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Financial Planners an opinion

Historical article from the period when I was laid off from Nortel, and then had to figure out what to do next. The Financial Planner was actually part of my lay off package, and he was actually useful in terms of things I learned from him. I did write a redux of this visit article as well (i.e. lessons learned).

Monday I spent a good 2 hours with a Personal Finance Planner, that was made available to me by my soon to be former employer, and their right management team. I won’t divulge the name of the planner, just because I don’t feel right doing a “review” of their services, since I got them for a large discount.

Scope of Discussions

The scope of my discussions with this gentleman was mostly around what are my options to do with my severance package and what the tax implications would be if I withdrew from my company’s pension plan.

Bill (not the financial planners real first name) collected a fair amount of background information from us, which made my wife a little nervous (since she had not met him before, but I had at a group financial planning session). We were fairly strict in what we did and did not tell him, since we wanted the scope of the discussions to stay mostly around the task at hand (i.e. tax implications of my severance package).

Planning Session

After collecting the information, the financial planner had an already set up Excel spreadsheet with the tax scenarios possible for me and my family. Bill has done this with many (more than 100) former employees of my soon to be former employer. He also had a massive plasma display that he ran this on to show my wife and I what he was calculating. My wife pointed out I will never be getting a display like that for my computer.

He started by filling in some of the numbers he gave me about my yearly income, the size of the severance package, and the size of my pension pay out.

The variables to be dealt with are:

  1. Do I take my severance package completely when it is made available?
  2. Do I use the RRSP room I have now or later?
  3. Nortel was gracious enough to allow me to split my severance and take some now, and then some on January 1, 2009, do I do that?
  4. What are the implications of me withdrawing from the pension plan?

The financial planner went through all of these scenarios, gave his opinions and dealt with my and my wife’s questions in a professional way.


I think my wife and I had already decided what to do, but we didn’t really have a clear plan of why or how much, I think now we do (at least I hope we do). Simply sitting down with someone with enough Tax savvy and background to “bounce ideas” off was just great and I think I got my moneys worth out of it (remember I got this at a large discount).

Bill did point out that his company does offer many services, and that if I did need them, I should call him (and I wouldn’t expect anything less from a small business owner), but he was not pushy and understood the audience he was dealing with.

Bill also told me his hourly rate, and I think I might think a bit before going back to him, and make sure I was much better prepared than I was this time, because his services do not come cheap (but then again, you pay for expertise, I have always found).

All in all a positive experience, and I would recommend dealing with a financial planner, with NO ties to any insurance company or mutual fund company. Make sure the planner charges you by the hour, for the service he is offering, so you know where he or she is making their money (mostly).

Feel Free to Comment

  1. Great posting. Having gone through this 15 years ago I can certainly relate to your experience. I hope you make out as well as we did. I haven’t worked a day since my downsizing. There is something very gratifying in doing exactly what I want every day of my life. It is the only way to live.

    The Hoss

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