By Sean Meyer
Ryan Fraser knows how tough it can be for people to think about what they can do for the community after they’ve passed on, but he also knows how tough it can be for them to find one’s place among the living too.
Ryan, who has a long career as a financial planner, founded Quiet Legacy Planning Group Ltd. in 2012 as a way to help people accomplish both those goals.
“I’ve always been too non-profit for the for-profit world and too for-profit for the non-profit world. For a long time, it was really hard to find a space where I fit,” he explains. “There’s an organization called Canadian Association of Gift Planners . . . designed to bring charities together with financial planners, accountants, lawyers and the like and I used to joke it was the only place where freaks like me would fit in. Now we have Innovation Works so apparently there are even more freaks like me. It has been fun to find a spot with other like-minded organizations.”
Ryan used to work for London Life, Great-West Life, and managed about 24 advisor operations with some $3-$4 million in payroll.
There came a time where he developed an area of speciality working with people where there was an interest in charity philanthropy and non-profits. It actually became, as he puts it, “a bit of a niche specialty.”
The new company was named Quiet Legacy because Ryan said everyone involved in the project realized the sort of people they tend to work well with are the ones who want to keep people’s lights on, as opposed to putting their own names in lights.
“The big names you see on a building, there is an important component of philanthropy that comes with that,” he said. “But there are people who have spent their life acquiring assets, live very modest lifestyles, and the last thing they want is to be put front and centre. We work well with those folks.”
Ryan eagerly admits he gets “a whole lot of joy” out of what he does as it is particularly rewarding — albeit sometimes extremely challenging — work.
For example, he recently finished working on a complicated case with two individuals who are both terminally ill, but were looking to use philanthropy and charity strategies as a way to continue to bring their kids together.
“That was deeply meaningful work, emotional, difficult work . . . but there is a joy in knowing you’ve had that kind of impact. We all need money . . . but it’s not what gets me out of bed in the morning,” Ryan said. “That’s true of my staff. We try really hard to make sure we’re hiring the kind of people who understand that.”
Quiet Legacy could have set up shop anywhere, but Ryan chose Innovation Works because he was a London Heritage Council board member when the first discussions around the shared space took place.
The thought at that time, he explains, was for Innovation Works to more closely mimic Toronto’s highly successful Centre for Social Innovation.
What it has evolved into, Ryan said, has become so much more. If a decade ago, the idea was to bring CSI to London, what actually ended up happening has proven to be very much its own thing.
“There have been some growing pains as we try to figure out the space and the concept of shared usage. For some of us, this is a place of business, for others it’s a place of employment,” he said. “You will naturally run into some friction . . . but the great things about this space is the goodwill is still there. As a grand experiment, I feel it has been unbelievably successful.”
For more information, visit http://www.quietlegacy.com.
To work alongside great people like Ryan Fraser and the Quiet Legacy team, consider joining us at Innovation Works.