International best-selling author, and social entrepreneur, Bryant H. McGill once said, “One of the most sincere forms of respect is actually listening to what another has to say.” When a financial consultant is advising people on what to do with their hard-earned money, a genuine interest in all aspects of the client’s life is essential.
For over 24 years, Irene Vassalo has listened to, and worked with, retired or almost retired individuals. Her client-centric approach is supported by outstanding educational credentials – Irene graduated from the University of Waterloo (BA, Social Development Studies), is a CFP (Certified Financial Planner), and has earned her EPC (Elder Planner Counselor), and RRC (Registered Retirement Counselor) designations. “We believe that everyone deserves to be financially independent and to have access to the strategies needed to successfully manage all life events,” Irene says.
Vassalo & Associates Private Wealth Team
English author John Donne once opined, “No man (or woman) is an island or can do it all on their own." Irene has taken Donne’s advice to heart. Associate Consultants Jen McKinnon and Sandra Tiffin and Executive Assistants Alison Power and Ashley Atkinson round out her Private Wealth team. Clients often say that her client-centric team approach works and they feel like they are part of the IG Private Wealth Management extended family.
Irene’s team is dedicated to helping clients accumulate, grow, and preserve their wealth through tax efficient and cost effective strategies. Associate Consultant, Jen McKinnon, CFP, RRC, joined Irene in 2008. Jen graduated from Niagara College with diplomas in both Business Accounting and Law Clerk, holds her Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Registered Retirement Counselor (RRC) designations.
Associate Consultant, Sandra Tiffin, expertise is in research and organizes public educational seminars three times a year. Please visit http://www.irenevassalo.com/events/ for the current schedule. Sandra has been with the team since May 2016. Sandra graduated with honours from the Financial Planning program at Conestoga College and holds an FPSC Level 1 Certificate in Financial Planning.
Executive Assistant Alison Power joined the team in 2014. Prior to that, she was employed as an Alliance Operations Manager at BlackBerry and as an Executive Assistant for the President and COO at Northern Digital.
Ashley Atkinson has been in customer service for over 16 years including 10 years in the finance industry. She joined Vassalo & Associates Private Wealth Management in June, 2018.
Philosophy & Approach
“No two people and no two lives are exactly the same. We all have unique goals and ambitions as well as different strengths, weaknesses and financial requirements. A cookie cutter approach to financial planning doesn’t work. The only way to maintain financial health is to spend time discussing your current financial situation and goals. Then we can build a customized plan,” Irene explains.
Irene and her Private Wealth Management Team follow an intensive client onboarding process. In the first meeting, both parties get to decide if there is a fit and if they think they can work together. “Of all the many conversations we will have, this first conversation is the most significant because that is when we learn what’s most important to you, and we identify any challenges that might get in the way of your ability to achieve your goals,” Irene says.
Then, the fact finding process begins in earnest. “We take a more detailed look at your financial situation, including cash flow, assets, liabilities, protections and estate plan. We also identify your top priorities and analyze the most tax efficient way to achieve them.”
The second appointment is spent reviewing the results of this analysis. “Are your goals realistic? If yes, we move onto specific recommendations. If no, we identify the things it is possible to change. If you are comfortable with our recommendations, we enter into a business relationship,” Irene adds.
The third appointment is devoted to logistics and paperwork. “As the team puts together each piece of the customized holistic plan, we see our clients many times. We want to ensure everyone is on the same page and that our clients are fully engaged in and committed to the process. We take one topic at a time including asset allocation analysis, details on how/when can you retire, what protection do you currently have and/or need, and details on your estate plan.”
Irene’s Private Wealth Management team’s process is so comprehensive and personal that some clients describe it as the “gold standard” of customer service. This translates into more confidence and Irene’s clients report that they are not as worried about what is going on in the markets on a daily basis.
“Being considered a trusted advisor is very important to us. We want to be who you call if you are buying a car or a house, have experienced an illness or a death, lost your job, changed your marital status, or added to your family. We want our clients to know that we are on their life journey with them. We also want them to know that if there is an issue, we will investigate and advocate on their behalf,” Irene explains.
Up Close & Personal
On a personal front, Irene loves to travel, read and play golf. She has been actively involved in her community through various organizations including Big Sisters, Junior Achievement, KidsLINK, and Work for a Cure, to name a few. Although “giving back” is an integral part of who she is, Irene says her proudest accomplishment is being married to her husband Brian, and being mother to Isabella (12) and Zachary (5).
“Having said that, my practice is very important to me. I am very focused because of the demands on my time and have high standards for myself and for those around me. I’m very proud of the fact that our team has been consistently in the top 3% of performers, company-wide based on new business from 2008 - 2018. I hope that my children will see that it is never about the money but about doing the right things. I also hope I demonstrate that there are no limits to what you can achieve when you identify your priorities, take a deep dive on understanding them, and then work towards achieving them.”
As a final word, Irene has this advice for young financial planners, “Be good to yourself, good to your family, and good to your community, and you won’t have to find success, success will find you.”
Suzen Fromstein is the author of Suits and Ladders, Ten Proven Ways to Keep Your Job Safe - with a few jokes thrown in. Suits and Ladders was an Amazon Best Selling Book in the Career Guides Category.
IRENE VASSALO, CFP®
BA, CFP, EPC, RRC
Investors Group Financial Services Inc.
I.G. Insurance Services Inc.
4295 King Street East, Suite 301
Kitchener. ON N2P 0C6
Phone: (519) 650-7250
Direct line: (519) 650-7255
Toll-free: (855) 330-0967
Fax: (519) 650-1421