Focus on financial health

Focus on financial health

< Back to Articles | Topics: Member Profile | Contributors: Heather Laura Clarke | This is a guest post from Black Star Wealth
(Member since 2017) | Published: May 1, 2018

This is a guest post from Black Star Wealth
(Member since 2017)

Black Star takes simplified approach to finance

When someone is embarrassed about the state of their finances, they’re less likely to ask a professional for help. But Wendy Brookhouse says that’s exactly when they need expert advice the most.

“We always hear ‘I’m going to get my stuff sorted out and then I’ll come see you,’” says Brookhouse. “But if you have a cut on your arm, do you wait for it to be healed before you talk to a doctor? Of course not.”

Brookhouse is the founder and Chief Strategist of The Black Star Group and has been providing down-to-earth financial services to entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners for more than a decade.

“We want people to realize: you are where you are. There’s no need to be ashamed or embarrassed about your financial state, because that isn’t serving you,” says Brookhouse. “It’s so important for us to get people to start talking about their money.”

At the 2016 Halifax Business Awards, Black Star Group was a 2016 finalist for Small Business of the Year. Brookhouse says it was an honour to have been recognized and the nomination led to even more connections as Black Star grew quickly. Brookhouse has been travelling across Canada and the U.S., giving keynote addresses on financial health and Black Star is now offering lunch-andlearn sessions for businesses.

While the information on financial health is certainly useful for employees, Brookhouse says it’s actually the employers who are really benefiting from these sessions.

“There is so much data showing the correlation between how your employees deal with their money and their productivity at work,” says Brookhouse. “Studies have shown up to 25 per cent of a company’s payroll is lost due to financial stress.”

She adds that people don’t have the ability to compartmentalize: if they’re worried about their finances, it’s going to affect them in the workplace. Brookhouse says there’s been a lot of interest in these new lunch-and-learn sessions because employers want to help their employees straighten up their finances — and reduce their stress levels — to better focus on their work.

She encourages any business that brings Black Star in for a lunch-and-learn to make a donation to Junior Achievement of Nova Scotia, which offers programs like Economics for Success, Dollars with Sense and Investment Strategies.

“They’re doing such amazing work around financial literacy in schools,” says Brookhouse, who is currently writing a book about financial health for women. “If we’re able to teach this next generation about money and give them the right information from the very beginning, they’re going to be smarter and more empowered with their money.”

While she has high hopes the next generation will get off to a good start, Brookhouse says many baby boomers, gen-Xers and millennials are suffering now from financial stress — and it’s affecting people in all income brackets.

“It’s not about how much money you make. In fact, it’s more likely that if you make good money, you have debt you want to get rid of,” says Brookhouse. “A lot of people have debt because they haven’t been taught how to deal with their money properly and we don’t want anyone to feel badly about it.”

“If there’s debt to be dealt with, we’ll help you deal with it.”

While a traditional financial plan will lay out how much to save and where to invest it, Brookhouse says Black Star’s plans go beyond those specifics.

“Instead of just focusing on ‘do this and then in 30 years you’ll be fine,’ we add in a layer of how you can achieve that while still having a life now,” says Brookhouse. “It’s important to look into the future, but you still have to optimize your situation for today.”

She says Black Star advisors sit down with clients and figure out how to reduce their stress and anxiety over money. They help them get a system in place that addresses everything from the balance in their chequing account to their insurance coverage.

“People are crying out for true advice on how to get where they want to go — not just strictly investment advice,” says Brookhouse. “It needs to be a conversation about all of the things your money touches.”

She says the Black Star team has a “big, hairy, audacious goal” of changing one million lives through financial health. They know they can’t do it alone, so they regularly train independent advisors on their holistic planning system.

“We really are in tune with our clients because their success is our success,” says Brookhouse. “We get a little too excited when we make a difference in someone’s life. There’s always a lot of high-fiving going on in the office!”

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