Bobby Ning of Financial Literacy Counsel is part of this year's Wealth Professional Canada's Host List.

Financial Literacy Counsel

As the founder of the BC-based Financial Literacy Counsel, Bobby Ning has strong feelings on the need for the general public to have a better grasp of finances. “We define financial literacy as having the knowledge, skills and confidence to make the right financial decisions,” he says. “That’s what we try to equip people with. Sometimes people don’t want to think about their retirement because it’s so far away; they’re concerned with their today needs. So in our practice, we have to talk about both the future and today; it’s a balance.” 

The Financial Literacy Counsel actually dates back to Ning’s college days with his co-founder, Alphil Guilaran, at Simon Fraser University. “We started as a student club, the Financial Literacy Association – and this was before financial literacy became a buzzword,” he says. “We saw there was a need there – people weren’t educated about finance. As the business grew, we started to teach at private schools, at universities; we now teach employees at the health authority in British Columbia. Originally we wanted to focus on doctors, and we won a contract to give tax clinics to student doctors, and we continue to do so.”
Ning’s ethos of providing financial education alongside offering wealth, tax and estate manage ment solutions for clients has served him well. “With our practice, we target professional people and business owners,” he says. “The idea for our business came from the idea of having three generations in one room. We really believe that money is intergenerational. We noticed that people didn’t understand how to manage money; they were spending it all and ending up in debt. Debt was a big issue back then, and it is even more so now. It is ‘high debt worth’ now rather than ‘high net worth.’”

As the advisory world seems to be slowly moving away from the commission-based model that was its lifeblood for so long, its practitioners are in a clear transition period – this year more so than most. But Ning believes these changes will benefit all those concerned in the long run. 
“We need to help customers understand what the fees they pay are actually for,” he says. “CRM2 will be more work for advisors, but it will create stronger relationships with clients. We also need to increase the level of professionalism in the industry. The challenge is bringing out that level of professionalism that you see with accountants and lawyers – elevating everyone to a higher standard.”