstacles that really stood in my path. The first was trying to work while going to school. I had the summer internships, but then working while going to school to further my professional career. It was really difficult because I was also on one of the sports teams for a while at my university, and I was going to school full-time and then working 25 or so hours a week. So that was a really big obstacle at times. I had to quit the football team and then I rejoined later when I thought I had it all figured out. My grades dipped and went on a roller coaster ride every once in a while, just because of time management. It definitely wasn’t all sunshine.”
“The other obstacle is (that it took) me longer to graduate as a result. It took me two more years to finish my degree just because of all the working and the sports. And the degree itself wasn’t the easiest. Once I got to post-secondary it did get obviously harder than high school. It was a big shock to me when I got there. I really had to figure out how to manage my time.”
Along the way, Reid was able to count on support from friends and family, including his mother at home, and his sister, who had gone to the University of Waterloo a few years ahead of him. This support was important considering that, like many Indigenous students, Reid had to leave home to further his education, about which he offered this advice: “What I would say is try to make a friend, because really you only need one to get you through if you’re in a new space. You might get overwhelmed. You might be homesick, missing your community and your family. If you can try to just open up a little bit and make one new friend, that way you have someone to just talk to.”
“But also just be open to new things, because you might have a plan going into something. With me, I had a plan. Moving away from home, going to school, doing sports, getting a job, working through it all. But things got off track, right? Things go off track and that can be really overwhelming. So just be open-minded going in. Know that things can get off track, but just make the best of it, because it’s impossible to have a set plan for everything in life. And especially when you’re moving away from your community, you just want to be open to new things and take the lows as they come and try to push through them.”
Reid’s work with TakingITGlobal comes from a strong desire to help others, a quality that he credits to his parents. “I’m inspired by trying to help people. I do a lot of volunteering in my community. I try to volunteer every two weeks probably, whether it’s the same cause or a different cause, I’m trying to volunteer a lot. I get that inspiration from my parents. They happen to be nurses. So right now, even in these times of uncertainty, they’re still going to work every day and trying to help, doing the best they can. And I think I may have gotten something from them in the sense that, if you have the ability to help and you’re capable of helping, I would say that you should. And that’s why I do.”
Despite his success in the financial industry, Reid does remember that it wasn’t always clear that he would succeed. “If I could tell my younger self one thing, (it’s) that you’re going to get through it. There’s so many times when I’d get worked up and I’d be upset. Maybe I failed an exam, even. Maybe I didn’t get this new job that I applied for or something like that. And it seemed like the end of the world, right? Like everything’s going wrong in that time and it’s just not doing so well. But you look back at that, and was it that big of a deal now to me? No, it wasn’t. It was just another hurdle.”
“You’re going to get through it in the sense that you’ll make it to the next step in your journey no matter what, and you’ll be stronger because of it.”
Special thanks to Keith Collier for authoring this blog post.
Future Pathways Fireside Chats are a project of TakingITGlobal's Connected North Program.
Funding is generously provided by the RBC Foundation in support of RBC Future Launch, and the Government of Canada's Supports for Student Learning program.