• Sun. May 26th, 2024

Advisors seize federal budget opportunity to educate and engage Canadians

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Some advisors took to social media to explain how tax changes in the federal budget affect individuals.Cagkan Sayin/iStockPhoto / Getty Images

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While advisors are working with clients on tax strategies in response to the changes introduced in this year’s federal budget, some have also used social media to explain the changes to a wider audience.

Mark McGrath, certified financial planner and associate portfolio manager at PWL Capital Inc. in Squamish, B.C., took to social media to counter the government’s claim that changes to the capital gains inclusion rate would affect only 40,000 Canadians who earn more than $1.4-million a year – or, put another way, 0.13 per cent of the population.

After putting his young kids to bed, Mr. McGrath spent an hour crafting a 15-part thread on social media platform X about the changes to the capital gains inclusion rate and set it to publish the next morning.

His posts exploded, achieving three to five times the level of engagement (shares, reposting and likes) of his average post to his 17,200 followers. After one week, his total impressions on X reached 3.3 million, he says, “an unbelievable number” that doesn’t include the hundreds of comments from readers.

In the days immediately following the federal budget, Mr. McGrath spent considerable time clarifying misunderstandings people had about the new tax policies. One point of debate was how the increase to the capital gains inclusion rate affects individuals versus corporations as of June 25. Individuals will pay tax on 50 per cent of their capital gains on the first $250,000 annually, and two-thirds on gains above that amount. But for professional corporations, incorporated businesses and trusts, capital gains will increase to two-thirds from the first affected dollar.

“As a financial planner, I felt it was my duty to educate. It was a big online discussion,” says Mr. McGrath, whose business is focused on serving physicians – a group affected by the proposed rules.

He found himself repeating the same message as new commenters would post, failing to understand how professional corporations work and why they’re set up in the first place. He struggled to keep up with the staggering volume and ended up taking a small break from social media as some comments turned personal and found their way into his direct messages.

“Some weren’t interested in finding out details but just wanted to start a fight,” he says. “Some just wanted to be able to say ‘good’ about people having to pay more taxes. I was shocked that it was a divisive topic.”

Mr. McGrath had one other series of posts go viral about a year ago, a more personal situation about his father’s death. But in that case, he found the feedback uplifting and energizing as he was able to connect with people who had similar experiences.

With the capital gains posts, he had to remind himself that X was a public town hall with diverse opinions. “It’s important to take a deep breath and think before you respond,” he says.

Aravind Sithamparapillai, associate at Ironwood Wealth Management Group in Fonthill, Ont., also took to social media after the budget announcement, but focused on LinkedIn, where users are more likely to read lengthy posts and comment respectfully.

He uses social media to communicate with clients and a wider audience simultaneously. When prospects contact him for more information about his services, he will often point them to his LinkedIn, X and Instagram handles.

“Some of our clients will hear bits and pieces from the news elsewhere, so having something I’ve already put down that I can share with them is going to go a long way,” he says.

Mr. Sithamparapillai wrote a long post on LinkedIn that he repurposed for X into a thread of nine posts. His X followers grew by 20 per cent in the week following the budget to 2,500 from 2,100.

Some appreciated his content and asked to book meetings with him. He says he learned the power of social media from the experience.

“If you’re fast, [accurate] and detailed with the information and you’re quick to share those thoughts, it can be incredibly rewarding,” he says. “Being able to go with a level of depth went a long way.”

Some advisors may shy away from social media, either afraid of making an inflammatory comment or not wanting to give their advice away for free. But Mr. Sithamparapillai says that’s a short-sighted view.

“The work I do with my clients is multifaceted, beyond one little blog post,” he says. “Social media has been great for my network. … It works for building reach and more potential opportunities [with prospects].”

Mr. Sithamparapillai adds that as more advisors take the time on social media to deconstruct complex, technical issues such as the federal budget, it shows their intrinsic value compared with “finfluencers,” who like to talk about personal finance issues but aren’t pursuing or don’t have professional accreditation.

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