What a financial advisor can and should do for you...

Dawn Luhning |

I have read and was told a long time ago that the bank works for the bank. Bank employees are often awarded for the amount of assets that they bring through the doors and I wonder sometimes if people understand that not always are they doing what's in your best interest. I have examples. I have clients who have GICs at the bank,  and usually, if not most of the time, those clients never hear from the bank when those investments come due. The bank often rolls the maturities back into the same term without speaking to the client and asking them if they want a different term, reviewing the rates, and/or if they need the funds. Banks at times do not have the rates that I can offer as a broker. If the GICs roll over automatically, your investment may be in a term where the interest rate is not the best and the term is inappropriate for the funds at this point in your life.

That doesn't happen in my office. With every maturity that comes due, the client gets a call, an email, or we have a meeting to discuss reinvestment or otherwise. I work for the client.

In the banking world as another example, creditor insurance protects loans and mortgages from death, health and/or disability issues of the client. You'll notice that I didn't say that the coverage protects the client. I've done topics on creditor insurance vs personal insurance before. Creditor insurance on your mortgage protects the BANK from a death or disability of the client. If you have an outstanding mortgage of $400000 and your spouse passes away, and you have creditor insurance through your lender or bank, that lender will do the underwriting when you let them know of the death or disability. This means that the bank or lender will ask the survivor questions about the deceased's health and or enquire on the deceased's health bureau to get a determination of how they became disabled, or died. Because they do the underwriting at the time of claim, there is a 20-25% possibility that the claim will not be covered and your debt will continue to have to be paid by you, the surviving partner. CBC MarketPlace did an expose on this exact topic. If they do pay out the claim, they will pay out the balance of the loan or mortgage, to the bank, and you as the survivor do not get any funds from that claim. Of course that seems to be okay but the control is in the bank/lender's hands.

But let's look at this from the personal insurance perspective. In the same example, that $400000 mortgage, if you owned the coverage personally, would pay YOU the balance owing on the mortgage or the face value of the policy. Personal insurance also does its underwriting at time of APPLICATION. So if you are approved for coverage at application, you begin to pay your premium to the insurance company. If you pass away, or incur a disability or a health issue, and own those types of policies, the face value of the policy or monthly indemnity will pay out to YOU, and not the bank. The cash is now in your hands to do with it what you want. More importantly, it gives you the time to breathe and reflect on what to do next if you lose a loved one. The control is in your hands.

I understand that people want to have a relationship with their bank, to a certain degree but...are they really working for your best interests? If you've always invested in GICs and then the bank wants to consolidate your assets into mutual funds when you're elderly, is this appropriate for you? Or is this just asset gathering for them? I've seen this in action and I don't understand.

Can you reach your banker whenever you want or need something? You can email, call or text me anytime and I'll often return that call within 12 hours. I've had clients tell me they can never get a hold of someone at their bank. They usually get a voice mail or someone in another area of the country.

Banks will often ask for probate if someone passes away and there are no beneficiaries appointed. You can talk to me about avoiding probate altogether (if it's appropriate for your situation) because I have access to investments that allow you to appoint beneficiaries on ALL investment types. I am insurance licensed and have access to products the banks do not have access to.

Keep your chequing account and a small savings account at the bank if you wish. BUT, if you want to save for your future and you want to save for renovations, vacation, your children's or grandchildren's education, invest with a financial advisor. Someone like me who can provide personal service to you and be at your beck and call when something is needed. You need to make an RRSP contribution, a TFSA contribution, start an RESP or an RDSP, I am here for you. You will very rarely get a voice mail in my office and I'll answer your text as soon as I'm out of my meeting or off a phone call. (or sleeping or on vacation, but I think you get the drift!).

Allow me to give you a second opinion on your investments held at the bank. If you have GICs at the bank, ask me about my rates and what rate I can get for you. If you hold bank mutual funds, I can hold those same mutual funds for you here. There are no fees to move them to me as is. Then refer to the paragraphs above about being able to get a hold of someone.

I can help you with the planning that you need to have a successful today, and tomorrow. The service my office will provide you is personalized to your needs and goals. Isn't that what you expect out of your advisor when dealing with your money?

I say it is. Until next week...

~ Dawn