Meet our Business Member from Edmonton! Christophe Voegeli’s Clear Focus Financial covers a wide range of financial, investment, and insurance management solutions as well as consulting. We had the pleasure to interview Christophe and got a very interesting and informative insight into his daily business. From his career path to opportunities and risks, take a moment and learn about the innovative financial firm.
Tell us about your company, what exactly are you doing?
We are a boutique, holistic financial planning firm, focusing on professionals and business owners throughout AB and BC. We help clients assess where they are, where’d they like to go, and the best way to get them there. Our activities are rather equally split between tax/retirement planning, and asset management, along with estate organization and insurance planning. We have 2 staff, myself, and a junior associate.
Why did you start a company in the financial industry?
My back ground was in the sciences and I have always loved technical fields. That said, I grew up with very social (Swiss) parents who spent their careers in hospitality, hotel management, and fine dining. As a result, I saw service, quality, and client centric behaviors being the forefront of a good career path. In many ways, the hospitality and financial planning business have a lot in common- great service, fine craftsmanship, good relationships, repeat business, and word of mouth go a long way.
How did you build up your network in the industry?
I had the privilege of being raised in Sherwood Park, a community just outside of Edmonton, from kindergarten onward. This later fed into a degree in mathematical finance from MacEwan and the University of Alberta. As a result, I had a core group of peers from school, who in many ways launched the practice for me. I was very fortunate. These colleagues, after university, did not have a financial planner and were all launching careers, business, families and the like. They needed someone to guide them, and I was there……that was the birth of the practice. From there, we’ve been privileged to grow with referrals of pleasant, motivated, like minded people. To this day, nearly 15 years later, many of our initial clients, we still see regularly today.
What are the biggest opportunities in Alberta and BC?
While the resource depressed market place is affecting all sectors of the economy, I feel blessed that our clients have planned to weather a storm. Whether middle income, or high net worth business people, they know Alberta and BC can have booms and busts. By planning accordingly, and by building good careers and businesses which have been resilient, we can continue to help them build their plans, and achieve their goals. There is a strong entrepreneurial community here. People work hard, and play hard, but the wise ones also plan to be resilient – I’m happy to say this is most of the people we work with.
Where do you see the biggest challenges?
Certainly, no one is fully insulated from the broad economy. From oil to equity markets, to volatile real estate prices, rising interest rates, and to lower discretionary consumer and government spending, we must remain aware of these risks. With this back drop in mind, we see professionals and business owners, ‘proceed with caution’. Whether it’s investing in their portfolio, or the business, managing their mortgage, trying to sell a rental property, or hire more staff, we do see people moving slower, taking their time, being cautious, and in general, being a tad bearish. Economies are cyclical….we can’t predict outcomes, but we can plan for them. This is how we try to help our clients succeed.
What is your Swiss connection?
My parents, Hans and Gabrielle Voegeli, are both Swiss born. Mom, from Vevey, and Dad from Interlaken. They emigrated to Canada in 1974, seeking a one year work placement with a new hotel in Thunder Bay, Ontario, shortly after finishing hotel school. One year turned into 2, and then 3, and then decades. Four kids later, and having resided in Edmonton, Calgary and Montreal, they now call Canada home. My sisters and I grew up with French, German, English, Swiss culture, cuisine, and Swiss perfectionist standards around us all the time! We still joke as family, each night after supper, we had to prepare for breakfast and set the table, to make the next morning a more fluid, efficient process. Now, as a grown man, I find myself doing the exact same thing!
All of all our relatives are in Switzerland still, with a few in the UK and in Canada. We maintain our ties and stay in touch; from Christmas letters, to visits, and weddings alike, the bond remains.
Have you been to Switzerland? If yes what’s your favorite place or activity?
Yes, many, many times. I’ve been at least 20, times and my wife 4. We even brought our little guy recently to see Grossmuetti. As a passionate mountain biker and skier, I’m thrilled to share that I’ve done both sports there. Biking around Interlaken, Lauterbrunnen, and Verbier were all equally amazing.
Clear Focus Financial: clearfocusfinancial.ca
Swiss Canadian Chamber of Commerce: www.swisscanadianchamber.com
The SCCC would like to thank our member Christophe Voegeli for his time and effort spent for this interview.