For someone who has built his entire career on the premise of taking care of people’s money, the fact that George Sigurdson is such an advocate for giving money away isn’t without its irony.
But after George explains both his personal and financial beliefs regarding the benefits of giving something back, it’s hard to argue with him.
“One of my favourite quotes is ‘No matter how wealthy you are we all end up listed in the obituaries alphabetically, not by net worth’,” says George, who has been a devoted donor to CancerCare Manitoba for over 21 years. “Really, once you’ve earned enough to feel that you and your family are safe, satisfaction comes more from what you give, not what you get.”
In fact, in addition to George’s incredible history of support he has also made a point of including CancerCare Manitoba in his will.
“We all do what we can to help out while we’re alive, but we have responsibilities we need to account for,” says George. “Not many people realize that we can possibly help out even more after we’re gone and that doing so can actually change people’s lives.”
Plus, as George illustrates, this is also where the financial benefits can come into play.
“A perfect example is RRSPs,” George says. “Not many spouses realize that the tax-free RRSPs and RIFFs they receive when their husband or wife dies are actually taxed quite heavily if they are passed on again after their own death – even as high as forty or fifty per cent.”
So, rather than giving such a large portion of one’s estate to the government, George believes donating these assets to charity – in which case they are not taxed – is a perfect option.
“I talk to each and every one of my clients about leaving some portion of their estate to charity,” says George. “As for your family, I always like to keep in mind a quote from Warren Buffet – ‘Leave your kids enough to do anything but not too much to do nothing.'”
George figures he now sees a new case of cancer in either his personal or professional life about once a month and that he believes CancerCare Manitoba is an incredible resource for those people battling the disease here in Manitoba.
“It’s not only about the treatment the patients receive, but the way they get treated,” says George. “I have a friend who is in cancer treatment right now and he says he always feels so welcome when he walks in – that they really do care.”
But George says that, without the proper funding, even the best people can’t offer the kind of high-level care Manitobans deserve. “The best care requires money,” says George, adding that we can’t always expect the government to pick up the tab.
“Like so many people, it took me a while to realize there is no ‘they’, there’s only ‘us’… we can’t sit around saying that ‘they should do something’. Sometimes we need to do it for ourselves.”