I felt Marcel walk into the room before I even saw him. He has that kind of a presence. Imagine a hardcore skater meets a well-dressed, well-coiffed businessman, and you’d be imagining Marcel. He’s had a rebellious spirit from a young age. From drumming in a couple of punk rock bands in high school to creating Onvisor, he’s always been driven to be original.
You may not know this about Marcel, but he played hockey, fairly competitively, at school. When that was no longer fun, he moved onto skateboarding which naturally progressed into snowboarding where he competed at quite a high-level. In fact, he competed on Boardertech’s team, and owes a lot of his success to the sport. He believes it got him where he is today. It’s also how he met his wife, Alisha. She had always lived down the street from him, but they never crossed paths. She would hang around the same spots as him, but they never found the opportunity to start a conversation. When they both discovered snowboarding, they finally met through mutual connections. This was 12 years ago. Sweet right?
Marcel started at Université de Moncton in engineering. He loved to tinker and figure out how things work, and thought that this would be a logical choice for himself. He then got a job at Boardertech working for his friend, Derek Martin, who was at the time a young entrepreneur. This is where he got to see entrepreneurship in full force which caught his attention immediately. He then changed directions and studied a business degree instead, and he loved it. He loved economics and how supply and demand come together. In business class, he learnt about compound interest and how you can make money with money. At this moment, he thought he was going to become a stockbroker, until he attended a presentation on the Certified Financial Planning designation (CFP) offered through a joint venture with Université de Moncton and Laurentian University. He realized that this career path matched his values and interests, and as soon as he had graduated from Université de Moncton, he was enrolled and studying to get his title. Never one to lay on his laurels, Marcel then went on to add to his skill-set investment and insurance licences while working at Sun Life Financial. He quickly realized though that the sales measurement and competition aspect was not all that it’s cracked up to be. So, he started working at a TD bank. Yet there again, he didn’t feel like he had found his place, and the entrepreneur spark that he had gotten from Derek still lingered on. After a year at the bank, he decided to join RoyByrns & Associates, a local independent financial planning firm, where he could eventually run and build his own business.
After 9 years as an advisor, Marcel witnessed significant shortcomings and public distaste for the financial services industry. Disconnected advice and pushy sales tactics left many avoiding meeting with advisors. Marcel has heard a lot of names thrown at financial advisors – like “snakes” and “leeches” – but it was only when he attended an event where he was asked to introduce himself as a gym owner instead of a financial advisor, that the gravity of his profession’s reputation really sunk in. He used this as inspiration for his business model which is mission-driven to shine a different light on the industry.
His initial idea was to create an online lead-generation platform for advisors, but realized that that wasn’t far enough removed. It kept the door open for the same “salesman approach” to continue once the connection was made. Then he thought of the “fee for financial coaching” concept and how pure it was. No sales, no commissions, no pressure. He stripped it clean. Adding the convenience of connecting with certified professionals online also made sense seeing as people’s lives are so busy these days.
He spent 12 months working on Onvisor before it officially launched on August 10th this year. Our own Dave Gallant suggested the name Onvisor (Online Advisor) to Marcel over an online messaging platform, and he loved it. Especially because it rhymes with “Nonvisor” which fits into his mission for breaking the mould in his industry.
He never had much fear or doubt: this would either become a side business for him or it would become what he does. He built the idea for himself, and thought if it works for him, it must work for others as well. Likeminded professionals who are passionate about turning the industry upside down, “throwing the old way under the bus” and who are actually passionate about helping people, are the kinds of advisors Onvisor is targeting. Marcel is looking for that drive to do better in the industry, so that his company can ensure that those that need the advice the most, will get it. His long-term goal is to really compete for financial advice, and turn the industry upside down.
To find out more about Marcel and Onvisor, go to http://onvisor.ca/ or visit Onvisor on social media @onvisor.ca.