Answers to common questions

About Steve
Are you just another Financial Advisor?

My goal is to be the best financial advisor and success coach in Atlantic Canada.  To do this, I surround myself with like-minded people that want to make the Maritimes (Newfoundland Included) even better, not just for themselves, but for everyone!  Being truly independent and working with a great team with an access to a large array of the best products and services available, people can trust they are getting the best and what works for them!

Why are you doing this?

My mother and father always gave back to the community. It was something we just did. I enjoyed my engineering career as I solved problems, found out how things worked and came up with practical solutions but something was missing... I love giving back to our community and helping people, something I can now do. As someone who cares about social, ethical, and especially environmental issues, I found my passion in socially responsible investing. As a husband and father of three, I shifted to a career that puts me in a position to help people.

I made this transition for one reason: to make a difference for you and your family.

How do you get paid?

It depends.. Financial planners are paid on either a commission or fee basis, or sometimes a combination of the two. Commissions are usually one-time charges based on each product sold or for each transaction. Fees can be based on the percentage of assets under management, an hourly rate, or even a flat fee.

Are you working for an institution?

I have access to a wide range of professional services but I am not an employee of an organization. This is important because there is no conflict of interest and I can customize a plan to suit your particular needs.

Who is your ideal client?

An ideal client is someone that wants to do better for themselves, their family, and their community. I love helping people that love helping people.

Can you help everyone?

Unfortunately, I can not. I can only help those that want to help themselves. If you want to make a better life for you and your family, I can help you.

About financial planning
Why should I have a financial advisor?

A financial advisor will be able to connect all of the financial dots in order to provide you with an overall plan to meet your financial goals. He or she should have training and experience in all kinds of financial products and financial aspects of your life – equities, bonds, insurance, taxes, and estate planning – in order to make the right recommendations for your personal situation.

A financial planner can also save you thousands of dollars in tax deductions and find higher-yielding investment products at little or no extra risk. People with financial advisors and a plan do better than those that do not.

What is involved in financial planning?

Financial planning looks at a person's overall financial picture. A financial planner will often ask a prospective client to fill out a questionnaire in order to understand his or her financial needs and goals. The planner will usually put together a detailed, short-term 5-year plan designed to improve the client's overall financial position. That may be followed by a long-term plan, along with suggestions about how to save and invest for retirement and a child's college education at the same time. The planner will also look at ways to reduce current and future tax liabilities and protect assets by having the proper life, health, disability and long-term care insurance coverage in place. Finally, he or she may offer suggestions on estate planning. Great advisors will help you replace your bad spending habits with good spending habits.

How do I pick a good financial advisor/planner/professional?

Choose a financial advisor who has experience dealing with clients in similar circumstances to yours. You'll also want to make sure that the financial planner has your best interests in mind, and that he or she isn't selling you products that are not suited to your needs. Interview prospective financial planners and ask them about credentials, management strategies, and history of performance. Call up past clients as references.

What questions should I ask a financial planner?

Ask about his or her experience with people in a similar situation to yours.

Ask about education and certifications.

Ask about the breadth and depth of products offered.

Ask how he or she is compensated for services.

Finally, always be sure to check that the financial planner is fully licensed and in good standing.

How often should I see my financial planner?

While your financial planner may make a different recommendation based on your particular circumstances, it's a good idea to see him or her at least once a year. You should also consider making an appointment in anticipation of life-changing events such as marriage, the birth of a child, divorce, or after inheriting a large amount of money.

What is a time horizon?

Time horizon refers to the amount of time a person has to save for a particular event. For example, the time horizon for a college savings account might be 10 years for the parents of an eight-year old child, but 15 years for the parents of a three-year old. Likewise, the time horizon for a 30-year old saving for retirement might be 35 years, whereas it might be 15 years for a 60-year old who started saving late in life.

What is fiduciary responsibility and why is it important?

Fiduciary means to hold a confidence or trust. A financial services industry professional who has a fiduciary responsibility to his or her clients must put a client's needs and interests ahead of his or her own.

Certified Financial Planners have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients. While stockbrokers and insurance agents are regulated and licensed, they do not have a fiduciary responsibility to their clients. The recommendations they make must only meet the "suitability standard." In other words, the risk level of the product must be suitable for the client based on income, assets, risk tolerance or another standard that is specified in the prospectus.

Advisors with a fiduciary responsibility are less likely to push products that earn them a quick buck.

How are financial planners paid?

Financial planners are paid on either a commission or fee basis, or sometimes a combination of the two. Commissions are usually one-time charges based on each product sold or for each transaction. Fees can be based on the percentage of assets under management, an hourly rate, or even a flat fee.

How it works (process)
Initial phone call (5-10 minutes)
Intake meeting (~ 1 hour)

This is where we really get to know one another and dive deep into your goals – what you want and don’t want!

1st review of plan (1-2 hours)

This is where I present the plan to you and your family. Information is reviewed, questions are answered, and if needed, changes are made. With all your financial life in one place, I want to ensure you fully understand the plan and are 100% comfortable.

2nd review of the plan and implementation (~ 1 hour)

You are starting your path to financial independence and freedom.

A 3 month follow-up/check up

Answer

Annual reviews

We review your investments to ensure you are staying on course and make necessary changes.

Socially and environmentally responsible investing
What is it?

Socially responsible investing is an investment approach that considers both the financial return and the social good that a company generates. By selecting companies that improve our communities and our environment, and by excluding companies that have a negative impact, I can offer investments that contribute to a better financial future for you and a better world for everyone.

How are investments selected?

Companies that are selected to invest in are based on three factors:

  • Environmental Performance
    • How does a company act as a steward for the natural environment? This includes:
      • How does its operations impact the environment?
  • Social Responsibility
    • How does a company treat people both inside and outside the company? This includes:
      • Do they value diversity?
      • Do they protect human and consumer rights?
  • Corporate Governance
    • How does a company govern itself? This includes:
      • How are executives compensated?
      • Does the company operate transparently and accountably?

Companies that are involved in industries that are considered to be harmful to the community or the environment are excluded from SRIs. This includes:

      • Tobacco
      • Nuclear power
      • Military weapons
      • Pornography
      • Gaming
How does responsible (ESG) investing advocate for change?

Responsible investments use the special rights that come with shareholder status to create positive change on behalf of investors. Through engagement, companies are alerted to ESG risks by the fund managers and then propose solutions, and encourage them to improve their performance.

Does responsible investing (ESG) limit my return on my investments?

No. Actually, several studies show they even improve them! No one should have to choose between building wealth and building a better world. Check out this chart – Blue investments are the responsible (ESG) investments.

What is the demand for socially responsible funds?

Millennials, a large group of young and educated investors are very socially and environmentally conscience. Baby Boomers, another large group are looking for lower risk investments and want to leave a better world for the next generations. Combined with the fact that SRI’s are improving returns and engaging in corporate change is a win-win for everyone. This is where the demand is coming from – to make the world better! As long as society wants to make the world a better place, SRI’s will be in demand.

Do all SRI Funds follow the same screening and compliance?

While all SRI funds from all fund managers focus on Environmental Performance, Social Responsibility, and Corporate Governance (ESG), no two SRI funds are the same. One fund company may prohibit fossil fuel producing companies while others will include fossil fuel companies that are leaders in ESG in their field. Fossil free funds do not focus on ESG standards and practices.

How do I get started?

To learn more about responsible investing, set up an appointment with me today.

What you may not know...
Many Maritimers believe they are unable get insurance...

We are #1 in obesity, diabetes, heart disease and cancer. Would you like to see if you qualify for a policy? If you think you're uninsurable, let’s talk. I may have a solution for you!

The majority of Maritimers do not like to talk about money...

Recent polls suggest it's because we are riddled with debt, and most have little to no understanding how money works. We fear what we do not understand. It's my belief that everyone should have access to professional financial services.

Reasons for buying insurance...

People that have insurance don't own it to get the big payouts or large sum of cash. They buy it for peace of mind and the ability to take care of their family or themselves if a life hurdle were to come their way. Would you like to own some peace of mind? Let’s talk.

The 3 easiest ways to save for retirement...
  1. Pay yourself first. Most people only plan to invest after bills and living expenses are paid.
  2. Get financially educated. Financial freedom is possible for everyone.
  3. Pay down that debt. That’s something I can help you with, to make it easier and faster.
What can you expect?
What is your best advice you offer to your clients?

Financial Independence or having the ability to retire comfortably is rather simple and really comes down to 2 things.

  1. Get a financial education.
  2. Follow your financial education: Knowledge is only potential power. It’s not what you know, but what you do with your knowledge.

If you would like to take your finances to the next level, you will need to learn how to invest in yourself, something I'd be happy to help you with.

Will you put me on a budget?

Only if you want me to. Budgets, in my opinion, are like diets: They either don't work or last only a short while.

How will I feel after meeting with you?

Most people would rather talk about their feelings than their finances. I often receive the comment "I feel much better just talking to you". Being truly independent with the access of the best products and services, I always do what is best for my clients. I pride myself on exceptional and friendly customer service and my goal is to create a positive impact for you and your family.

Almost everyone feels much better after a financial review with me.

How often will we meet?

Initially, we should meet 3 to 4 times to ensure we have the best plan that works for you. Once the plan is in motion, it is important we meet at least once a year to review your progress.

How long does it take before I come wealthy?

Just like eating an apple a day or exercising, success doesn’t happen overnight. Over time, your financial habits will become your philosophy of success.

Should I include my spouse?

If you have a spouse or partner, they should definitely be included in the process.