BCBusiness + Westminster Savings
Westminster Savings
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Some people realize that if you start saving early for your retirement, you can alleviate the stress of trying to catch up later in life. A financial advice expert can help you with your strategy


Westminster Savings can help start the process

Is your financial future worth a half hour of pleasant conversation?

For most people, the reaction to this question would be “of course.” But when it is proposed that the conversation be with a financial advice expert, the affirmative is often replaced by a range of excuses for not having that talk—due to fear of being put on the spot, or the assumption that a sales pitch will follow.

This is unfortunate, because many Canadians’ finances are in disarray. Retirement funding is just one example: the Broadbent Institute last year found that half of older, working Canadians are heading into retirement without adequate savings to keep them out of poverty.

But the financial advice experts at Westminster Savings never suggest any plan or strategy unless it fulfills a specific need; nor do they make clients ill at ease
by conducting formal interviews.

Instead, they engage the client in what Regional Director, Consumer Operations Bonnie Barron describes as “a friendly chat.” She further explains: “You can only suggest a strategy if you know the person’s needs, and you can only determine their needs through a process of discovery—not by interrogating them as to their financial particulars. A nice chat quickly determines a person’s goals, worries and hopes of where they see themselves down the road.”

That is not to say Westminster Savings is lacking in comprehensive financial solutions. Quite the opposite: the credit union (one of Canada’s largest, with 56,000 members and assets of $3.8 billion) is dedicated to providing full financial services. This includes investment strategies such as term deposits and tax-free savings accounts (the former being an important part of any well-rounded savings or investment plan, the latter being one effective way to save for retirement, education or other objectives).

 Solutions aside, Barron says the first and most crucial step for clients is to acknowledge that any financial goal must be planned: “The outcome can be as comprehensive as in a full financial plan where assets warrant, or it can be a simple monthly savings strategy to get started. The point is it all starts with discovery conversations. The method of investment is secondary to understanding one’s wants and needs.”

And while on one end of the scale Barron encounters a few people at the end of their working lives with no pension and saddled with enormous debt, on the other end are many others who exhibit a keen appreciation for financial planning. “They’re really smart,” she says. “Many of them realize that if you start saving for your retirement at 20, you can let your savings grow and won’t feel the stress of having to catch up later in
life. That’s how simple many financial strategies are.”

It has been estimated that 46 per cent of Canadians have not planned for their future, even though many express concern for what lies ahead. 

“Our message is we can help the majority of people who decide to seek advice from us,” says Barron. “Whether it’s to eliminate debt, save more or retire, many options are available to help them achieve success—and peace of mind.”

Created by BCBusiness in partnership with Westminster Savings