- NATALIE NOBLE
RICHARD PREDHAM, CFP®, BBA, Founder, Impact Financial Planning Inc. Ottawa, Ontario
"Guiding Clients to a New Way of Financial Planning"
Richard Predham, CFP® and Founder of Impact Financial Planning Inc. is deeply passionate about delivering Canadians relevant and fundamental knowledge when it comes to their personal finances. Within this initiative, he refers to the obligation financial advisors hold to keep up with a financial planning industry that is constantly evolving.
However, in Richard’s experience, most traditional advisement models have not kept up. In fact, they have become antiquated and ineffective for Canadians investing in their futures. “A lot of people leveraging these services are unfortunately working within a model that is outdated, high in fees and designed to be obscure when it comes to the facts,” says Richard. “They’re being sold half a story and can’t make an informed decision on what’s best for them without knowing all of their available options.”
Richard doesn’t take arriving at this conclusion lightly. It was formed through a journey in the finance world that goes back to the 2000’s.
Breaking free of an ineffective model
Richard was born and raised in St. John’s, NL. He entered the financial services industry immediately after completing his business degree in 2008. Richard has held various financial planning and business advisory roles with some of Canada’s largest banks throughout his career, including overseeing business line operations in a head office capacity. He met his wife in St. John’s where she was doing her medical residency. While finishing her specialty training, the couple travelled around Canada before moving to Ottawa for the long term.
Upon settling in Ottawa and evaluating his career options, Richard realized that the two areas he felt most passionate about were client relationship building and completing personalized financial plans.
He decided it was time to start his own financial planning practice. Initially operating under the typical set up provided to financial planners in Canada, Richard quickly realized it wasn’t the right fit for the specialized offerings he had in mind for clients. “Things weren’t aligning with my own investing philosophy,” says Richard. “I’ve always strongly believed in doing the right thing for the client, but within that traditional model, it was tough to do so.”
Richard is candid in sharing his concerns with the two traditional wealth management models currently offered to Canadians. “In the first model, the advisor gives you the advice and planning “for free” but then is compensated by managing your investments,” explains Richard. “That generally involves putting your money in a higher-fee mutual fund investment. With the second model, the advisor provides the advice and planning “for free,” puts you into lower cost investments but also charges a percentage of your assets under management as an Advisory Fee.
“Each of these options typically sees a client pay between 1.5 to 2 percent annually or more. Over the long term, this amount of annual fee means a client will usually lose 30 - 50 per cent or more of their life-time savings growth,” adds Richard. “Furthermore, it presents a conflict to the planner-client relationship. How can the advisor provide unbiased advice on what the best options are if they’re compensated by placing individuals in higher fee investments?”
Inspired by the work of Larry Bates, author of Beat the Bank, Richard’s mission is to let Canadians know there are better options out there. However, they’re tough to find when people aren’t easily made aware that there are ways to avoid the pitfalls of the traditional bank and high-fee wealth management companies. One tool Richard recommends is https://larrybates.ca/t-rex-score/ which shows users just how much of their investment return they will keep and identifies how much is lost in fees or missed compound interest.
“This calculator shows compound interest working against you because in year one you pay a two percent annual fee to your advisor. Now that two percent is in the company’s bank account to grow for 25 years versus growing in your account for 25 years,” explains Richard. “There are low-cost investment options readily available that provide the same opportunities for long term growth but at an annual fee of around 0.25 percent instead of 2 percent or more. These investments allow Canadians to keep the lion’s share of their savings and not lose a large chunk to boost company profits.”
Central to Richard’s values and transparency is his Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation. “The quality of advice that is being provided is of upmost importance. The term “advisor” is so broad, anyone can be a financial advisor,” says Richard. “If someone is not keeping up with newer planning concepts, current tax legislation and different rules through continuous education it can be detrimental to a client’s finances.”
The CFP® designation assures clients they are dealing with a professional holding themselves as a fiduciary, working in their best interests to the highest ethical standards. They are also required to complete numerous continuing education courses annually to maintain core competencies. “It’s the designation that as a client I would make sure the planner I deal with has, at the very minimum,” says Richard. “Though just as important as the designation is understanding the way your planner is compensated."
The model of the future
“The only way I felt I could work in this industry and keep my client’s best interest in mind was through creating my own company,” says Richard. “Most people get their investment fact sheet and think a two percent annual fee is not so bad. Sadly, many don’t even realize they’re being charged these fees, let alone the impact they’ll have on their returns.”
Not one to hold back, he adds, “They are also unaware that most of these high fee investments with companies who are buying and selling to time or beat the market will underperform over the long run. So, you’ll give these people half of your life savings in fees and they’re statistically likely to do a worse job than if you put your money in lower cost options that invest in the market passively (trying to replicate the performance of the market rather than trying to beat it).”
Richard’s prior experience working in the traditional model was insightful. “I realized that what I do as a financial planner is very valuable. I change people’s lives.” he says. “However, no planner is worth half of someone’s life savings. The only way for me to offer my services in a way that I feel is fair while always keeping clients’ best interests first is to do it in a model where I offer financial planning at a set fee.”
Rather than handling clients’ investments, Richard educates his clients around low-cost investment options, leaving the choice of where they hold their money up to them. “I’m here to make sure they have the resources and right direction to be able to make informed decisions on where their money goes, that they’re not being taken advantage of and they can maximize value,” he says.
Richard’s practice operates in a similar manner to that of a lawyer or accountant where his client pays for professional advice, but only for the services they need. “It’s transparent, there’s no hidden fees, and there’s no justification for those services to cost half their life savings,” he says. “We talk about all financial goals – retirement plans, saving for kids’ education, buying a home, paying down debt, whatever is important to the individual.”
The primary service at Impact Financial Planning is an initial year-long engagement with a one-time fee where Richard works with the client to create a solid financial plan. “It’s extremely comprehensive and by the end of the year they know they’re on track to achieve their goals.” The company offers its services to people in all provinces across Canada with the exception of Quebec.
To start, Richard offers a complimentary meeting upfront. “I have an onboarding questionnaire and gain much of the necessary information prior to the meeting so we can be as productive as possible,” says Richard. “This meeting is a way to get to know the client better, who’s important to them, what’s important to them, their current situation and where they want to be. It’s also an opportunity for them to get to know me as a person, my experience, my process, and how it differs from the traditional ones they may have used in the past.”
The year-long engagement process means Richard and his clients get to know each other well. He then has time to not just build out the plan, but also help clients implement the recommendations. “When that year is up, not only have they got a plan, but it’s been put into action, and they can now focus on enjoying life without worrying about finances.”
After the one-year engagement is up, clients can choose how they avail of Richard’s services going forward. They can continue with their existing plan until a financial and/or lifestyle event arises that requires another engagement to update it. Clients can also choose the option of working together on an annual basis to build a long-term relationship. “They have someone they can always call to help answer questions and have check-in meetings when needed,” says Richard. “My services allow for the client to choose what makes the most sense for them while being conscious of costs,” says Richard.
Getting in on the ground level is challenging but exhilarating. “It excites me to be at the forefront of change in our industry because I know this is the model of the future,” says Richard. “All I can control is meeting people one at a time and providing them with every option at their disposal. They can then make more informed decisions for their future. I want to encourage people to ask questions instead of entering financial relationships in blind faith and just accepting they’re being given what’s best for them.”
Richard and his wife now have a toddler with another on the way, which put things so much more in perspective. “Financial literacy in Canada still has a long way to go,” says Richard. “I’m just trying to do my part to help better this generation and lay the foundation that my children’s generation will hopefully be able to leverage for bettering themselves.”
NatalieNoble’s love of writing stems from her passion for hearing and sharing people’s stories. Over the years she has written for various business, real estate, and agriculture publications. At the heart of her work is a desire to continuously learn and connect.
Richard Predham CFP®,BBA
President and Founder
Impact Financial Planning Inc.
800-1730 St. Laurent Blvd.
Ottawa, ON K1G 5L1