You can take control no matter your stage of life!
Have you heard of Swedish death cleaning? It’s not about finding out what items “sparks joy” but rather making sure we’re not leaving a mess behind for those we love. Surprisingly, doing this can lead to treasures and experiences to be enjoyed now!
We also got into the nitty gritty of the green end-of-life options, what you can do about it now, and why you may want to reconsider what you think you know about your choices.
Disclaimer: We are not lawyers, and this shouldn’t be taken as legal advice. And remember that we’re usually referring to how things are in BC, Canada, so things might be different where you are.
Now that we’re back in the office, please join us in welcoming our newest team member, Jessie Mejia!
Jessie joined us in early March as our Senior Executive Assistant (you can thank her for keeping Ross in line). Onboarding remotely at the onset of a pandemic was no easy feat, and Jessie took it in stride. She came to us highly recommended as a seasoned pro with over a decade of experience in high-level administration.
We love Jessie for her gentle and empathetic presence in the office, and her sharp organizational skills. Coming from the public health world, her expertise in client care and confidentiality are a huge asset to our team.
If you haven’t met her yet, Jessie is the first friendly face you’ll see when you walk in to AF. We can’t wait for you to meet!
Prior to the onset of the pandemic, we updated our technology to give our team the capability to work remotely. We didn’t know we’d need it so soon, and have a few small pieces still to implement. This should all be completed by early next week, but in the meantime, our team is taking advantage of our new capabilities.
With that in mind, we continue to be available to provide you with service regarding your existing insurance, to continue working through the design and implementation of new insurance currently under way, and to start any new planning and insurance reviews. We can easily arrange any meetings using screen sharing and teleconferencing to avoid the need for face to face meetings.
A number of our core values are being put to good use at this time – leading with heart, being thoughtfully driven to do more, and stretching to change.
This is an unprecedented situation for all of us, but rest assured that your needs continue to be our priority.
As the end of the year approaches, some of you have been asking us about the new tax laws coming into effect in 2017 and what the implications could be for your current life insurance policies.
In general, all life insurance policies issued before January 1, 2017 will be “grandfathered” and will continue to follow the current exempt test and policyholder taxation rules. There are, however, certain triggers that could remove the grandfathering status of an in force policy. For example, if additional insurance coverage is added to the policy, with medical underwriting that occurs after 2016, the policy will no longer qualify for grandfathering. Also, if term insurance is converted to permanent insurance (such as universal life) after 2016, the grandfathering will cease.
These legislative changes are intended to modernize the tax rules for life insurance. These laws were last revised in 1982. Since then, people have been living longer, interest and inflation rate conditions have changed and a vast array of new insurance products have emerged.
So is there anything you should do? Generally, only if:
* you are thinking of either adding more coverage to your existing policy or * you are thinking of taking out an entirely new policy (especially a corporately-owned policy) would you need to consider doing so before the end of the year. Otherwise, you are all good.
We’re very excited to have surpassed $300,000 in loans to over 1,000 women around the world. Big thanks to all of you who have loaned with us! See this page for more info, and stay tuned for some exciting things in the works!
We decided to share some stories from entrepreneurs requesting and receiving Kiva loans. This is where your loans go!
Meet Gulnora, an experienced farmer from a small town in Northern Tajikastan. She is 50 years old and a widowed mother of six. Losing her husband and raising her children alone has been very difficult, but Gulnora is hardworking, goal-oriented, and knows how to succeed in crop-agriculture. She is a wise woman and a permanent client of Kiva’s regional partner organization, IMON, and she has a good credit history.
She is seeking a loan to buy fertilizer, natural chemicals, seeds, etc. for making the land productive. This would improve her harvest season next year, she will use the extra earnings to provide food and clothing for her family.
The winds of change are blowing as we head into summer at Allan Financial! We’re thrilled to welcome Katie Ezerins to the team as our new Office Manager. Katie joins us from a career in event coordination, and we’re so excited to have her working with us. She’s the first person you’ll talk to when you call, and the first person you’ll see when you walk in the door.
Maria Markham, Ross’ Executive Assistant, is moving on to pursue a career in nutrition! We are sad to see her go, but excited for her to embark on this new journey following her passion. “One of the biggest things Ross has taught me is to take risks. So I’m doing it! Thanks so much to this team, our clients, and everyone in our community for making it such a difficult one to leave. I will miss you all!”
Women and Finance: Never before have these two words been more promising.
According to PriceMetrix, recent statistics suggest that record numbers of women are graduating from business schools; that online female consumers have 70% consumer power; that intergenerational wealth transfer is moving money to women in record numbers. And the financial services industry is starting to pay attention.
Several women at Allan Financial had the honour contributing our voices to this conversation at the Scotiabank/HollisWealth “Women in Wealth”conference in Toronto this month. Danielle Allan took to the stage as a millennial expert on a panel entitled, “It’s Not Just About Twitter,” hosted by Patti-Jo Wiese. The chat was all about community building and the benefits of social media for business. Our favourite creative, Randal Kurt of Bemoved Media; Olympian and Senior Investment Adviser Michelle Cowell of Benson Kearley IFG; and Digital Strategist Carolyn Wheatley of High Road Consulting were also in the mix.
We heard powerful insights on bravery from Cassie Campbell (two time Olympic gold medalist and Hockey Night in Canada commentator), Tuula Jalasjaa (Managing Director & Head, HollisWealth), Barb Mason (Chief Human Resources Officer, Scotiabank), and two dynamic sessions from our powerful colleagues, Michele Soregaroli (Transformation Catalyst), and Christine LaLiberte (Insightful Wealth Group).
Attendees walked away with a better understanding of gender issues in the workplace, personal branding, social media, and the importance of women leveraging networks and their individual communities. Check out the rest of the beautiful images, captured by Randal Kurt, here.
We think the best takeaway of the conference was the simple, strong wisdom of Cassie Campbell. She spoke about power, courage, influence and impact. Her tip: ”believe you belong.”
And our participation as women is changing the game.
Rob Bancroft interviews PJ Wiese about marketing and building a community.
Patti-Jo Wiese – “Community Builder and Connector”
Never to be seen without her iPhone in hand, Patti-Jo is the lead on creative communication and marketing strategy at Allan Financial. Whether she’s creating hype for an event, building new alliances, or coaching the staff on professional development, she is always teeing things up. Patti-Jo is usually five steps ahead, leaving a signature wake.
Rob: Hi PJ – let’s start from the start. What do you actually do?
PJ: The start eh? How far back should we go…? People think of me as the woman who does Ross’ marketing. There’s always been more to it than that.
I’m actually a business community builder, but I’ve been marketing with stories for (gulp) 20 years in film and tech.
My passion is working closely with innovative senior leaders like Ross. The goal is always to invigorate their businesses. I come aboard sometimes to scale it, sometimes as part of a succession plan, or sometimes to set the stage for disruptive innovation. That’s my favourite.
Ross has been a dream client. He had such a strong community of clients and partners behind him but he needed to move it online to more effectively leverage his influence and impact. Over four years we’ve moved what he did offline into the digital world using beautiful images, playful video and storytelling.
Rob: Some would say Ross is a natural “personality,” and your marketing approach wouldn’t work for just any regular company.
PJ: I’ll be honest: I was drawn here by some raw talent. Ross is a kind of fun-magnet, a charismatic salesman at heart and a natural relationship builder. But I’ve stayed because of his leadership courage. Ross delegates and empowers his staff fully to innovate and modernize. That takes confidence and vision.
And, hey …for a marketer, there was no greater challenge than making a life insurance company look chipper! We’ve managed that and way more.
Rob: What have been the most effective and most challenging aspects of your work?
PJ: Like I said, Ross empowered us to push boundaries. It’s a rare consulting relationship of full permission and full responsibility – it’s a symbol of the healthy modern, workplace he’s created.
I took great license in making videos. I could see his playful nature was his most compelling, trust- building quality. And only 3% of businesses make their own content. Videos made us stand out.
And they worked! Clients and partners shared these short clips because they were so unexpected, even random. With life insurance, people are prepared to contemplate their life expectancy and instead they get 2 minutes of whimsical improv. We never expected these to go kind of viral.
So yes, the videos have been a blessing and a curse. They made the unpleasant palatable, but created some backlash too. It’s not always silly-time at Allan Financial. My current challenge is to represent the side of the business that is deeply sophisticated. This is a cutting edge financial firm run by an agile, I’d even say brilliant, and experienced millennial team.
Rob: How are you addressing that?
PJ: Well, that’s exactly what our new website is about. It looks simple, but it’s really not!
Our new site, www.allanfinancial.com, is mobile-friendly and built around beautiful portraits focused on the personalities of each of the staff. It’s a portal to 22 videos produced over 3 years, 100s of images, and access to our ground breaking Allan Financial Kiva Project which has moved $210,000 in micro-loans to 700 female entrepreneurs in 21 countries.
Oh yeah – damn right, I’m proud of this site!
The new Allan Financial site is a direct reflection of solid strategy, team tenacity, client connection, and the pure creative grit of Randal Kurt and Meralon Shandler of Bemoved Media.
We’ve built a website designed to nurture relationships: that isn’t normal for insurance, but it’s every day at Allan Financial.
Rob: What is powerful about the Kiva project from a marketer’s perspective?
PJ: You wouldn’t think that lending money to women around the world would sell personal life insurance policies. But it has.
I brought the Kiva partnership to Ross years ago because I knew he understood that social giving is critical to the success of his company. Because of the intergenerational nature of the insurance business, it is a must.
Social business matters to millennials. Ross’ team and the adult children of many of his long-time clients are young professionals. They deeply care about social innovation.
We’re getting unbelievable buzz about the Kiva project from way beyond the insurance business. I’m benefiting in the consultant’s chair because of Ross’ willingness to boldly try something so out of the ordinary.
Rob: So you don’t really do just Social Media after all?
PJ: Ahh no – that’s Emily’s job! Social Media still strikes fear in the hearts of Boomers. But, be it LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – it’s simply a tool for connecting. Just like a text, phone call, or face-to-face meeting.
My advice is just to act strategically, build trust, and be real! And never forget traditional marketing initiatives like good ol’ fashioned events rooted in client appreciation. Take a genuine gratitude approach. Ross truly believes that he must keep earning trust: it’s his point of satisfaction.
Rob: What excites you for the future?
PJ: Ross’s wild, young team is changing the insurance industry! I use this office as an example of what is possible with clients in other sectors. I’ve never been more inspired by the business chops and social conscience of a group of young professionals in my 20 year career. They are game changers: just you watch.
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.”
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.
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).
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:
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.
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.
The Allan Financial team is kick-starting an exciting partnership with a micro lending organization called Kiva!
We’re lending $25,000 through Kiva, who will distribute it to entrepreneurs in developing countries around the world. Our loans will empower men and women to start new enterprises and expand their businesses, which translates to an improved quality of life for their communities.
The Allan Financial Kiva Project is another way we measure the bottom line beyond dollars earned – it’s about the lives that we touch, here and around the world. We’re passionate about helping you Enjoy Your Life. The Allan Financial/Kiva Project is all about helping others to enjoy their lives, too.
It feels good. Join our team and you’ll see. You don’t want to miss the party to celebrate our collective impact!
Why Kiva? Good question.
Kiva is the leader in global micro finance. Check it out: www.kiva.org. Endorsed by the Clinton Foundation, Oprah and now James Ross Allan ? – they’ve set a gold standard for innovation, accountability and transparency.
It’s financial services as they should be. It’s an approach we believe in and admire.
Interested? You can choose to lend with one of four teams representing East Asia, the Middle East, Africa or South America! Feel free to get in touch for more information.
Rob Bancroft interviews Ross Allan about being disruptive, working with women and social responsibility.
Ross Allan “ Leadership and Vision”
Ross Allan is well regarded as one of Canada’s top life insurance advisers with 30 years of experience in financial services. Allan Financial’s focus is exclusively on life insurance products. Ross’s personal dedication, sense of humour and financial expertise are the backbone of his company. As an insurance expert he holds close relationships with Canada’s top insurance companies, though client advocacy and customization are at the core of his business. Ross’s innovative approach uses life insurance as a versatile financial tool. He has had a successful career of crafting financial solutions to meet unique the circumstances of his clients and their families.
How did you come to sell life insurance? 30 years is a long time…
No one else would give me a job! I was a Phys-Ed major in 1984. It was a tough economy, and insurance companies recruited from our faculty.Back in the day if you had a degree and you didn’t get into the health and wellness industry, you landed in life insurance! They wanted Phys-Ed people because they’re team players, highly social and competitive. It was supposed to be a temporary thing….
But I’m still here … I’ve got an amazing team, hundreds of clients and colleagues. I’m grateful that I specialized in this industry…there is still lots of opportunity.
Your company recently launched the Allan Financial/Kiva project – an unlikely microfinance campaign. It’s got some people asking why? And why now?
What are your thoughts on CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility ) ?
A lot of my thoughts on CSR come from listening to my daughters. CSR probably wouldn’t have naturally come to me. I don’t think I would have sought it out. But what caught my attention was the need to change.
I’m in a really old school business, and I see myself as an innovator in this field. There’s a hands on, roll up your sleeves value system that says if a person is going to make a change and do something meaningful, they should do it where they spend their time.
I’m attached to the idea that we can be “difference makers” in a marketplace where my company can be the initiator. My heart’s in business so social responsibility needs to be expressed through this medium in order to mean something to me.
Why did you choose a micro-finance project like Kiva ?
Wouldn’t writing a charity check have been more simple?
Bottom line… I trusted Danielle and PJ with that. That said, I’ve come to see how my company and Kiva as an organization are aligned. Our business is about relationships, and lending with Kiva established meaningful business relationships that make sense to business people.
It’s very meaningful now that we are all into it…my team and I, as well as our clients. We have built a community around this company. This is just another context to work out the “fun financial” schtick.
We have staff competing on internal house teams to bring in the most Kiva loans. They are chatting up clients, they are alive with it in the office. Clients are learning and talking about more than applications.
And…. I have a feeling we are going to have a pretty memorable party to wrap this project up if I know my team.
A “shared value” business approach is something you champion… how is Kiva the similar?
We’re already diverting corporate revenue for the benefit of the greater collective good – it’s beneficial to customers in terms of their financial world. They’re enjoying their life – and more security from their insurance – thanks to that approach. If I can create a financial product that performs better than the marketplace, then I’m doing my job and it feels good.
I want to arc that over to Kiva and extend that concept into a shared value, cooperative arrangement with business owners in developing countries. I know what it’s like to be under capitalized – every business owner has been there. Trying to scale a business in North America is difficult. These loan recipients are experiencing the same stress, and I don’t have to lend them a million dollars to help. If I can carve out a portion of my financial world to help them, then why wouldn’t I?
You have unique, young, women centered work culture that seems to have a great time ! You get teased about that a whole lot.
Yes – I know, I get called out on that all the time!
The millennial staff are the future of our business. We sell a product that “Millenials” are going to need, and that the older generation won’t need. The product that we offer meets the objectives of the millennial marketplace. A lot of people are catering to retirees, but I like the pace of running with young people and families with complicated situations.
If we’re going to market to Millenials, I had better hire some!. If we’re going to market to women, then I would be well advised to hire women.
It’s true…I happen to find myself with a staff contingent of young women and women with young children. They can handle the change and complexity around here. I see their expertise and my business is growing because of that.
You’ve put a lot of resources into your “digital presence” unlike other insurance advisers. Why is that?
Building an online and offline community is very important. Trust is everything. I have a team that really understand that.
Besides, Gen Y is all about the web and retirees are coming on to social media now too. It’s an inter-generational game. You have to be there. You know it’s funny… these days I can get clients messaging on Facebook that won’t pick up the phone. The Allan Financial/Kiva Project is another online project that’s driven by the desire to connect to our clients about real life. Most clients expect companies to be web oriented. They also want you to contribute to change. It’s a given for the Melennials coming up.
My staff brought it to me and said ‘this needs attention,’ so I listened. We’re participating in a conversation that my target market wants to talk about.
How will the Allan Financial/ Kiva project affect your “Enjoy Your Life” brand?
We’re about looking beyond conventional products and financial planning and being a bit disruptive. We’re mixing it up. We live on the West Coast and there’s a natural lifestyle draw, but as they say, “money is for something”.
We’re giving clients a portal to a world different than their own. I want Allan Financial to be associated with that kind of innovation – the kind that makes clients see new opportunities, and that starts to change what it means to “Enjoy Life”.
Finally – Which in house team will win the race to bring in the most KIVA loans from your clients?
As if there’s any question….. my team, filled with Allans: Jambo Squad! Asian Sensation, Team Latina, Dynamic Duo ..you don’t stand a chance! But then what do I know…I’m just a Phys Ed grad.