Personal Experience with Financial Planning

My experience in Financial Planning is as follows: I have a friend who was a Settlement Officer at another immigrant serving agency.  He left Settlement last year and is now self-employed as a Financial Planner.  He helped me, my wife and son with our recent mortgage.  Also, I have had presentations given to me from him and his company. In addition, representatives of other major companies in this field have provided me with their own version of what is happening in the Financial Planning field.  Furthermore, in the process of the last few months, I have been thoroughly researching this field through information interviews, attending seminars, surfing our blessed Genie-in-a-Bottle Internet, reading library books, and so on. My overall impression is that this field of Financial Planning counts as one of labour market services’ “Hot Jobs” and will be a leading star career in Canada over the next few decades.

General Definition and Overview

Financial planners can sell mortgages, investments such as RRSP and RESP, and life insurance.  This job only requires an LLQP license (Life License Qualifying Program), which is very easily obtained within a month or two.  You can choose one of the 3 companies in order to be able to sell all 3: life insurance, investments and mortgages.  Alternatively, you could also choose other companies to work for who specialize only in one of the 3 fields: life insurance, mortgages, or investments.

In my opinion, Financial Planner is an excellent bridge to many benefits and opportunities.  When you become a free-lance agent as opposed to working in an established 9 – 5 office, you can:

  • set your own hours
  • work from home
  • and write off 50% of expenses such as your car gas, rent/mortgage, computer and stationery expenses, mobile phone bill, etc. 
  • have access to hundreds, even thousands of hours of free or low cost training, which may even be better than what is taught in the local university business programs

You end up selling the products of all the major Canadian banks, mortgage firms, and insurance companies.  This field is recession-proof; indeed, it only grew during the 2008 World Financial Crisis. 

And what I like about the field is that you can actually aim to help families by teaching strategies to:

  • reduce their debt

  • increase their cash flow

  • save more money

  • protect themselves from unexpected tragedy

  • and make the highest rate possible on investments and savings. 

So it is nothing like being a sleazy salesperson.  You are actually helping people take charge of their finances.  The commissions are excellent.  The money you make within a few months or year could match your former or present salary easily and then shoot up much higher, if you work hard and with passion.

Right now there is unprecedented opportunity in Canada for Financial Planners:

  • Many long-term Financial Advisors are retiring now or in the near future, so there is a lack of advisors here
  • Canadian families and individuals are in debt and facing bankruptcy and financial hardship more than ever
  • The economy has never been more volatile.

The recent unstable economy is due in part from changes caused by:

  • the mixture of wise and unwise decisions from the 3 levels of government in Canada – federal, provincial and local
  • competition from emerging Financial Titans such as China, India, Brazil, etc.
  • Canadians’ own national and individual addiction to easy credit; our messy handling of our finances
  • Canadians’ laziness in comparison to the hard working Asians, Latinos, etc.
  • you fill in the blanks.

The bottom line: people need financial help, and there is a huge lack of those who can offer wise and timely assistance that gets the results that people are crying out for.

My friend who is a Financial Planner helped arrange our family’s recent mortgage on our new apartment and I was very impressed.  I pay only $680 per month on the mortgage, instead of the much higher rate that I was going to get last year when I was considering buying another home without the help of a Financial Advisor and only blindly following the advice of the bank. And we are now getting simple, rather than compound interest, which means that we save more and the bank makes less in the long run. 

Often it is only Financial Planners who take the time to explain these things to you; the banks are often too busy, won’t give you the full information, and only represent their own particular bank.  Financial Planners show the full range of choices to families and individuals so that they can make a decision with the maximum breadth of potential financial products.

The Immigrant Experience

I really am genuinely concerned for my clients who have been struggling to find meaningful and rewarding work in Canada, because I have mirrored their experiences to some extent.  Even as a European-Canadian born and raised here, I have suffered both from the unstable job market in the Lower Mainland, as well as my own experience of returning twice to Canada after prolonged stretches of time overseas. 

For an example of experiencing an unexpected job shock, I lost my job suddenly in December 2009 for no other reason than the owner of the family-owned business wanted to do restructuring and reshuffling. Suddenly, two weeks before Christmas in 2009, the owner came to see me at 4:15 pm, 15 minutes before closing. After a brief discussion, I had packed up my belongings and found myself jobless. It was an unexpected way to great the new year.  After 3 frustrating months of fruitless job search in early 2010, I said goodbye to my family and friends and returned to China for one year.

I came back from the one year whirlwind working and re-marrying tour of Beijing at the end of March 2011. It darn near took me half a year to adjust to Canada this time around. The day when I arrived back to the Motherland, I began to live in the attic of my elderly father’s farmhouse, far out in Langley’s countryside. Right under the floor I was on, my father would crank up his transistor radio all night long, listening to CKNW to make himself feel like he was not alone. During the day, I sat at home all day long surfing the Internet and the sofa. I watched every single Jackie Chan movie there was. I’m a big fan, obviously. I ate non-stop until I had gained 40 pounds, until I looked down and thought I was pregnant (did you ever see the move Junior?). I would pretend to search for a job online for jobs about 10 minutes a day, just so I could call and reassure my wife, who was in Beijing waiting for her immigrant visa to come through.

The sky was dark, it rained cats and dogs day and night for weeks, and I was afraid to go out due to the high price of gas price. I was clearly not thrilled with being back here in the Lower Mainland´s Economic Hell, despite our local Heavenly natural beauty.  I´m sorry, but Nature won´t pay the bills, unless you are an Environmental Scientist. For a person like me, with over 12 years´ experience guiding immigrants in their often frustrating job search, I was depressed at the idea of facing an Employment Counselling job market which was doomed to self-destruct within a year, on March 30th, 2012. This Employment Services´ Tsunami has only just hit, but I was fearing it a year ahead. With a young son and an sickly elderly father to take care of, I could not run back to China again.

By the grace of God, I did get a job in Settlement in Surrey SUCCESS at the end of May 2011, within 2 months of re-arriving in Canada.  SUCCESS was happy to find someone with a combo of Employment Counselling and Mandarin skills. Thank Heaven for those language skills. It is not because I am smart, not at all. It all went back to 1997, when I saw the start of an influx of Mainland Chinese immigrants. I made an extremely wise decision to begin learning Mandarin at that time. Now, after getting a not too bad grasp of Mandarin, I have found that this skill has been opening many doors for me.  Fortunately, there is not much competition in this area, because most Caucasians like me in Canada either won’t bother putting in the time and effort to learn Mandarin, or do not see the value of learning another language. Why should we, after all? Isn’t the entire planet is learning English?

Not that I am any smarter than anyone else. I just saw the value of jumping on the Asian Express. The value of crawling out of my comfort zone and embracing the up-and-coming nations, their cultures and languages. Now, I’m learning Russian, and plan to tackle Hindi/Punjabi at the same time in the next few months and years. What is there to limit me besides my time management skills and my own willingness? 

In a nutshell, like local immigrants, I myself have experienced getting turfed into the streets due to the volatility of our BC Labour Market, especially in this field of immigrant services and employment counseling. Ouch! Because of this, I really understand from my heart what it means when immigrants say that it is tough to grow their careers in Canada. And if a loser like me can succeed to some extent, so can you.


I don’t know what your personal career plans and aspirations are, if you would like to talk with me more about Financial Planning or other finance-related careers, please let me know.  I am now armed with more knowledge than before, and with plenty of connections. I am glad to help.

One note: a person need not be good at numbers nor at sales to be an effective Financial Planner. You just need a passion for helping Canadian families improve their financial situations. You educate them how to get out of debt and get the best rate of return on their money. As a Financial Advisor, you show them how to save for a home, even when the gap between the average house price and the average wage here in Vancouver, Canada is the widest in all North America. You assist clients regarding their retirement, estate planning, or their kids’ or grandkids’ education.  You educated them on what is an RESP, RRSP, GIC, HELOC, and bla, bla, bla. The list of ways to help is endless. The Financial Planner really is a Confusion Reductionist. Or, more positively, an Economic Enlightener, one who shines bright and reassuring light on hearts facing dark and perplexing financial situations.

As I previously mentioned, I have personal connections at several major companies who hire Financial Planners.  I am introducing this field as one exciting possibility for immigrants. Ultimately, I have a deep passion to see my clients succeed.  Their success is my success.  Failing is not the end of the world; we can definitely learn from it, yes.  But ongoing, repeated failure is no good, especially in our careers.  We should not only be able to dream of success.  We should be able to go beyond daydreams and actually achieve success too. And I believe Financial Planning is one of the “Hot Jobs” that offers people, especially immigrants, a chance to succeed, and build a robust life in Canada.

Thank you for listening to my story and learning with me about these adventurous new possibilities.



Contact me:

Example of companies who hire Financial Planners:
Doing all 3 (mortgages, investments, insurance) Life License (LLQP) activities:

Primerica – biggest in North America, does 2nd mortgages:
World Financial Group – fast growing, can do 1st mortgages too
Desjardins – from Quebec, growing quickly here in BC
There are probably more, but I have yet to find them.

Investers’ Group (IG)
Edward Jones
Other info on Investment or Mutual Funds companies:

Transamerica Life (same Holland owner  – Aegon – as World Financial Group – WFG Canada)
Full list of all Canadian Insurance Companies here:



– Mortgage Broker:;

– Stock Broker:;

Insurance Broker:

– The difference between PFP and CFP:

Information on Financial Planning in Canada:

From, ¨Becoming a Financial Planner in Canada¨:

Candidates can search for qualifying experience by networking with instructors, fellow students, and searching online. According to FPSC, as of December 31, 2010 the top 20 employers of Certified Financial Planners in Canada are:

  • Assante Wealth Management, with locations in Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Prince Edward Island, Quebec, Saskatchewan and Yukon
  • BMO Financial Group, with locations in all 13 provinces/territories across Canada
  • CIBC (Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce), headquartered in Toronto, ON with locations across Canada
  • Credential Financial, Inc., headquartered in Vancouver, BC with locations across Canada
  • Desjardins, with locations in Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba and New Brunswick
  • Dundee Wealth Inc., headquartered in Toronto, ON
  • Edward Jones, with locations across Canada
  • Freedom 55 Financial, with locations across Canada
  • FundEX Investments, Inc. , headquartered in Vaughn, ON
  • HSBC Bank Canada, headquartered in Vancouver, BC with locations across Canada
  • Investex Corporation in Edmonton, AB
  • Investors Group, with consultants across Canada
  • IPC in Ontario
  • Manulife Financial, with advisors across Canada
  • MD Financial, with locations in all 13 provinces/territories across Canada
  • Raymond James, with locations across Canada
  • RBC, with locations across Canada
  • Scotiabank, headquartered in Ontario and locations across Canada
  • SunLife Financial Services, with locations across Canada
  • TD Bank Financial Group, with locations across Canada

and I would definitely add the company who assisted with my mortgage over a month ago, World Financial Group (WFG Canada)


About sleepless in turtle island

Hi, I´m Dimitri. I have lived in Turtle Island for awhile now, so my cultural understanding is slowly improving. Also, I can see things in this place that boggle my mind. Thus this blog...
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