Canadians have come a long way over the past year.
What began as a shock to the system when the WHO declared COVID-19 a global pandemic quickly turned into a nightmare for many Canadians who found themselves out of work, struggling to manage family responsibilities and make ends meet. As governments stepped in to support businesses and individuals, the economy started to recover and gradually began adding jobs back.
Canadians collectively have been through a lot. We have also demonstrated incredible innovation and resilience in the wake of these challenging circumstances. It is hard to overstate the role financial planners have played in helping Canadians navigate unexpected challenges and regain their financial footing. Their dedication and professionalism in helping clients make the right financial decisions is proof positive that being a financial planner is more than just a job — it’s a calling.
In my conversations with Canadians and with business leaders, I sense optimism for the future as the economy continues its recovery and the rollout of vaccines gradually picks up pace.
However, that sense of relief and optimism disguises a deeper unease many Canadians — particularly those who are at risk of getting left behind — are feeling. A recent survey by FP Canada showed that Canadians have experienced two vastly different pandemics. Workers who could work from home experienced minimal financial impact, but many Canadians, particularly those in the retail and hospitality sectors and small businesses, are still reeling from the impact of continuing lockdowns due to ongoing public health restrictions.
As I look over the horizon, I see real opportunities for change. To make the post-pandemic recovery meaningful for all Canadians, we must work to ensure the recovery is inclusive. Innovative thinking and a diversity of perspectives will pave the way for a more inclusive growth and a future where all Canadians have the confidence and financial wellbeing they need.
The pandemic has been particularly harsh on women and has unravelled years of painstaking work toward appropriate representation of women in the workforce. Women today increasingly make financial decisions and have more wealth, yet, as we have seen through the pandemic, they still have the traditional role within the family, and many pause their careers to make time for raising children and providing care for aging parents. There is a significant role that financial planning must play to address the specific needs of women.
As financial planners go about the task of helping Canadians, there is a real opportunity to work with another demographic hit hard by the pandemic: young Canadians. Financial planners must engage with younger clients and communicate in a way that inspires them to act and ensure their savings are deployed in a manner that serves their long-term best interests. In particular, there is a role for professional financial planners to help younger Canadians develop financial literacy, which will enable them to have the knowledge and confidence to take charge of their financial future.
In a lot of ways, we are now at an inflection point, and our actions today will shape our future.
The current environment presents an opportunity for the financial planning profession to come together, think beyond the current communities we serve and explore ways in which we can support the needs and aspirations of all Canadians to address societal issues such as financial literacy and the ability to make informed decisions. Professional financial planners are well equipped to find innovative solutions so that all Canadians have access to the advice they need, no matter who they are or how much money they have.
As I work on my mandate as the new president and CEO of FP Canada, I look forward to building on the increased recognition that financial planning has received from lawmakers and regulators and working collaboratively with industry and stakeholders on regulations that will eliminate confusion in the minds of consumers and make it easier for them to get advice from a true professional who is qualified, ethical and always puts their client’s best interests first.