Garry Keiller – Rocking the Stage After Almost a Half Century Riding a Desk

Garry Keiller - sitting in his office smiling

Garry Keiller, formerly Nakamun Financial Group, Edmonton

For decades, Garry Keiller has helped Edmontonians plan and save for a better retirement. “This year marks my 48th in this industry and 30th with the Nakamun Financial Group. The years have flown by and I’ve met amazing people and made wonderful friends.”

Garry hadn’t planned to be in the financial services business. As an 18-year-old, he’d considered going to university to become a teacher, but instead, ended up in a management training program for a now defunct life insurance company. After learning that end of the business, he switched to customer service with an independent insurance agency, and then seriously considered becoming a “starving musician”. His partner, Sharron Schon and a Manulife Financial branch manager encouraged him to open his own financial services company, focusing particularly on retirement planning. Not long after that, the Nakamun Financial Group approached Garry to provide retirement planning services and products to the group’s Edmonton clients. “I could not have found a better group to join,” Garry says.

In the past year or two, having reached an age when most of his contemporaries were already enjoying retirement, and facing health issues that caused him to question the wisdom of continuing to work at the pace he’d set for himself for almost thirty years, Garry started to look for somebody who would care for his clients the way he did. “If I was hit by a truck, what would happen to my clients?” he asked himself. While he’d been approached by a number of individuals offering to take over his practice, he rejected all of them, until he met with a long-time business competitor, Gary Koss. “I’ve known Gary for 20 years and after we both did our due diligence, I knew I’d found the right person to look after our clients.”

Gary’s company, LGK Wealth Management, associated with Stroud Agencies Ltd., is much larger than Garry’s Nakamun Financial Services, both are associated with Manulife Securities, and both their methodologies are virtually identical. “I am absolutely convinced I have made the right choice,” says Garry.

During the first months of 2017, Garry has been introducing his clients to Gary to make sure they are comfortable with the transition. Once he’s retired, Garry plans to fulfill his dream to be a musician, playing guitar with a Reggae band. “I might even hit the road again,” he says. “I’ve been playing semi-professionally since I was 20 years old. Playing on stage is therapeutic for me. When I’m stressed and jump on stage, within a couple of songs, I’m totally relaxed.”

Those who don’t know Garry well might wonder about his eye patch. “This was my Mardi Gras 1998 souvenir from New Orleans,” he says. “I slipped on Bourbon Street, landed hard on my right side, dislodging and tearing my retina. I had a couple of surgeries, but complications set in rendering the eye somewhat useless. The image that hits my brain from the eye looks like the reflection in a fun-house mirror. The patch is to stop the two images hitting my brain at the same time and making me seasick.”

For somebody like Garry, who loves good food, nausea is not an option. “Oh my, oh my, mmmm, mmmm, this is the best, most wonderful,” he’s been heard to proclaim when devouring something particularly delicious. “Garry is always the quickest eater of the group,” says Leslie Challis, a Nakamun partner in Winnipeg. “It’s like he inhales his meals, finishing his plate before others have barely taken a bite, then looking around the table looking like a hungry puppy anxious for more.” His love of desserts is legendary. “At a Nakamun group meeting in Vancouver, one by one, we all sent our creamy peach pudding over to Garry,” remembers Leslie. “I think he ended up eating 32 of them.”

Shauna Blackburn-Cook from Nakamun Group Employee Benefits in Edmonton recalls “another Nakamun dinner meeting where dessert was a tapioca pudding. Garry ate his plus everyone else’s, and then it was a challenge. He ate 17.”

garry keiller - playing guitar

Garry the guitar player, even when he’s travelling

garry and norma enjoying retirement

Garry and Norma enjoying retirement life

“I’ve always loved how excited and animated Garry gets when talking about his passions, be it solving a complicated financial planning issue for a client, music, fine dining, or scotch,” says Leslie.

“He has a passion for life through his work and music,” says Shauna. We know you’ll take that passion with you wherever you go,
whatever you do, Garry!

“We’ll miss Garry,” says Floyd Murphy of the Nakamun Group in Vancouver. “As a group, we always make sure we have a plan in place for when one of our partners retires or is unable to continue.”

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