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Alum uses leadership position to empower and lift others

A strong sense of purpose and focusing on the present help Alana Riley (MBA’17), president of Dalhousie’s Alumni Association, live a full and purposeful life as a senior financial services executive and active community member.

Posted: January 22, 2024

By: Alison DeLory

Alana Riley business portrait

What Alana Riley (MBA’17) says she enjoys most about her career in financial services is helping people sleep.

“People stay up at night generally worrying about one of two things: love or money,” says Riley. “If I can help reduce their worry about one of those two things, that’s great.”

Riley is the Head of Mortgage, Insurance & Banking with IG Wealth Management in Calgary. As an experienced financial services executive, she leads a large team that helps clients reduce their taxes and manage their intergenerational wealth, wills, estates and powers of attorney. For example, recently, their innovative thinking led to a fintech partnership deal that allows IG to offer a fully online application process for mortgages. “The mortgage journey is now end-to-end digital,” Riley says proudly.

A feminist lens

One of Riley’s passions is supporting women in business. She’s fond of the adage, ‘A rising tide lifts all boats.’

“Let’s lift one another up. I’ve always had an abundance mentality,” she says. “There’s enough room at the top for us all to succeed.”

In 2018, she launched a National Women of Wealth program and actively speaks on the topic. Her focus on helping women manage their finances is motivated by the fact that by 2026, it’s anticipated women will control half the wealth in Canada. She follows that up with a more concerning statistic: currently, 72 per cent of women leave their financial advisor when their spouse dies.

Riley recognizes that women have historically not filled a primary role in managing their families’ finances, and that’s something she’s intent on changing. Riley’s first-hand experience managing family finances is impacted by the fact her eldest son, Austin, has special needs. “I know he won’t have the earning potential of many others, but I want to wake up every morning knowing he has financial security to meet his needs.”

Active volunteer

Beyond a busy career, takes courses and workshops as a lifelong learner, and raising her family, Riley carves time out to volunteer. She’s vice-chair of Gordie Howe CARES, an organization focused on supporting caregivers for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia. She is also a strong and vocal advocate for diversity, equity and inclusion in all she does — including at Dalhousie, where she’s president of the Dalhousie Alumni Association (DAA).

“I’m really proud we [the DAA] are worldwide. We have board member diversity across faculties, professions, geographically and racially.” Riley also sits on Dal’s Board of Governors.

“The DAA and volunteering at Dal generally has helped me climb the ladder and build my career. It has built my competency and given me new experiences outside of the corporate world,” says Riley.

As for her own future, Riley says she doesn’t dwell on it, opting instead for living in the present.

“I focus on being the best version of myself I can be in this moment, knowing future opportunities will find me.”