Darlene Koller is a woman with a great sense of style! She is incredibly fashion savvy; everything from the clothes that she wears, combined with the right accessories, to her footwear, the complementing hair style and makeup and her choice of fragrance, that rounds out her stylish and fashionable nature. However, as it is said, beauty is only skin deep and that’s why she was also fortunate to be graced with the ability to be pleasant, kind, intelligent and empathetic.
Darlene’s family moved to Yarrow from Vancouver when she was just five years old. “My father had farmed as a young man and my mom was from Alberta and they also farmed so they decided to buy their own property,” she said.
At the age of 21, Darlene’s father had emigrated from the island of Sao Jorge; an island located in the central Azorean archipelago of Portugal. The island is relatively long and thin with tall cliffs and many of its inhabitants live off the land or sea. Her father worked hard but earned little. “My father bought his first pair of shoes just before immigrating to Canada. He had to work a whole month just to pay for the shoes. He arrived in Quebec during the winter and wore his new, leather shoes which were quickly ruined. He then had to buy a new pair to go to church but this time, as he would tell me, he only had to work three days to be able to afford a new pair,” she chuckled.
Darlene loved the farm. They had cows, horses, geese, chickens, cats, dogs and other assorted creatures. “I loved the barn cats and we had Shetland ponies that I used to ride with my friend, at the back of the property. My mom made butter, we had to gather eggs, I was expected to dig up potatoes and pick strawberries. We had to feed the animals and carried lumber from one place to another. My dad was always adding or fixing our house so there was always lumber that had to be moved,” she mused.
Her parents also owned a janitorial company but as the business grew, they found that they were spending less and less time farming, so they decided to sell it and moved to the Sardis Park area.
By the time that Darlene graduated from Sardis Senior Secondary School, her parents had divorced and her father had relocated to California. “After graduation, I went to California for five months and tried my hand at cosmetology but I dropped out of beauty school,” she laughed. She was homesick for Chilliwack and decided to return.
At 19, Darlene had her first child and although she worked hard at being a good mother, she didn’t give up on her dream to be involved in commerce and she was relentless in her quest for a job in the world of finance. “After applying and applying and applying for a job, I was hired at what was then Fraser Valley Credit Union and it was my dream job,” she smiled.
After seven years with the Credit Union, Darlene moved over to the Hong Kong Bank of Canada, now HSBC, and began working in the financial planning side of things. She remained there for 14 years but a year ago became an Associate Portfolio Manager with RBC Dominion Securities, working on the brokerage side of the financial world. “I took a Canadian Investment Funds course back in 1993 and then attended BCIT and earned an Associate Certificate in Financial Management and Financial Planning in 1996. I also learned about financial planning through the Canadian Institute of Financial Planning and acquired my Certified Financial Planner designation three years later. In 2004, I became a Chartered Investment Manager through the Canadian Securities Institute. In our industry, I have to keep up my education as a requirement to keep my designations, so I am always learning,” she explained. Currently, Darlene is enrolled in another program as she works towards becoming a Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute.
It is imperative that she stays on top of all the financial information that’s out there so that she remains current at all times. “I read a lot but there are many resources available through our company,” she said. No matter how hectic things may be, Darlene takes everything in stride. “I have a terrific job. It’s never the same and my clients are wonderful. Over time, you develop a relationship and a bond with them and they actually become like family.”
When she has some down time, Darlene enjoys playing the piano. “I began playing about three years ago and I quite enjoy it,” she said. She also likes to ski, golf and just generally being outdoors. “Chilliwack has beautiful scenery so I tend to spend as much time outside as possible.” She also gives back to her community by being an active member of the Mt. Cheam Rotary Club, in addition to sitting on the board of the Chilliwack Hospice Society, where she chairs the finance committee. “I’m truly enjoying my life which I guess is what everyone aspires to do,” she ended.