"Keep it simple, hope for the best, but plan for the worst"
“Life isn’t all about money.” This may not be the first thing you’d expect to hear from a successful Financial Planner, but for Eric Charette, Certified Financial Planner at IG Wealth Management in the Gatineau/Ottawa region, quality of life and happiness is really what’s its all about.
Eric has already experienced a lot in his life. He’s been in the Navy, built his own transport company, and owned and operated a convenience store and a restaurant. He’s traveled the world and lived as much as he could before settling down in the financial world.
While his life’s path has been far from straightforward, his philosophy to financial planning – and to life – is uncomplicated. “Keep it simple, hope for the best, but plan for the worst,” advises Eric. In terms of his practice, he says, “I have one rule: don’t lose money when you’re investing. It’s as simple as that. There’s no one who’s been able to prove to me that you should take a higher risk to achieve a lower return. Investing and gambling are two very different things.”
Eric has played professionally at the tables in Vegas – and won. But he doesn’t gamble when it comes to investing. “I’ve seen people invest in all kinds of things, hoping to hit the jackpot – the new Amazon or the new Coca Cola. They don’t realize that for every company that succeeds, many will fail,” he says. Stock picking has always seemed a very risky business for him; and he believes that a well-diversified portfolio is a much safer approach. “Investing can be very complicated, but it does not have to be. There are so many strategies to improve one’s portfolio that you should never sell for 90 cents on the dollar.”
Bringing people peace of mind
Eric focuses on retirement planning and brings his sensible strategies to his approach with clients. He enjoys working with older people – people who have worked hard all their lives and are seeking a straightforward plan that allows them to leave work and live comfortably in retirement. Instead of a complicated strategy, Eric believes that getting good returns while keeping the risk low brings confidence and peace of mind to his clients.
Eric knows that a solid financial plan is the foundation for a comfortable retirement, especially when that retirement income may need to last for decades. ‘’In general, clients aren’t looking for complicated strategies, they mostly want to know one thing, ‘will we be all right?’ Retirement is no secret, you will either have the retirement you want because you planned for it, or you will have the one you can afford. It is that simple and it is your choice to make.”
For Eric, there is no greater feeling than seeing the progress, made over time, to clients' overall situations and looking back at how some of those clients came to seek his help. ‘’Nothing is more gratifying than taking a bad situation and turning it into a successful outcome’’.
Dad wanted him to become a Financial Advisor
Helping people move into retirement with the money they need to continue enjoying life – for as long as they can – has a special significance for Eric. It’s one of the reasons he became a Financial Advisor in the first place.
“My dad had a very bad experience,” he says. “He pretty much got swindled with his investments. In the early 90s, he lost $28,000. This may not seem like much, but it was all he had, more than a year’s salary at the time. It was a lot of money for him, especially considering that his home cost $26,000 to build back in 1975.”
Eric was young, just back from officer training in the military, when his dad told him he wanted him to become a Financial Advisor so he could make sure this wouldn’t happen to someone else. That’s when Eric took over his parents’ finances. His efforts ensured that his father would still be able to comfortably retire in 2007 at the age of 60.
“I didn’t really know what it was, but I got into it,” he remembers. At 21, he started his career with a company selling insurance policies and investment accounts. He moved up quickly, becoming a sales manager in just six months, thanks, in part to his ability to speak both English and French. But after three years, he decided the finance industry wasn’t for him, at least not the way it was back then.
“At that time, a Financial Advisor was basically a salesperson. My job was to bring in new clients, but not to take care of them afterwards,” he says. “It didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t see myself doing that for the rest of my life.”
He took a two-decade hiatus from the finance industry. During that time, Eric wore a few different hats – owning and running a trucking company, restaurant and convenience store – simultaneously. But towards the end of that time, his most important job was looking after his ailing parents. At age 43, Eric sold his businesses and retired so he could put all of his efforts into taking care of them. Sadly, his dad died just five months later, and his mom followed four months after that.
Work hard: words to live by
While his parents are gone, Eric continues to carry the lessons they instilled in him as a young boy, and those lessons continue to both drive and centre him throughout his life. His dad, especially, gave him words to live by. One piece of advice: work hard for what you want.
“One thing they said to me, you want any money, you better learn to work,” he says. “I was eight years old, delivering newspapers. He said, ‘you want to work in the summer? The lawnmower is over there. In the winter? There’s the shovel. Go knock on doors.’ I had three jobs when I was 13.”
That work ethic helped create the confidence that led a 24-year-old Eric to knock on various companies’ doors in California and Texas looking for contracts to transport back to the Montreal/Toronto area – before he had any real experience…or any trucks. That same ethic kept him going when he was juggling hours to run and manage his convenience store and work in his restaurant at the same time.
His desire to keep working brought Eric back to the finance industry in 2015. He’d taken time off work entirely to care for his parents, and in the months before his dad passed, Eric took his parents on a whirlwind bucket trip that included playing specific golf courses in Arizona and Nevada, visiting the Hoover Dam, attending a ball game in Arlington, Texas and winning big at the machines in Atlantic City (his dad was thrilled with the $200 he made – big win for him). During that time, his dad made it clear to Eric that he should return to the finance industry. Eric agreed.
Has the finance industry changed in 20 years?
“It’s night and day,” says Eric. “I’m still encouraged to get new clients, but not at the expense of taking care of the ones I have, which I really like. I feel no pressure at all, it’s all about doing what’s best for the client. I picked IG Wealth Management for many reasons. They have a very nice model that focuses on building a strong financial plan while completing a full holistic analysis of the client’s situation. They make certain that I have all the resources available. Whether it’s software, products, access to specialists and experts in various fields, if IG doesn’t have what the client needs, they have access to associate companies that will. It’s very simple.”
For a man who has experienced much of what life has to offer, simplicity remains a constant in his practice and in his life. So has honesty. “I’m as transparent as it gets,” says Eric. “You may not like the answer, but it will always be the truth. If someone asks me if they’re ok to retire, there’s no grey area. It’s either yes or no. Honesty is how you build strong relationships. And if it’s no, well, here’s what we need to do to change that. And most people like that.”
“My job is to make sure that regardless of client’s situation, their affairs are always managed to the best of my abilities and to their best interests. That is what my father would have wanted this to be.”
Janice Tuff is a professional writer and communicator who got her start in radio copywriting.
Three decades later, she continues to draw upon the valuable lessons learned in her radio days: grab your audience’s attention quickly and always tell an engaging tale.
Eric Charette CFP, RRC, CPCA
Certified Financial Planner
Wealth Creation, Protection & Management
IG Wealth Management
2 Gurdwara Road, Suite 500,
Ottawa, ON K2E 1A2
(613) 723 7200 Cell (819) 360 5505