Faculty of Business: Goodman School of Business
Year of Graduation: 2003
Program: Bachelor of Business Administration
Joseph Paul Bonazza is a St. Catharines native – born and raised. Bonazza was born on December 20, 1979 and attended St. Patrick’s Elementary School up until grade 5 before the school closed, forcing him to move to St. Peter’s Elementary School. Bonazza then attended Dennis Morris High School.
“I remember high school pretty well. Most of the memories are good, some of them are bad. I was a regular kid; I was a pretty good kid,” Bonazza says. “I played sports but I wasn’t a great athlete, was a decent student but not too great and it prepared me well for university because I had OAC – grade 13. My marks at Dennis Morris were 80 per cent, got a scholarship to the three universities that I had applied to; Brock, Laurier and Western.”
So, why did Bonazza choose to go to Brock? Ultimately, it was because of proximity. “I also liked the campus and I liked the area. I had lots of friends in the area. And I thought that Brock had a business program that was as good, if not better, as any of the other universities out there — if not in reputation, it was in terms of academics.”
While in his first year at Brock, Bonazza studied business administration, as he moved through the years, this turned into Honours with a concentration in Finance. He finished with an Honours Bachelors of Administration Degree with Concentration in Finance.
“From about the twelfth grade, I decided that I wanted to go into business. Up until then, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, as many students don’t. At the time, I thought I didn’t have the science or math aspects down pat, but I had always had great interpersonal skills,” Bonazza states. “And so, among friends talking about life and talking to other people, I ultimately decided that it would be both interesting to go into business, as something that I could be good at, but I didn’t know what type of business I wanted to get into. I had grand illusions of going into high finance because at the time, the investment banker and that type of role was sort of like the Hollywood type thing to do. It kind of famous like, it was the indie of all positions.”
Most business students know that a university degree is a prerequisite for a post-graduate certification. “You couldn’t take the CFA (The Chartered Financial Analyst Program) unless you had some sort of undergraduate degree. And the program at the time, and actually still is today, recognized as the “gold standard” for financial professionals in the investment business.”
Bonazza started the CFA program almost right out of university and recognizes that the education that he had received from Brock provided an exceptional foundation for the CFA program. He breezed through the first exam with little difficulty and the second and third exams were also much easier due to his background from Brock.
“The year that I graduated Brock, I was working at Scotiabank as a bank teller at the same time. I enrolled in the CFA program and immediately began to look for jobs within the investment industry and within about 13 months of graduating, I began at ScotiaMcLeod, which is the investment dealer business, owned by Scotiabank.”
He was immediately seen as someone who could handle more complicated investment related activities, as opposed to someone who would be doing administrative work for the first two years after completing their degree.
Currently, Bonazza works as a Chartered Financial Analyst working as an investment advisor for RBC Dominion Securities — which is the investment dealer brokerage owned by Royal Bank. Essentially, he helps high-net worth individuals and owner managed businesses build their wealth and manage their investment portfolios.
In any given week, Bonazza takes on many different roles. He says that the easiest way to think about it, is to split up the roles into three different categories. “First, would be managing the financial assets of my current clients, which requires monitoring and reviewing investment portfolios and the financial markets that affect those portfolios. And all of this is done through research to ensure that I’m on top of my client’s financial situation.”
The second is all about business development. Essentially, Bonazza is building a business and central to that business becoming successful, he needs to acquire clients. “I spend time meeting with prospects and networking. I would say that networking is the most important business development activity out there that anyone should do, regardless of the industry or business that you are in – its not something done just to see what you can get financially out of it, but rather you do it because you want to be involved with people and help people.”
The third role that Bonazza takes on weekly is administrative-related tasks that a business owner needs to address to keep everything in line and running smoothly. For example, making sure the costs of the business are in check, making sure compliance for client accounts is being followed, keeping the administrative tasks up-to-date.
Bonazza says that he lives for the moment when a client goes from being confused or in the dark about their financial situation to when suddenly, the light-bulb goes off and they fully understand. “That’s what happens because central to the service that I provide my clients with is education. I believe that you can have the best investment portfolio in the world, but if as a client, you don’t understand what’s going on, it’ll never work. So, broadly speaking, I enjoy teaching people to become good investors and more specifically, I enjoy that moment when they realize that things are taken care of and they understand how.”
Joseph believes you have to be a decent man in this business. “It sounds very cliché but I have always believed that if intelligent people who work hard and who are honest with themselves and everybody around them will be successful,” Bonazza said. “And you know what, it might take some longer than others and some might have better luck than others but the principles of hard work and honesty, I think will serve, if followed, any person well.”
Like many Badgers, we will leave the university with opinions on our favourite classes. Bonazza enjoyed two courses: International Finance and a derivatives course. “The derivatives course really excited me because I began to see how far, in terms of academics, one could take finance. And in second year, there was this professor, Eric Muller who taught statistics and calculus — I thought he was a superb teacher. It was a bigger class, 250 students or so, but he was a superb teacher.”
Along with our memories of university life, we will keep in touch with friends that will hopefully become life-long companions. To this day, Bonazza still keeps in touch with a hand-full of friends that he met at Brock.
“I am still friends with people I met at Brock. One of my closest friends, I was actually in his wedding party, studied accounting at the university and while he was doing his CA exams, I was studying for my CFA exams and we used to go the Brock library, this was after university, and study together. We would study for all hours of the night. We would start studying end of January and my exam exam was at the end of May, and we would study like 6 hours a night, five nights a week leading up to it. And then once May hit, we were studying — geeze, I remember studying ten hours a day at times. We did that together and that was great.”
Bonazza is a poster child for what dedication, persistence, hard work and never doubting yourself can do. When asked to describe Brock in three words, Bonazza said: “Beautiful. Alive. Growing.”
-Loredana Del Bello, Assistant Campus News Editor