Patrick Canion doesn’t believe in making excuses.
The award-winning adviser argues that wealth is easily attainable for most of us – no matter how rough your background or whom your parents were – and people need to stop blaming others.
“People will blame the macro environment, they will blame the government, but my response is, ‘cry me a river’,” Canion says. “Sure, the macro environment is there and it affects things, but there needs to be a degree of self-responsibility taken to realise that if you’re prepared to work in this country, then it is absurdly easy to be materially well off.”
And therein lies the caveat: wealth is dependent on hard work, and some people aren’t prepared to work the 60 hours-plus a week required to reach this level of comfort, he says.
“People also have very self-limiting beliefs about what they can achieve,” Canion adds. “They will come into my office and ask for a $10,000 pay rise. Why do they limit themselves? Why aren’t they asking me how best to make a quarter of a million?
“They compare themselves to surveys of what other people are earning and this becomes their benchmark, but they shouldn’t aim for so little.”
Canion should know. He emigrated with his mother from the US when he was a boy and grew up poor in Perth.
“I spoke funny, I went to a state school and my mum didn’t have a lot of money,” he says. “But I did have some advantages. I was white, male and I spoke English, so that gave me a good footing to make a real success of things. But I am just an average person who has been strategic about how I have approached my business and built wealth.”
Not that it has been smooth sailing. Canion has gone through a divorce, faced mental health issues and had to pull himself up early on in his career after he fell into a financial black hole.
Much of what he has learned is captured in his upcoming book, More than Money, which aims to help everyday people achieve financial freedom.
One of the best tips he can give people, especially those wanting to work for themselves, is to be brutally honest about their skills.
“Look at what both your strengths and weaknesses are,” Canion advises. “And be strategic. Ask yourself why someone would choose you over someone else. What can you offer that is a little bit more?
“As an example, when I was younger, I asked myself, ‘Why would lawyers and doctors be talking to me over other advisers?’ So I made sure I went and got my master’s.”
Canion is largely optimistic about the future of the planning profession, despite the current royal commission.
“I know this sounds clichéd, but the vast majority of financial advisers are doing a fantastic job and they’re waking up every morning and going to bed every night wondering how best to help their clients.
“There has been a minority who have taken advantage of clients and this has had damaging consequences.
“On the positive side, I’ve seen the awareness of the need for good advice grow exponentially among the community over the last few years, alongside the willingness to pay for fee-based service.”
Name of firm: AMP Advice Subiaco
Name of licensee: Charter Financial Planning
Time in the industry: 32 years
Academic qualifications: Master’s degree in applied finance and investment; graduate company directors course; diploma of financial planning
Accreditations: Certified Financial Planner
Professional association memberships: Financial Planning Association; Australian Institute of Company Directors; Financial Services Institute of Australasia