November 2022 Member Profile – Shelly Appleton-Benko

Shelly Appleton-Benko joined Odlum Brown as an Investment Assistant in 1996. Today, she is a Vice President and Director of the firm, and a Portfolio Manager with a nine-person team. Her career ascent with the prestigious investment management firm was built on the simple principle of always doing what is in the best interests of the client.

“At work, my clients are my number one priority, and I never want that to change,” she says.

There are other priorities, of course — most notably, growing her business, and mentoring, supporting, and developing the talent on her team. What is not a priority, however, is the pursuit of plaudits: “I am kind of low key and I like being off on the sidelines doing my thing,” says Shelly.

That said, even when you aren’t looking for them, sometimes the plaudits find you.

Last month, Shelly was recognized by The Globe and Mail’s Report on Business as one of Canada’s Top Wealth Advisors 2022. “This honour is truly meaningful. It’s great national recognition for the firm,” she says.

Shelly grew up in the Fraser Valley, the youngest of eight siblings. Her mother was a nurse, and her father was an auditor with the federal government. “With such a large family to support, my parents didn’t have a lot of money, but they made a good life happen for all of us. That is how I learned the value of a strong work ethic and making the most of your money.”

In high school, Shelly was gifted both academically and athletically, but struggled with finding a career path after graduation. “I didn’t have anyone in my life saying ‘you should go into finance,’ or ‘you should go into law,’ but I did receive this invaluable bit of advice from my father: ‘Find your passion, and then figure out how to get paid for it.’”

Initially, she considered teaching her passion, but thought the field had structural limitations that simply did not align with her ambitions. She then switched her education trajectory to communications and business administration.

At the young age of 25, Shelly began work at the Vancouver Stock Exchange (VSE), where, not long into her tenure, the VSE asked if she wanted to work for four months at United Way as a loaned rep — a paid volunteer.

Her time with United Way was brief, but the impact of working on such a big charitable campaign served as the foundation for a life of giving back to the community. Today, Shelly is a board member with the BC Cancer Foundation, an Ambassador for Golf Canada’s First Tee Program in BC, supports the Kettle Society, and likes to lend a hand wherever possible.

Aside from her work with Odlum Brown and volunteering, Shelly’s most important and cherished work is as a mother to her adult children, Morgan and Faith, and a spouse to her husband, Tim.

Shelly’s initial motivation for joining Terminal City Club was fitness. The gym was across the street from her office, and it was comfortable and not crowded, she says. “But now I use the Club for so many things — charitable events, client meetings, employee lunches. I try to bring one or two team members here a couple of times a week. It is a valuable way to connect with them one-on-one, and out of the office – no distractions.”

When she is not at work, at the Club, or at home, Shelly is an avid golfer, hiker, boater, pickleball player, and participant in any pretty much any activity that involves the outdoors.

She is also a rigorous goal-setter. “I write them down and keep them in front of me at all times. My advice to others would be to make sure you use SMART goals – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound – and hold yourself accountable. If you can’t hold yourself accountable, find someone who will. I believe that advice works well in all aspects of life.