By Anna Guy

Every year in Canada, close to 400,000 children are born. This means, every year, close to 400,000 sets of parents envision a bright future filled with opportunity for their child.

It is the beginning of a rewarding path of planning and working towards this future which for many will begin with post—secondary education. With current projections estimating students enrolling in a Canadian university in 2035 could be paying as much as $29,394 for the first year of tuition — or more than $121,118 over a four—year program* — it is prudent to think of saving for post—secondary now, rather than later.

Since 1965, Knowledge First Financial has helped parents plan and save for their children’s post—secondary education through peace—of—mind savings solutions. With $3.72 billion in assets under management, Knowledge First Financial is one of the country’s leading Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) specialists, working with Canadians from coast to coast to maximize their savings with tailored, affordable plans.
It starts with a personalized approach to educating young families about the benefits of saving early with an RESP. Yeto Balian has worked with Knowledge First Financial as an independent sales representative for over 20 years, and is now a Branch Director. With two of his own children in university, Balian understands the value of RESPs personally.

“There are three major financial commitments for most Canadians: mortgages, post—secondary education, and retirement,” says Balian. “Unless you are prepared and start preparing at a young age, post—secondary education can be a huge financial burden for the student and the parent. The times of working part—time and paying for your education are almost gone, because education is very expensive—for most families, being able to pay for the entire cost of post—secondary is difficult.”

Balian says there are major advantages to starting an RESP as early as possible. “If you start saving when your child is born, you have a longer timeframe to benefit from government grants and compound growth.”

Whether you start your child’s RESP when they are infants or when your child is a little older, as RESP specialists, Knowledge First Financial is committed to helping customers maximize their education savings through government grants and a sound investment strategy. For instance, did you know only RESPs are eligible for savings incentives like the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) worth up to $7,200? Or that tax—deferred earnings on contributions of up to $50,000 per child make RESPs the best way to save for post—secondary education?

Once the decision is made to open an RESP, Knowledge First Financial provides ongoing service to ensure the plan continues to fit into the family budget and provide options as their situation changes. Whether it’s welcoming a new child, purchasing a new home, or a career change, customer service and sales representatives work together to ensure customers remain on track to achieve their education savings goals.

“Knowledge First Financial sets itself apart by being solely focused on RESPs,” says Suzanne Martyn—Jones, Vice—President, Marketing and Customer Communications. “We have a first—hand understanding of the benefits of RESPs and can help Canadian families take advantage of windows of opportunities to save for their child’s education.”

Accessing all available government grants is one aspect of maximizing education savings. The other key factor is a sound investment strategy. Knowledge First Financial works with some of the country’s leading professional and independent money managers who actively manage the firm’s investment portfolios. The managers’ focus is on providing steady growth over the long term while carefully considering time horizons to maximize the funds available when the beneficiary is ready for post—secondary school.
“This approach makes it easy for parents to invest in an RESP with us,” continues Martyn—Jones. “We offer customers peace of mind that enables them to focus on other important aspects of their child’s life.”

Martyn—Jones and Balian agree the Knowledge First Financial philosophy is different than other RESP providers. Balian says his main motivator is seeing his customers achieve their goals.

“There is a very personal side to this business. It’s not just about numbers and financial transactions,” he says. “Keep in mind, our customers are in their 20s or early 30s, just starting their family. There can be many worries, but mostly it’s a joyful time that we are privileged to be part of. We meet with families who are putting trust in us to do our best to look after their child’s education savings, and we don’t take that for granted. It’s the pillar of our business.”