Olympian’s charitable investment strategy pays dividends for advisors

The school of hard knocks inspired a former athlete to make a difference once he’s done reminding advisors why life insurance is more than just protection

Olympic swimmer Mark Tewksbury makes his living these days teaching athletes and executives leadership skills. His swimming career taught him about achieving excellence and the work that goes into it but not without struggles along the way.

Now 47, Tewksbury made an investment in a Toronto juice bar in his early 30s that closed after a year-and-half. Financially and emotionally it was a tough lesson to take losing most of his savings he’d cobbled together in his 20s from sponsorships and speaking engagements.

The experience taught him to save, save, save. He set up a holding company, paid himself a salary and put the rest of his earnings toward debt reduction. At the time it likely appeared hopeless that he’d recover financially from his business failure but he did despite the hole he’d dug.

Buying and selling real estate in Montreal in the early 2000s refilled Tewksbury’s coffers and today he has about 75 per cent of his investments in real estate including an old Victorian house in Toronto that he’s converting into a multiunit dwelling.

Where has the former Olympian put the remainder of his investments? Well, he’s got RRSPs and TFSAs like many other Canadians; the banks definitely play a big part in his savings.

However, his most important investment is the life insurance policy he set up through the Special Olympics Canada Foundation. Paying monthly premiums for 18 years, when Tewksbury dies the policy payout will go to Special Olympics.

In the past our sister publication, WP, has run stories discussing charitable giving whether by advisors themselves or as a platform for clients; the one thing that hasn’t been discussed is life insurance and philanthropy.

By setting up this plan Tewksbury saved on his taxes while benefiting a sporting organization close to his heart.

What’s better than that?