Grant Thornton Limited
Moncton, New Brunswick
Janie Chiasson had every intention of becoming an accountant when she started her BA in Business at Université de Moncton. After a few courses, though, she realized that path wasn’t for her. Instead, she wanted to know more about the loans, mortgages, payment calculation and other topics covered in her first Finance course.
Working for a major bank after graduation provided more experience with loans and mortgages, as well as investments and helping people set up for retirement. Still looking for a fulfilling career, Janie switched banks, took courses in financial planning, and became a personal banking advisor.
“I really enjoyed my work and was excellent at servicing clients,” she says. “But in banking, there’s pressure to sell certain products that I did not believe were right for the client.”
After working in other departments at the bank, she decided it was time to find something that related to helping people with their finances, without the sales aspect. She hadn’t been aware of the insolvency industry before, but came across an opening with Grant Thornton, one of Canada’s largest bankruptcy, insolvency and restructuring service firms.
She liked the job description, and the idea of counselling and helping people with their finances. She started looking into more about the industry and realized it could be a great fit.
Four years later, she feels at home. She discovered and polished an ability and a passion to connect with people and find what works for them and their personality.
Often people have an impression that the industry is only for certain people who just aren’t paying their debts, or they think it’s taboo to reach out to an insolvency team. But Janie and her colleagues realize that sometimes life happens. They want clients to know there are a lot of resources available and there’s nothing wrong with reaching out for help.
“People will say, ‘I don’t know what happened,’ or they are embarrassed about a gambling addiction,” Janie says. “Seniors especially feel so ashamed, but it’s a struggle for them on a fixed income. Whatever the situation, I always say, ‘I’m not here to judge.’ I just want to help them get back on the right track.”
Budgeting is one tool that helps. Some clients have never done a budget before and never checked their credit report. Janie finds that writing down the numbers on paper makes it more real and often eye-opening for some clients to see how much they’re spending on coffee or restaurants, for example. Still, she won’t say “You shouldn’t do this.” Instead, if it’s important to the client, she makes it fit into the budget, while encouraging clients to be aware of the actual cost.
“After speaking with us, clients usually feel a lot better,” Janie says. “Some will say ‘They don’t teach us this in school’ or ‘My parents never taught me.’”
She finds it rewarding to be helping people in crisis.
“Most clients feel so relieved after we’ve spoken, that we’ve helped them out,” Janie says. “That’s the feeling I was looking for in my career.”