Advising clients who are considering a life-changing move

Financial planner urges people to 'put aside the money and think about your life'

Advising clients who are considering a life-changing move

As Alberta keeps ramping up its advertising campaign to draw Toronto and Vancouver workers to shore up its growth, some advisors may be hearing clients wonder if they should consider the move.

“Alberta is stunning. You can’t beat the scenery. It’s beautiful, and that’s certainly a draw in itself,” Francine Dick, a Toronto-based financial planner with Carte Wealth Management Inc., told Wealth Professional. “But, the first thing I say when I do financial planning is ‘put aside the money and think about your life. This is going to have a huge impact on it. You’re leaving behind your life here, and there are certain things that are sometimes more important than money'.”

When then-Alberta Premier Jason Kenny launched the $2.6 million ad campaign in the late summer, and then recently augmented it, he said the province had the highest employment growth in Canada in 2022, but it needed more people to fill all the jobs that had been created to sustain the growth.

The NDP opposition criticized him for not addressing the issues that had driven off the health care workers, high-tech workers, and people who make investments in renewables or digital media.

Alberta still splashed its “Alberta is Calling” posters and billboards on Toronto and Vancouver bus shelters, transit, and social media to convince folks to take “a shorter commute to a bigger house”. But, Dick said there are a lot of things that advisors should help clients consider before they decide.

“Are they leaving behind their parents? Do they have children who’ll  be leaving their grandparents? Do those grandparents provide a lot of support babysitting?” she said. “They may also have a strong support system of friends here. Those are things to think about because they’ll be giving all that up.”

The next thing to consider is what jobs are available in their field – and whether they can get one before they move. Teachers and health care workers are in demand, but they are in B.C. and Ontario. “You don’t want them to move out there and find there’s no work in their field,” she said.

Employees could also check whether their companies have positions available there.

Housing costs are important – as are the neighbourhoods they might want to live in. Dick suggested that advisors recommend that clients travel there to check out where they will be living and how that fits, so they aren’t surprised after making the decision. That’s important whether the environment is a city or rural area. It would also be wise to go in the winter before deciding to move because it can be much colder in Edmonton than in Toronto or Vancouver.

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For those with children, it’s also important to check out day care and schools. “Recommend that they do their research before they decide,” she said.

Once clients have looked at the broader picture, then it’s time to check out the financial implications of such a move. Moving costs need to be paid upfront, though there is an income tax deduction for those moving for a job. They will also need to redo their budget, especially if sales tax and commuting cost less, but heating and babysitters to replace family left behind cost more.

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Finally, advisors should let their clients know whether they’re licensed to provide services in Alberta. Some in British Columbia and Ontario are, but many others aren’t. That obviously won’t be a deciding factor for clients, but it will mean they’ll need to change advisors if they decide to move.