Knowledge First Financial: Company History

1965. The maple leaf becomes Canada’s national flag. The Guess Who top the music charts. Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia opens its doors as the country’s post-secondary institutions flourish to meet the education needs of the baby boomer generation. With that growth, tuition starts becoming an increasingly important funding source for colleges and universities.

Recognizing that the cost of education would continue to rise, a small group of educators and professionals in Alberta were inspired to establish the International Scholarship Foundation in 1965. They knew from their own experience the significant role education played in their lives and how important education is to the future prosperity of our country.

Since that day, the Foundation has been solely focused on encouraging and assisting Canadian families to save for their child’s post-secondary education by offering peace of mind savings solutions. Now known as Knowledge First Foundation, it is a not-for-profit Canadian corporation that sponsors and promotes various education savings plans: Flex First Plan, Family Group Education Savings Plan, and Family Single Student Education Savings Plan[i]. These plans are distributed by Knowledge First Financial Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Foundation.

 

Chronology of Education Savings and Knowledge First Financial

1965 The International Scholarship Foundation (ISF) is established as a federally incorporated non-profit organization
1966 Scholarships Consultants of North America (SCONA) is incorporated as the distributor of the ISF’s education savings plans
1974 The Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is introduced by the federal government to provide Canadian families to save for higher education. The RESP allows for continuous contributions to be made to a registered savings account where earnings accumulate tax free until the amounts are withdrawn.
1974 Arnold Edinborough becomes Chair of the Board of Directors of ISF where he will serve for 26 years.
1996 The ISF acquires all shares of SCONA
1998 The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) is launched. Families are eligible to receive a grant equal to 20% of their yearly RESP contributions, up to $500 per child. The lifetime maximum CESG payout per child is $7,200.
1998 Knowledge First Financial is recognized by Prime Minister Jean Chrétien for the company’s support of the Canadian Opportunities Strategy and, in particular, the Canada Education Savings Grant.
2000 Dale Parkinson is appointed Chair of the Board of Directors, International Scholarship Foundation
2003 SCONA becomes USC Education Savings Plans Inc. (USCI) and assumes responsibility for the administration and distribution of education savings plans offered by the ISF. Governance of the ISF and USCI is under one independent Board of Directors
2005 The Canada Learning Bond is introduced as a way to encourage low income families to use an RESP to save for their child’s post-secondary education. The CLB gives a maximum benefit of $2,000 per child over fifteen years.
2005 Alberta Centennial Education Savings (ACES) introduced by the government of Alberta. Note: ACES was discontinued by the Alberta government in 2015.
2006 Stuart Smith is appointed Chair of the Board of Directors, International Scholarship Foundation
2007 Quebec Education Savings Incentive (QESI) is introduced as a refundable tax credit program by the Government of Quebec. QESI offers 10% of annual RESP contributions up to $250 per year, with a lifetime maximum of $3,600 per child.
2011 USC Education Savings Plans Inc. changes its name to Knowledge First Financial Inc. as an expression of the company’s unwavering believe that ‘knowledge guarantees possibilities’
2012 Knowledge First Financial launches the Flex First Plan, an individual RESP offering the greatest flexibility in both contributions and payments, plus the potential to receive additional bonuses.
2012 Knowledge First Financial holds a subscriber vote to approve changes to the Family Group Education Savings Plan. These changes make it easier for students to receive benefits from their Knowledge First RESP.
2013 Saskatchewan Advantage Grant for Education Savings (SAGES) offers residents of the province a 10% grant on the first $2,500 contributed to an RESP, up to $250 per child per year and a lifetime maximum of $4,500.

Note: SAGES is suspended by the Saskatchewan government effective December 31, 2017.

2015 BC Training & Education Savings Grant (BCTESG) is introduced. This one-time grant of $1,200 is available for each child born after January 1, 2006. Residents of BC are required to apply for BCTESG when their child is between the ages of 6 and 9.

Knowledge First Financial Inc. was one of the first RESP providers to offer the BCTESG and one of the few to offer consumers access to all available government education grants.

2016 Donald Hunter appointed Chair of the Board of Directors, Knowledge First Foundation and Knowledge First Financial Inc.

 

Knowledge First Financial Today

Knowledge First Financial is registered as an investment fund manager and Scholarship Plan Dealer with the provincial and territorial securities commissions across Canada.

Services

Knowledge First Financial distributes education savings plans through a national network of commissioned sales representatives who specialize in RESPs and meet with Canadians from coast to coast to coast, each and every day. Its head office is located in Mississauga, Ontario and is staffed by professionals who are equally committed to helping customers achieve their education savings goals.

As an RESP distributor, Knowledge First Financial helps maximize the benefits of an RESP by accessing available grants[ii] on behalf of its customers once their education savings plans are registered. Currently the company offers all available government education grants including CESG, CLB, BCTESG, SAGES, and QESI.

The company’s investment strategy focuses on protecting contributions and building value over time. It’s a conservative approach designed for those with a low to medium tolerance for investment risk, and also a diversified one that invests a portion of the portfolio in carefully selected equities for potentially higher returns. The investment portfolios are managed by professional and fully independent money managers who focus on providing steady growth in the investment over the long term while carefully considering time horizons to maximize the funds available when student beneficiaries are ready for post-secondary school.

 

Corporate Governance

Chair of the Board of Directors

Donald Hunter,

F.C.A., ICD.D.

Former Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

Directors

Ellen Bessner,

B.Comm, LL.B.

Partner, Babin Bessner Spry

 

Andrea Bolger,

B.Comm., M.B.A., ICD.D.

Former EVP, Royal Bank of Canada

 

Lili de Grandpré,

B.A., M.B.A.

Managing Partner, Cenceo Consulting

 

David Forster,

FCPA, FCA, ICD.D.

Retired Partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP

 

Karimah Es Sabar,

B.Sc., M.Sc.

CEO & Partner, Quark Venture Inc.

 

Paul G Renaud,

CPA, CA

Former President & CEO, Omers Private Equity

 

Ian C. Tudhope,

Dir.

Founder, Wessex Capital Partners

 

Officers of the Knowledge First Foundation

George Hopkinson,

B.A., M.B.A.

President & CEO

 

Darrell Bartlett,

CPA, CA, CIA

Chief Compliance Officer

 

Stephen Rotz,

CPA-CA, CFA

Chief Financial Officer

 

Rob V. Budhwa,

JD, LLB, BBA

General Counsel, Corporate Secretary

Officers of Knowledge First Financial

George Hopkinson,

B.A., M.B.A.

President & CEO

 

Darrell Bartlett,

CPA, CA, CIA

Chief Compliance Officer

 

Stephen Rotz,

CPA-CA, CFA

Chief Financial Officer

 

Rob V. Budhwa,

JD, LLB, BBA

General Counsel, Corporate Secretary

 

Eric Jodoin,

B.B.A.

Vice-President, Customer Service and Operations

 

Carma Lecuyer

B.A.

Vice-President, Human Resources and Administration

 

Suzanne Martyn-Jones,

B.A. Hons

Vice-President, Marketing and Customer Communications

 

Jacques Naud

B.Comm., M.B.A.

Vice-President, Sales and Distribution

 

Peter Thompson

B.Sc.

Vice-President, Information Technology

 

Committees of the Board

David Forster,

FCPA, FCA, ICD.D.

Chair, Audit, Finance and Risk Management Committee

 

Andrea Bolger,

B.Comm., M.B.A., ICD.D.

Chair, Governance Committee

 

Paul G Renaud,

CPA, CA

Chair, Investment Committee

 

Lili de Grandpré,

B.A. M.B.A.

Chair, Human Resources Committee

 

 

About Knowledge First Financial Inc.

Canadian families have relied on education savings plans offered by Knowledge First Financial for over 50 years. As at April 30, 2017, the company manages $3.72 billion in assets on behalf of more than 250,000 customers. Since 1965, payments from the plans have reached $3.9 billion and the Knowledge First Foundation has further enhanced Education Assistance Payments to students by nearly $50 million.

Knowledge First Financial Inc. is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Foundation and is the investment fund manager, administrator and distributor of Registered Education Savings Plans. Knowledge First Foundation is a not-for-profit Canadian corporation with no share capital. The Foundation is therefore able to reinvest excess revenues in initiatives that support student success.

For more information about education savings plans from Knowledge First Financial Inc., please visit knowledgefirstfinancial.ca or refer to our prospectus.

Knowledge First Financial® is a registered trademark of Knowledge First Financial Inc.

 

[i] Continuous Offering Prospectus: Detailed Plan Disclosure (August 25, 2016). Knowledge First Financial Inc.

 

[ii] http://www.canlearn.ca/eng/savings/saving_education.shtml