Broadcasting hockey play-by-play and helping Canadians achieve financial independence may seem like two disparate career choices – but not for Al Nagy.the microphone after 18 years in favour of becoming a certified financial planner, he discovered that some of the same skills he honed in a successful sports broadcasting career were just as essential off air in the world of financial planning.
“When I came out of high school all I ever wanted to be was a hockey broadcaster and I achieved that. I loved that business. And here I am now with a different career,” said Mr. Nagy, a regional director with Investors Group in Edmonton. “They seem like two careers that are at opposite ends of the scale – financial versus broadcasting, but ultimately there is one common thread in there that is very key and that is communication. The skills that I was able to develop as a communicator have really helped me in this business.”
Born and raised in Humboldt, Sask., Mr. Nagy spent his television and radio career in Regina and then Edmonton. When the opportunity came for his young family to move to Buffalo and work for the National Hockey League franchise, he felt he didn’t want to uproot them for what could have been a temporary position.
He cast a critical eye on the broadcasting industry with its ongoing consolidation, declining ratings and falling advertising revenues and decided to make a change. He took a course on identifying and changing careers and up popped financial services. He felt it was time to take matters into his own hands and begin a new career.
“I looked at the financial career because…I identified it as an industry that had great opportunities for growth,” says Mr. Nagy. “As well, I wanted to be in better control of my own destiny. And ultimately, a financial services career gave me that. I can’t think of a better business, because you do have ultimate control of your future and the future of the clients you work with. It’s satisfying from both ends: it’s a win-win. “
One of the first things Mr. Nagy did was get his Certified Financial Planner designation because of its emphasis on a holistic approach to financial planning. He slowly began to build his practice, focusing on business owners and professionals. A passion for golf led him to tweak his focus – to working with business owners and professionals who like to golf.
He took such a keen interest in the game that he sat on the board of directors of the Windermere Golf and Country Club in Edmonton with the last year as president. He is proud that under his leadership, the club identified the need for a new clubhouse and had virtually the entire membership involved in helping to raise the funds for the new $5.7-million facility.
A passionate believer in the importance of financial planning, Mr. Nagy has been a brand ambassador for the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) since January 2004. “I really do believe that every Canadian has the right to achieve financial success,” says Mr. Nagy. “Probably the biggest impediment to financial planning is procrastination and a lack of knowledge. The things I know now are the things I didn’t learn in high school and there’s a real lack of awareness and preparedness for the financial planning process. For me to be able to share that is a real passion of mine. Because of my background in communications, I felt that I would be the ideal person to help spread the word on the importance that financial planning has for all Canadians and started working with FPSC.”
As brand ambassador, Mr. Nagy is often suggested as a subject matter expert for media. In addition, he writes articles for magazines outlining the importance of financial knowledge and having a financial plan. He receives letters and the occasional phone call from readers seeking further advice.
Mr. Nagy gives the example of an investor from British Columbia who called him hoping he could give her some direction on her long-term outlook and hopes for financial success. He happily obliged and she has now become a client. “I was able to provide her with clarity that added peace of mind and gave her a roadmap for the future. Her whole financial planning and strategy is mapped out now, which she didn’t have before. It’s such a great feeling of satisfaction when we can help somebody do that – beyond the compensation I receive, it’s a great feeling of satisfaction knowing you get to help someone better their life.”
He was also active with the regional chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society as a gift planning advisor for a number of years. As such, he and other financial professionals helped out the organization with marketing plans and also crafted financial planning strategies that would not only raise funds but would also benefit donors.
An avid golfer, squash player and skier, he’s decided not to play hockey any longer because “I got injured too much,” he laughs.
His wife, Lori, is head of communications and media relations for the Edmonton Catholic School District. His one son, Matthew, is shooting for his own stars as a fourth year astrophysics student at the University of Alberta.
“I’ve always told my son to pursue a career that he loves and that if you do something you love, it will always result in personal, long-term success.”