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“Hardwired to Protect”

If you’ve been to enough events or charity functions in Calgary, you’ve likely crossed paths with the 6’8” former Calgary Stampeders Offensive Lineman, John Bender. “He certainly captures the attention of everyone in the room, says Sportsnet 960, The Fan, radio host, Ryan Pinder. But, who is this man?

The Cochrane High School alumni excelled in Football, Basketball, Shot Put and Discus. Seven Provincial Gold medals as well as a 17 and Under National Shot Put championship would eventually lead to a Full Scholarship offer from the University of Nevada in football.

John was an accomplished athlete, pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a dual major in Marketing and Management. He was also an All-Conference football player on the #11 ranked team in the NCAA (2010 Associated Press Poll). While he was getting ready for the NFL draft, he received numerous phone calls from Financial Planning professionals.

“I was intrigued when I learned about the positive impact financial planning could have on people’s lives. When my football career was not as long as anticipated, a career in financial planning seemed like an obvious choice,” John says. He joined IG Wealth Management in August 2012.

“Although offensive linemen play a big role in the outcome of the football game, we are very much behind the scenes. As a Financial Consultant, I do a lot of work behind the scenes to make sure clients accomplish their financial objectives. My slogan from the start of my career hasn’t changed. I used to protect quarterbacks. Now, I protect wealth,” the Certified Financial Planner professional says with a smile.

At IG, John works with a variety of professionals in the business world. His client base includes Small Business Owners, Accountants, Farmers, Doctors and Lawyers as well as a few professional athletes and coaches. “At the end of the day, most of the clients I work with want the same thing, to help them build, grow and protect wealth for themselves and their loved ones.”

According to John, a robust, customized financial plan, what IG calls the IG Living Plan, is the key to success. It identifies the clients’ goals and outlines detailed solutions to move their current financial plan from where it is, to where they want their plan to be. “People often think that as a Financial Consultant my job is to provide investment returns. While that is a part of what I do, I also try my best to increase overall net worth through a variety of ways including tax planning and insurance and mortgage solutions,” John explains.

Client Katyryna Gaudet, MBA, Manager, SAIT Corporate Training, agrees. “John has helped me make several financial decisions over the years. From investments to multiple mortgages to life insurance etc. John has the expertise to move me forward confidently,” she says.

Philosophy & Approach

“I make sure I have a really good understanding of what’s important. I go over everything from tax planning, investment planning, retirement planning, estate planning, cash flow management and risk management. The real value added, is in a personalized financial plan and improving clients’ financial literacy.” Client Terri-Lynn Duque, P.Eng., Enmax, agrees. “What sets John apart is his approach. He doesn’t just advise us on our financial plan, but he educates us along the way,” she says.

Given his background, it is easy to understand why John is especially passionate about ensuring the right risk management strategies are in place. At some point, John will devote an entire meeting to a discussion of income protection insurance (Life, Disability & Critical Illness).

“I grew up on a farm where things could be up and down. My mom, Linda, became critically ill when I was in high school. Like any family reduced to just one income, adjustments had to be made. If I can help other families avoid situations like that, I’m going to.”

John was a 24-year-old professional athlete when a staph infection grounded him and his once promising football career. “I know what it’s like to be unable to work for 90+ days. It was very tough both mentally and physically. If this happens to clients, the last thing I want them to worry about is their finances.”

Does John’s approach work? Blake Nill, Head Coach UBC Football and three-time Vanier Cup Champion certainly thinks so. “John has been a fabulous resource. My schedule does not allow for a lot of time to commit to my finances. John has always gone the extra mile to make sure I am fully informed and aware of opportunities. He brings a small town loyalty to his work, which I appreciate,” he says.

Once John has completed the on-boarding process, he anticipates having a long relationship with clients and has already had many of the same clients for more than five years. “In Canada the average age of Financial Planners is close to 60. I’m 32. I am young enough to be around to see clients to and/or through their retirement and these relationships should last decades.”

On a football team, the five offensive linemen have to work as one. “We had to communicate quickly with up to 80,000+ fans screaming at 100+ decibels. It didn’t matter if the offensive linemen beside me grew up in California, Louisiana or was from Canada, like me.”

“We had to find common ground to communicate quickly and effectively. If we didn’t we weren’t going to win many football games. Although communicating with clients doesn’t have the same pressures, it’s still important to make sure we’re all on the same page – working together.”

Clients appreciate his ability to simplify even the most complex ideas. Rory Groom, P.Eng., Oil & Gas says, “What makes John a great Financial Planner is his ability to illustrate complex ideas in a simple way. This allows him to advise while also increasing the financial well-being of his clients.”

Up Close & Personal

John is single. He has six nieces and nephews whom he loves very much. He still adores sports and plays golf, basketball and softball in his downtime.

People often ask John about his size. According to the Calgary Stampeders website, John played at 6’8” tall and weighed 330 lbs. “Yes, fitting into a suit can be problematic. I need a 60” extra tall suit jacket and a shirt that has a 20” neck and 42” arms,” he says with a grin.

John was an NCAA All Conference Football Player in the Western Atlantic Conference (All WAC 1st team 2010) and was inducted into the Alberta Schools Athletic Association Hall of Fame in 2016. He was a top prospect in the 2010 CFL Draft, before he was drafted by the Calgary Stampeders.

Before he joined the Stampeders, John played with many future NFL stars at the University of Nevada, including Colin Kaepernick, Virgil Green and Joel Bitonio among many others.

John is still actively involved in the Calgary Stampeders Alumni Association. He also routinely shares his football knowledge on sports talk radio on Sportsnet 960 THE FAN as a guest football analyst.

As a last word, John says, “I’ve been coached at a high level throughout my career and now I very much feel like a coach to clients. I can look at complex situations and simplify them, which inspires financial confidence. I encourage potential clients to come in for an appointment. I’ll do my best to ensure you’ll leave with better financial literacy and some things to consider moving forward. If you like what you hear it could be the start of a great relationship that could last decades and could potentially have a positive impact on your family for generations.”

This article was written by Suzen Fromstein, based on information gained through a telephone interview of John Bender. This is a general source of information only. It is not intended to provide personalized tax, legal or investment advice and is not intended as a solicitation to purchase securities. For more information on this topic or any other financial matter, please contact John Bender of Investors Group Financial Services Inc.

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

John Bender BSC, CFP

Investors Group Consultant

#100 37 Richard Way SW Calgary AB

O: 403-253-4840 ext 2289

Investment Planning – Tax Planning – Retirement planning

Cash Flow Management- Risk Management – Estate Planning

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