Meet the Denmarks: When do you need a financial advisor?

We created the Denmark family to demonstrate financial life planning strategies without impacting the privacy of our clients. Although scenarios may be based on actual life events experienced by current clients, all information is 100% fictional.

Conrad and April met in 1998 at the University of Manitoba where Conrad was studying Computer Science and April was working on her Bachelor of Commerce degree. They married in 2002 with plans to start a family when their careers were better established, and April’s business was up and running.

April came from a family of entrepreneurs and dreamed of becoming a business owner at a young age. Her family motto has always been “You have to spend money to make money!”. During University she developed an award-winning business plan as a course project to open a socially responsible retail store. After graduation, she was up and running quickly thanks to love money from her parents. But, with student loans to pay off, she and Conrad were working hard to reduce their debt. April draws an annual salary of $75,000 while she continues to grow the business and work on a franchising model.

Conrad’s family had a completely different outlook. His blue-collar parents were savers who shopped with cash. Mr. Denmark often recited his philosophy: “Keep track of your nickels and the dollars will take care of themselves”. Conrad found employment soon after graduation with an emerging technology consulting firm as a computer systems analyst. He currently makes an annual salary of $80,000, receives profit sharing income and has a group benefits plan. He also contributes monthly to a group RRSP. With April being so focused on her business, Conrad has been the manager of the day-to-day household finances and he manages them with an eagle eye on expenses.

On December 12, 2004, April and Conrad welcomed their daughter Jordan into the world. Two years later, on January 15, 2006, they celebrated a New Year with their daughter Lily. Becoming parents was a game-changer for the couple. They had less time and more responsibility. In spite of their busy schedules, they managed to progress in their careers while striving for family balance.

Like many Canadians, life had been so busy and focused on the day-to-day that April and Conrad hadn’t put a lot of consideration into the future. Unfortunately, their attention shifted sharply on March 12, 2019, when April’s father experienced a major heart attack. Life screeched to a halt, April took some time away from the business to help her parents, and the couple had lengthy conversations around the kitchen table over what the future may hold. They agreed they needed some outside perspective on their situation and started asking friends for referrals to a financial advisor. They were directed to Fraser & Partners by close friends who were already clients.

April pulled out her laptop and Googled us to learn a bit more before she made an appointment. After reading about the team and services offered, April noticed a questionnaire on the home page titled “Is Financial Life Planning for me?”.  Although Conrad diligently managed the household expenses, the couple had never sat down and discussed their finances for the long-term. They knew they wanted to retire comfortably and help Jordon and Lily pay for university but there was no actual plan in place.

April read on; creating a satisfying & fulfilling vision of life and discovering how to achieve it sounded appealing, but would they be a good fit? April decided to complete the online questionnaire and find out. Over dinner that night, April mentioned to Conrad that she had filled out the “Is Financial Life Planning for Me?” questionnaire. Intrigued and eager to start the process, Conrad completed the online form that night as well.

The next day, April received a phone call from our office. After discussing the Denmarks situation, the life aligned planning process and the results of the questionnaire everyone agreed this would be a great fit. April’s schedule was jam-packed with visiting her parents and meetings, but the Denmarks knew that this was a priority. An in-person meeting was scheduled for the following week.

In preparation for the meeting, Conrad had pulled out his file containing the family’s current investment statements and expenses spreadsheets. But when a meeting agenda was emailed to the Denmarks prior to the meeting, he was surprised to see there was no mention of bringing statements on the agenda. Instead, they were asked to visit the Vision Toolkit online and each complete the Values Worksheet. Analytical by nature, Conrad was unsure about meeting to discuss a financial plan without considering numbers but knew that they needed a plan in place.

Both April and Conrad were excited to get started!

The next installment of The Denmarks will identify April and Conrad’s values and how we’ll help them to build their vision.


The information in this commentary is for informational purposes only and not meant to be personalized financial planning advice. The content has been prepared by the team at Fraser & Partners from sources believed to be accurate.

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