Alumni Stories: 2020 Through The Eyes of Pritesh Patel

Pritesh Patel is a Regional Manager in the High Client Division of the Direct Investing field at TD Bank. Upon graduating from Rundle College in 2009, Pritesh earned a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the University of Calgary. 

Pritesh Patel ’09 College | Story By: Dolly Liu ‘22 College

Published previously in the 2021 issue of The Ascent, Rundle alumni magazine. 

I asked Pritesh to tell me about what he does on a day-to-day basis.

As a Regional Manager in the Direct Investing Field, Pritesh acts as a “concierge service” to clients who are looking for answers to everything related to investing. His main goal is to keep his clients and their money in a secure and happy place. Most of Pritesh’s time is spent communicating with clients through calls, emails, and Zoom. Before COVID-19, he met with clients through dinners, lunches, and coffee chats.

Pritesh admits that it has been difficult to connect with his clients on a personal level in 2021, as virtual meetings are more “down-to-business” and less personable than meeting with them face-to-face. Still, Pritesh is optimistic and is making the best of his current situation; he is looking forward to the day that he can return to his office in a COVID-free world. 

What is one word that he would use to describe his job in 2020 and why?

“Unprecedented.” Pritesh explains that the banking industry is constantly evolving as the pandemic goes on, causing fast and unpredictable changes in his everyday life. He noted that in March 2020, markets were moving at insane levels: “the stock market had just gone haywire.” Pritesh had to face the pressure of confused clients, system failures, and utmost chaos from the isolation of his own home. Pritesh’s unfamiliar and ever-changing work environment really attests to how truly “unprecedented” life can be in 2020. 

What is one major way that COVID-19 has affected banking in general and how he has overcome this challenge?

As in-person interaction shifted to online platforms, Pritesh noted that clients could no longer come to the branch. In fact, the TD building was quite literally empty, causing a major loss of interaction and connection within the TD community. Despite this, Pritesh’s versatility allowed him to maintain personal interactions differently by initiating virtual discussions. One important thing that Pritesh emphasizes is taking that first step to reach out to someone else. Whether it be cold calling, checking in, or just having a chat, everyone is more than happy to talk, especially in this time of isolation.

What is one thing that he has accomplished in 2020 and is most proud of?

Pritesh’s ability to “adapt on the fly” while staying positive is something that he is most proud of and something that all of us can relate to. For Pritesh and everyone around him, flexibility and positivity aided in the success of their turbulent transition from in-person to online banking. Even though it may seem simple, everyone deserves to congratulate themselves for how much they have already accomplished just by remaining positive and being adaptable. 

If he could go back in time and speak to your high school self, what would you say to him? 

“I just didn’t know what I wanted to do when I was in high school, and I would say to myself, that’s ok.” Pritesh realizes that many high schoolers stress about their future careers, even though they shouldn’t. Instead, they should develop their skills, find new hobbies, find what they like and what they don’t, and overall, learn about the world around them. He hopes that high schoolers in 2021 take advantage of all the virtual opportunities that COVID-19 has given to them by moving the whole world online.

What is one positive takeaway from the pandemic?

One of the most important things that many take for granted is sleep. We often sacrifice sleep for everything else, but Pritesh recognizes the vital role that sleep plays in his life. He loves waking up without rushing to get to his downtown office and enjoys doing things at his own pace. Pritesh believes that a well-rested body leads to a happier mind. 

In his opinion, what are the most important skills to have in the workforce while in a pandemic?

In Pritesh’s opinion, one of the most important skills to have is the ability to network. COVID-19 has emphasized the significance of connecting with others, as the virus has both increased and decreased our ability to network. Due to isolation, humans have lost the ability to communicate face-to-face; however, the mass migration of people onto a virtual platform has allowed them to connect with others from all across the world. It is much easier to chat with someone in a different country as everything has moved online, and someone who is a skilled networker will take advantage of that.

Finance is built on networking, and Pritesh advises everyone to be personable and charismatic, ask the right questions, and take a genuine interest in what the other party is saying. It goes a long way, especially during Zoom and phone calls. 

What advice does he have for students who wish to pursue a career in investing?

Pritesh encourages students to read finance books, join clubs, ask questions, open up a brokerage account, and explore the world of investing as much as they can. Additionally, Pritesh emphasizes the importance of stocks, and how everything around us is a part of the stock market. He recommends high schoolers open paper stock accounts to trade fake money and try their luck. Overall, Pritesh encourages future finance students to keep being curious.

What was his favourite memory during his time at Rundle?

For Pritesh, he could not link this memory to a specific moment, but rather, a group of people. Pritesh gives credit to the Rundle community for being his favourite memory, as he enjoyed going to school daily to interact with his friends, his teachers, and everyone at Rundle. “Rundle just breeds good people, and you are friends with them for life after that.” To Pritesh, Rundle seemed more like a family than any other school he had ever been to, and he thanks everyone who made his time at Rundle College special. 

As a student who wants to pursue a career in business, my interaction with Pritesh Patel has inspired and taught me a great amount in just a short period of time. After hearing his thoughtful reflections, Pritesh reminds me to cherish the last moments of my high school years at Rundle and to stay curious about the world around me. Even though Pritesh graduated 12 years ago, he continues to embody the values and vision that Rundle College taught him: “be kind, be curious, be well.”