- JANICE TUFF
MARC SABOURIN, CFP®, CIM®, Senior Wealth Advisor, Harbourfront Wealth Management
“Shining a spotlight on financial education and reaching your retirement goals”
Marc Sabourin loves lightbulb moments. Marc, a retirement planning specialist, says that replacing uncertainty with real possibilities – and seeing the relief that comes with it – is one of the most rewarding aspects of his practice. As a Wealth Advisor at Harbourfront Wealth Management, Marc has seen many clients light up once they realize their financial goals really are within their reach.
“It’s about seeing people who are worried about retirement and telling them, hey, you’re going to be ok,” says Marc. “You wanted to retire at 60; that’s very doable. Seeing the relief on their face and their stress level dropping knowing things are going to be ok…I get a lot of good experiences like that.”
In the beginning
Marc had his own lightbulb moment early on, and it started him on his path towards a career in financial planning.
“I was 10 or 11, in the grocery store with my mom. I was a big chip guy – I liked to eat my potato chips,” he says with a laugh. “She knew how much money I had in my bank account, so I asked her if I spent all my money, how many bags of chips could I afford? I remember it wasn’t very high. That’s when she explained to me the benefits of saving money. I really got into it and started calculating out how much interest my savings account would generate every month.”
His initial goal was to save enough money to throw a potato chip party for all his friends, a plan that went by the wayside as he grew older. Eventually, he used his savings to buy a car instead. “But that was my first foray into personal finance, understanding how money works, the benefits of saving, and compound interest, which is obviously a huge benefit if you know how to use it.”
Marc always loved numbers and that interest helped grow his love of saving money, something he was able to do in earnest when, as a 12-year-old, he started being paid for his chores on the family farm in St. Jean Baptiste, Manitoba.
“After high school, I went into the business program at the University of Manitoba. I took a finance class and it reminded me of some of the same concepts I was using when I began saving money, so I really liked that.” Four and a half years later, Marc graduated with a major in finance and marketing.
Saying no to potato chips
Marc wasn’t sure what he wanted to do after university. “It’s funny how things play out,” says Marc. “I had two job offers. One was to work in sales at Frito-Lay.” Despite his lifelong love of chips, Marc took the second offer – at RBC. “I worked at the branch, helping clients invest, apply for mortgages and loans and things of that nature.”
“The bank was a great place to learn. I could get my feet wet and do my required courses to work in the industry. It was a great learning opportunity. But after a couple of years, I decided I needed to make a change.”
After two years at RBC, Marc left to join his brother Colin, an advisor at Investors Group who was looking to grow his business. The move allowed Marc to continue learning. Unlike the bank, Investors Group didn’t provide advisors with clients, so Marc learned how to build a practice from the ground up.
Ten months later, opportunity knocked again. Marc and his brother were offered the chance to move to Harbourfront Wealth Management. And they took it.
“It was an opportunity to learn from some of the best advisors in the business. Having those mentors really appealed to us. And so did the whole platform. At Harbourfront, an independent company, you can offer anything that’s on the marketplace. If there’s a better product out there, why wouldn’t we offer it to our clients and give them the best options available?”
It wasn’t an easy move. They went from 200 clients at Investors Group to starting from scratch at Harbourfront. “It was a big risk, but having done it once, we knew we could apply the lessons we learned the first time and rebuild it even stronger.”
Turning retirement dreams into reality
For Marc, this meant narrowing his focus to better serve people closer to retirement or early into it. “Rather than being a jack-of-all-trades, I wanted to zone in and master everything there was to know about retirement.” Many of the clients I had at that time were within five years of retirement.
Marc learned what was important to them, including what they wanted to do in retirement and when they wanted to get there. He also learned that many people were struggling with a lack of information about reaching their retirement goals.
Marc began working with clients to set them on the right path, including introducing them to tax and investment strategies to keep more money in their pockets on the way to those goals.
“I’d say, ‘based on the plan we put together if we implement strategy A, B, and C, you can expect to save 300 to 400 thousand throughout your lifetime’. People are kind of shocked and very appreciative to be made aware of strategies that can help their families.” In fact, Marc says, sometimes those meetings ended in tears, albeit happy ones. “I’m not the best at dealing with those sorts of emotions, but it tells me that it’s impactful.”
Education is the most important thing
The lack of education about personal finance is a pet peeve of Marc’s. He is focusing on increasing financial literacy to help everyone – clients or otherwise – become more aware of what they need to know as they work towards retirement and financial security. He has prioritized creating and consistently posting new content on his website, including blogs and videos with financial information and strategies he believes everyone should be aware of.
“I’d say the majority of our new clients come to us because they see our educational videos online,” says Marc. Something will catch their eye, or they’ll see a strategy their current advisor isn’t implementing for them which will spur them to take action.”
Marc’s website provides information and advice on topics ranging from RRSPs, investing, pensions, and more. He shares tips on planning for possible long-term care, selling your home versus renting, and why it might be good to spend most of your money before you die. You can see all the topics on his website here.
“I share all the strategies I use. If someone wants to watch the video and do it themselves, that’s great. If they want my help, that’s fine too. The more people who can improve their financial position, that’s what’s important at the end of the day.”
You don’t have to look far to see where Marc gets his desire to help. Besides being farmers and small business owners, his parents were community-minded. “They were always involved in the community and various fundraising efforts,” says Marc. ‘They weren’t forced into these initiatives; it was just their nature to give back.’
It’s been six years since Marc joined Harbourfront, and, with his five-person team, he’s managing close to $90 million. “The goal,” says Marc, “is to get to $1B in 15 years. We have a lot of growing to do!”
Part of Marc’s plan is to attract additional advisors to free up more of his own time to share his knowledge and educate more people about their personal finances and their options. “I want to increase our online presence and put out more information. We consistently get messages from people across Canada thanking us for the information we put out. That’s what it’s all about.”
“At the end of the day, it’s always about doing the right thing and doing right by those who trust us. It’s just the way I was raised.”
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.
Janice believes everyone has a story to tell. And she’s always happy to tell it.
Marc Sabourin B. Comm (Hons), CFP®
Investment Advisor / Certified Financial Planner
Chartered Investment Manager
177 St Mary's Road Suite B
Winnipeg, MC R2H 1J1
204 - 256 - 5555