Ron Rau grew up poor. And that’s why he became an advisor.

“My parents never owned a house,” he says. “I remember playing hockey on a flooded field in Zurich, Ont. with magazines taped around my shins because we couldn’t afford equipment.”

Rau’s father was 50 when he was born, and died when Ron was 23. “After that, my mother—who became a horrible alcoholic—was left penniless, and hooked up with the first guy she thought she could cling to for financial support. It ended disastrously.”

He says, “What motivates me is that all that could have been avoided had there just been life insurance.”

Rau now runs RJ Rau & Associates in Sarnia, Ont. While he started as an insurance advisor, he began shifting to 80% investments, 20% insurance eight years ago. At the same time, he moved to his current office on the 14th floor of First Sarnia Place.

“It’s right on the water,” he says. “The refinery area to the south has buildings with little lights. So Sarnia looks like Dallas or Houston when you’re looking outside at night.”

Rau’s no stranger to reinvention (he’s currently moving to fee-based), and was eager to upgrade his office’s look. “We did some renovations last year and now the furniture seems outdated,” he says. “We want people to come in and go, ‘Oh, that looks great.’ ”

The office should keep its welcoming, family-friendly vibe, he adds. The team bakes cookies for clients, and wants to create a snack menu in the near future.

Existing clients have never complained about the office’s appearance, and are pleased with their service: “In our last client survey, they said the number one reason they deal with us is because they know we genuinely care about them,” Rau says.

But he’s prospecting and planning on acquiring a book of business, so he wants to project a consistent image to those new clients. “We advertise on local radio and most new business comes in as a result of that,” he says. “New people are wowed by our location and view, and we need to make the rest match.”

Rau’s colleagues are Annette Campbell, the team’s office manager and client care specialist; James Brandon, a client care specialist; Dan LeBelle, a CFP; and Falk Hampel, an insurance advisor. There’s also an accountant who comes in half time.

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