When Jackie Porter talks to clients about “financial resilience,” she speaks from experience.
A financial advisor in Mississauga, Ont., Porter bases the advice she gives her clients on an ability to withstand the setbacks and challenges life throws at all of us – both financially and emotionally.
Porter’s approach springs from a hard lesson in resilience she learned at an early age.
When Porter was just 16 years old, her mother, who was Porter’s sole guardian, passed away from stomach cancer shortly after receiving her diagnosis. Porter became responsible for her own well-being. She worked two part-time jobs and shared an apartment with a friend while earning a high-school diploma.
“[That situation] made me really cognizant of the fact that you never know how long you’re going to live or what life is going to bring you,” Porter says. “And that’s why the theme of my business is ‘financial resilience’.”
After high school, Porter pursued a bachelor of arts degree in psychology and communications at York University. Soon thereafter, she picked up her first full-time job, selling networking equipment for Bell Canada. When Bell began downsizing, Porter was offered a buyout package, which she accepted.
Porter was referred to a financial planner to advise her about the severance package. Meeting that financial advisor changed the course of Porter’s career.
Says Porter: “That was the first time I had heard there was such a field [as financial planning] and that I actually could have money work for me.”
Porter began her career in the financial services sector by working as an insurance advisor for a couple of insurance firms. She joined her current firm, Carte Wealth Management Inc., in 2008.
Porter, who is 47 years old, is a certified financial planner. She sells insurance and investment products and offers financial planning advice on a fee-only basis. Her practice now comprises a full-time, three-person team, which includes an assistant and a “client experience” manager. Porter also has a part-time employee who helps with social media.
A large portion of Porter’s clients are legal and health-care professionals, and that focus has led to another demographic niche: many of these clients are single women over 45 years of age. These women often are concerned about funding their retirement on their own and need a financial plan.
Satisfied clients sometimes refer their single female friends to Porter, a trend that has helped her expand in this niche.
Advising this client segment led Porter to co-write a book with her mentor and friend, Jill O’Donnell, who is an elder-care specialist. That book, entitled Single by Choice or Chance: The Smart Woman’s Guide to Living Longer, Better, published in 2016 by Insomniac Press, addresses the financial and lifestyle challenges single women face after they reach middle age. The book is intended to be a reference that readers can return to at different stages of their lives.
“I was raised by a single mom,” Porter says, “which is why I’m pretty passionate about women being able to take care of themselves.”
In Porter’s practice, as in her book, she helps guide clients through unexpected life transitions.
“The top three risks that people face are not related to the [financial] markets,” she says. “They’re losing your health, losing your job and divorce.”
In addition to helping clients withstand the financial aspects of career changes and marital breakdown, Porter advises clients who have recently received a cancer diagnosis.
“This has a lot to do with what I saw my mother go through,” she says.
Porter, through her volunteer work with the Canadian Cancer Society and, more recently, Gilda’s Club, has heard many stories of Canadians faced with financial uncertainty after a cancer diagnosis.
Porter helps her clients to create a strategy for surviving a cancer diagnosis financially – an experience that can be devastating, both emotionally and financially.
“I’m in the trenches with people who have been through it,” says Porter, who helps her clients take stock of their savings and health-care expenses and provides advice to clients about how long their money will last.
Porter also notes that crises don’t necessarily come one at a time: “The funny thing about life is it cascades. So, sometimes when you get sick, you might get divorced and you might lose your job all at the same time. I try to give clients innovative ways to understand their financial circumstance, understand their cash flow, take responsibility and also build hope for the future when they can start saving again.”
Porter’s work surrounding financial resilience – and her book – have led to frequent paid speaking engagements, an activity that has helped to build her business. Often, she speaks to groups of lawyers and at events that focus on women in business.
Porter’s other marketing efforts primarily involve LinkedIn. Her part-time employee curates information related to financial resilience and creates a social-media calendar for Porter to approve. Porter also uses the platform herself, often to share information about upcoming events she plans to attend.
In Porter’s spare time, she loves to attend live theatre and has found a successful way of incorporating that passion into her practice through an annual event she calls Food for Thought.
Through Food for Thought, Porter provides her clients with discounted tickets to plays performed at the Stratford Festival, a live theatre festival in Stratford, Ont. Porter also develops partnerships with investment companies to help pay for a group dinner as part of each excursion.
Last year, for example, Porter and her clients watched the musical Guys and Dolls, followed by a meal at the Queen’s Inn. During dinner, a representative from Dynamic Funds led a discussion on receiving returns in a slow-growth market. That talk was followed by an information session by author Elizabeth Verwey, who described her travels around the world as a single woman.
Typically, 25 to 30 clients and their friends attend a Food for Thought event.
Porter says she was a self-professed “single woman for life.” Then, four years ago, she met her life partner, Rick – ironically, just as she was beginning to write her book about single life. She and Rick love beaches and enjoy travelling to the Caribbean.