A Money Coach in Canada

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Photo Credit: Roland

I had a splash of cold water dumped on my head this weekend.

It’s not that I hadn’t intellectually grasped the fact that being on the payroll would diminish my credibility as a genuine fan of Citizens Bank of Canada.

But neither had I realized the extent to which any kind of marketing (even though I don’t consider myself a “marketer”; I’m an “evangelist”) job is instantly suspect.

Here’s the thing.

  1. Most people who know me, get pretty fast that I’m straight-shooting and straight-up.  This is one of my most deeply held personal values.  It was/is critical to my success as a money coach:  If a client is going to trust me with conversations about their money, they need to be sure that I’m not going to engage in so much as a hint of duplicity or judgment, not to mention anything unscupulous.
  2. With the exception of a brief stint here or there, every one of my jobs have had personal meaning to me.  Life for the paycheque is no life at all.

But there I was at BarBank Camp BC (an unconference with mega brain power and creativity applied to discussions about banking/credit unions) and the question came up:  Is it possible for people to actually love their f.i.?

I think it is, because I love mine.

But here’s where things got perplexing.

I love mine enough…that I’ve chosen to work there.   Before I worked there, I told others about it.  Lots and lots.  Now, I do the same thing except even more, and yes, I get a paycheque (NOT commission!) for it.

But when I posed the question to the group, I got a resounding response that simply by being on payroll, my authenticity diminished (one person even suggested, diminished by 90%).

I’ve never encountered this before:

When I was VP of a hotel college  no one questioned whether I was sincerely being a VP.

When I delivered financial literacy seminars for FSGV no one questioned whether I was a sincere facilitator.

When I  worked as an employment counsellor years ago for HRSDC no one questioned whether I truly wanted clients to find a great job.

So why is it that now that I (once again) get paid to do what I love – give lots of shoutouts for a kick-ass bank, suddenly my motives are suspect?  I don’t get it.

Readers:  What do you think?  Are we soooo cynical that anyone with so much as a whiff of marketing to them gets tossed to the bottom of the heap of credibility?


photo credit: Bast

I bet some of you have been in situations, work and otherwise, where the hard questions weren’t asked.   Where, out of fear of reprisal, consequences or even simply not wanting to appear dumb or the odd person out, no one spoke up or asked frank questions.   The elephant in the room – perceived or not- continued to munch away contentedly, unreferenced.  Here’s how this can play out:

Today the US Federal reserve had to bail out yet another financial company – AIG – to prevent an shattering impact not only on the US economy, but the global economy.  This means the American public is now an 80% shareholder of AIG (how ironic!  The US may become socialist, yet!).

This isn’t hyperbole:  we are at real risk of an economic shakedown the likes of which none of us have seen.   Follow the path:

1.  Lenders offer mortgages to people who did not have the means to keep up the mortgages.

2. Those lousy mortgages got bundled up with other financial  products and sold to investment firms/banks as packages.

3. The truth will out, and the mortgages started to default.

4. Because the mortgages were bundled, it took a while for anyone to realize they had a lousy package.

5. When  the horrible truth started to dawn,  and banks/firms realized they held a lot of lousy mortgages, they were unwilling to continue lending money to anyone but super-stars (if even them) with top-tier credit.

6.  This means your average decent joe can’t get a loan … to buy a home … to invest in a business … and the economy starts to slow.

7.  The US gov’t tries to encourage spending by giving away cash to everyone.   Central banks cut interest rates to encourage people to at least TRY to borrow.

8.  And meanwhile, stalwart companies like Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers and AIG get sucked under.

And as people are starting to bitterly remark, it’s your average person who is stuck holding the bag.

What does this have to do with Asking Hard Questions?

Well, a lot of people didn’t ask hard questions in the process above.

  • Which product managers did not ask whether 40-year, 0% interest etc. mortgages should be given?
  • Which mortgage brokers did not ask whether they should approve a mortgage to people clearly incapable of handling the payments?
  • Which investment dealers did not ask exactly what was inside the bundles they bought?
  • Which investment advisors also did not ask, before selling them to investors?
  •  Which governments, happy with laissez-faire did not intervene?

Well, the ones who didn’t were the ones probably happy to take the commissions and fatten their wallets.

It’s easy to be judgmental.  The fact is, we, in our little lives in our little spheres, don’t ask questions either.

I vote we start asking.  We start pressing even when it feels awkward.  Who knows — we might just save the world.

 Lame Title, but the question remains:

Is Apple Care worth it?

I have always understood that buying insurance on tech items was for suckers.  However, I have often heard that Apple Care is actually a good deal.

Most recently, I heard it on Leo Laporte’s MacBreak Weekly.


(I think it was Scott who buys it with each apple product).

Readers:  any opinions out there?

151772000_b14ef7f16a1.jpgThis Saturday I visited no less than Five places of worship. I saw a 13 year old Jewish boy’s bar mitzvah. I saw a portion of a Sikh wedding. I saw the preparations for Krishna’s birthday in a Hindu temple. I visited a Buddhist temple. And I went to a Muslim mosque.

We received a booklet about Islam, and here’s something I found interesting: One of the five pillars is as follows.

It is the religious duty for every Muslim who is prosperous enough to accumulate and retain a sufficient amount of savings to give a portion of his or her wealth to the needy each year. These alms are called Zakah in Arabic, which literally means “purification”. All things belong to God, The Most Merciful, and wealth is held in trust by human beings. Paying these alms is a way for people who are financially able to purify the ethically gained wealth that God has bestowed upon them. In addition, it is a means to directly distribute wealth throughout society and help the poor and needy. Zakah (alms) also purifies the soul of the giver, reduces greed, and strengthens compassion and generosity among humanity. The basic rate of these alms is two and a half percent of the wealth that has been held in savings for an entire year. These alms are levied on savings, not income.

I found this extremely interesting. My own faith tradition (Anglican, Christian) has a similar concept, called tithing. Ours is much muddier which has good and bad points. I like the Muslim plan – it’s based on savings; in other words, on what you have in excess – although given our savings rates in Canada, that may not amount to much! – rather than on income.

I also like that it’s non-negotiable. We Christians are not accountable. If we give, we give, and if not, no one notices (or if they do, they don’t say anything). (and do I give? Yup, regularly to a couple orgs, and spontaneously to my neighbours living outside, but not even a fraction of the traditional 10%, even on my post-tax income, frankly).


1. Does your faith tradition, if you have one, say anything about giving money to the needy?

2. One question that arose for me is: Is faith-based giving assuming we don’t already pay taxes which go to helping those less fortunate among us?

photo credit: horizon

Truth be told, I’m a Jeffersonian. Maybe it was my high-schooling in Alberta, but I have a pretty fierce indie-entrepreneur streak in me. But of course we ended up in a bizarre political/economical state in which The Corporation hit a little too close to home. Bizarre, in that corporations can, and do, operate in a way that often is not in the best interests even of its customers, much less the public good.

That’s why I am almost gleeful over the recent Rogers debacle, and now this weekend, the dilemma in which NBC found itself. U.S. residents did you-tube end-runs around NBCs embargo of the opening ceremonies until primetime (better advertising revenue), while NBC staff spent the day frantically issuing “take that down!” requests to various sites showing their own videos. Sort of a corporate whack-a-mole.

In short, these demonstrate instances in which people have reclaimed their role in the relationship between themselves and a corporation, ie., put themselves front and centre. As Suze Orman says, People first, then money, then things.

Right wing politics, I had thought in my youth, was all about people first – freedom, respecting individuality, meritocracy. I don’t see a lot of that in our society, but rather a right-wing engendered ethos in which we’ve disengaged from politics in favour of consumption (see WALL-E, the ultimate storyline of corporation-as-state),  and so incrementally I’ve edged over to the left which still says: People first. And hooray for web 2.0 which gives us a little boost.  I’m kinda happy these days.

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