I was born in Calgary and have lived here my entire life. I truly believe that this is the very best city in the world. I’m the youngest of three children. My two older sisters, Karen and Patty, who also live here, help me with my live events. If you’ve attended one of my workshops, it’s likely you’ve met one or both of them at the registration table.
I have the best Mom & Dad in the world. They were very hard working people but they always had time for us. They owned a small business called Al’s Equipment Rentals (my Dad’s name is Al too). It was located right across the street from McMahon Stadium. I always had a weekend and summer job there and that’s where I learned the value of hard work.
I played little league baseball and my Dad somehow found time to coach my team even though he had enough on his plate. He was harder on me than he was on the other players, but I look back on it now and I understand why – he wanted me to excel. In retrospect, I’m glad he demanded so much from me because I learned to demand a lot from myself too.
Sometimes I look back at my childhood and adolescence and think I’m the luckiest guy in the world. Not just because of the wonderful time I had as a kid or the great family I was part of, but also because this was the time I met my future wife. Kathy and I met when we were only 13 and quickly became junior high school sweethearts. It’s hard to remember my life before I knew her, and I can’t imagine my life without her. She’s given me the most important thing in my life: my son Trey. He was born last year, and I still get emotional when I think about that day.
I grew up in Varsity and went to Sir Winston Churchill High School and the University of Calgary. After graduation I went to work full-time in the family business doing everything from accounting to fixing chainsaws. I learned quickly that I liked accounting and finance better than fixing equipment – and I was better at it. Unfortunately, there wasn’t enough accounting or finance to keep me busy in the business and I found myself with grease under my fingernails all too often. It was time to move on.
After a brief time building an accounting practice, I got a job as a financial planner, went back to school and completed the Certified Financial Planning program. I spent the next 14 years building a successful and lucrative financial planning and investment advisory business with my partner Phil Seguin.
We specialized in working with people who were retired or near retirement. We identified this as a market that desperately needed financial planning advice, but wasn’t getting it from the financial industry. We saw the opportunity, filled the need and our business grew rapidly. Our goal was to bring more value to our clients than any other investment advisors in the industry. This was a very happy time for me, business was growing, my lifestyle was better than I ever dreamed and most important of all, we were really helping people.
After a while, I began to realize that things were changing in the financial business. The industry started forgetting what their clients really needed: meaningful financial advice. Instead, the financial industry began to put ‘sales’ ahead of ‘advice‘ and itself ahead of its clients. All of the sudden it seemed like everyone in the business was only out for themselves. I saw financial advisors taking advantage of their trusting clients. The attitude became: ‘churn and burn’.
More and more often I met nice people who had been victims of some financial planner or investment advisor. It wasn’t just their nest-eggs that suffered, it was their hopes and dreams that were being ruined. It was about this time I began to have second thoughts about my career in the financial business.
I had a choice to make: keep my mouth shut and play the game, or speak up and tell the world what’s going on. So, I gave up my securities license, sold my practice and wrote a book to tell all about it. Now I can help people more than I could ever before, and it feels good.
Kathy and I have had to make a few financial sacrifices. The lifestyle isn’t like it used to be. We sold our cottage, stopped eating out at fancy restaurants and stopped taking trips to warmer climates. I tell Kathy that now that we have Trey, we wouldn’t be doing much traveling anyway. She says that none of it matters to her and that she’s proud of me. I’m lucky to have her.
I turned 40 last September. I’ve been too busy to think much about it but I can’t completely put it out of my mind. They say, ‘you’re only as old as you feel’. Well, I feel about 40 most days. There’s a few more aches and pains and I have a little less energy, but I’m fighting to stay as young as I can for my boy. After all, I’ll need to if I’m going to coach his team one day.