The Money Whisperer – The Value of Independent Financial Advice


November is Financial Literacy Month. We are pleased to welcome guest blogger Randy McCord, instructor of MRU’s Investing in Real Estate course, to share his expertise on the importance financial planning.

How do you measure the value of advice? It’s one of life’s intangibles, but most of us seek it out before making important decisions. The best advice is meaningful and impactful, and as unique as the person receiving it.

And while some people think they can manage on their own and are satisfied with the results, they may not even be aware of the opportunities they’re missing. This is particularly true when it comes to financial security planning, where good advice can be worth its weight in gold.

That’s because receiving independent financial security advice is not just about having access to a wide variety of financial products. It’s about developing a relationship with a financial expert who will take the time to understand your financial situation, work with you to develop a plan to achieve your goals, and help you stay on track despite life’s twists and turns.

Many independent studies confirm that financial security advice gives you – the investor – a greater chance of:

  • Increasing your savings by maintaining a disciplined approach
  • Being better prepared for a comfortable retirement
  • Selecting the most tax-efficient investment strategies for all stages of your life
  • Successfully navigating unexpected financial or personal challenges

And despite what many people think, you do not need to be wealthy or established in your career to benefit. In fact, it’s never too soon, or too late, to work with an advisor. Some might even say you can’t afford not to.

Let’s look at some stats that back up these claims:

                                                              With Advice/Plan                  Without Advice/Plan

Annual Savings Rate                                        86%                                            43%

Have RRSPs                                                    84%                                            36%

Have TFSAs                                                     45%                                            20%

Feel they are better equipped for:

Financial Emergencies                                     60%                                             28%

Tough Economic Times                                    65%                                             36%

Ensuring Loved Ones are Looked After           73%                                             41%

Feel they are on Track Financially                    81%                                            44%

Take Annual Vacations                                     74%                                             44%

Live the Life they Want                                      61%                                             31%

Splurge                                                               65%                                             31%

Are on Track for Retirement                              50%                                             22%

As you can see, the value of financial security advice in these surveys is pretty conclusive. And although these surveys did not separate independent advice from proprietary advice (i.e,. a bank or investment company selling their own products) the advantages are still striking.

Most independent financial advisors are happy to provide complimentary reviews so it costs the investor nothing for a discovery meeting to see if there is a need and a fit with an advisor. Our advice is to seek out truly independent advisors who act as a broker for all the various products and services available. And interviewing a few different advisors only makes sense, just like shopping for a good lawyer or accountant. Make sure you and the advisor feel comfortable with each other before fully engaging their services.

There is value in planning and getting advice to assist in developing and maintaining your personal financial plan.

mccord— by Randy McCord, Executive Business Director, National Best Financial Network




You can learn more about financial planning with MRU’s Personal and Professional Financial Planning courses.

Oil and Gas Career and Education Fair Welcomes Large Crowd

Claudine Vidallo speaking on jobs in the oil and gas industry
Claudine Vidallo speaking on jobs in the oil and gas industry

The Business and Professional Education programs of MRU Continuing Education held an Oil and Gas Career and Education Fair on Wednesday, November 19 from 5 to 8 p.m. in the Ross Glen Hall. Over 300 people attended the event.

Continuing Education instructors and staff were on hand to speak with potential students about their programs and career possibilities in their respective fields.

A team from Bowen provided free resume reviews. Their table had a long line all evening.

In the main stage area Catherine Brownlee of Prominent Personnel gave a presentation on successful job hunting and networking.

Here are some of Catherine’s top networking tips:

  • Have a business card printed with your contact information even if you are unemployed.
  • Always have your business cards with you. You never know where you might meet someone who can help your career.
  • Be dressed as though you are ready for an interview whenever you are out.
  • Don’t hand someone your resume too soon. Let them get to know you first.
  • Follow up your initial meeting by requesting a 10-minute coffee chat, where you bring the coffee. Make the request by email rather than by phone. Stick to the promised 10 minutes. Ask for information, referrals and advice.
  • Follow up with any referrals they make.
  • Ask people questions about themselves in order to start conversations. Listen more than you talk.
  • Keep a Customer Relations Management (CRM) database of people you network with, including the person’s name and company, the time and place you met, and notes on any information, referrals and advice they gave you.

Claudine Vitallo of the Petroleum HR Council spoke about the types of jobs in the Canadian oil patch and the requirements to land them, from entry-level to engineering and support industries.

There are 550,000 oil and gas workers in Canada. At $80 billion it is the largest contributor to Canada’s economy.

Claudine talked about the three streams within the industry:

  • Upstream – studying the land to determine where deposits may be and getting the oil and gas out of the ground
  • Midstream – transporting the oil and gas to various refineries and markets
  • Downstream – selling oil and gas products to consumers – from gasoline to cosmetics to plastic products

The three names drawn for a $500 Gift of Registration are:

  • Marquesa Yepes
  • Catalina Betancur
  • Trish Rudneski 

“I believe we really succeeded in offering our guests a valuable experience. I chatted with many attendees, our instructors and professional association partners. Everyone seemed very happy with the presentations, the opportunity to engage in meaningful conversations and to gather and share program information,” says Dean Charles Webber of the Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension.

See a Facebook album of Oil and Gas Career and Education Fair photos.

— by Karen McCarthy
— photo by Mitsue Kudo

First Grads of New PFT Diploma Reach Their Goals

PFT Diploma Grads
Personal Fitness Trainer Diploma grads

The Personal Fitness Trainer program was approved as a two-year diploma in 2012. Eleven members of the inaugural diploma intake graduated in 2014 and eight of them crossed the stage at Mount Royal University’s Convocation on November 7, 2014.

“We are so proud of our first Personal Fitness Trainer Diploma graduates. This is truly a special moment for the entire MRU community and a time to for our graduates to celebrate their hard-earned achievements. They should feel confident that they are venturing into the health and fitness industry with an abundance of skills and competencies to make a positive difference in the lives of others. Congratulations!” says Community and Health Studies Program Director Christina White-Prosser.

Graduate Ron Luciuk talks about how the program fits his values and beliefs about health. “My mother inspired me to always be physically active. I grew up aspiring to maintain my health through this natural method and in doing so I excelled at whatever I did. I always believed that the health benefits of physical activity outperformed the perceived benefits of modern western medicine. As careers were limited in fitness at the time, I chose a career as a pharmacist and thought that I could change this ideal and switch my values to the accepted medical one. I unsuccessfully tried to do that for 25 years. I eventually returned to my former conviction that fitness was vital to health and happiness and entered the PFT program at MRU in 2012. Over the next two years my passion for fitness as a means to enhance health was reignited along with an appreciation of how natural nutrition can provide everything the body needs to optimize itself. I graduated from MRU with a Diploma focusing on health care that emphasizes staying well through physical activity and nutrition versus one that repairs health problems. The PFT program restored my core belief that the best way to health is through exercise and nutrition and prepared me to carry that forward to others.”

MRU’s well-respected Personal Fitness Trainer Diploma is a comprehensive program of 22 courses, including lab time and practicum, preparing students to work one-on-one with clients providing safe and effective exercise programs. The curriculum was designed to meet the Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology – Certified Personal Trainer (CSEP-CPT). The program was originally introduced as a certificate in the late 1990s.

Graduates of other full-time Continuing Education programs also crossed the stage at Mount Royal University’s Convocation ceremony.

The TVP Employment Preparation Certificate program had 21 graduates. Nineteen attended convocation.
The TVP Employment Preparation Certificate program had 21 graduates. Nineteen attended convocation.
Massage Therapy and Personal Fitness Trainer graduates.
Massage Therapy and Personal Fitness Trainer graduates
Funeral Service graduates
Funeral Service graduates
It’s always a proud and happy day to see our students reach their goals and start their futures. Congratulations to our graduates and everyone who walked across the stage at MRU.
— by Karen McCarthy
— photos by Krystal Hurt

What’s New for Winter 2015


The Winter semester, which starts in January 2015, will usher in some exciting new Continuing Education programs to help you build your career. There’s a suite of new certificates for administrative professionals, courses for healthy aging, and several new specialized business programs.

Administrative Professionals
You can choose the Administrative Assistant Extension Certificate, where you will learn all of the skills valued by employers in an administrative professional. Or focus on a specific skill set to enhance your existing administrative knowledge. You can also learn about the petroleum industry in addition to skills for the administrative professional.

Business and Management
Knowledge of social media, event planning and communications are highly valued in the job market, and we are introducing several new programs in this field.

If you’re a fan of Dr. Brené Brown, you will want to check out The Daring Way™ Wholehearted Living and Leadership Workshop based on her teachings.

If you’d like to help people and communities during and after disasters such as floods and forest fires, our new Emergency Management and Disaster Recovery program will teach you valuable skills.

Healthy Aging
We are pleased to introduce a set of new courses focused on all aspects of healthy aging to help retirees and those preparing for retirement to plan for the next stage of life.

Registration for these programs is now available. Check out all of our course offerings for Winter 2015 on the Continuing Education website.

— by Karen McCarthy
— photo by Michael Poon

Ready Set Talk Event Celebrates Continuing Education

Jean-Louis Bleau leads a chorus in a performance of Invictus.
Jean-Louis Bleau leads a chorus in a performance of Invictus.

Our annual appreciation event for staff, instructors and advisory committee members of the Faculty of Continuing Education and Extension celebrated their contributions to to the faculty and to our students. Dean Charles Webber, PhD, served as Master of Ceremonies for the event, entitled Ready. Set. Talk.

Modelled on a Pecha Kucha style presentation, seven invited guest speakers gave brief presentations on the theme of Energy. Each speaker presented 20 slides and spoke for 20 seconds on each, providing a unique and entertaining viewpoint on the topic. A general question and answer session followed the presentations.

Karim Dharamsi, Chair of the Department of General Education at MRU and Philosophy instructor, spoke On Acts and Ends and Flying Objects. The audience was challenged to create and launch paper airplanes at the end of his session.

Jessica Power Cyr, a mind/body guru, fitness instructor and personal trainer, spoke on Finding Your Energy Within to Inspire Wellness, emphasizing the importance of balancing all aspects of the circle of wellness.

Tracey Stock, an oil and gas instructor, has worked in the industry since 1980 as an engineer, lawyer and landman. He presented a light-hearted history of the Alberta petroleum industry in a talk entitled Grab Your Gas and Run.

Mattias Mehta, a grade 12 student at Webber Academy. He has a strong interest in STEM fields and represented Canada at the 2014 NATO Aliante competition in Slovakia and the 2014 United Space School in Houston. Mattias spoke on Space: The New Frontier.

Cheryl Foggo, a widely published Calgary poet, playwright and historian, has a keen interest in the stories of Alberta’s Black pioneers. Her play John Ware Reimagined played to sold out houses last summer. Her presentation was Paying it Backward, touching on some of her own family history as well as early Black settlers in Alberta.

Annessa Good is a fourth-year Supply Chain Management student at Mount Royal and President of the Student Supply Chain Association. She recently completed her second co-op placement in the oil and gas field. Annessa’s presentation was Light Up the World, amalgamating her career ambitions with her love of the outdoors, photography and music.

Jean-Louis Bleau‘s presentation rounded out the evening. Jean-Louis is an active choral conductor for the Mount Royal Conservatory and other Calgary ensembles. He was recently named one of Avenue’s Top 40 Under 40. His presentation was on Finding Flow: “Potential” Energy in Music. He brought along a few dozen choristers who sang a stirring rendition of Josh Rist’s Invictus, based on the William Ernest Henley poem that inspired Nelson Mandela while he was imprisoned.

The October 6th event was also an opportunity to recognize the dedication and commitment to excellence of our instructors. Click here for a list of our 37 five-year, 19 ten-year, 23 fifteen-year, 6 twenty-year, 3 twenty-five-year, and 1 each thirty-year, thirty-five-year and forty-five-year long-service certificate recipients.

Continuing education instructors are not only experts in their respective fields but also skilled in adult education and passionate about sharing their knowledge. They make a difference in our students’ lives and we appreciate their long service.