| Dec 18, 2008

Dec 18/08 - Robinson & Associates

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Feature Article - December 18, 2008 Robinson & Associates:No WorriesBy Jeff Green

Wayne Robinson

With the world’s financial markets in free fall, this would not seem to be a very good time to be in the financial planning business.

But Wayne Robinson is not particularly worried.

“We’ve been sitting here for how long, two hours,” he said near the end of an interview at his office in Sharbot Lake a couple of weeks ago, two days after the Toronto Stock exchange lost almost 10% in value in a single day. “and the phone has not been ringing? None of our investors are worried. We’ve delivered profit every year we’ve been in business, for everyone of our investors. And this year is no exception. And the investors know this, so they are not worried about their money.”

Wayne Robinson and Associates are financial planning consultants, and they also manage two investment funds, which have a total value of $50 million.

While these funds did not generate 20% annual returns during boom market years, they were never intended to be get rich quick funds, but rather stable funds that generate income by investing in regional building projects. The projected returns for 2008, 7% for one fund and 8% for the other, look pretty good when compared against mutual funds that have been suffering large losses in value.

The trick is that almost all of the money in the funds is invested in residential and commercial mortgages in Eastern Ontario and Western Quebec.

One of the funds, which is called “The Frontenac Mortgage Investment Corporation” has grown out of a group of three people who pooled their RRSP money in 1983 to invest in “something other than stocks and bonds” Wayne Robinson recalls.

In 1983, Wayne Robinson was running a propane distribution company, which he sold in late 1984.

Within a year he had started a financial planning business, which he has been running ever since.

In the late 80’s, Wayne’s wife Alison founded Lake District Realty, which in recent years has focused almost entirely on waterfront property, and the two have set about building the two companies ever since. In recent years they have been joined by son Matthew and David, forming a family based business that is poised for growth, even as others are concerned about an economic slowdown.

“We expect, over the next ten years, to have $250 million in our funds, and be employing 40 people,” he said.

Currently, there are 26 people working for the various companies that are based at the Simonett building, near the Robinson home, all of them from the local area.

“And most of them own houses”, Robinson said.

Wayne Robinson was born on a farm near Tichborne, and attended the Bradshaw School. He was the original Chief Executive Officer of North Frontenac Community Services, where he worked for eight years.

To have made his way in the world while remaining located so close to his roots, is not something he planned when he was younger, but it tells him that it is possible to make a success in the Sharbot Lake region in spite of the flow of people to the cities.

“A hundred years ago Canada was 80% rural and 20% urban. Now it is the opposite. That does not necessarily bode well for us out here. But, it is possible to live an urban lifestyle in the country nowadays, with the technology there is and the mobility there is. A place like Sharbot Lake can survive. There is enough here. Our company and others show that. But there must be some forward looking people around, including forward looking politicians,” he said.

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