This is sponsored content submitted by Sun Life Financial.
November is Financial Literacy Month and after spending time as a member of the Canadian Life and Health Insurance Association Inc. (CLHIA) Task Force on Financial Literacy, I take a personal interest in this subject. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) describes financial literacy as having the knowledge, skills and confidence to make responsible financial decisions. I believe the role of the financial services industry in helping Canadians overcome inertia, take control of their personal finances and feel confident in their financial future is paramount.
In 2011, Sun Life Financial’s CEO, Donald Stewart, now retired, served as the chair of the federal government’s Task Force on Financial Literacy. The task force made 30 recommendations on a national strategy to improve financial literacy in Canada. Don introduced Sun Life Financial’s strategy to improve financial literacy for our clients. We knew then that we’d need to deliver core elements of this strategy through advisors who had earned the trust of their clients. Over the past three years, in addition to our research, recommendations and advocacy, we’ve made a significant investment in:
- equipping advisors with tools, such as the award-winning myretirementcafe.ca, a Retirement expense and income workbook and a Financial organizer, to help strengthen clients’ levels of financial literacy,
- broadening the use of plain language to communicate complex financial planning messages in consumer-facing materials, such as the Money for Life whiteboard video series, to facilitate understanding, and
- enhancing the use of technology, such as the Money for Life web app, and social media platforms, such as brighterlife.ca, to create content and forums for discussion.
This is a great start. But, let’s be frank: we still have a long way to go to overcome Canadians’ inertia and drive consumer action. The 2013 Sun Life Canadian Unretirement™ Index confirms that only 30 per cent of Canadians work with an advisor and only one in five has a written financial plan. Some may look at these statistics in a negative light. However, I see this as a tremendous opportunity. It can serve as motivation for advisors to reach out to clients, show them the value of advice and get them started on a holistic plan – one that not only includes a savings and investment strategy, but also insurance solutions to protect their savings, and cover their health and legacy needs.
Financial Literacy Month
Through the FCAC, Canadians can access educational programs, materials and interactive tools to build their financial knowledge – and confidence – in managing personal finances. Among the FCAC’s higher-profile initiatives is Financial Literacy Month, a Canada-wide event now in its third year.
Throughout the month of November, community organizations, volunteer groups, government agencies, employers and private companies across the country are offering seminars, workshops and other activities to deliver essential knowledge and skills to Canadian consumers. This year’s theme – financial literacy across generations – acknowledges Canadians in all life stages and reinforces an important message: it’s never too early or too late to address money matters.
Get started with Money for Life
Money for Life – Sun Life Financial’s customized approach to financial and retirement planning* – also speaks to a broad demographic and is holistic in nature, emphasizing life, health and wealth solutions. This year’s national Money for Life campaign encourages Canadians of all ages to work with an advisor to help them create a financial plan, whether they:
- need to build and protect for today and tomorrow,
- are in the crucial years leading up to retirement, or
- want to live in retirement with confidence.
The bottom line is: the financial services industry and most importantly, advisors, play an integral role in improving the financial literacy of Canadians. Why did many of us choose this career in the first place? To help people achieve lifetime financial security. Let’s help Canadians understand their options, make confident decisions and feel good about taking control of their finances.
* Only advisors who hold CFP (Certified Financial Planner), CH.F.C (Chartered Financial Consultant), F.Pl. (Financial Planner in Quebec), or equivalent designations are certified as financial planners.
Since joining Sun Life in 2004, Rocco has held various executive leadership roles, including Vice-President Business Development, Group Benefits; Head of Individual Wealth Management; Senior-Vice-President, Client Solutions; and most recently Senior Vice-President, Distribution and Marketing, Individual Insurance and Wealth. Throughout his tenure at Sun Life, Rocco has led various business strategies centered on building, transforming, and evolving organizations and teams to drive higher levels of performance and success.
Rocco has 36 years of experience in strategic leadership in the insurance and investment industries. He has served on and is a member of a number of boards. Rocco is currently President and Chair, Sun Life Financial Distributors (Canada) Inc. and is a member of the Sun Life Financial Investment Services (Canada) Inc. board. He is a member of various industry associations, including Advocis, GAMA Canada, the Canadian Pension and Benefits Institute, and the Association of Canadian Pension Management.
Rocco holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from York University.