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Perspective Newsletter

What do you do at Northwood?

I am a Principal of Client Service at Northwood, but I wear a few hats. Predominately, I am the go to contact for about a dozen of our family clients. I work across generations to help clients achieve their financial goals. Along with my colleagues at Northwood, we aim to help families think strategically and remove the mental clutter to enable better decision making. In addition to my client work, I co-lead our internal committees on technology, business development, marketing and thought-leadership.

Any fulfilling moments that stand out for you with a client?

I had a new recently divorced client join Northwood – we guided them through everything from setting up the post-divorce tax structure, building an asset mix to meet their goals, drafting an estate plan they understand and support, reviewing their life insurance structure for changes, helping begin to discuss family dynamics and the factors at play with raising children of wealth, and crafting a philanthropy strategy. After 16 months of ongoing projects, the client paused to thank me for guiding them through this challenging part of their life – this moment stood out as very satisfying. This is why I do what I do, to help people solve interesting challenges and think long term.

What surprised you the most since you’ve been at Northwood?

I’ve been at Northwood for 2 years and I’ve been surprised at the strength of the culture. We have 9 core value at Northwood and two of them really stand out for me: (1) Start with Integrity – it sounds simple, but owning your mistakes, building trust and providing objective and unbiased advice is so important AND (2) Be Curious – this is so important in the family office space. Given the breadth of our service offering and client situations, it’s critical to ask “why?” or “so what does that mean?”. Not being afraid to ask questions, and sharing knowledge and mentoring others. There is a reason our turnover is so low at Northwood – and holding true to our core values will be critical to keeping that turnover low.

What are you excited for now that the world is opening up?

The ability to get out and meet new people. We learn so much from others and new connections bring so much joy, particularly after the last couple years.

What did you want to be when you were growing up?

I wanted to be a pilot and fly around the world. While I am not a pilot, I love travelling the world.

What are your favourite things to do outside of work?

My partner and I enjoy travelling (recently we loved visiting Rio de Janeiro), sports (hockey, golf, tennis), and live music (Toronto has tons of great venues). But lately, spending quality time with friends and family given our inability to do so over the last 2 years.

Would you recommend a place to travel to? If so please give some detail.

If you told me that you could only visit one new country, I’d insist that it be Vietnam. Aside from being stunningly beautiful with incredible food, the people are so incredibly kind and the culture of family values is something the rest of the world could learn from. Minimum 10 days, start in the North: Hanoi, stop in Da Nang/Hoi An (UNESCO Site), stop in Nha Trang, then finish in Ho Chi Minh City. Time permitting, finish it off with a quick jaunt to the island of Phu Quoc.

Northwood Family Office

Monica Gray

Monica is a member Northwood’s client service team, responsible for the creation of Northwood’s marketing strategy, campaign execution and client development. She has 13 years of experience in financial and professional services involved on both the operational and marketing side of investments.

Monica is a University of Toronto certified digital and communication strategist and attended undergrad at Ryerson University for international economics and finance.

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