March 02, 2023

3 life lessons for International Women’s Day

By Rowena Chan

Try these tips from Sun Life leader Rowena Chan on how to be financially happier, stronger, and more resilient.

Rowena Chan is President, Sun Life Financial Distributors (Canada) Inc., and Senior Vice-President, Retail Advice and Solutions. She leads the organizations that create, distribute, and deliver financial planning, insurance solutions, investment products and advice to Sun Life Clients.


On March 8, we celebrate International Women’s Day – and 2023 is an exciting time to be a woman.

Collectively, we have more money and influence than ever before. Women are the breadwinners in more than 40% of Canadian households.1 And by 2028, Canadian women will control $4 trillion in assets.2

Of course, we still face financial and professional challenges. We live in a world where, on average, Canadian women live longer – which means planning for a longer retirement. We’re also more likely to experience career breaks, and often earn 89 cents on the dollar.3

That’s why my colleagues and I see financial literacy as one of the key ways to promote progress: we want women to emerge financially happier, stronger, and more resilient.

At a free public webinar on March 8, I’ll explore these unique challenges (and their solutions) with personal finance expert Melissa Leong and Sun Life advisor Kimberley Jensen. I hope you can join us!

As a woman, and a financial leader, I’ve been thrilled to see – and to promote – change in my lifetime.

Here are 3 lessons I learned:

1. Get curious

Being curious means investigating and learning. When you’re curious, you’re setting up your brain to learn. 4

For me, that means asking questions; listening to understand, rather than to respond; and sharing that new-found knowledge. It’s also about self-growth.

Communication is so important. Our Clients often come to Sun Life to satisfy their curiosity about their finances. They want to learn more about protecting their family, saving for their future, and retiring comfortably.

When people come to us looking for information, we want them to easily find what they need; understand what they find; and feel empowered to act. In today’s world, we’re all constantly receiving and analyzing information – so this feels especially important.

That’s one of the reasons why we’re exploring how Sun Life, and a trusted advisor, can support your financial security and well-being in the webinar.

2. Strive to be bold

I find that a particular type of boldness – being open to new ideas – fosters a powerful diversity of thought, insight, and experience in the workplace and beyond.

In my career, I’ve seen first-hand how this allows us to deliver more, and to innovate.

Boldness is always the first step toward change. It takes courage and inspiration to evolve. The fact is: when we make our workplaces and the financial sector more equitable and diverse, we’re also driving success, well-being, and wealth.

On a personal level: the different perspectives, and the boldness, of my friends and colleagues are often what embolden me to take that next big step. They inspire me to aim higher, to lead larger teams, to make a bigger impact with our Clients and in the workplace, and to chase my dreams.

3. Build authentic relationships

I’ve learned over the years that business is all about people. The people you work with, the people you learn from, and the people you help make a difference.

When we collaborate, mentor, or create new connections, it’s like a wonderful gift.

Sharing information and opportunities is the key to strong, trusting relationships. Plus, as a professional in the financial sector, I see every day how important it is that we give women the network, knowledge, and tools to invest in their future.

We can use education and opportunities to reduce gender-related obstacles to building wealth.

At our International Women’s Day webinar, we’ll start with the essentials:

  • making goals,
  • budgeting,
  • creating a plan, and
  • evolving with unexpected or changing needs.

Then we’ll move on to the fundamentals of investing.

Together, we can commit to taking down barriers. I look forward to seeing our shared financial future!

Sign up now!

Join us on March 8, 2023 @ 12:30 p.m. ET

Women in conversation:
How to be financially happier, stronger and more resilient

Find out more about Sun Life’s new financial literacy webinar series.

1Statistics Canada, 2015.

2CIBC Economics, The Changing Landscape of Women’s Wealth, March 2019.

3Statistics Canada, Table 14-10-0340-02 – Average and median gender wage ratio, January 2022.

4Jade Blue, “The engine of achievement: The role of curiosity in learner engagement,” Cambridge University, February 22, 2022.

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