BeTheBoss.ca: Tell us about the Roche Financial Group Franchise concept.
Ron Roche: The development of the Roche concept began in 1967. We marketed an accounting service patterned after a head office accounting department with a Controller on staff. It was well received by the market place. Clients ranged from individual tradesmen to manufacturing plants employing up to 100 people and covered the full range of business types.
We added income tax services in the early 1970s, and expanded further into financial planning as mutual fund dealers and insurance brokers in 1996. We designed our own unique financial planning software that is integrated with our tax software.
Since designing the financial planning software and expanding into investments and insurance, which added professional financial planners to our team, we have been experimenting with, and developing, a totally integrated accounting and financial planning service. This has been achieved. All professional financial planners are licensed, and are either CFPs or are enrolled in the program. They report to the Roche head office. They are assigned to work in specific franchised offices, operate under the Roche Financial group umbrella and comply with the same policies and procedures as the professional accountant franchisees. Interestingly, the accounting profession has recognized the need to do this in the past couple of years. We have been way ahead. We have tested various ways of doing it over the past 18 years and are pleased to be in a position where our business model has perfected the delivery of accounting and financial planning as one service through two professionals working for the same company. It is unique in the industry.
BTB: How and when did you become involved with Roche Financial Group Franchise?
RR: The company was founded in 1967 by Ron Roche. Ron completed a Business Administration and Canadian Business Law diploma course and is a fourth year honours undergraduate of the CGA program. Ron is a Certified Financial Planner and holds several other qualifications in the financial services industry. He is a member of the Independent Financial Brokers. Prior to founding the company, Ron worked as a bookkeeper for two small firms, the Chief Accountant for a manufacturing firm where he designed and installed a standard cost system that received accolades from a professional engineer who had set up plants for Polymer in North and South America. Ron worked as a Senior Financial Analyst for an international glass manufacturing company at its head office, responsible for the head office accounting and the preparation of monthly financial statements for 16 branch outlets across Canada. That is where Ron got the idea to launch the company.
It would be impossible for an accountant or a financial planner to develop a professional practice, such as Roche, and if the two of them put their heads together even then it would be impossible because neither of them have an in-depth knowledge of the other's profession. The background of Roche is unique in that it includes years of accounting and taxation knowledge and experience, and as well, years of experience in the field of investments, insurance and financial planning.
In addition, developing such a business model, staying abreast of new technology changes, the ever changing needs of the market place, and the new financial solutions manufactured by the financial and insurance industry, and understanding how to bring this together into a service that can be made available to the market place, requires a head office focused on that project.
BTB: What are some of the advantages in being a Roche Financial Group Franchise franchisee?
RR: By becoming a franchisee, an accountant can deliver a service to his clients that is complete. Full training on the preparation of T1, T2, T3, Income Tax Returns, and The Basic Principles of Financial Planning is provided to every franchisee to the extent required at the outset. Head office provides daily and ongoing support in every aspect of the franchise.
BTB: Who is your ideal franchisee?
RR: The ideal franchisee has an extensive accounting background in a corporate environment and a degree in accounting and/or business. He has an entrepreneurial flair and a keen desire to build his own professional business.
BTB: Tell us a little about the Accounting Industry?
RR: Technology is changing the world just like the industrial revolution changed the world. Professions become obsolete and new professions emerge. Certainly, the accounting profession would not be thinking that they have a role to play in financial planning if there was not a market need. Sometimes it can take an entire career for a service to be developed and for the market to become aware that they have a need and that a solution is available. Roche is there. The need to integrate two professions began in the 1980s, in my opinion. Today's technology is capable of taking out an entire layer of employees in an accounting department, properly utilized.
In developing this unique service in 1997, we insisted that all of our franchisee accountants obtain a mutual fund license, a life license and enrol in the Certified Financial Planners designation course.
In this experiment we learned that as humans no one person can wear the accountant's and the financial planner's hat and pretend to be an expert in both fields. We found that either the accountant said, I am not interested in any more accounting work; I want to focus on financial planning, investments and insurance; or the accountant continued to focus on taxation and accounting and dabbled at investments and insurance.
We changed this model several years ago. Franchisees must be from the accounting profession and we will not accept them obtaining an investment or insurance license. They must work side-by-side with the Roche professional financial planner who has been assigned to work in their office. Two professionals delivering a complete financial service to the market place in one office. It took about 18 years to experience and perfect the foregoing.
BTB: What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise opportunity?
RR: I got the greatest business lessons from the owner of one of the manufacturing plants that I worked for, and later provided a full outsourced accounting and controller service to. We became friends. From him I learned about taking chances, investing and re-investing money and time in the business, and that to create something, you had to be devoted to, and passionate about, what you were pursuing. I started this business when I was 23 years old. My wife, Olive, joined me in the business 20 years ago when we founded the mutual fund dealership and the insurance brokerage arm, and she has been a capable partner, a support and a mentor, without whom I could not have developed the business to what it is today. Olive is my inspiration.
BTB: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise opportunity?
RR: My advice to a person seeking a franchise in the accounting services field is not to focus on the fees charged by head office, but rather the value that head office brings to your practice and the demonstrated foresight to recognize and deliver market needs on a timely basis. Be sure to talk to existing franchisees and get into a franchise with a franchisor that you trust. The business concept must be proven over a long period of time but not be out of date. The franchisor must demonstrate a vision of the future.
BTB: In your opinion, why do you think that Roche Financial Group Franchise would be a great franchise opportunity for someone?
RR: If the accountant is keenly interested in developing a full accounting and financial service practice that draws upon their skills as an advisor to their clients throughout the year to help them maximize their profits and develop a financially sound estate, then you should become a Roche Taxation and Accounting Franchisee.