The road to financial security is one of the most important journeys a person will take -- but it's a journey best taken with a professional.
Guiding people on this journey is Laura Chanin, an Investment Advisor with HollisWealth who runs her own successful financial planning practice, Right Direction Financial.
Laura and her team tackle all sorts of planning needs, especially with regards to retirement. The friendly, family-oriented firm located in Surrey, B.C. has helped her clients achieve financial harmony in its 20 years of business.
Their highly-personalized, value-based, goal-oriented style of planning makes them stand out among the rest. Laura's passion for what she does is apparent at every step because she truly loves what she does. It's her calling, as she puts it.
First Foray into Finance
Hailing from Winnipeg, Laura inherited a love for numbers from her mother, who has been a tax professional for 40 years (and continues to do taxes for people even in her 80s).
Despite this talent, Laura decided to take a different path at first. After moving to Vancouver, B.C. she graduated from The University of British Columbia with a degree in commerce and marketing.
Her first job was at BC Hydro, where she managed an energy-efficient building design program. It was a good job and she spent almost seven years there. However, in 1994, they did some downsizing, and her position was one of those on the chopping block.
Next, she worked for the Ministry of Advanced Education as a marketing coordinator of their business, tourism and hospitality programs. Unfortunately, she didn't enjoy the job much and found herself quite bored.
Turning to her mother for advice, Laura asked what she should do next. Her mother suggested Laura do taxes on the side since she was so good with numbers. Initially, it was just a fun "hobby job."
The side hustle was so enjoyable that it led her to become an income tax preparer at H&R Block. By the following year, she was already teaching it too!
While she was still cutting her teeth in the tax world, Laura decided to take the Canadian Securities Course, which would turn out to be her first foray into the world of financial planning and investments.
After that, Laura worked at a credit union doing marketing and kept on doing taxes on the side.
The turning point came, however, in 1999 when Laura started working full time for Investors Group as an investment and insurance advisor, eventually earning her designation as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® in 2003.
After spending six years with Investors Group, Laura joined a large wealth management company HollisWealth in 2006 and opened her own practice, Right Direction Financial. In this field, Laura realized how much she loved financial planning, which was a perfect combination of numbers and helping others. That passion is still going strong today.
Laura estimates she has worked with over 300 clients since beginning her work as a financial planner. Most of Right Direction Financials’ clients are professionals who live in Vancouver and Surrey. Many of them are already "good savers" looking for a solid plan for the future as they approach retirement or enter their first few years of it.
With a plan in place, Laura has helped many people find peace of mind and improved confidence in addition to the monetary benefits. "I like it when people don't have to worry," she says. "I want to try to take the worry away from them."
One client revealed that he used to be unsure about what the future would hold for him financially. "I didn't know if I would be able to have a comfortable retirement, but I don't need to worry now. Laura answered my questions and removed the uncertainty."
Another satisfied Right Direction Financial client said that working with Laura had a profound impact on her life. "I feel security and confidence about my future," she said. "Laura is like an anchor with her sophistication, trustworthiness, and expertise. I'm no longer just floating."
In addition, some people just don't particularly enjoy dealing with finances. "I have a client who's an engineer who likes working with me because he can focus on what he likes to do, designing and engineering things, and I can focus on what I like to do, finances," she says. "We each do what we're good at. It's a great partnership."
With a new client, the initial step is to determine the kind of person they are and if they're good fit for the practice. "It's important for both sides to be able to trust each other," Laura points out.
One crucial factor? They have to be "positive people who are ready to make a financial change."
"I take what I do seriously, but I also like to laugh and have fun," she says of the importance of working with like-minded clients.
Once it's determined that a person will be a good fit for the practice, the next step is creating a personalized plan based around the goals a client wants to achieve, whether that's a retirement nest egg, a vacation, or just peace of mind knowing their finances are in good hands.
"Start with your goals," she tells her clients. "Figure out where you want to be in the future and then make sure you have enough money to enjoy living today."
"It's about balance, choices, and taking steps toward your goals in the right direction."
The process can take up to a month, but she says that's a good thing. "It does take time and I like that because it is developing a long-term relationship," Laura points out. Once an initial plan is formulated, it's up to the potential client to decide whether to go forward with it or keep tweaking it.
The process can be best described as a partnership more than anything else and Laura values her clients' input, saying she's "not high pressure at all."
"I have one newer client who jokes with me that 'we're still in the dating phase. We're not married yet,'" she says.
Enjoy Today, Plan for Tomorrow
Laura makes sure that clients find a balance between enjoying the present and saving for tomorrow.
A survivor of breast cancer, her experience with the illness completely changed her outlook on life and business, even after recovery. "You need to enjoy living today because you don't know what's going to happen in the future," she says of her realization.
"I know people that saved and saved, didn't enjoy their lives and passed away a year into retirement," she says. On the other hand, saving for the future is more important now than ever as lifespans get longer. "You could be retired for 30 years and it would be terrible to run out of money.
The Female Financial Edge
In general, the world of finances is a male-dominated industry. Laura, however, is empowered by being at the forefront of change.
As a professional woman and working mother, she profoundly understands the needs of fellow female professionals.
She sees being a woman in this industry as a huge advantage. "My level of familiarity with a client is quite deep compared to most men," she says. "I really find out about their family and what's truly important to them."
This highly-personalized approach means that the plans she creates best reflect what each person truly wants in life and will be that much easier to achieve.
Right Direction Financial is one of the few family-run financial planning practices out there. Laura's husband Rob is the Office Manager while her sister Leslie is the Client Services and Marketing Coordinator.
Many choose Right Direction Financial because of their family-friendly, personalized service. Laura describes her work with clients as a partnership, rather than a strict business-client relationship. When working together, the client's needs and concerns are addressed at every step. This results in a plan that is perfectly tailored to each individual.
"Since we're a family office, we end up working with lots of families too, which I think is just a natural fit for us," Laura says.
Outside the office, Laura and Rob are all about quality and active family time. They live in South Surrey where they raise their teenage two daughters, Rachel and Leah. "My kids are important to me and I like to work with people for whom family is important to them too."
Even though Laura is at the top of her game, she still loves sharing her knowledge with others, regularly hosting seminars for both clients and the general public. "Education is very important to me," she notes.
Right Direction Financial regularly hosts seminars for the public with topics ranging from "The ABC’s of Investments" to "How to Retire on Time and In Style." At the request of clients, she will host special "lunch and learn" sessions at the client's workplace.
Previously, Laura spent two years as an instructor of CFP® Certification Education Program at Ashton College (https://www.ashtoncollege.ca/programs/certified-financial-planner-cfp/) in Vancouver. She also used to host a workshop series in Vancouver called Leading Ladies, which educated women on a variety of financial topics, in partnership with other female financial professionals.
Passion for Planning
Laura has happily spent 20 years in the financial planning field, so what's been the secret to her success? "It's more than just the finances for me," Laura says, emphasizing that this profession is her true calling. That passion comes across clear to anyone who has the privilege to meet her.
"I'm grateful to work with the great clients I have," she says. "Sometimes I feel like I'm a cheerleader for them. I get excited about their travels, their children's activities, and things that are important to them. I get a charge out of that."
Michelle Grossman has spent over a decade in field of news and media, covering everything from business to energy to pop culture and more. Her passion for writing comes from asking the big questions that get to the heart of every story.
RIGHT DIRECTION FINANCIAL
LAURA CHANIN, CFP®,
HollisWeath, a division of Industrial Alliance Securities Inc.
Hollis Insurance Agency Ltd.
203 - 3237 King George Boulevard
Surrey BC V4P 1B7
609 Granville St, Suite 700
Vancouver, BC V7Y 1G5
604 319 6924