As Canadians seek unbiased financial advice and greater fee transparency, sweeping reforms are taking hold of the country’s financial services industry. The industry, which was once commission-only, is shifting to better align the interests of both clients and financial advisors – a move some attribute to the success of Canfin Financial Group and its unique business model. During a time when financial services was focused solely on sales and licensing, Canfin had all associates become comprehensive and integrated wealth management advisors and offered them each an entrepreneurial opportunity that didn’t exist anywhere else in the industry.
In spite of what people may believe, Canfin’s business model is more client and advisor centric, our wealth management advisors have significant input on how the company operates and hold a far lower risk than a 9-to-5 employee position. Where employees have no say in how its company is run or what it does or does not do, Canfin’s entrepreneurs own and operate their own professional wealth management advisory practices. They enjoy the freedom of working their own hours, making their own decisions and enjoying a better quality of life.
Canfin supports its advisors in obtaining the appropriate certifications, provides the tools and guidance to help them grow their businesses, and streamlines the administration processes to keep them abreast of the market and new solutions for clients. Exclusive to Canfin is the training which frees up advisor’s time to be effective and efficient – compensation structures, administrative tasks, products, marketing, people, systems/infrastructure, and procedures are developed and provided by Canfin.
Even with structured support, entrepreneurial spirits emerge differently. Four of Canfin’s wealth management advisors have been asked to share their success stories with one of Canada’s top wealth management firms.
PATTI LUCAS, CFP, EPC
“I am constantly reminded that what I do matters. I am making a positive impact.”
As a single mother of five, Patti Lucas wanted to build a foundation and future for her family. She heard about Canfin Financial Group through a colleague. Although she wasn’t in search of new employment, she felt taking a look couldn’t hurt. When she spoke with Tony Mahabir, CEO of Canfin, something clicked for her. Before taking the leap, she conducted some research on the industry itself and spoke with other firms and advisors. She discovered that other financial services firms didn’t offer the support that Canfin does leaving some advisors feeling isolated and frustrated.
Patti exclaimed, “I wanted a company who held the same values I have along with a holistic approach to financial planning and that’s exactly what I found. Although I am working on my own, I am not alone. I have total support from and accessibility to the entire Canfin family.”
Patti has been working with Canfin since 1996. With her high school diploma and administrative background, she quickly mastered the art of relationship building. Today she runs her own, very successful practice out of Kendal, ON with a client base spread across the country.
Continued Patti, “We all have strengths and weaknesses. Technology is my weakness but I can hire someone for that portion of the job. Building relationships is what I do and it’s what this business stands on. It’s why I love this job.”
Patti feels as though her biggest successes are when she sees her efforts have paid off for her clients. Whether it is someone buying their first home; protecting their lifestyle and family; welcoming a new baby into the family; having the wedding of their dreams; or retiring on their own terms – she knows she played a part in helping them achieve their dreams.
When asked what advice she would give to those considering a career in financial planning, Patti provided the following:
- Connect with people, plain and simply. Take the time to understand and recognize everyone’s situation. They are all different, no two clients are alike.
- Help each person understand that they have choices, and then explain what those choices are.
- Anyone who has the right education, drive and determination and can take a qualified approach and build a connection can be a financial planner.
ANNETTE WONG, B Comm., RRC, CFP
“Life is a unique combination of “want to” and “how to” and we are best served by giving equal attention to both. That said, I have found when you know what you want, and you want it badly enough, you’ll find a way to get it.”
After many years of managing an accounting department, Annette needed a career change. She wanted to be independent, rather than dependent on a company to provide her with a job. She wanted a career in which she was in charge and financially secure. Understanding that knowledge would give her the confidence and power to make this change, she embarked upon a series of learning experiences in insurance, investments, taxes, and financial planning.
Annette initially started her financial services career with another company, but joined forces with Tony Mahabir when he founded Canfin Financial Group in 1995.
Annette freely expressed why she chose Canfin. “Canfin provided me with sound groundwork and fundamentals from day one. The philosophy of providing a one-stop, multiple service organization was very attractive to me. I wear many hats at Canfin – I am mutual fund licensed, insurance licensed, mortgage licensed; I also do bookkeeping, tax preparation and am a Certified Financial Planner. This allows me to provide trusted counsel while providing my clients with a qualified approach to integrated financial planning.”
Located in Markham, Annette provides services to a variety of clients – teenagers, young adults, middle aged to retirees, low income to high-net worth – and she prides herself on the results achieved from diligent investing. “It is rewarding to see people actually pulling out funds from retirement nest eggs (RRSP’s) and enjoying their retirement; watching babies grow into young students; and being able to fund their education from RESP’s.”
Advice Annette gives:
“A career in financial is personally very gratifying if you enjoy working with people and assisting them to achieve their goals. Their success becomes your success!”
ANGELO MEMMOLO, CFP, CLU
“Success is learned and achieved. It does not happen overnight.”
According to a 2009 poll by the Financial Planning Association, 88% of planners and advisors worked in a different profession before landing in the industry. Angelo Memmolo was one of the anomalies. He always had interest in the world of finance.
Angelo spent his college years focused on insurance, and then started his career in 1990 with Primerica. He offered insurance and investments while earning his CFP designation. “The early stages of my career were challenging. I was a 21-year old who found myself chatting with middle-aged families about their financial future. I received more “what do you know” push backs than one guy probably deserved. It took five years of sweat and grind to gain credibility and trust.”
Angelo was introduced to Canfin Financial Group in 1996. He was not looking for a career change but was intrigued by Canfin’s business model which required all financial planners to be enrolled or hold their CFP license. It was the polar opposite of Primerica.
Because Angelo had been in the industry for several years, his book of business was solid but he needed back-office support through additional offerings of products & services, education, implementation of new tools and technologies. Today, he runs his own practice out of Hamilton, ON where he is bringing on junior advisors who are duplicating his efforts. He leads one of the most diversified offices under the Canfin name. When asked about his experience, Angelo said, “Every advisor specializes in one aspect of financial planning but very few put it under one umbrella. I’m proud to have done that.”
Angelo also shares one of the biggest lessons he has learned in his career, “never take anything for granted; it can always be taken away.”
And his advice to those new to the industry or considering a career change is this:
“It’s hard to start a career as a financial advisor because no matter how great you are at recommending sound financial decisions and tools, at the end of the day you have to bring in new clients. That means it will require that you go out and try to gain clients through networking, calling, emails, meeting in person, referrals, public speaking, seminars, and other forms of marketing. It is time consuming and monotonous but if you put in the time, at least 5-years of sweat and learn all that you can, you will be on the path to success.”
“Some clients don’t have much when I start working with them, but we change that one step at a time. My greatest success is knowing that I was able to help them create their wealth to be able to send kids to university, pay off a mortgage, acquire assets, and are comfortable to retire.”
Ishan Bacchus earned his degree in Business Accounting Administration from George Brown College in Ontario and became a certified tax preparer. After opening and running his own firm for 25 years, sought out opportunities to expand his career to create a stronger future for his family.
Ishan came across Canfin Financial Group and met with Tony Mahabir. Ishan responded to Tony’s transparency, upfront values, and perceptions which were in line with his own. He also found the innovative style and expertise of Canfin’s entire executive team to be refreshing. He made the leap. In starting up his business with Canfin Ishan found that, “the team created an environment where anyone and everyone helped one another from a variety of perspectives.”
When asked what the biggest benefits are to work with Canfin, Ishan said, “The knowledge, reputation, and innovation of the entire team is staggering. We are miles ahead of everybody else in the industry. Our continuing education and compliance are second-to-none. We are at the forefront of the changing regulatory landscape while equipping me with product and services to differentiate myself to the point where competition is not relevant.”
Today, with more than twenty years at Canfin, Ishan operates his own business out of Brampton. His son is his partner and his wife is their administrator. He works with a variety of clients varying in age and his son, who has his own book of business, has been able to appeal to the younger, millennial crowd. “We grow our business by interacting with the community, which is very important to us, not only as a business, but as a family. We are building our name recognition, trust, and most importantly, relationships.”
Ishan gives the following advice:
“Financial planning is a great career. Starting out without clients is a challenge but if you stick with it for the long haul and provide proper advice, educate clients, use effective communication, and transparency your book of business will flourish.”
There exist two major “barriers to entry” to becoming an excellent financial planner – knowledge and experience. Knowledge can be acquired with the appropriate personal investment in course work (undergraduate or graduate work, certificate programs) and through the course work required to obtain certain recognized certifications. It is expected that new financial planners with a penchant for success will spend their evenings mastering the substantial knowledge base of financial planning – or networking to build relationships.
Experience, however, can only be earned over time. Experience can be gained through life experience: Buying a car or a house. Figuring out how to pay for nursery school or college. Help finance medical care for an elderly parent. Personal financial challenges are opportunities to learn and provide empathy to clients as an advisor.
The key to being a successful planner is caring enough about clients to build a relationship, and then provide the absolute best strategic advice possible, whether as an individual or as a group.