YOUR PRACTICE-Boosting financial literacy is good for business

Tue Mar 12, 2013 4:15pm EDT
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* Taking the time to teach clients boosts loyalty

* Increasingly complex products require expertise

* Conflict of interest can favor sales rather than education

By Andrea Hopkins

TORONTO, March 12 (Reuters) - In her 17 years as a financial planner, Heather Holjevac has learned that many clients are not financially literate, are embarrassed about what they don't know and will reward her with loyalty when she takes the time to teach them.

"People don't want to admit they don't know the basics," said Holjevac, a certified financial planner with TriDelta Financial Partners in Oakville, near Toronto.

"I preface all of my seminars with the statement that 'No question is a dumb question' because people think they should know things, and are embarrassed to ask when they don't."

While Canada's financial industry has lobbied for more education in schools, the growing complexity of products and demand for service from the baby boom generation have increased the need for financial education. Many boomers benefit from company-sponsored or government-run retirement products but now face more do-it-yourself options.

Women, who increasingly decide household finances, live longer alone and head more single-parent households than men, also face unique financial challenges, as do immigrants, who arrive with little understanding of Canada's tax system or investment choices.   Continued...