KEVIN J. ZAKUS & ELANDA KOWALCHUK
Zakus Kowalchuk LLP is a relatively new partnership. The founding partners, Kevin J. Zakus, and Elanda Kowalchuk, both financial planning veterans, wanted to create something unique and to have the creative freedom to help clients think about money in new ways.
They both have years of relevant experience. Kevin Zakus, has worked in financial services for 20 years. Prior to founding Zakus Kowalchuk LLP with Elanda Kowalchuk, he was Equitable Life’s Regional Sales Manager where he consulted with independent Advisors on advanced Insurance Strategies. He established NorthBay Financial Services in 2009. He holds a Diploma in Business Management and is a Fellow of the Life Management Institute.
Founding Partner, Elanda Kowalchuk, specializes in behavioural cash flow planning and works closely with families, creating Financial Plans that provide insight and direction to help them achieve their financial goals. A graduate of the University of Calgary, Elanda holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. In addition to her years of experience, Elanda holds her Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Certified Cash Flow (CCS) and Certified Executor Advisor (CEA) designations.
“I’m always surprised when clients tells me that they have not received any type of written Financial Plan, the Plan they have received is so complicated and product specific that it’s rarely referred to again, or that that they have been told their investment summary is their Financial Plan. Your financial road map doesn’t have to be and shouldn’t be 30+ pages long,” Founding Partner and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® , Elanda says.
“Kevin and I focus on the behavioural aspects of money management, especially how people think about their money. This goes well beyond budgeting. We look at what’s going out and what’s coming in. We also identify where clients are paying unnecessary fees and then we redirect the savings to goal achievement,” she adds.
Kevin and Elanda believe that many people are unconscious spenders. “As their quarterback or coach, we help clients become more conscious about where and what they are spending their money on. Then, we work with them on retiring any debt. We also work with clients on exposing any self-sabotaging behaviours. Our bottom line is this, we want clients to have their money do the things they actually want it to do. Many clients have told us that what we do is “magic.”
The Zakus Kowalchuk LLP Difference
The partners have purposely structured the firm so that their energy, experience and creativity is 100% focused on helping clients. They also work closely with clients’ existing professionals to ensure nothing is overlooked. “We recognized early that we could not be all things to all people,” Managing Partner, Kevin J. Zakus says.
The partners believe there is too much templating and not enough customization in most organizations and describe what they do as “Life” Planning rather than as “Financial" Planning. Their first order of business is always the same - protecting what clients have. The partners have teamed up with an Asset Management firm in Toronto to provide asset management and to ensure they are not spending copious amounts of time researching funds. Their network also includes a team of other specialists including mortgage brokers, accountants, tax and legal specialists, realtors, etc.
“The best investment strategy can be jeopardized if the client is disabled or diagnosed with a critical illness. Many Canadians incorrectly assume that all treatment costs are covered by their government insurance. Unfortunately, there are out-of-pocket expenses like travel, hotel stays if you need to travel to treatment, some prescription drugs, and/or a spouse may need to take time off work which will impact the family income. Child care expenses might also increase. These are just some of the expenses that are not covered and have to be planned for,” Kevin adds.
Once protection measures are in place, the partners turn their attention to short, medium and long-term savings. “When you’re 20, it’s hard to see why saving for retirement is important. Saving to fund education or to purchase a vehicle is likely more relevant. The same is true if you’re 5 or 10 years away from retirement. A short-term goal might be funding a dream trip to Bali or saving for a grandchild’s RESP.”
“As part of our value-added service, we review our clients’ Wills and offer suggestions to ensure these important legal documents accurately reflect their current circumstances and priorities. There is no charge for this service. We feel it is part of our client commitment to ensure all of these documents are up to date and accurate,” Elanda adds.
“We also make “house calls” all over British Columbia and Southern Alberta. Kevin adds. “Clients appreciate this - when they come to our office they are in our environment surrounded by our things. When Elanda and I sit at their kitchen or dining room tables, surrounded by their family members and belongings, their personal story comes alive. This is important to everyone.”
The partners also encourage clients to think of insurance coverage as part of their overall wealth. For example, creating cash value in a whole life policy can be used to get through a challenging life or economic event. For example, Walt Disney borrowed from his life insurance in 1953 to help fund Disneyland, his first theme park, when no banker would lend him the money.
Following the 1929 stock market crash, famous retailer, J.C. Penney borrowed from his life insurance policies to help meet payroll. Had he not had access to this capital, the company would have probably been forced to close its doors, adding even more people to the unemployment line.
More recently, in 2002, Pampered Chef founder, Doris Christopher, sold her company to Warren Buffett for a reported $900 million. Seven years earlier she started the company with a life insurance policy loan. “As we see from these examples, Life Insurance can also be used as part of a client’s retirement income, as an alternative or to compliment RESP for education,” Kevin says.
“There is always one main insurance goal – to ensure the family and the children are protected. A life event, like a sick elderly parent or job loss, can wipe out all of the family’s savings, especially when the person affected is the primary earner or care giver. Elanda and I work with you to protect yourself from life’s “what-ifs,” he adds.
As a way of giving back, the partners support local charities and recently partnered with the BC Cancer Foundation – they donate a portion of all of their sales of critical illness insurance policies to the organization. These funds go to support the Patient Emergency Fund (PEF) at BC Cancer, which helps cover the cost of various items not covered by the Medical Service Plan. Items include prescriptions, medical costs, groceries, nutritional supplements and travel expenses for patients who must travel for treatment. Please see press release for further details, https://zakuskowalchuk.com/f/press-release.
Up Close & Personal
For the last four years, Kevin has been a volunteer board member with The Financial Advisors Association of Canada, (Advocis), the largest voluntary professional membership association of Financial Advisors in Canada. He sits on the organization’s Canadian Leadership Committee and is the Membership Chair and Social Media Chair of the Advocis Thompson Okanagan Board.
Kevin also dedicates countless hours to Kelowna’s local Minor Sports Associations where he works with the next generation of players to help hone their skills. Kevin is a Coordinator with the Central Okanagan Minor Base Ball Association and the past Head Coach of one of their Peewee AA Teams.
Between them, Kevin and his wife, Julie, have 4 happy and healthy kids (2 boys 2 girls). “We are a sporty family and our 13-year old plays high performance baseball. If we are not at a sporting event, Julie and I like to travel, experience different wineries, and to spend time with family and friends. Experiencing other cultures reminds us how fortunate we all are."
Elanda has worked with her own Financial Advisor since she was a young professional. “I was a natural saver and always had money in the bank. There are so many people that struggle with how to make their finances work. We don’t learn about money in school. I love to offer guidance, and to outline specific opportunities and choices so that people know how to protect tomorrow, today. Education is key and I never pass on an opportunity to improve my own or someone else’s financial literacy.”
Elanda recently taught, “Take Control of Your Money,” a one-day financial fitness workshop at Okanagan College. She is a professional member of Advocis and is the President of the Vernon Women in Business (www.vwib.com). When she is not working with clients, Elanda loves travelling, cycling, kayaking, snow shoeing and gardening. “I have always dreamed of experiencing other countries and cultures. My cash flow planning has made this possible. I love working with clients to do the same.”
As a last word, the partners say, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now. Just like the tree, there is no time like the present to bring your financial goals to life. Let us show you how.”
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
565 Bernard Ave., Suite 110
Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada
Kevin J. Zakus, FLMI L1
Managing Partner | Financial Advisor
Zakus Kowalchuk Insurance & Investments
Elanda Kowalchuk CFP. CCS, CEA
Partner | Financial Advisor