Lise Andreana wept when she heard her son Peter was following in her financial planning footsteps – but they weren’t tears of joy.Lise herself had set up a financial planning practice, Continuum ll Inc., in Burlington, Ontario, moving from a retail-oriented business to financial planning and helping fellow boomers plan for retirement.
Lise enjoyed building relationships with her retiree clientele by providing advice on estate planning and income goals. But she knew the industry was a tough place for someone just starting in the business. News that her son had entered financial planning came as a shock.
“The fallout rate [in the industry] is very high,” said Lise. “Not that I had any doubts – because he is a very ambitious, very goal-oriented man – but it is such a hard place to start. If you are going to start in the insurance industry selling life insurance policies and you’re in your mid-to-late 20s, it’s very hard to find clients.”
Peter now laughs, 11 years after giving up an admittedly good job as an account executive at a Toronto marketing firm and, without telling his mother, joining Freedom 55 Financial.
In fact, says Peter, financial planning was his goal all along.
While Peter was going to university to earn his Bachelor’s degree in economics, he also took the Canadian Securities Course and the Conduct and Practices Handbook course. He realized he needed a little bit of seasoning before moving forward so he joined the marketing firm.
“Once I had my confidence level up, I was already dealing [at the marketing firm] with the kinds of clients I wanted for the financial side, so I thought now was a good time to switch and build up my financial planning clientele.”
The reason he didn’t tell his mother was because he felt there might have been the perception that if he joined the ranks of the financial planning world, she would hand him her clients to get over the bumps. But Peter wanted to earn his own stripes. “I wanted to know if I could be in this business and do it on my own and that’s exactly what I did.” While he realized finding out after the fact was a bit scary for his mother, “I knew unequivocally that this was the business I was going to be in and I knew I was going to be in it for the long term.”
Both Andreanas embrace the CFP philosophy of holistic financial planning which incorporates planning that affects parents and children alike.
In fact, the name of their company, Continuum ll, is meant to show how financial planning touches not just the current family, but the next generation as well.
“We consider a client an entire family, including the generation above and the generation below because money is going to be flowing from one generation to the next,” says Lise. “When I am helping a client in her 50s, I am also prepared to help her 20-year-old daughter.”
Lise creates financial plans for this younger generation, setting them goals of putting aside even $20 on set periods for the eventual purchase of a new phone or other project. “It occurred to me that this demographic is very underserviced because there is no one in our industry doing this. It’s hard to make a living out of helping people with no money.”
Lise wrote a book called No More Mac ‘n Cheese! The Real-World Guide to Managing Your Money for 20-Somethings, targeted at young people who have recently graduated from high school or university and are out on their own for the first time, teaching them about money management.
At one time, Lise had a book of 1,200 clients but has now cut them back to 50 as she spends more time with second husband Gerry Kowalchuk hiking around Niagara, travelling or enjoying their second home in Tucson, Arizona.
Peter purchased some of her clients while Lise’s other business partner, Stuart Small, bought up the rest.
Peter now concentrates on business owners, mostly in the greater Toronto area, typically those with $5 million to $50 million in sales. Not surprisingly, about half of them are family businesses.
For many of these clients, passing the business to the next generation seems like a logical choice, says Peter. “But it’s about the planning and process to get to that point where not only are the kids ready, but the business is
ready and the business owner is ready. It’s not a simple thing for people to do psychologically – hand over their business and tell the kids they’re going to run it. It’s a process to get a business owner to that point. It’s also a process to be financially able to do that.”
There are times, of course, when the children aren’t interested in the business, or the parents realize that to enjoy retirement they will have to sell their companies. “So the sooner we start working with them and their goals and how they want to achieve it, the sooner we can put the roadmap in place to determine the best way to get there,” says Peter.
Peter who is married and has three children, says he has no regrets at all about moving into financial planning.
“It’s been an incredible opportunity working with people and helping them find a better solution to their futures. I wouldn’t want to be doing anything else.”