TONY MIELE, CFP DIVISION DIRECTOR INVESTORS GROUP
Investment planners and their clients work together for decades. Tony Miele who is now in his 24th year as a Certified Financial Planner, as well a Division Director of Investors Group for the Greater Niagara Region. He knows what it takes to sustain that kind of long-term relationship over the length of two peoples’ entire adult lives.
“You’ve got to evolve from transaction based conversations to a transformational one,” Tony says. “When I’m sitting beside someone who is at the end of their lives, it is not the value of their portfolio that matters. What matters most is their personal legacy, encompassing the families they love, the connections they forged in their communities, the business they built and jobs they created and the impact they made on others.”
Tony Miele is completely comfortable discussing all of life’s sadnesses and joys. It’s part of his career helping people plan for their financial futures. It is also about who he is and the connections he makes with his clients. His financial planning practice is built around a solutions mindset and composed largely of entrepreneurs and their families, a group that is known for being true to their own values, principles and their own personalities as they live and work.
Tony understands that entrepreneurial force because he has lived it too.
“I started and sold three businesses while I was still in my twenties,” Tony remembers. “I know what it’s like to work seven days a week non-stop. I can empathize with the business owners who are working to build something from nothing. My own life experiences have given me an extreme understanding of the intricacies of business, the business life and the business owner.”
He also understands what business owners and operators need him to provide for them.
“People expect or assume that a good business person is automatically good with their finances and planning,” Tony says, “but just because you have a brilliant and successful expertise in the products you design, or services you provide, that doesn’t mean you understand your investments and other intricate financial products. That expectation can and sometimes does put up a barrier that entrepreneurs have to overcome before they call me.”
That initial call, once made, has resulted in many long term business relationships. Tony is now working with the children and even grandchildren of clients who have been working with him since he started his practice in 1995. It’s a situation Tony credits with the nature of his practice that is meant to be accessible and of service regardless of the situation his clients are in at the moment.
“We offer an intricate, holistic financial planning business,” Tony Explains. “That means we can offer mortgages, investments, insurance needs and different forms of lending at prices that are the same as they are at the bank, or cheaper. That means in a typical day, I might meet with the children of someone who just passed away, then with a couple who are just getting married, or with someone who has just had a baby. The focus of my practice is the people. I experience tremendous joy because I have a passion for delivering solutions to the problems my clients bring to my attention.”
Solutions are all about being current and being able to envision what is happening in the markets, tax policy and national and global economic trends. While Tony enjoys overcoming all the challenges of staying on top of what’s happening now, and what may impact the future needs of clients, he’s grateful not to have to do it alone. His team, composed of executive assistant Andrea Bove and associate Francis Chiavetti, help him stay on top of day-to-day operations and to ensure client services are delivered in a timely matter that exceeds expectations.
At home, Tony’s wife Sandra and their three children between the ages of 13 and 22 keep him grounded and connected to the community. Tony has served on the board of Big Brothers, is a past president of Club Roma Soccer, past president of the Canadian Italian Business and Professional Association of Niagara and is a former vice president of the association’s national chapter. He and Sandra also support many different charities with a commitment to giving back to the needy.
Investors Group is well known for the on-going opportunities they provide for professional development. As a result, Tony is deeply engaged in lifelong learning. As a Certified Financial Planner Tony spends a portion of each year in educational conferences and symposiums that ensure his advice is forward looking, takes stock of trends and forecasts, and, importantly, ensures he is compliant with current regulations.
His enthusiasm for learning must be infectious.
“When my entrepreneurial clients come to me, they open themselves up to the right coaching,” Tony says. “That’s significant of the trust they place in me because they are so used to doing everything alone. We’re there to help them set up their financial plan so that they can focus on running their businesses. After they meet with us, the advice that we give them helps them to prepare and bridge for when they go see their accountant and/or their lawyer. They are empowered and informed to make the right decisions.”
Making the right decisions after careful consideration is a quality Tony credits with his own success in financial planning. He did, though, have an unconventional route into his career.
“I went to college for electronic engineering in the eighties,” Tony remembers. “Computers were just beginning to take over the industry and the feeling was that if you weren’t going to get a job working with technology, then you were going to be left behind. I was 4 months into my studies when I realized I hated it! So, I left college and went to work for a while, intending to go back to school. I started working in a factory and investing at a young age. I owned a couple of cafes, rentals and even a shoe store. By the time I was 30, I sold the businesses and went into a real estate agent role. I enjoyed real estate, but I knew the industry clearly wasn’t going to inspire my drive to build relationships over the long run.
When he was 32, a former banker from a big 5 bank who had joined Investors Group suggested a role in financial planning.
“I took some time to make my decision, but once I made it, I never looked back,” Tony says. “My practice demands more of me than any other business I’ve owned. Being an investment adviser demands that I am part priest, part psychologist and part motivational speaker. And really, people should treat their financial planning meetings like a visit to the medical clinic for a check-up. What is really scary in Canada is that if interest rates went up by one percent, then up to thirty percent of Canadians would have difficulty making their mortgage payments. If that happened, then we’d have an emergency when we could have taken preventative measures.”
Preventative measures are where Tony sees the greatest value in his work with Investors’ Group.
“My clients are not necessarily only high net worth clients, Tony says, “but they are committed and want to build and they want to move away from being financially stuck! Seeing a family embrace change and move in a positive direction for their futures is so motivating for all of us. We share a tenacity for getting things done. It’s a meaningful connection that can last for generations.”
Kate Baggott's technology and business journalism has appeared in the Technology Review at MIT, the Globe and Mail, Canada Computes, the Vancouver Sun, and on the Business to Business News Network
Kate Baggott is the author of two short story collections.
CFP, CPCA, RRC
Investors Group Financial Services Inc.
210 Martindale Road, Suite 100
St. Catharines, ON L2S 0B2
Empathy, Engage, Empower!