Since 1998, Global RESP Corporation has helped Canadian families plan for the education of their children. Global RESP Corporation (“GRESP”) is part of the Global family of companies, founded by Sam Bouji, and is the primary distributor of the Global Educational Trust Plan (“GETP”). The Canadian Business Journal has featured Global RESP Corporation in September, 2011, as well as in October, 2014. In this month’s issue, Bouji tells us about what inspired him to start Global RESP Corporation after years in the financial industry, and the exciting new phase of growth that the company is entering.
Small Company – Big Vision
Prior to 1998, when Sam Bouji worked in the scholarship industry, he became inspired to create a better, more flexible Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for Canadian families to invest in for their children’s post-secondary education.
“While sitting with families in their homes and hearing them talking about their children’s education, listening to their complaints, I formed the opinion that RESPs should offer more flexible plans,” Bouji recounts.
At the time, RESPs were very restrictive. For instance, the child benefiting from the RESP had to attend a post-secondary institution for at least four years, and even had to maintain a minimum number of credits to qualify.
“Nobody can control what their child’s education choices are going to be 18 years later, or whether they want to go for one, two, three or even 10 years,” Bouji says.
But it isn’t the flexibility alone that makes the GETP stand out. GRESP makes an active effort to help new Canadian families plan their savings.
“I believe that newcomers need all the help that they can get. We offer many e-guides with information about education in Canada, financial literacy, newcomer services and our management team and salespeople visit many newcomer centres to connect with immigrants,” says Bouji.
They also go the extra mile for their clients, not only helping them improve their financial literacy, but also helping them integrate into Canadian society.
“Many of our people have guided newcomers to get their social insurance numbers, health cards or even driver’s licenses,” Bouji remarks.
These corporate values of integration and community extend to Global’s hiring practices. GRESP frequently hires new immigrants and new graduates who are ambitious, community-focused individuals with good communication skills while giving them a chance to grow in a positive work environment.
“When I came to Canada 26 years ago, nobody gave me this kind of opportunity. We’ve come across people that are relatively new to Canada and with their existing set of transferrable skills, we give them an opportunity to join our sales management team. This is unique, unheard of in Canada. We also attract a lot of new talent from universities, encouraging graduates to pursue independent career opportunities,” Bouji says.
Why choose Global?
Having an RESP is a great way to invest in your child’s future. While it is the consumer’s choice whether or not they want to have a mutual fund, GIC, or bond, Bouji emphasizes the importance of registering your child’s education savings accounts as an RESP. The Canadian government provides grants of 20% of annual contributions made to RESPs to eligible children, and the child is also eligible to receive additional grants and incentives, at the provincial level.
Furthermore, any interest the RESP earns in addition to the 20% will be tax deferred until it is withdrawn by the child. When a child becomes eligible and the money is in their hands, earnings and government grants are taxed in the child’s name. After tuition fees, books, and the many other items that Revenue Canada has approved as deductible from that amount, in most cases the child will not have to pay the income tax at all.
RESPs provide substantial benefits to parents, and those benefits are all the more appreciated when parents have the peace of mind that comes with being able to invest and withdraw when they choose to. For instance, at the time when Bouji started his company, other RESPs stipulated that a child who did not go to school for four years, they would forfeit some of their earnings, which would then be invested in other children.
“I don’t believe in that. If you have invested money for your children, it shouldn’t go to another person’s child. It bothered me morally, and therefore we created a flexible plan where if a child goes for one year, they have all the money available for their education, and the parents get the principal,” he tells us.
In addition, although the government of Canada requires that parents do not surpass a maximum contribution of $50,000 in a lifetime, Global RESP Corporation sets no minimum contribution requirements for opening a plan, setting them apart from many other financial services companies.
Consumers who have an RESP with GRESP can also find comfort with the knowledge that their investments are secure, even in times of economic downturn.
“Under no circumstances will your principal be affected by outside circumstances,” Bouji stresses. Global RESP Corporation currently has over 123,000 children enrolled in the plan. “And growing every day,” Bouji adds.
Out of this 123,000, approximately 40,000 or one-third of the students are using, or are in the process of accessing, their RESP. This is a significantly higher intake ratio than found in other RESP companies, and speaks to the flexibility of the plan.
While Global RESP Corporation provides flexible and secure RESPs, the Global family of companies and its associated companies also offer insurance, mutual funds, investments, and security products. Whatever the Canadian consumers’ financial needs are, Global is committed helping them meet their financial goals.
“We are able to take care of the Canadian family from birth and beyond,” Bouji tells The Canadian Business Journal. “For example, when you have an RESP with Global, you know the money will be there for your child’s education. We stand behind this commitment. For as long as I’m alive, this message will continue to be the focus of the Global family of companies.”
Entering a New Phase
Although Bouji remains the founder of GRESP, he stepped down from managing the company this year. The company now has a new board and new management team, and is in the process of hiring hundreds of new talent to spur the company’s next stage of growth, for which there is a five-year plan.
“We are hiring a lot of people for the sales management team, up to 60 people in the next two years. This is very big growth for a small company like Global. We also plan to hire at least another 500 new salespeople every year in the next five years,” claims Bouji.
Global is also looking forward to releasing a new product in the near future.
As GRESP grows, it plans to continue to lead the industry not just in terms of size, but also in innovation, productivity and vision.
Bouji would like to thank his management team. “They are doing a wonderful job in carrying forward our vision. We are on the right track for big growth in 2016.”