Kingston Economic Development Corporation is investing $35,000 in 12 entrepreneurs in Kingston through their Starter Company Plus program.
Adam Bighill rises at 4:45 a.m. most days – and it’s not just to prepare for the coming season as a linebacker for the Grey Cup champion Winnipeg Blue Bombers. He’s also answering client e-mails and poring over financial news.
Besides being one the Canadian Football League’s (CFL) more accomplished defensive players, Mr. Bighill is also an investment advisor.
“This will be my career post-football, and for me to start building it now is important,” says the 31-year-old, married father of three young children.
Mr. Bighill has had an illustrious football career. The 10-year veteran has been awarded the CFL’s Most Outstanding Defensive Player twice and has also won the Grey Cup two times.
Now, Mr. Bighill has also joined another exclusive group of CFLers – those working in the investment industry. Hired last year as an advisor at one of Canada’s fastest-growing, independent investment dealers, Wellington-Altus Private Wealth Inc., Mr. Bighill is distinctive even in this respect.
That’s because most CFLers who joined the industry did so after their playing careers ended. Yet, Mr. Bighill has no intention of retiring from football anytime soon. In fact, he signed a three-year, $750,000 extension with Winnipeg last year. Rather, he plans on doing both for as long as possible.
Although football and managing other people’s money seem like an unlikely match, pro athletes’ skill sets often transfer well, says Charlie Spiring, founder, senior investment advisor and chairman of Wellington-Altus Holdings Inc.
“Some people label them ‘dumb jocks,’” says Mr. Spiring, adding that they’re anything but. “[Mr. Bighill] is very intelligent and one of those guys who had to work harder than others.”
Certainly, Mr. Bighill is very familiar with herculean workloads.
“To be a professional athlete, the amount of hard work and dedication you put into your craft is elite. So, what I do on a daily basis is normal to me, even if it’s not for most,” he says.
That same work ethic and passion were applied to his interest in investing after a disappointing experience working with an advisor early in his CFL career. He started managing his own money and enjoyed it so much he took the Canadian Securities Course.
“Then, it was like, ‘Okay, I’m definitely passionate about this … so let’s turn this into an opportunity.’”
Mr. Bighill is following the path of many CFLers before him who have forged successful careers in wealth management. That includes the league’s commissioner, Randy Ambrosie, who played nine seasons before building a successful career in the industry, most recently as president of AGF Management Ltd.
Yet, few have done both at the same time. Mike Philbrick, president and portfolio manager at ReSolve Asset Management in Toronto, is one of them.
He began his football career on the practice roster. “So, my schedule and income were a little light,” he says, adding that CFLers frequently work side jobs.
Over 11 seasons, Mr. Philbrick worked his way through the investment industry while becoming a fearsome defender on the field. He knows the challenges of balancing both jobs well, including long hours before and after games managing accounts and taking client calls.
The effort was worth his while, he adds. “You get to that point where you have to make a hard decision between two great options.”
Mr. Philbrick chose to retire from the CFL and continue in the investment industry, but the skills learned on the field remained useful.
“Sports is a metaphor for life condensed into much quicker feedback loops, which enhance your ability to learn valuable skills,” he says.
That’s because mistakes are called out, so you’re forced to learn from the criticism and make the necessary adjustments to be successful. “And that’s a super power in this industry,” he says.
John Rothwell vice-president, national business development at National Bank Financial Wealth Management, played in the CFL briefly after being drafted in 1977. He says adversity – including rejection by prospective clients and losing existing ones – is commonplace in wealth management. So, the resilience learned playing sports comes in handy.
Football is particularly “brutal,” he adds. Players sacrifice their bodies; injury and extreme pain are commonplace. But the investment industry can be just as bruising – without physical injuries.
So many aspect are beyond one’s control, volatile markets chief among them, and so both vocations takes a special individual, Mr. Rothwell says. “Adam is the real deal.”
Mr. Spiring thinks so, too, noting that Mr. Bighill is working alongside veteran advisor Rica Guenther in order to learn and manage the workload of both professions.
A proverbial team player, Mr. Bighill is thankful for the help. “What does a client do when they need something and I’m on the field? Well, Rica’s there to handle those needs,” he says.
As well, Ms. Guenther guides him through the complicated back-end administrative aspects of the business. Fortunately, football made him a quick study.
“Most of what I do is analytical … studying your opponent … breaking it down into fine details,” he says.
Of course, the investment industry also involves plenty of salesmanship, so some name recognition doesn’t hurt when trying to win over clients, Mr. Spiring says.
“There’s no question we’re parlaying his name and the Blue Bombers’ recent Grey Cup win,” he says.
Still, Mr. Bighill says that only gets him so far.
“People don’t just hand you money for being a football player, but it gives you a chance to get in the door and explain why you can create value,” he says.
Kingston Economic Development Corporation is investing $35,000 in 12 entrepreneurs in Kingston through their Starter Company Plus program.
These micro grants will aid in the growing of the local startups in getting their feet off of the ground alongside business training and personal coaching for business owners.
According to Rob Tamblyn, Business Development Manager of Small & Medium Enterprises – the pandemic as resulted in many Kingstonians pursuing their own businesses.
“We are proud to be able to offer support and guidance to them through the Kingston Economic Development,” said Tamblyn.
The wide array of businesses that will benefit from this grant span from tattoo and spa services to contracting and driving schools, he said.
“Since the pandemic, we have certainly seen an uptick in the number of inquiries from people who are wanting to go into business for themselves.” Tamblyn said, explaining the need for funding.
Kingston Economic Development Corporation was created with the mission of supporting the Kingston economy through providing mentorship and funds to a variety of business enterprises.
Little Friday is one of the twelve businesses in the spring cohort, Soren Gregersen and Ciara Roberts, co-founders of the new video production company, spoke to the Whig about the program.
Officially opening it’s doors in February of this year, Gregersen and Roberts heard of the Starter Company Plus Program from a business that participated last year.
“We’re going to spend the money on (Search Engine Optimization) to get some online presence and a bit of money on gear so that we can up our production value and capacity,” Gregersen said, referring to the vitality of a virtual presence in early stages.
“We’re fortunate in Kingston to be able to offer two separate cohorts, one in the spring and one in the fall.” Tamblyn said. “So we’re able to inject $70,000 into startups or existing businesses seeking to expand.”
Each year, the corporation provides $35,000 in micro grants for each cohort to local businesses with funding from the Government of Ontario. Business owners are able to receive up to $5,000 based on the strength of their business pitches, decided on by a panel of community judges.
Accepted participants not only receive funding, but also attend a week-long virtual boot camp covering market research, digital marketing, small business financing, and hiring practice to ensure that each entrepreneur is set up with the resources and information for success.
Roberts told the Whig that the boot camp and additional resources offered by the program has been invaluable. “It gave us a week to really sit down and put pen to paper on what we wanted little Friday to be about.”
“We focused on figuring out long term goals, marketing strategies, and marketing sales forecasts (in the boot camp)”
The pair has been receiving one on one coaching from business experts where time is allotted to get specific on obstacles that arise in the early days of business.
Interested start-up owners can apply to the Fall 2022 cohort from now until September 11 through the Invest Kingston website.
A pair of initiatives aimed at attracting high-skilled jobs to the region have captured the attention of the federal government.
On Tuesday, Minister of Innovation, Science, and Industry François-Philippe Champagne sat down for an interview with CTV News London to discuss the growing electric vehicle (EV) sector and other high-tech industries in southwestern Ontario.
“I don’t know if you’ve been following me!” joked a surprised Champagne when asked about rumours that aerospace company Boeing is considering a significant investment in London and the surrounding region.
He says talks are ongoing with Boeing about further investment in Canada — and confirms this region is in the running.
“London has the key ingredients that you [need] to attract this type of investment in the industry,” the minister explains.
Boeing is one of the largest aerospace design and manufacturing companies in the world.
Champagne suggested he is targeting investments that reduce the environmental impact of the aerospace industry, in particular, greener propulsion.
“What we’ve done in the automotive sector I dream of doing in the aerospace sector, which is greening the industry,” he adds.
Earlier in the day Champagne was joined by London North Centre MP Peter Fragiskatos on a tour of Toyota in Woodstock, Ont. focussed on EV investments and technology.
Fragiskatos says the federal government’s ongoing push for electric vehicle and component production in Ontario brings high paying jobs to the region.
“We’re talking about close to $40/hr plus benefits, particularly in this economy its jobs like that that are going to get people through,” says Fragiskatos.
In June, the City of St. Thomas announced the purchase of a 325 hectare (800 acre) parcel of serviced land in the community’s northeast corner aimed at attracting an EV battery plant.
Champagne was aware of the shovel-ready property and enthusiastic about the opportunity.
He believes the EV industry wants to reduce the carbon footprint of battery production, making Ontario’s mostly renewable energy hydro grid very attractive.
“I would applaud what is being done in St. Thomas, and certainly that is the type of creativity that we need,” he says.
I have been doing this work for a long time. Nearly 30 years. And over that span I continue to see people make the same, preventable mistakes, over and over.
Here’s my Top 10 list of unforced investment errors.
1. Getting your financial advice from social media. If you have a question about money, what makes you think your equally uniformed friends have the correct answer? People with accounting questions will consult an accountant. People with medical concerns will seek out a doctor. But people with investing questions turn to Facebook or TikTok. It’s nutty.
2. Believing in fairy tales. Yes, I understand the allure of instant riches. Especially if someone is promising outsized returns with no risk. But huge returns with no risk is a fairy tale. Or a scam.
3. Being a perpetual GIC investor. Guaranteed Investment Certificates have their role in financial planning, but if you find yourself continuously rolling over your GICs at maturity because you don’t know what else to do then what you end up with is a permanent string of low-paying investments. On an after-tax, after inflation basis you are almost certainly losing money. How safe is that?
4. Buying on greed. If the reason that you want to buy an investment is because it is showing impressive past performance and you want to get in on the action, chances are very good that you are not making a rational investment decision. And if the investment has already gone up by that much already chances are that its too late.
5. Selling on fear. If the reason that you want to sell a quality investment is because it is showing disheartening past performance and you want to get out to avoid the pain of loss, chances are very good that you are not making a rational investment decision. And if the investment has already gone down by that much already chances are that it’s too late.
6. Confusing investment costs with losses. Buying the lowest cost investment is not the same thing as buying the best investment. If you can replace the diversification and investment decision making process at a lower cost, you might be on to something. But buying an investment only because it is cheap is a good way to end up with junk.
7. Overthinking. You really don’t need to wait until you master the nuances of a covered call strategy or do up a 200-column spreadsheet with correlation analysis before you take action. People can get overwhelmed by the choices and end up paralyzed into inactivity. Simple is usually better than complicated. Just get started.
8. Overconfidence. This one is a biggie. Way too many people think they know what they are doing with their investments, but that’s only because they don’t know what they don’t know. The tricky part is few readers will recognize themselves as being overconfident, just like everyone thinks that they are an above average driver. But if the roads are filled with great drivers, why are intersections with four way stop signs so difficult for people to figure out?
9. Burying your head in the sand. Sometimes financial decisions cause great angst, and the way that some people deal with money decisions is by not dealing with money decisions. Ignoring the situation might be a coping strategy, but it’s not going to get you anywhere. Unpleasant jobs are a fact of life. Pretending that they don’t exist doesn’t make them go away, and procrastination can allow small problems to fester into big ones.
10. Confusing wants and needs. You may want a shiny new toy right now. But you still need to eat when you get to retirement. A high consumption lifestyle is fun, but draining your retirement funds to finance it is short-sighted.
These preventable mistakes are well-known. Even so, I can assure you that people all over the world will continue to make all of them.
But you don’t have to be one of those people.
Brad Brain, CFP, R.F.P., CIM, TEP is a Certified Financial Planner in Fort St John, BC. This material is prepared for general circulation and may not reflect your individual financial circumstances. Brad can be reached at www.bradbrainfinancial.com.
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