Step inside the new Alterna Savings branch in Westboro and you’ll instantly know it’s a financial institution like no other. Just as the décor is modern, warm and welcoming, so too is the way Alterna does business. You’re not a bank account number, you’re a member. At the ready are financial advisors who will take the time to earn your trust, get to know you, and work with you to develop a financial plan that will bring you peace of mind and financial security.
The Alterna difference stems from a commitment to developing real connections with members, explains Westboro branch manager Jeremy Rock. “As a cooperative, we understand that long term relationships are crucial to developing and implementing a successful financial plan. We are a member-owned organization and our members genuinely enjoy coming into the branch and talking with us. They appreciate the personalized service which is unlike what you might experience elsewhere.”
It’s important to note that Alterna is a relatively flat organization, not one that’s top-heavy with executives or chains of command. “Underwriting decisions are made right upstairs in our Westboro office, which makes us very responsive and decreases turnaround time for members.”
Choosing a financial planner is a very personal decision; because you’ll be working on your financial health, it’s almost like finding a doctor. You want someone trustworthy who has your objectives and best interests at heart. At Alterna, all branch employees are salaried, so they always recommend what’s best for each member, rather than being concerned about commissions.
Some members initially question the value of having a financial advisor and a financial plan but Jeremy says his team usually has very little difficulty convincing them. “We like to tell members that while they might be savvy savers, having a carefully crafted financial plan developed by an advisor will offer so much more than just assistance with managing money. We bring genuine peace of mind as we work with you to plan for your financial goals and future. Don’t you want to work with a partner who truly cares about your circumstances both now and in the future?”
He adds that being a financial advisor at Alterna is a complex role. “We look at the big picture of your financial circumstances; everyone’s goals shift over time from being more short term oriented to the longer term. We enjoy working with our members through all their financial phases, including taking out that first car loan, saving for a down payment on a home, paying off the mortgage, putting kids through school and saving for retirement.”
Regardless of income levels, consulting with a financial advisor and having a financial plan is crucial, notes Jeremy. “For people who think they can manage fine without developing and sticking to a financial plan, I like to point out that a recent study by the Financial Planning Standards Council found that Canadians with financial plans feel they are saving more, living better, and experiencing higher levels of overall contentment. That’s a pretty compelling argument in favour of working with one of our financial advisors.”
Furthermore, the same study revealed that people with comprehensive plans tend to feel more on track with both their financial goals and their retirement plans, plus they believe they have improved their ability to save in the past five years. “Two of the most significant things the study revealed was that people with financial plans feel more confident they can deal with financial challenges in life, and they are better able to indulge in their discretionary spending goals,” explains Jeremy. “These are really important points because it means that having a financial plan takes away a lot of the stress about weathering difficult times and it also contributes to overall enjoyment of life.”
“No matter what is happening in your life, a financial plan can get you to your goals faster, so I encourage you to come in and talk to one of our friendly team members,” says Jeremy. “We’re your neighbours in Westboro and we will build you a customized a plan for free; we are also happy to provide a second opinion and offer a financial checkup on any existing plans you may have.”