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David Ling trades skates for suits

The former Montreal Canadiens and Columbus Blue Jackets player has moved on to a second career.

Every professional athlete knows that their career relies on two things: being prepared and getting an opportunity. The first is within their control, the second one depends on others. But it is within their reach to recognize it.

It wasn’t that long ago that David Ling was being discussed as the last active player whose professional roots could be traced back to the Quebec Nordiques. But after playing 12 games for the ECHL’s Brampton Beast in 2017-18 and a brief stint in the Quebec-based Ligue Nord-Americaine de Hockey in 2018-19, Ling has finally called it a career — in professional hockey at least. That’s when he seized the opportunity for his next move, and he was ready for it.

His hockey journey took him from being drafted by the Nordiques to playing for the Montreal Canadiens and the Columbus Blue Jackets, across the IHL and AHL (he was the leading scorer for the Toronto Marlies in 2007-08), over to the KHL, Switzerland, Finland, and Italy. It was while playing for the Nottingham Panthers in the United Kingdom’s EIHL that he began to look ahead to his post-playing career, and completed a Masters in Business Administration at the University of Derby. He had already taken courses early in his career just to gain some business knowledge, but was now prepared to invest in his next chapter.

David Ling Photo by Bruce Bennett Studios via Getty Images Studios/Getty Images

“To transition away from hockey was hard,” said Ling in an interview with Eyes On The Prize. “You do one thing for so long, and now you need to change everything. It’s different than just going from one job to another. It required a total change. But I have always been interested in the financial industry and knew I would be working in it eventually.”

He set out on his second career in finance, primarily with the hope of sparing others from the mistakes that he had made. “I tried to invest my money when I was a player, and thought I was doing a good job, but my only strategy was to just put money in one place and let it grow. No planning and no good advice beyond that; even some bad advice and decisions made it worse.” He says that although he had a financial advisor, it wasn’t one who had Ling’s retirement and best interests at heart.

He decided that if he were to pursue this career, he would have to go from being the best teammate he can be on the ice, to becoming the best teammate for his clients. “It’s one of the reasons I wanted to first help other players and then branch out to help out a wider client base from all walks of life.”

In 2018, he joined IG Wealth Financial in Waterdown, a town just north of Hamilton, Ontario, as a financial planner, following in the footsteps of his older brother, a financial advisor at Wells Fargo in the United States. With finance running in the family blood, he continued to build his credentials, earning his mutual fund licence, his insurance licence, and is currently working on his Registered Retirement Consultant & Certified Financial Planner professional designations to complement his MBA. He is licensed in both Ontario and his native Prince Edward Island.

Now firmly established as a financial planner, he readily offers his wisdom, built on personal experience. “Sit down with a financial planner and don’t do it yourself. You need to understand where you are and where you want to be to achieve your goals and objectives. It’s no different than being a professional hockey player. Set your sights, surround yourself with the right people who will help you meet those goals.”

“A hockey player dreams of lifting the Stanley Cup, and my clients dream of a certain financial future that helps them secure their retirement personally or as a business owner. For me there’s little difference between both, as I still look forward to celebrating a teammate’s success, knowing that I was an integral part of it. As a financial planner It’s about understanding my client’s dream, and helping to do the heavy lifting while coaching my client to better understand how to protect their assets and family future.

“While my practice has had a very strong start working with business owners and high net worth professionals, still in my heart I’m always looking to connect with athletes of all types to help them make educated decisions and keep them on the right path. When you are able to earn really good money as an athlete, their focus has to be getting to the top level and staying there.

“It takes a lot of hard work and dedication to achieve those results. My goal is to help them set up after their playing careers are over, and make sure at the end of the day they can raise their portfolio over their head in celebration of their financial success.”