A Better World Through Strategic Giving was the theme for the 24th Annual National Conference for the Canadian Association of Gift Planners.
Marie Phillips and Betty-Anne Howard, as you can see, happily attended this conference and learned a lot as a result. We wanted to share some of the lessons we learned within this Advisor friendly environment. This tends to surprise other Financial Advisors because they have no idea the important role we play within the philanthropic sector and to realize that we are welcomed with open arms with one proviso. Your heart needs to be in the right place. That is, you should enter this realm not for the business it could potentially generate but for the joy of making the world a better place!
What We Learned
Lesson #1: Lorna Summers’s Key Note address, as she unveiled her Star Trek costume implored us to Go Boldly Forward, be an agent and ambassador of change, this is our voyage of discovery. Look at the opportunities and not just the challenges – refresh and recalibrate. This takes courage and tenacity. She reminded us of the Marcel Proust quote (that we are sure everyone can relate to) “The real voyage of discovery is not seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.” Words to live by, including in our industry of Financial Services, would you agree?
Lesson #2: Panel on Women and Philanthropic Trends – Jo-Anne Ryan from TD referenced their incredible study of women and philanthropy noting that there are motivational differences between women and men when it comes to philanthropy. Women volunteer first and then donate. Women want to have an impact and know the good their money and donations are doing for the betterment of society.
Women often inherit twice, once from their parents and then from their spouse! Their embedded family values determine to a large extent what they do with that money. Women’s influence over wealth in Canada continues to rise and our distinct approach to giving and planning needs to be better understood by both charities and financial advisors.
We believe that it’s important to explore the meaning behind the money when it comes to both inheritance planning and philanthropy. Skills we need to not only develop but also enhance through organizations like CAGP.
Lesson #3: Leadership in Turbulent Times – Carla Funk and Lee Sentes from Royal Roads University encouraged us to; ask questions within our organizations, find people with shared values and shared goals, clearly state your “why” within your own business and organization, we learn by doing and we need to be open to discussing better ways of doing things.
And this gem from a book titled The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Business by Patrick M. Lencioni; “No one but the leader of the organization can make it healthy – you can’t assign that role”
Lesson #4: Don Tapscott speaking on Philanthropy in the Second Era of the Internet and we could easily add Financial Services to this as Blockchain could completely upend and make the world a different place for all of us. We finally gained a modicum of understanding of what this concept is and means. Blockchain could alter wealth distribution and ultimately make the world a better place by “deploying knowledge assets” so that they benefit others rather than the bifurcation of wealth. Music to our ears!
Lesson #5 Bruce MacDonald, CEO of Imagine Canada challenged us with his “5 wicked questions”. Especially relevant to the financial advice sector is, ‘How can we compete in a time where “alternative facts” more easily shapes opinions’?!
Lesson #6 Scott Fortnum and Leah Eustace reminded us of the power of Behavioural Economics. What impact does our subconscious have on the decisions we make? Emotions will take over and we can lose rational thought. It is our nature to put stories to rationalize circumstances and our discussion of rational decisions provided us with some great learning material, The healing power of stories.
Lesson #7 Jamie Golombek discussed that we need to tailor our Philanthropic solutions and that “one size does NOT fit all”. Financial advisors can add much value far beyond just managing money. Provoke thoughtful discussions with our clients and ask them what is truly important to them. What do they value? How do they want the world to look for their children after they’re gone?
Lesson #8 Tina Tehranchian had some power tax tools that we can discuss on how to effectively maximize wealth distribution and realize the same goal of strategic giving. Suggestions are to read the book by Chuck English & Mo Lidsky, The Philanthropic Mind. The big take away here is that not many know that they can give without reducing their kids’ inheritances!
We look forward to attending the 2018 conference in Winnipeg celebrating the 25th anniversary of CAGP conferences. We wouldn’t miss it!