Ed Rempel

Think outside the box. First understand the issues in-depth. Then think about what works.


Ed Rempel has helped thousands of Canadians to become financially secure. In addition to being a popular and passionate blogger at www.UnconventionalWisdom.ca, Ed is a fee-for- service financial planner, tax accountant, and expert in many tax and investment strategies.

Ed understands what actually works when it comes to financial planning based on 24 years of writing nearly 1,000 comprehensive financial plans. He has been featured in the Globe & Mail, National Post, Toronto Star, Business Insider, Yahoo! Finance, Morningstar, Seeking Alpha, Costco Connection, Canadian Real Estate Magazine, Money, MoneySense, Findependence HUB, The TaxLetter, Investment Executive, and Advisor.ca, among other publications.

Where did the idea for Unconventional Wisdom come from?

My blog and company name is “Unconventional wisdom”. I have learned from experience preparing nearly 1,000 Financial Plans for Canadian families what really works to be able to live the life you want. I find it shocking how often the conventional method either doesn’t work or is suboptimal.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

I start every day with 20 minutes on the treadmill while catching up on business news. Invigorating! Starting the day full of energy makes me productive all day.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I prepare an in-depth, personal Financial Plan for every client. I don’t take on a new client until I fully understand their life goals and we have worked out together the best methods and strategies to achieve them. Using unconventional strategies for a client requires a lot of thought on whether it makes sense for them and exactly how best to implement it. Starting with a Financial Plan allows me to work together with each client to figure this out.

What’s one trend that excites you?

The trend for governments to create clawbacks for more and more government benefits. Clawbacks take away the benefits, depending on your income. They are the same as a tax. Clawbacks create many opportunities that few people see. People do not even realize they are effectively in 50+% tax brackets when you add their income tax and all the clawbacks of government programs. The biggest ones are the clawback tax on parents for the Canada Child Benefit, the Guaranteed Income Supplement clawback tax on low income seniors, and the Old Age Security clawback tax for higher income seniors. There are quite a few small ones and the trend is to create more and more. This means all the tax planning I do with my clients is far more effective.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Reading everything. There is so much to know and to keep on top of in financial planning. I took a speed-reading course from the world’s fastest reader, which more than doubled my reading speed and helps me stay focused. I also listen to Ted Talks at a faster speed. It sounds like a chipmunk, but I find I can stay focused better.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Start younger. I wasted my 20s with frivolous spending. Make wealth-building a priority when you are young and you can have financial freedom. Wealth compounds on itself, so starting early is huge.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

For long-term investors, market fluctuations and crashes don’t matter. This is highly effective, because it means we can focus on the strategies and investments with the biggest long-term benefit. It opens the door to opportunities. This outlook leads to more effective financial planning and investing, if we don’t have to worry about preparing for crashes. A long-term outlook is the secret to financial success.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Think outside the box. First understand the issues in-depth. Then think about what works. This applies to both articles for my blog and recommendations for clients. Very often, there is a better idea than the conventional method.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

We decided 12 years ago to only work with clients 100%. I call it “Full Service”. This means we only take on clients where we work with them on all areas of their finances, including their Financial Plan, prepare their tax returns, help with mortgages and financing, lowest cost insurance, advise them on any financial issue in their life, and manage 100% of their long-term investments.

It is a very high level of advice that is very effective for clients. This was my wife’s idea. I didn’t even realize at the time how this would change my focus. It means I only work with serious clients. I can focus on developing and recommending unconventional and highly-effective strategies without also having to sell them on the investment choice. Because most advisors are investment-focused and manage only a portion of the investments for their clients, they have to spend most of their time trying to persuade clients that their investments are better, and so they have little time for in-depth advice or highly-effective strategies. Our practice is also more fun, because we only have clients where their finances are important to them and they are a pleasure to work with. We get to know them well over the years and are there at every step towards their life goals.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

Not putting enough focus on hiring and training the right associate financial planner. My standards are high. I need someone with all three of these qualities: exceptionally smart, cares for people and very ambitious with an entrepreneurial mindset. I have had several associates, but none with all three necessary skills. I have not overcome this failure yet, but am committed to finding the right person now. It is an extraordinary opportunity for the right person to learn the practice from the ground up and potentially eventually join the ownership team.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Become a planning-focused financial planner. There is almost no competition in Canada. There are about 100,000 investment-focused advisors, but almost none are planning-focused or even prepare comprehensive Financial Plans for clients.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

Last month, I signed up with Goodfood. They deliver all the ingredients and recipe for quick and healthy preplanned meals. This allows me to make a healthy dinner quickly and not have to spend time thinking about what’s for dinner. I love my work, so I work long hours, between clients and my blogging. Preplanned meals help me stay focused.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Salesforce. It is a powerful and flexible contact management system (although expensive). We customized it to track all the details of our clients’ financial plans and all the action steps. It lets us run custom reports, so we can stay on top of the important life, planning and investing details for all our clients. With a lot of clients and many details for each, good management software is critical.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Simple Wealth, Inevitable Wealth” by Nick Murray. He has been like a mentor to me. He started me on an effective investing philosophy and outlook. Learned about the value of thinking long-term and not worrying about the market. This book gives you the outlook you need to be financially successful.

What is your favorite quote?

To have unconventional success, you can’t be guided by conventional wisdom.” – David Swenson

Key learnings:

  • Think outside the box. First understand the issues in-depth. Then think about what works. Very often, there is a better idea than the conventional method.
  • Take the time to develop in-depth Plans for full service clients. It means you can decide with them on the specific goals, strategies and methods that are best for them. Don’t give cookie-cutter advice based on conventional wisdom. Give custom, in-depth advice based on Unconventional Wisdom.
  • Read every day. There is so much to learn. Take a speed-reading course. The knowledge you gain creates your success.
  • Stay focused on the essentials. Manage all your necessary tasks efficiently. I work out every day first thing while catching up on business news. My meals are pre-planned to be quick and healthy. Management software manages all the details. Keep your mind clear for focused thinking. Be in the moment.
  • Have a mentor who you believe in and that has already time-tested his methods. What I learned from my mentor has been invaluable and given me focus. It would have taken me many years longer to develop my philosophy and methods on my own.


Ed Rempel on Twitter: https://twitter.com/edrempel
Ed Rempel on Linkedin: https://ca.linkedin.com/in/edrempel