Let’s face it. Not everyone is money-savvy and knows how to save and invest their money wisely. Sure, you might already know about RRSP and RESP, but do you know about other options? Do you cringe when it’s time to do your taxes or procrastinate when you know you really need to start manage your money? Do you know if you will have enough money for retirement or has that even come across your mind at all? Life is stressful enough with kids and all, why not take the stress off yourself and have experienced and knowledgeable help you do the work?
When I met Fiona, I felt like I already knew her for a long time even though it was our first in-person meeting. We have a lot in common, we are both Markham moms, both working full-time, both have two young kids and we both like to help people. I like to help families spend their money wisely by recommending great local businesses. Fiona on the other hand, likes to help families save and invest their money wisely. A Chartered Accountant with a Masters Degree in Accounting and years of experience working at big accounting firms and banks – Fiona, is a Markham Financial Advisor who has helped many young families to manage and invest their money wisely by developing tailored financial plans that fit their budget and help achieve their financial goals.
Through an interview with Fiona, she opened my eyes to many things that I never thought of and cleared some misconceptions I had before. Her knowledge and passion to help families really impressed me. To me she felt like a friend who sincerely wants to help.
1. Why did you decide to become a financial advisor?
Throughout these years, many people approached me asking for tax advice as they feel that they are paying too much tax and want to know how to minimize as much as possible. I then realized there’s a growing need for helping young professionals and families to minimize taxes with tax effective strategies.
That’s when I switched my career to becoming a financial advisor because I know my CA background can further plan a person’s finances in the most tax-effective way. Especially being a mom myself, I know many new parents have only heard of RRSP and RESP. These two methods are good, but I feel that they deserve to know there are other options just as great which can protect their family in case anything happens to them, as well as save for their retirement and their child’s future. That being said, I am there to understand their financial situations and build strategies to suit their needs, because everyone’s goal is different.
2. What are the biggest challenges young families face these days?
Time is definitely the biggest challenge for young families. Many parents are busy with their full-time job on weekdays and busy again on weekends bringing their kids to learning an instrument, drawing, sports, and attending birthday parties. When parents are able to free up time from their busy schedule, they would want to relax. They don’t have the time to research and understand the different options available (or even exist) for family protection, retirement planning or children’s education fund (which is important with the recent OSAP changes).
I see a lot of parents “push off” their planning, thinking that they will “do it later”, or they will plan once their cash flow “improves”. But sometimes, things happen unexpectedly, and by then it’s too late to do anything. I always see on social media about these GoFundMe campaigns to help raise money for singles mothers, etc. because the husband was in a tragic accident, or was gone at a young age due to an unexpected illness. They always think that “this will never happen to them”. It’s good to wish for the best, but need to plan for the worst.
3. What are the top misconceptions families might have about their finances?
- “I can’t afford this” – It is affordable for every family. There are a variety of plans and strategies that we can build from . i.e. Family protection can be almost like “free” to protect your family until the children reaches adulthood.
- “I’d rather pay off my mortgage than saving/investing” – I hear this way too often. But it varies from family to family. In general, families should look at what they can achieve in the market relative to the cost your debt. If they can find an investment with a rate of return greater than the mortgage rate (which is not hard to find), it may be beneficial for them to invest rather than paying off their mortgage earlier.
- “I will invest if I have any savings left at the end of each year” – That’s a big no-no. Saving and contributing into any type of plans should become a monthly or quarterly habit. Not just when there’s something “left” at the end of the year. According to one of the big bank’s poll in 2018, ~32% Canadians have nothing saved for retirement, and ~53% don’t know if they are saving enough. Many of them will be hit hard when they reach 65 years old, and realize they can’t retire just quite yet.
4. What are your top advices for young families?
- If you have a mortgage, you should have a term insurance (because you need protection on the biggest debt).
- Then start an insured retirement plan or critical illness insurance for the parents (need to protect the parents first, otherwise you won’t be able to help your children.
- Finally, create a children’s saving plan like a whole life insurance or RESP (because then you child can build a future).
If you are convinced that it is now time to start getting serious about managing your money, then I highly recommend Fiona Lai! She will help you develop a complete, tailored strategy based on your needs to help you achieve your financial goals and make sure your family is well protected.
Top 3 Reasons Why You Should Choose Fiona as Your Financial Advisor
- With a CA designation, she can help you invest your money in the most tax-effective way.
- She is very patient and makes sure she understands your challenges and priorities first, she works together with you to develop customized strategies that works based on your financial goals.
- Some Financial Advisors can come across as very pushy, but Fiona is not a bit pushy, she is knowledgeable and truly care about your family’s well-being.