27 Apr

It’s Rewarding When…

The very personal side of life insurance for Ross Allan. After many years and partnerships this is what keeps the guy going.

21 Apr

An Interview with Danielle Allan

Rob Bancroft interviews Danielle Allan… about “old boys”, backing winners and business not as usual.

Danielle Allan – “Innovation & Support”

Danielle propels innovators forward by giving their concepts legs to stand on. Creative ideas that challenge the status quo gave energy to her company, Business Dan Consulting. Danielle has been working with Allan Financial for 7 years, most recently in the capacity of Finance Director. That’s a big role to fill, but she’s been mentored by the best, and her Sauder Business School education and diverse clients have equipped her for the task.

The Kiva Project combines her deepest passions, championing entrepreneurs and making a social impact. Social venture alongside life insurance may be an unheard of idea, perhaps even tough for some to swallow. As Dan puts it, “the Allan Financial Kiva Project is in alignment with our shared value approach to business. It’s simple but innovative. It doesn’t fit into any existing parameters…and that’s why we like it.”

Her team is JAMBO SQUAD.


Rob: Can you tell me a bit about your background and experience?

Dan: I grew up in a close-knit community (Bowen Island) that taught me a lot about caring for people and giving back. I have also travelled a fair amount, so I have an appreciation for different cultures and different ways of life. Coming from a small community and being exposed to both poverty and affluence through travel has given me a heart for organizations like Kiva.

Rob: What does your Sauder Business School background bring to the table?

Dan: Sauder gave me a deep understanding of financial models and economic theory. This backbone allows me to challenge the status quo while speaking the language that business people understand. Economic theory falls short as it assumes a narrow definition of human nature, and doesn’t integrate social context. This project addresses that. Kiva speaks the business language as well as the philanthropy language, which often gets dismissed in our insurance world.

Rob: How does the Kiva Project fit with where you’ve come from and where you want to go?
Dan: I started by looking at what I wanted to do, which was to take an awesome idea from an entrepreneur and give it operational legs to stand on. I thrive on the energy and passion of entrepreneurs with new ideas, and love turning those ideas into realities. That’s also what Kiva does: it’s an organization that brings entrepreneurial ideas to life with a small amount of capital. The partnership makes sense.

It’s pretty cool to work on a ‘not just for profit’ project. I hope it will be a springboard for similar opportunities in the future.

Rob: You’re a young woman propelling an innovative project in the insurance industry – arguably one of the most conservative old school businesses out there. Why this project, within this industry?

Dan: This industry needs to come out of the dark ages: there’s limited innovative spirit in the bureaucracy of insurance companies. They don’t tend to see this trend of social responsibility as a component of developing business. It’s just business as usual. I think I have an understanding of the industry and enough contacts within it to shake things up a bit.

16 Apr

An Interview with Chriselle Kalaw

Rob Bancroft talks to Chriselle Kalaw… about fun with numbers, political family life and the logic of life.

Chriselle sees the beauty of simplicity. That’s why she thrives in her position as Product Design Specialist at Allan Financial. Chriselle takes confusing information and communicates it in a way that clients can easily understand. She facilitates tough decision-making. Translation of complexity is her gift; considering economic trends, identifying unique opportunities, and presenting customized solutions. She does it with grace.
Where does this woman get her unique vision? Raised and educated in Manila, Chriselle’s international outlook rings true with other young hardworking global types. As she puts it, “I’m passionate about rethinking insurance…some believe financial services is a boring, old school environment. But we are pushing it forward…and now we’re leveraging money for good with Kiva. That’s so fresh. You don’t change the world by trying to fit in.” Chriselle is on the rising tide of Millenials making their mark on the Vancouver business world.



Rob: Can you tell me about your role? What makes you good at what you do?

CK: I am the Product Design Specialist at Allan Financial…and it’s my pleasing personality. Kidding! *chuckles* My work entails creativity and a keen attention to detail – which ties in with my strengths. I can design facts or data in ways that provoke questions en-route to excellent solutions. It’s funny, I always tell my friends “I DO over think things and analyze every perspective. That is exactly what makes me good at my job!”.

Rob: I understand that you plan to start writing for the Allan Financial blog. What sorts of things can we expect to be hearing about?

CK: Yes! I’m really stoked about that. I plan on writing about Millennials in the workplace and what they’re all about: types of leadership, cross-cultural diversity and social engagement. There are complicated conversations that are happening between the generations. It comes into play in estate planning and insurance all the time. Most of our clients are Boomers. They are being served increasingly by Millennials – there are inherent tensions.

Rob: Ross Allan is an innovative guy, and Allan Financial is always pushing the envelope. What does that looks like from your chair in product design?

CK: Like I said earlier – innovation is illuminating opportunities and solutions. Ross brings the big picture concepts to my desk and I take care of the nitty-grittys. I provide options, and high level customization is what’s expected. The challenge is making sure the behind the scenes numbers translate into an appealing offering. I’ve got to present figures to ensure clients see value. Insurance is a whole new marketplace today – consumers have discretion. We must honor that.

Rob: You were raised and educated in Manila and you have deep family roots in the Philippines. How has your international experience equipped you for your work?

CK: Great question. Growing up in Manila has instilled the values I hold personally and professionally. I come from a family that is actively involved in politics. Growing up with leaders, I’ve had to think about whom to hang out with. I’ve always had to decipher strengths and weaknesses. Logic comes before emotion in our family. I believe this perspective has helped to get me where I am today in the financial services field. Clear analysis is important. Emotional intelligence and mad social skills are Ross’s world .

The question I am always asking myself is how we can do better. That’s what is really exciting in the Allan Financial / Kiva project. It reflects where logic and finance intersect in the very best of ways. And we are coming up with new answers.

(Read Chriselle’s thoughts on “Modern Life Insurance” on the Allan Financial blog).

14 Apr

Modern Life – Millennial Myths

Anyone who hasn’t yet hired a Millennial… is missing out!

An adviser we worked with previously posted an article about Millennials in a professional setting and captioned that the majority of us:

  • are underdressed
  • have huge salary expectations
  • believe we are entitled to a management or leadership position just because we have a College or University education
  • consider a 25 hour work week to be full-time
  • show up late

Do we really, though? Not if it’s important to us.

There is some truth to what you read about Millennials – we like to lead, we believe we’re awesome, we ask for what we want, and more often than not, what we do in the wee
hours of the morning is plot world domination. There is no denying we’ll take charge.

Millennials are forming all sorts of leadership in Canada’s corporate industry and we’re just getting started.

Out with the old and in with the new. The working dynamics between Boomers and Millennials have drastically changed. Boomers have their set ways of doing business and
Millennials come in and turn things upside down because we crave a working environment that runs efficiently and is an open space for learning and creativity.

Millennials are technology savants; and we didn’t need a degree for that. Whether it’s stirring up social media strategies, digitalizing files or shifting CRM (customer
relationship management), we always find ways to make things work better and faster. We transform, modernize, and we think in a global sense – the “bigger picture” as they
call it. Making what we do now, matter years from now

As selfish as we may seem, Millennials respect authority. Unless we are engaged in a start-up, it is most likely we are working for a Boomer, i.e. our parents. We appreciate their wisdom and honour their life experiences. We understand that there are choices to be made, and we can either work on our own, or build upon what they’ve already established. Because…why not?

Different sectors are largely influenced by Millennials. And if you are working in a team consisting of different generations, it is essential to be connected and strive for humility and respect of each other’s work if you are going to, and want to be, victorious.

09 Apr

Kiva Vignettes: Meet Agnes

We decided to start sharing some stories from entrepreneurs requesting and receiving Kiva loans. This is where your loans go!

Meet Agnes, a smallholder farmer and mother of six from Maridadi, a village in the highlands of Kitale, Kenya. She has been mixed farming for five years and is highly respected by fellow farmers in her community. Her main sources of income are eggs, milk, and corn.

Agnes enjoys feeding and tending to her chickens, and she has always wanted to increase her poultry. Poultry farming is very profitable in the Kitale region, and she knows the market well. She believes the key to increased egg production is proper feeding and care.

Agnes is seeking a loan to buy additional poultry, taking better advantage of the market and meeting the high demand. Her vision extends beyond just selling eggs and poultry meat: she will also sell feathers which are commonly used to make earrings. She will use her increased income to improve the living conditions for herself and her family.

(Story and picture provided by Kiva).

07 Apr

Playoff Hockey

In his Scottish best, Ross Allan gives some colour-commentary on the state of the insurance game today. There’s a competitive edge in the marketplace and it ain’t pretty. He’s skating fast.