Montrealers Are Unique

What makes it so exciting to do business in Montreal is the fact that there’s a broad diversity of ideas, values, ethnicities, but there is something that makes Montreal very unique in that regard. So the challenges are not only to put together the hard and fast numbers aspect of financial security planning, but also to understand what makes a Montrealer’s heart beat, and what drives them to get up every morning to go to the office, what drives them every day to take their children to school.

There are certain things that we do in this city that are very different as a result of that, we think differently, we act differently, our priorities are very different, they’re very unique, we are truly a different brand of Canadian, it makes it much more exciting and much more inspirational to work with Montrealers.

Embracing Montreal’s Dynamic Society

It’s very interesting when you talk about how the Montreal and Quebec society has matured and is now at a stage where we’re embarking on far more exciting things, that diversity, if you will, has allowed me to become more creative, its allowed me to become more, to use a colloquial expression, out there, compared to what a lot of my other colleagues in my profession, in my metier do in this province. I’m not afraid of coming to a very important meeting wearing a pair of running shoes with no socks, as an example.

I believe that the personality that I am, and I believe that the beliefs that I have and the values that I have are reflected in the people that I’m doing business with. Those people that I’m doing business with have also consciously or unconsciously embraced the dynamism of our society, and the dynamism in consequence of our workplace, and the environment that we are flourishing in today. And no one can deny that we are flourishing in this city and this province today.

The Domino Effect Of Life Insurance

There is a very unique aspect to the products that I sell, whether they be owned personally or corporately, and that is the fact that every single time a product is put into place, it is designed to protect someone’s financial security.

There is a massive medium or long term impact to the community in general. If you take, for example, an entrepreneur who has the foresight to purchase adequate amounts of insurance on his or her life to protect the company in the event that he should pass away before his time, or her time, what happens to that company if the entrepreneurs have not been responsible and forward-thinking enough to put a product into place that is designed to keep that company alive? There could be 50, 100, 250 people that lose their jobs as a result of that.

That is a very important but often not discussed aspect of what I do, and I do that primarily in the Montreal region. I have no clue as to how many multiple millions of dollars of financial security planning products I have put on the books over the last 40 years, but I do know that when those products deliver on the promises that ultimately they will, I have seen the domino effect on the community. I have seen wives and husbands thank me for at least taking care of the financial aspect of the difficult times that they’re going through. But equally important, and perhaps even more impactful than that, I have seen people and had people come up to me and thank me for taking care of the business so that they still have a job to be able to provide for their families.

People don’t realize how important that aspect of what I do is, and I think the fact that I’m a Montrealer, and I think the fact that I was born here gives me a little bit more passion and inspiration to really try and do the best that I possibly can for Montreal and for the entrepreneurs that are here.

Life Insurance Has A Significant Affect On The Economy

When you look at the economic situation in Montreal in perspective as to where it has been and where it is now, the products and services that I put into place are basically life insurance products, and frankly, life insurance, ew, nobody likes to talk about life insurance. But in reality, what we’re doing is we’re touching families, whether it’s at a business level or a personal level, we’re getting to the heart of what matters most to these people, and that’s business continuity, family protection, but then the bigger picture is what happens to the surrounding economic infrastructure, if you will, if a business is saved, how many more people are really implicated by the fact that that business is saved?

That’s something that Montrealers get. They have a passion for it that is not cold and analytical and structured and very figure-driven, it’s very human, it’s very passionate, and that’s where I can connect with my clients at a completely different level, and it makes it extremely rewarding, it also makes it very inspirational. There’s nothing like talking to a like-minded individual, it really becomes fun, and the conversation always meanders just because of who I am and who they are, it almost becomes almost a love in in a way.

It’s a situation that has evolved over the years because there were difficult times in this province for very important and very justifiable reasons. But everyone’s moved on, but nobody’s forgotten. And I think that that is something that we all retain, but it’s allowed us to move on with strength and with confidence and with maturity and with understanding. It’s been a neat evolution, and I’ve been part of it, with a whole bunch of really cool people.

Planned Giving

One of the more interesting aspects of what I do is I will often talk to my clients about something that’s called planned giving, which is essentially using the tool of a life insurance policy to provide funds for an institution, a not for profit institution, in the name of a family or in the name of an individual, but driven by that person’s belief in the organization that they’re supporting, regardless of the ethnicity.

It is the importance that, again, the Montrealer recognizes in making sure that there’s continuity, make sure that there’s always a place, that there’s always a hospital, that there’s always a senior citizens home bed, that there’s always a place for the blind to be able to be properly taken care of and coached. These are things that are really interesting in Montreal, because although it’s prevalent in Canada, the Montrealer gives it heart. And it’s not done so that someone’s name can be on a pavilion, it’s done ’cause people really wanna do it.

And there are certain structures that have to be set up naturally, you need to work with the right professionals in order to properly position it. But at the end of the day, planned giving is about making sure that the things that help us evolve as a society are still there, and it is usually part of an overall financial plan, but it’s a huge part of planning and the continuity of our city.

I Have No Intention Of Leaving

I’ve been selling life insurance in the province of Quebec and in Montreal for 40 years, you know? I’ve done it with a lot of pride, I’ve done it with a lot of commitment, and I’ve done it with a lot of passion for the people in this city and this province, because I love where I live, and I’m here, I’ve always been here, I’ve never left here, and I have no intention of leaving. Those are things that I can relate to with the clients that I work with in every day life.

Talking About Insurance On A Human Level

The life insurance products and the group insurance products are important tools, but they’re human tools, and nobody, frankly, has the courage to talk about them in human terms. And what I do is bring that to the table, but I still do it driven by the passion and the context of the society that I live in. Montreal is different in that regard, so when you talk to somebody about anything relating to financial security planning, it’s such a fancy word, what a great phrase it is, but at the end of the day, it’s do you give a damn, or do you not give a damn? And in Montreal, people give a damn. That’s why we’re where we are today.

The Insurance Product Is Misunderstood

The insurance product is really misunderstood in a lot of ways. I’m not sure that it’s as misunderstood as it is taboo, because no one really wants to talk about death, and that makes it a difficult subject to approach.

One of the challenges in Montreal that I have noticed over the 40 years that I’ve been practicing is the fact that there is a very different discussion depending upon who you are talking to, and about which product you are discussing with that individual. So it becomes a bit challenging, initially, particularly for people who are younger in my business.

I have the advantage of having experience of broad spectrum of discussions with different ethnicities, and as a result of that, the discussion is easier to have, but there is no question that the most important message that I can communicate to anybody that I’m talking to is that the product is exactly the same, it’s just a question of making sure that it fits not only their need, but their values, and that’s where the difference comes in, it’s the values, what’s important to them, what floats their boats?

Understanding How To Communicate Insurance

Being a lifetime Montrealer gives me the insights and the privileges to be able to understand the pulse and the beat of what makes them entrepreneurs, what makes them tick. So the programs that I present are the same, it’s the communication that’s adapted so that we all understand the importance of the products, and whether or not they fit.

It’s very important for people to understand that there is a difference between finding a solution and selling a product. And those of us who do it well find solutions, and we related those solutions to the various target markets that we’re talking to.

Looking At Life Insurance In A Better Light

One of the things that I’ve learned over the years is that the financial security products that I sell are often not well received because of the image that they have. But if you back that up, turn it around a little bit, and understand that there are so many dynamic, risk-taking Montrealers, and so many unbelievably driven entrepreneurs, what do these people have in common, if you will? Is confidence, they have confidence, and if they don’t have confidence, they can’t do the things that they do.

There are so many success stories in this province as a result of confidence, what insurance does is it guarantees that they can move forward with absolute confidence, because heaven forbid should something happen that does not allow them to continue to move forward, there will be dollars in place that will allow them and their businesses, or the successors of their business to continue.

So the insurance products actually fit better in the Montreal environment than a lot of other areas once people get their heads around the fact that your confidence is now insured, move forward, go take those risks, build those businesses, support those communities.

The Stigma Of Life Insurance

One of the challenges about selling the products that I sell and offering the services that I offer is that there is a stigma associated with the discussion on life insurance. Because at the end of the day, that’s what it comes down to. So what I’ve been able to evolve over the years is the skill sets necessary to have people understand the importance of having crucial conversations.

Crucial conversations are extremely uncomfortable to have, and what we do is we go through a process, a step by step process so that people begin to realize the importance of looking at these financial security products at any level, personal, corporate, it really doesn’t matter, it is getting them to the point where they understand what they have to talk about, and then talking about it.

It Takes Courage To Purchase Life Insurance

The conversation that I have with my clients will always be initially at a very general level. I can’t really go into too many details until I get to know an individual, and one of the ways I get to know an individual is to allow them to get to know me first. So I will talk about my values, but I’ll do so in a somewhat reserved manner, because when you talk about passionate things, when you talk about things that are as profoundly important as planning for your future in whatever disguise that may take, requires a lot of courage.

And what I have found over the years is that it is courageous people who make courageous decisions, those are the people who usually end up working with me. And I can say quite candidly that I do not have one single friend and client that isn’t courageous, because they’ve had those difficult conversations, and they’ve taken a step back and said wow, I’ve really gotta have a look at this stuff, and then they go one step further, because they recognize that what they’re doing is contributing or giving back, if you will, to the city and to the province and to the country that allowed them to flourish in the beginning, and people begin to realize that. So it becomes a statement without becoming a statement.

Bilingualism In Montreal

I think I have one of the most advantageous roles in the world, in the fact that I am a father of children in Montreal. As a result of being a dad of three girls in Montreal at various stages in their lives, I have been able to naturally afford them a diversity of experience, and an ethnic diversity that they could not possibly get with the same kind of openness as they could get anywhere else.

J’ai trois filles et mes deux filles qui ont toujours habitées à Montréal sont parfaitement bilingues beaucoup plus bilingue que moi. And when I’m communicating with my French clients today, thanks in large part to the tutelage of my daughters, I speak a lot of English and a lot of French. Alors je tombe de temps en temps dans le français juste parce que c’est plus naturelle pour évaluer un point de vue qui est nécessairement différent en français qu’en anglais.

But at the end of the day, that experience that I’m having with my clients started as a result of my ability to give that experience to my kids. They’re perfectly bilingual, in fact, one of them is perfectly trilingual, which is a source of tremendous pride for me.

Approaching Insurance Sales On A Human Level

One of the things that I often hear, one of the comments that I often hear is that Montrealers, Quebecers, Canadians are over insured, and I find that frankly a sad commentary on certain people’s values. Because you really can’t be over insured, just ask a widow or a widower, just ask the one partner that’s left. You can’t be over insured.

Why do some people not have life insurance? I submit that it is because, for the most part, what we do in Montreal and in Quebec is when I say we, I talk about insurance and financial security planning advisors, is we’re not relating at a human level enough. If we were just able to relate with people at a human level and strike the chords that resonate with people, there would probably be a lot more insurance purchased, and a lot more of the correct products purchased. Because at the end of the day, that’s what people want, and that’s what people probably need.

I’m not saying that there aren’t certain slices of society that categorically refuse to buy life insurance, or feel that they absolutely don’t need life insurance, but that’s their choice. At least we’ve met our obligation to give them the choice to say no.

Every Socioeconomic Bracket Can Benefit From Insurance

One of the most troubling reactions I get is a lot of people say well, insurance is not for me, it’s a bit of a broader rejection. Insurance is not for me, and it really has nothing to do with their socioeconomic level. When you have a socioeconomic level that is perhaps somewhat lesser than other people, it becomes obvious, it becomes obvious why you may need a life insurance policy to protect those last expenses if there should be a situation like that arising, whether it be a death, a disability, or a critical illness, for that matter.

That’s a different discussion than the discussion that you’re gonna have with somebody who has very significant wealth. But the need for insurance is massive in both areas, but the discussion to arrive at the conclusion as to which products to put into place is very different, so you can’t ever say one part of society needs it more than others, or less than the other, it’s more a question of making sure that you understand who you’re talking to, and what makes them tick, what makes them understand the importance of making sure that their financial security planning is properly taken care of.

Inter Generational Wealth Transfer

When you talk about insurance or financial security planning, the important thing is to understand what role the insurance product needs to play. But there’s an overall understanding of insurance that everyone should have. There is a perspective that everyone should hold when it comes to life insurance and financial security planning, and that is the fact that if you walk out the door unexpectedly, dollars have to walk in the door. Now, it really doesn’t matter at what stage you are in life, there still is that fundamental principle of principle breadwinner or winners not there, dollars have to be there.

When you start to talk about the financial security planning tools as wealth creators, it can be obvious, and it can be not so obvious, and to my point of always knowing that the insurance is in place means that you can move forward with a great deal of confidence, means that in the event that something happens, you’re going to have dollars there to replace that confidence that unfortunately leaves when you leave.

The other aspect of life insurance as a wealth creator is that it is an enormously powerful financial tool to transfer wealth from one generation to the next. We call that inter generational wealth transfer. It is a highly tax effective tool, as a matter of fact, it is the most tax effective tool to transfer generational wealth, Dad to children, Mom to children.

Inter spousal is one level, but we can get into that kind of a sophisticated discussion when we’re talking to our clients. But there is a huge world out there that doesn’t understand how simple the use of a life insurance policy can be to create massive wealth for the current and next generation.

Ensuring Business Continuity

One specific aspect of what I do is work with entrepreneurs who are concerned about business continuity. Business continuity is simply the ability to accurately, properly, and objectively understand the importance of putting programs into place that will allow their businesses to continue.

That being said, if you use a numbers example of a business that’s worth $10 million and you have two partners, well, at the end of the day, if one of those partners dies, there’s five million dollars of money that needs to walk into the company in order for the shares to be bought out.

That’s a very simplistic example, but it’s much more than just that, because the partners are taken care of, they’ve recognized their responsibilities to each other, but what they don’t think about, and what I ask them to think about is the fact that that same dollars that are being generated are also providing them with the necessary funding so that that business can continue for the 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 people that work there. The implications of this are huge, much bigger than the very central focus, which is a buy-sell agreement, and funding that buy-sell agreement. That’s a privilege that I hold very dear, because I’m able to talk to people at that level, I’m making them understand what really matters when they take a courageous step like that.

It’s Always The Right Time To Get Insured

The best time to get insurance is between two o’clock and 4:30 in the afternoon. There is no good time to buy insurance, but there is always no good time not to buy insurance. Whether you buy an insurance policy on a newborn, whether you purchase an insurance policy in your mid teens, early 20s, when you have your business, when you get married, when you buy the house, it doesn’t really matter. What’s important is that you have the discussion with a financial security planner to make sure that the proper programs are in place, and I stress the word proper programs are in place that fit the needs at the time.

Moving On To Greatness

Being a lifetime Montrealer, I have seen this city go through massive change. And it’s probably at a point now economically where it is moving towards its former greatness. I don’t think it is fair to delude anybody into thinking that Montreal is where it was 40 years ago, and I know, I was in Montreal 40 years ago. But I do say that it is very fair for the entrepreneurs and for the forward thinkers who recognize that Montreal is destined for greatness again, and that’s very cool, because we’re the only city in Canada who can say that we’re destined for greatness again.

And you see it in the massive amount of growth, both at a construction level, also infrastructure level, not withstanding the orange cones everywhere in the city of Montreal. You also see it with investments, with new businesses. The thing that a lot of people don’t recognize is that every time a new business comes to Montreal, and every time 800 jobs are added, or 200 jobs are added, that contributes massively to the economic development of this city.

And what I can see as an old time Montrealer is that we were there, we went through a bit of an economic setback, but as a result of that, we kinda cleaned the pipes a little bit. This time, our greatness will be based on a far greater diversity, a far broader base, which I think will bring a lot more long term stability.

40, 50 years ago, the greatness of Montreal was very narrowly focused, let’s be frank, it was. It should not have been that way, and thanks to some very courageous people, it evolved from that. Now it’s time to move on, and we’re moving on, and we’re moving on to greatness again.

Montreal’s Economic Diversity

When you talk about the advancement of Montreal as a city economically, one of the things that differentiates us is that we are very broadly based in terms of the economic drivers. It’s always interesting to grab a headline with AI, it’s always interesting to grab a headline with biotech, whatever the particular industry may be, what’s really interesting is that there are an incredible diversity of industries both within Montreal and dans les banlieues.

So what you have is a broader base, and why they’re attracted to Montreal is for those things that make Montreal unique. We are an extraordinarily diverse city, we are extraordinarily open city for the most part, most of the time, but at the same time, we are business driven by entrepreneurs who understand the necessity to take risks. And you mix all that together, and you get a different kind of a structure, you get a different kind of a driver, you get a different kind of an engine that makes this city tick, and boy does it tick.

Pushing Through Our Growing Pains

I think one of the things that makes Montreal so great, I know one of the things that makes Montreal so great is the fact that if you come here with entrepreneurial drive and a spirit and a commitment to wanna get the job done, you can flourish probably better than in any other city in Canada, and the reason why I say probably better is because you’ve gotta work hard, just like you have to work hard anywhere else.

But the people that are successful here go beyond just working hard, they embrace the character of the city, they embrace the spirit of the people in this city, and they adapt accordingly. So the entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well, it is extremely diverse, and it is growing and flourishing.

Along the way there’s growing pains, everybody has growing pains, it’s a part of life. But the things that are being done in this city, the annoying things like infrastructure, which is something that, since it hasn’t been taken of in about 150 years, is due.

But the truth is that the infrastructure that we’re building out now is going to create a massive economic base that is solid, long term, and sustainable at all levels. It’s not narrowly focused like it used to be.

Montreal’s Support For Small Businesses

When you talk about building a business, you can talk about it at different levels. Why do people come to Montreal as opposed to other cities in Canada, or other cities in North America? It’s not just about the cost of doing business. I think that overall, the infrastructure in Montreal and in Quebec is set up so that small and medium businesses, les PME are supported.

Of course, everyone can complain about anything at any time, but in the big picture, the reason why you come to Montreal is because of course you can make money, of course you can build a business, but you can also go to any one of 2,000 restaurants and have a great meal, you can experience that in a broad ethnic diversity, you can go an hour out of Montreal and be in the wilderness if you’re so inclined to be completely eaten by mosquitoes. You can do so many things in this city, it brings so much to the table, that maybe one or two or three or four or five percent profitability is worth it to get that kind of a quality of life.

Our Quality Of Life Attracts Foreign Investment

One of the things that attracts businesses to Montreal is the quality of life. Now, that can raise some eyebrows, because there are various aspects of Montreal that may not be that positive to certain people versus other people. You can always talk about the fact that our housing, as an example, on a relative basis, is less expensive. But the moment you evoke that kind of a discussion, it evolves quickly into yeah, but it’s getting really expensive.

Well, there’s a message there, first of all, one, come to Montreal, two, stay in Montreal, three, invest in Montreal and you’re gonna catch that wave. That is an inevitable part of how society evolves. If you’re not prepared to accept that and to understand that, I challenge you to go anywhere in the world where the same thing hasn’t happened, and you might not find the quality of life there so good.

What makes us different is the fact that we are conscious of that, and so we’re finding the juste equilibre between the two, and that’s very powerful stuff. So maybe our house prices are going up, they may never reach other levels for one reason or another, but that still doesn’t mean that we’re not gonna become an economic powerhouse, it just means we’re gonna become an economic powerhouse with a really cool understanding and base as to how we got here this time.

Influential Montrealers

One of the advantages that I have is that I’ve lived in Montreal all my life, so I have had profound influences by extraordinary Montrealers. I can talk about Maurice Richard with reverence and respect, I can talk about Henri Richard with reverence and respect, I can talk about Guy Lafleur or Gary Carter, and that’s just sports, but I can also talk about one of the founding fathers of French theater in Montreal, Jean Duceppe, with reverence, brilliant man.

I can also talk about Michel Tremblay, probably one of the most powerful writers of our time, and sadly very overlooked. I think that one of the more iconic figures of today would be Leonard Cohen. Leonard Cohen has been around Montreal for a long time, and he’s left his mark everywhere. It is in his passing that we recognized his greatness. This man was a poet who wrote songs, who captured the sizzle and the essence of this city, perhaps like nobody else did. And it was overlooked for quite a number of years. Reflect on the words of the song Suzanne, and then go down to the clock tower and sit on that bench, and you’ll get the words.

My belief is that that richness is what is imbued in Montrealers today at various levels, at various ages, at various economic stages in their life, and that’s what gives us something that nobody else has.

Montreal Theater Pioneer Michel Tremblay

One of the aspects of Montreal that I find extraordinary is the artistic side of our city. From a very young age, I had the opportunity to experience les pièces de Michel Tremblay, but Michel Tremblay, as a lot of people don’t know, and he’s very low key about it, he’s also the author of the same plays in English. So he would write a brilliant piece in French, which I would go and see, and then he would write the same piece in English, that I would go and see. And so, what I was able to do was gain a much deeper appreciation of the French language from a contextual point of view. The power of Michel Tremblay is extraordinary, and should never be overlooked, he’s truly a great Montrealer.

There were other great Montrealers as well, Jean-Claude Poitras, a brilliant designer, and a very, very creative individual, and a really, really, really nice guy who I’ve had the opportunity of meeting on a number of occasions, just a solid, down to earth Montrealer.

Montreal’s Passion For The Arts

One of the strengths of Montreal is the fact that we have always appreciated the arts. We’ve got a passion for it that other cities don’t have at a very basic level. What is disturbing to me today is that perhaps the arts are not being supported like they used to be, and it is sadly one of the parts of the economic evolution that we’re going through. But theater, film, dance, art in virtually any one of its forms, is a cornerstone for society, because it makes people think, it evokes reactions, it evokes emotions, it gets people understanding life at a completely different level.

And because art in its various forms has been so important in Montreal, it has created a society that is always more appreciative at a truly, for lack of a better expression, artistic level. It’s not just about buying a painting that’s gonna be worth a lot in 20 years, it’s not about going to a play that is going to be on Broadway, it’s about going to see and going to hear things that are real and resonate.