One in five Canadians presently has at least one disability. A recent study from the Lancet Medical journal claims the numbers will increase significantly with the long-term effects of COVID19. While there seems to be a new influx arising out of it, many existing special needs people and their families need help in making the right financial decision for themselves. Geoffrey Zaldin, CEO, Special Needs Financial, talks to us about how his business is finding solutions to help people with special needs maintain their right financial balance.
Tell us a bit about Special Needs Financial.
Well, we specialize in Financial and Estate Planning for individuals with special needs and their families. Our clients are mostly people who qualify for DTC (Disability Tax Credit) or their family members. We help them structure and organize their finances to maximize the government benefits they are entitled to. Simply put, we assist our clients in planning a better future for themselves and their families.
Among our services’ many offerings, we deal with RDSP’s (Registered Disability Savings Plan), consultation about information and assistance related to ODSP (Ontario Disability Support Program), and Henson Trusts. Apart from the services aimed at disabled people, we also help families to invest in traditional investments like RRSP’s (Registered Retirement Savings Plan), TFSA’s (Tax-Free Savings Account), Open accounts, LIRA (Locked-In Retirement Accounts), and Insurance.
Why did you pick this niche business?
Services directed for people with special needs are highly under-serviced in our country. I have expertise that will allow individuals to retain more government assistance. Moreover, as a father of a daughter who happens to have Special Needs, I believe that you should help the Special Needs community.
I have personally seen a lot of misrepresentation and misinformation by other financial advisors and banks. Giving generalized information about RDSP’s and special needs financial planning is very different from providing the client a plan for their need. Every person’s case is different and needs special attention.
How difficult/easy is it to source and help clients with their financial needs during the pandemic?
My business model is primarily based on referrals and doing in-person seminars for charity organizations. However, with COVID19 around us, it isn’t easy now. Most of my clients belong to the high-risk category. Due to the quarantine and isolation, it isn’t easy to reach and target them the way we did pre-COVID times.
Technology, too, is a challenge for many of my clients, so reaching them is very difficult now. Furthermore, the charities have other pressing issues that supersede resources to announce and host a virtual seminar. It is indeed tough to build a rapport with prospects and new clients without the ability to meet in-person.
Let’s talk of some numbers, pre-COVID sales, and now what’s the difference?
The company is down approximately 30% of where we would have expected the projected growth trajectory without COVID. While we are still growing, the pace has slowed down significantly.
What are the changes that you’ve adapted in this COVID-19?
COVID19 has taught us many things, shown us new ways of doing business. The most notable change we have adopted is the staff working from home. Technology is now our most significant aid as we are doing more virtual meetings with clients exclusively instead of in-person meetings for the safety of all.
How big is your team?
We are a small, tight-knit team working together with a mission to help people in need. The company is led by me, my wife, Michelle Goldstein Zaldin, and two other team members.
What do you think you need as help to benefit your business?
It is tough to let someone know that they are getting misinformation from individuals or banks they trust. Unless you meet someone in-person and build a strong rapport of trust, explaining is hard.
Presently, all I need is a channel to help propagate my words to the Special Needs community to partner with more charities and help more families with the level of service they should expect. I aim to help as many families as I can in my life to lead a decent quality of life throughout, guarded by the right financial decisions.
What survival mantra would you share with other small business owners around you?
COVID has hit hard on almost all sections of our society. The biggest lesson I guess we all learned is to adapt and be inventive. We need to have the mindset of adapting and acclimatizing to the situations we are in. This adaptive open mindset will help us innovate and reinvent new strategies and means to fight all the odds. Technology can be used to solve many problems, but you need to determine the potential issues and solutions early.
Geoffrey lives in Thornhill with his wife Michelle and their three children- 17-year-old twin boys and a 16-year-old daughter who happens to have Cerebral Palsy. He operates from the bustling North York business centre. With financial planning for individuals with special needs and their families, he is also a consultant on several Group Retirement and Health & Welfare Plans.
For more information kindly visit website: Special Needs Financial
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Author: Debarati Mukherjee, for The Onside Media, Toronto, Canada. If you have any stories or comments, kindly email: – [email protected]