A recipe for success, featuring Trixie Rowein

As leader of PAX Portfolio Advisory, Trixie Rowein challenges herself and others to make the world a better place.

Trixie Rowein With the holidays creeping up in 2020, advisor Trixie Rowein had a problem. The days were getting short and bitterly cold in Edmonton, Canada, and as the pandemic dragged on her clients were feeling a bit down.

They needed comfort. They needed connection. They needed her mother’s empanadas.

“Hosting an online cooking class was completely out of my comfort zone,” says Trixie. But with her mom, Sara, and her oldest daughter, Roxana, at her side in the kitchen, she found the courage to get on Zoom and share with her clients and colleagues an old family recipe for the national dish of Chile, where her parents emigrated from. It seems simple – a pastry filled with meat, cheese or seafood. But empanadas take loving care to get right.

“I wanted to share with them some of my lively Latina background, and it was such a blast. How pumped I felt after was probably equal in proportion to how nervous I was to do it.”

The cooking class is a shining example of how Trixie builds genuine relationships – and success – by sharing her authentic self. It’s one of many special experiences she dreams up for clients. She also teaches Spanish language classes and added a third client newsletter during the pandemic called The Weekend Update that’s filled with personal stories. It’s all guided by a motto she shares with clients – feelings matter just as much as finance.

“If you can make someone happy, make someone smile, then do it. There’s enough strife and sadness in the world. You’ll almost always see me with a smile on my face.”

Spreading comfort and joy

For the past 21 years, Trixie has poured her heart and soul into her career, finding clever ways to incorporate her family and her values – and it’s paid off big. In 2021, as portfolio manager and vice president of PAX Portfolio Advisory in Edmonton, she was named a Woman of Distinction by the Raymond James Women Canadian Advisors Network. The award honors women making an outsized impact in the financial industry and in their communities, and those who nominated her highlighted her thriving practice, the active role she plays in raising funds for abused children through the Little Warriors organization and how generously she shares knowledge with peers through mentoring.

She has such a strong bond with her clients, one of them even helped name her practice when her business partner retired. (It’s based on a “peace of mind” concept; PAX is Latin for peace.) And the team she has built feels like a family – and includes an actual family member. Her niece, Alexa Cousino, serves in a team support role and Taylor Cooper serves as a licensed portfolio manager assistant. He joined her team after a summer internship with Raymond James in 2018.

“It just goes to show that hard work, passion and a ‘never give up’ attitude really go a long way,” her branch manager, Tage Cawley, said of her award.

It’s hard to fathom now. But at the beginning of her finance career, giving up seemed a real possibility.

Chile is calling

Trixie has always had a love of learning, and through hard work she became the first person in her family to attend university. She is a math whiz, and at the encouragement of one of her secondary school teachers, she started out studying computer programming.

When she arrived on campus, she realized she was one of the few in her major who didn’t own a computer. She would have to spend long hours in the university’s computer lab to get assignments done. Then she fell ill and missed a week of classes. Failure seemed imminent, so she pivoted to another math-heavy major: finance.

“I want to empower more women. When you empower women, you empower their partners, their kids – women are the linchpin of so many families.”

Her grades were stellar. “All the sacrifices my parents made coming to this country, I wanted to validate them,” she says. However, while other students had been completing internships, she had been working side jobs to pay tuition. She discovered this fact when she graduated and began applying to companies, and received rejection letters saying she didn’t have relevant experience. Like many first-generation university students, she didn’t have a mentor to explain the unwritten rules.

“Then one day there was an ad in the newspaper of all places that said, ‘Looking for a junior investment advisor; no experience required.’” She was hired in July 2000 – just as the dot-com bubble began to burst. The firm was Goepel McDermid, which would a year later become Raymond James Ltd. There, she spent every day cold calling investors. As a young woman in a male-dominated industry, she often felt anxious about her future. “After two years of cold calling and the twin towers attacks, everything just went from bad to worse in the markets,” she says.

Then her parents left chilly Canada for Chile. She went for a wintertime visit and began daydreaming about moving there and becoming a bilingual tour guide.

“I made these plans to quit, and when I went to tell my boss, he says, ‘I’m happy with you. Don’t go.’ I thought, ‘You haven’t said a nice word to me in two years!’”

After negotiating with her branch manager, she was able to refocus her role on the tasks that played to her strengths, partnering with him to serve clients. It was a lesson in asking for what she wanted – and it gave her the courage to commit.

The domino effect

Knowing that learning is her superpower, she studied for and earned Certified Financial Planner™ certification as well as the Financial Management Advisor and Chartered Investment Manager designations. Hungry for more professional development opportunities, she attended her first Raymond James Women’s Symposium in 2006. “The energy of being around all of these women, I have to tell you, it was so empowering.”

It gave her the idea to host her own women’s only symposium for clients and their friends and families. Though her male business partner at the time was skeptical, she pressed on. “I want to empower more women. When you empower women, you empower their partners, their kids – women are the linchpin of so many families.”

During her symposiums she talks about financial topics, but adds in the nuances of parenting and being in the “sandwich generation,” trying to juggle caring for children and aging parents at the same time. She shares her own stories of how she navigates being a divorced mother of two children approaching that “sandwich” conundrum. “When you speak from the heart, the message becomes louder. It resonates with people,” she says.

“We had a client with three sisters. The first symposium, the client brings one sister. She became a client. The next symposium, another sister attends. She became a client. Finally, she brings sister three. Wouldn’t you know it – she became a client.” Empowering women had become a catalyst for success.

A soulful mix of ingredients

Giving back has been a vital ingredient in Trixie’s recipe for a life well lived. She has shared her Spanish language skills, her financial insight – even her hair.

Trixie offered to donate her long locks to a friend going through cancer treatment but couldn’t persuade her to accept the offer. After the friend passed away in April 2021, Trixie chopped off 15 inches of her hair and donated it to Wigs for Kids, combining her efforts with her annual fundraising for the Canadian Cancer Society and its CIBC Run for the Cure. “I was not only donating my hair, but also raising money for Wigs for Kids and raising money for the Canadian Cancer Society,” she says. “I had to up the ante in her memory.”

Her knack for making connections amplifies her impact. She includes her family and clients in volunteering for Soup Sisters, a charity dedicated to providing comfort to people through making and sharing soup, and Drug Free Kids Canada. “Growing up in the inner city, drug dealers lived across the street. I saw the effects of it. So I organized a walk near my house, all of us wearing our matching black shirts and spreading awareness.”

All along the way, Trixie shares her philanthropic journey with her clients through her newsletters, and even through gifts related to charitable causes. It has built trust and inspired them to follow their own passions and causes.

“It’s like a pebble dropped in a lake. It may feel like a small action. But those ripples keep going and going. I might not know the impact of those ripples down the way, but they’re there. That makes me feel really good.”

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP® , Certified Financial Planner™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.

This piece was featured in Aspire Magazine, a biannual publication from the Women Financial Advisors Network. View the latest.

Follow along on social media with #RJWomen.