…if you never put yourself out there and you don’t ever take a risk, you will never get the reward of doing so. Thinking of this as an investor, if you never invest your money, you will never earn a reward for doing so. For life, this has been a lesson I always keep in the back of my mind. I have taken risks, I have got out of my comfort zone, I have started a business, I have invested in growing that business, I have made mistakes, but I always know that I will not reach my greatest potential unless I get myself outside of my comfort zone and take some chances. Live life with no regrets and live life to your fullest potential.
As a part of my series about “Investing During The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Gauvreau.
Robert Gauvreau is an award-winning CPA and founding partner of Gauvreau & Associates CPA who specializes in helping entrepreneurs grow, scale, and turns a profit. With upwards of 500 clients including businesses recognized on Fortune 500 and Growth 500 in North America, Robert’s firm not only provides advisory, accounting and taxation services, but also helps entrepreneurs find financial success and generate significant wealth.
Gauvreau is a newly 2020 published best-selling author of “The Wealthy Entrepreneur,” a book dedicated to share the “Vision to Results” framework to lead extraordinary results in any business and create financial clarity for entrepreneurs in their endeavors. The book consults entrepreneurs on clarifying a business roadmap with attainable financial goals, maximizing wealth accumulation, and boost the overall performance of any business.
Robert was recently recruited by Tony Robbins to join his ‘Global Accounting Advisors’ partnership to provide advice and guidance to his business mastery attendees. As a passion project, Robert is a founding partner of Venture North, a massive 38,000 square foot entrepreneurial business hub that provides business incubation programs, mentorship, financial coaching and business mindset training to entrepreneurs at every stage. He’s also a sought-after speaker and had recently given keynotes at the Toronto Entrepreneurs Conference, the Peterborough Entrepreneurs Conference and the Toronto Power Group.
Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance industry?
When I was in high school I wanted to be a teacher. I thought it would be a well paid position with many lifestyle benefits. However, I knew I wanted to teach business since there was just something about it that captured my attention. Short version, I didn’t get into teachers college because I was too focused on my social life and my sporting commitments. This ended up being the best thing that ever happened to me. When I got into university, I knew I liked business and focused and studied on entrepreneurship. I got excited about building something remarkable with the best people I could surround myself with. The one thing I noticed in business school was that there were going to be many graduates and I didn’t want to blend in. I was very good in accounting and finance, and realized that if I could not only graduate from a business program but also obtain a professional designation at the same time, I could stand out from the crowd of my peers. The CPA designation was so well respected and was seen as the foundation for understanding business, so I thought this would be the best profession to pursue. This also allowed me to focus on a future of entrepreneurship with a foundation of financial expertise. I have loved it ever since!
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
For me, the most interesting story of my career has been when I got recruited by Tony Robbins. As a young professional who had founded a growing CPA firm, I didn’t expect to have one of the greatest business icons in history to connect with me and want to align services, but it happened. Back in 2015, I received a call from a senior member of Tony Robbins group, inquiring about my accounting business, and how I approach helping businesses. After a lengthy interrogation process, I was informed that Tony was looking to build a “Global Accounting Advisors” program, aligning with the country’s top CPA’s to provide advice and guidance to his business mastery attendees. As an avid reader of business books, I was very aware of Tony, his programs, and his ability to help so many. When it was all said and done, I was offered a position to work as Tony’s partner, his Canadian partner, in his Tony Robbins Global Accounting Advisors program. For sure this was a huge highlight of my young career, and has sent me on a significant growth trajectory ever since. The gentleman who was recruiting me was from Australia, which was very interesting, and made me really understand that although I am a big supporter of local business, that the world is a big place, and the market that needs my expertise is much greater than those who are within 10 minutes from my office. In addition, it also demonstrated that if you work hard, treat people well, and offer more value than anyone else, that people who want to work with you will seek you out. Even a small city professional can get found by great organizations and moguls like Tony Robbins.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I am currently working on a few amazing projects. Just recently (in March) I launched a new program that I am very excited about. It is a virtual CFO program that works 1 on 1 with mission driven, growth oriented entrepreneurs, and provides them with guidance and actionable steps needed to scale, profit and succeed in their business on the way to creating financial freedom. This is where I hope to spend the majority of my time in the future, since it helps entrepreneurs grow, impact so many, and ultimately change the world!
At the same time, with the change in the business environment due to Covid-19, we are working very closely with a large number of business communities to share our advice and guidance on how to survive and thrive in times of uncertainty. This includes providing valuable resources (for free) to the mass small to medium sized business market to help them plan for these times of uncertainty and to be fully aware of all of the resources that are available to them. We truly want to help every business owner we can right now, and are having a positive impact on so many right now. I have been referred to as a war time CEO, meaning that I step up and lead when I am needed, and that is not something that I take for granted!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I feel that it needs to be recognized that I am very grateful for the many wonderful people who I have surrounded myself with. I have an incredible wife Jenny and two amazing kids, Jack and Sophia, who continue to inspire me to want to be the best I can be. I am so grateful to have a wonderful team of 20 plus professionals who are passionate about delivering extraordinary amounts of value to our many clients. However, there are two people who I owe so much to for my continued personal and professional growth. The first is my friend and my first business coach who is from Australia, Rob Nixon. Rob is known around the world as being one of, if not the greatest accounting coach in the game. I was very fortunate to connect with Rob early in my entrepreneurial journey, and had the pleasure of learning from him and working to implement many valuable tools and processes to improve my businesses efficiency and high performance mindset. Rob also introduced me to the Tony Robbins group which allowed me to travel the world with some of the most well known business guru’s on the planet. I was lucky to connect with Rob, and am still fortunate to connect with him on a regular basis. He still inspires me to continue to grow and continues to push me to be better. The second person I owe so much to is my business partner Patrick Sweeney. Although I am happy to call Patrick a friend as well, for 9 years now I have had the great pleasure of having him on my team. Not only does he always entertain my out of the ordinary business ideas, Patrick is always willing to put in the time to make sure my ideas get implemented and that the team is delivering on our promises. Without having a business colleague who ensures that all of our clients are taken care of, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to invest in numerous masterminds, design teaching models, write a book, and focus on business strategy. Patrick is certainly the right hand man everyone would want and I don’t know what I would do without him.
Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?
I am currently offering security in times of uncertainty, meaning that so many people are fearful of getting sick, being at financial risk, disappointing their loved ones, their employees, their friends, all because they are uncertain of what is to come. We are offering guidance, resources, advice, and actionable items that individuals can implement now to eliminate areas of uncertainty, specifically financial insecurity. For example, we are offering cash management strategies, including how to ensure you keep it, so that you have your financial security covered. When people feel secure, they start thinking rationally and can focus on more important things than money.
Outside of money and making sure we have financial security, I am worried about the mental health of many members in our community. To be forced to live outside of your routine, in isolation, without contact with others, and in fear of the unknown, many of us will struggle with our emotions and our mental health. I have been sure to bring in mindset experts into our community to provide resources and guidance to our members on how to mentally prepare and persevere through our new norm of society.
Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know the stock market and the economy in general have become extremely volatile and uncertain. Many people “dollar cost average” and put aside a monthly sum into a long term savings plan for retirement, college, or a home purchase. If a loved one or a client came to you and said, “I have been saving and investing $500 every month in an S&P 500 index fund. Over the next few months until the dust settles, should I be doing something else with my money?”, what would you say to them?
I would say no. If you are currently investing in the S&P 500 index fund, you are ready to be part of a wild ride of exciting market growth. The old saying ‘buy low, sell high’ is so very true. And during a time of market depression, now is a great time to take your available funds, and put them in a very low cost, highly diverse investment such as the S&P 500 index fund. The key here is to not expect heavy short term wins, rather expect that this is a longer term opportunity to gain significant return on your investment as the market returns and recovers from the state of economic depression.
Eventually the economy will recover and rebound. Certain sectors, like travel and hospitality might be hurting for a while. But other sectors, like technology and healthcare, might do very well. If someone wanted to prepare today to take advantage of the future recovery, what would you suggest they do?
Right now is a great time to invest in the markets. For me, I enjoy knowing that my investments aren’t overly risky, because I don’t want to risk the loss of what I have worked so hard for. However, I do like a diverse investment that will likely take the overall risk/reward of the overall market. Also, I do like the long term security of real estate. I fully expect, if you are a sophisticated and experienced real estate investor, that there will be great opportunities in the coming months to acquire investment properties at a reduced rate. With interest rates being low, and the expectation of prices to start to drop, I anticipate that there will be some great investment opportunities available in the near future.
Are there sectors that provide exciting and lucrative investment opportunities today, specifically because of the volatility and uncertainty?
I really like the technology sector right now. Specifically, companies like Zoom (an online video communication platform) and Facebook have significant growth opportunities due to social isolation and the inability to meet in person and/or travel. Also, because many people are out of work, an increased number of people are spending more time on social media. Both of these appear to have great upside as their financial information continues to be released.
The other investment opportunity that I like right now is the healthcare sector. As society continues to race for a cure to covid-19, any vaccine based business will continue to see growth in an expanding market. Specifically due to the experts indication that covid-19 will likely remain in our lives and will need vaccines to mitigate the likelihood of contracting the virus.
Are there alternative investments that you think more people should look more deeply at?
One investment area that I feel will be full of opportunities within the next 6 months will be in real estate. As the economy starts back up it is anticipated that there will be a fairly large unemployment rate. This will become problematic when individuals are required to start making mortgage payments again and don’t have the cash resources to do so. With individual debt levels on the rise, it is expected that many individuals will be looking at downsizing and/or walking from their debt obligations. When this happens, there will likely be a flood of inventory into the real estate market, forcing prices down due to excessive supply. At this point, if you are an inventor in real estate, you will likely get the opportunity to acquire real property at a significant discount. Although it may take some time for the real estate market to recover from a price perspective, this is just another example of buy low and sell high.
If a person in their thirties and forties came to you today and said that they have $10,000 that they want to put away today for a long term investment what would you advise them to do with it?
For any investor, you need to identify the specific risk tolerance to properly tailor an investment strategy. However, if someone were looking to invest $10,000 now and leave it for the long term, I would recommend that they invest the money in an index fund, and to get even more specific, I would recommend that they invest in the S&P 500. Currently, the S&P 500 index is down approximately 20% in the last few months. Although many experts feel that the index will still continue to drop over the coming months, to put your money in here is a pretty safe bet for long term future growth. In fact, the end of 2019 saw the highest value the S&P 500 has ever reported. In all of history, the market always seems to recover and continue to grow. There would be no reason to believe that still wouldn’t be the case for the future.
Ok, thank you! Here is a more general finance question. You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart investing what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?
- Compounding — the earlier you can invest and have the investments working for you and earning income, allowing them to reinvest, the quicker you will achieve larger wealth accumulation. For example, if you invest $100 in year one, it makes 5%, at the end of year one, you now have $105. In year two, you invest $105 and earn 5%, you now have $110.25. The $0.25 is the income you wouldn’t have had you not invested for a second year. The moral of the story, the earlier you invest, the quicker you will generate considerable wealth. So start early.
- Diversify — going all in on one investment is very risky, whereas investing in different industries, across different sectors, in different regions, will reduce the risk associated with investing in one specific area. For example, if you were to invest in Facebook only and the government were to come in and shut down the company or increase legislation related to how businesses can advertise and collect consumer information, it could have a significant impact on Facebook’s profitability which will negatively impact your investment value. However, if you invested 50% in Facebook and 50% in Amazon, if your Facebook investment drops to zero, you at least still have your 50% investment in Amazon.
- Psychology of spending — one actionable item that all investors should implement is that of a regular forced savings program. If you leave the money in your chequing account, the psychology of spending would suggest that you will likely spend it on unnecessary items, just because you can see it and have easy access to it. Alternatively, you can create a pre authorized debit to pull small, regular amounts of money from your account into an investment account. Setting up regular, frequent transfers will avoid unnecessary spending and will start the savings happening faster. I recommend starting with small amounts such as $20 per week, and if you find that you have additional monies sitting in your account on a weekly basis, increase this amount to $50, $100, $1,000, or whatever the excess is, transfer it out on a regular/weekly basis to get these funds into an investment opportunity.
- Have a plan — it is quite easy to get caught up in the excitement of monitoring your investments on a regular basis. However, you should have a plan on how you want your investments to work, and it may be short term, or it may be short term. If you are looking for short-term wins, you will likely need to pay closer attention to what is happening. On the contrary, if you are looking for long term gains, you need to be patient and understand that there will be ups and downs in the market, and you need to not make any irrational decisions, and stick with your investments for the long term. For example, if you put in $100 and the market drops it down to $90, if you have a short term strategy, you need to look at moving this investment to something different. However, if you are in a long term strategy, you can afford to wait for the market to recover, and to watch that $90 return to $100 or even $110 over a longer period of time. This is especially true if you are diversified or investing in an index fund.
- Pick tax-effective investments — one area of investments that is often overlooked is the after-tax return on investments. It is important to know that different types of investment income command different tax rates. For example, interest income is taxed at double the tax rate of capital gains. So, when you are looking at how your investments are performing, or what investments to put your money into, be sure to understand the tax consequences. An easy example would be to think of an interest income of $100 during the year. Assuming you are at a 30% tax rate, that would leave you with $70 after tax. However, if you realized a capital gain on the same investment and earned $100, capital gains tax is only at 15% on the same investment, leaving you with $85. This is a significantly larger after tax money, and is something all investors should pay attention too
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
As a child, I was very active in sports. Most specifically, I was heavily committed to playing competitive hockey. One of the quotes that always stuck with me was from Wayne Gretzky that said:
“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”
Meaning that if you never put yourself out there and you don’t ever take a risk, you will never get the reward of doing so. Thinking of this as an investor, if you never invest your money, you will never earn a reward for doing so. For life, this has been a lesson I always keep in the back of my mind. I have taken risks, I have got out of my comfort zone, I have started a business, I have invested in growing that business, I have made mistakes, but I always know that I will not reach my greatest potential unless I get myself outside of my comfort zone and take some chances. Live life with no regrets and live life to your fullest potential.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
During the current covid-19 season, I can’t help but focus on the idea of gratitude. Although there are some items that we fear right now such as our family getting ill, or our inability to achieve social connection due to isolation, there are still so many things in our life to be grateful for. It would be amazing if every single person in the world, despite their fears, despite their uncertainty, would reach out to 3 people and tell them why they appreciate them and what makes them grateful for that person to be part of their lives. I know that if everyone had 3 people reach out to them and tell them why they are appreciated, we would all have a little bit more appreciation for the many wonderful people, experiences and opportunities we all have in our lives. It is hard to see the forest through the trees but if we all just spend a little bit of time focusing on who and what we are grateful for, our lives would be just that much better!
Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!