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2021 Year-End Review

Where to begin? Do you remember thinking that once the vaccines are available, we would be able to kiss the pandemic goodbye, and hug other people? Well, that time has come and gone, and I must admit I still don’t know what the new normal will look like. I can, however, confirm that we continue to be thankful that we have not to date been negatively impacted severely by the events of the past 20 months. We hope the same is true for you, your family, and your friends.

I have been very well over the past year. I am fitter than I was a year ago thanks to the pandemic because I spent more time in the North Shore trails than I have in years. And that’s all because we couldn’t cross the border and access our vacation home in Point Roberts, so we had to find other things to do. After many years of light mountain bike riding, Christie and I doubled down and got new mountain bikes, protective gear, and Whistler Mountain Bike passes. It was an awesome way to spend the summer and fall, making new friends, and reconnecting with clients and advisors in a setting that was not the office. The Capra 30×30 event was the cherry on the cake, which was a thirty-day challenge of running in November (mostly in the rain here in Vancouver). I did it and feel great for having done it. I can honestly say I appreciate being forced to spend time rediscovering healthy alternatives to travel and dining out, although we are looking forward to our upcoming trip to Costa Rica at the end of December to surf, hike, and visit dear friends.

2021 Cove Highlights

Planning to be better…

As 2020 rolled past and we ushered in 2021, we decided to think intentionally about how we could be better both from an impact perspective and from an operational perspective. We intuitively felt that we were missing the boat when it came to how we used social media, our blogs, and our website in communicating about the changes we were seeing in our business, tax, planning and overall trends in the marketplace. We wanted to be able to communicate with you about important things in a meaningful way. After years of blindly following our own sense of what we thought was right, we hired Karly Cunningham of Big Bold Brand, a marketing consultant, to help us make sense of everything marketing. After months of building a plan, it became evident that we needed someone to take over what we were doing ourselves—a marketing expert who could make our plan a reality. This was the spark that set the wheels in motion to find the perfect person to fill this role.

One of the insights we had as we moved through the marketing plan was how important our operational systems are to our success in task management, communication, and marketing. It’s all good to have a great communication strategy, but it needs the support of technology and software platforms that can automate and track our activities. If we are going to promise something to you, we need the systems in place to make sure we deliver on that promise. This insight led us to hire an operations consultant and cyber security specialist to assess our systems and make recommendations on improvements. We found our gaps and promptly shored things up. It became obvious that operations are important, and we feel confident about where we are. This is not to say we don’t have plans for future improvements, so stay tuned as we learn and grow in that aspect.

Introducing SideDrawer

One of the great flaws about email is that it is inherently insecure. Every cyber security specialist will tell you how vulnerable we are to security breaches through email. We wanted to find a way to increase the security of the information we share with our clients and partners, especially since we rely more and more on digital information sharing and virtual meetings. In our efforts to continually improve, we found a new way to share information with you—we now use a platform called SideDrawer, which we have been rolling out for the past six months. We have been setting up our clients and collaborators with their very own SideDrawer account, so that we could share important information, such as insurance policies and records, and they could securely upload and store documents.

Expanding the COVE family…again!

One of the highlights for 2021 was the addition of four new team members to our Cove family! In May, Shanna Liber, Christie’s and my niece, and Alex Liber, Shanna’s husband, joined Cove after moving here from Edmonton. Shanna started working as a full-time Insurance Agent right out of the gate and Alex started working his way along the path to becoming a full-fledged Insurance and Estate Planner providing backup case support under Warren’s leadership. We are tickled to have the family element of Cove expand to include more of the next generation along with our daughter, Nikki. One of the best parts of our relationships is that we all share a love of the outdoors and the trails of the North Shore, so it makes for an easy fit, as we commiserate over the aches and pains of long trail runs and mountain bike spills. They are hitting it out of the park in their respective roles and we look forward to watching them grow and learn.

Alex has taken over the RBC and Industrial Alliance Loan renewal underwriting, as well as third-party leverage loan facilities we have been offering new and existing insurance clients. Luciana, who managed these processes in the past has moved into a new role doing insurance underwriting and policyholder service.

In August, Jonathan Poon joined us as our first-ever Marketing Manager. Our search was led by our good friends, Adrienne Giffen and Bob Murray, of People First Solutions, who did an amazing job. We were thrilled to find Jonathan, not only because he had the skills we needed to move us forward in marketing and communications, but because we aligned so well from a values perspective in how we should positively impact each other and our community focusing on transparency and accountability as key pillars.

Oh, I almost forgot the fourth individual, Piper. Piper is our CBO or Chief Barketing Officer (although she doesn’t really bark). Piper came from Edmonton with Shanna and Alex and can be seen around our office splayed across someone’s floor minding her own business or staring out the window wishing she could chase that squirrel that haunts the trees across our parking lot.

Pandemic Challenges Continue

I would like to say that we have not been impacted negatively by the pandemic, from a business perspective, but that is not the case. Like many others, we have seen changes in the way we have to do business. The biggest negative impact is that due to backlogs and remote working at the insurance company level, underwriting new insurance has become a very long, drawn-out process. What usually takes weeks to complete now takes months. We have been assured this is a temporary phenomenon, so thank you for your patience, as we work through each and every situation with kindness and persistence.

1% For the Planet

Cove continues to support environmental charities through our affiliation with 1% For the Planet. For 2021, we split our contributions between 5 organizations, including Ecojustice, North Shore Stream Keepers, Climate Smart, Ancient Forest Alliance, and the North Shore Mountain Bike Association. You can find our complete Impact Report on our website.

We are proud of being part of Keegan Cassidy’s and the North Shore Stream Keepers’ effort to restore an ancient salmon spawning habitat at the mouth of Mosquito Creek. We had the whole Cove team out on the banks of the creek moving topsoil on a rainy day. As a result, of Keegan’s efforts, the creek hatched hundreds of salmon fry of five different species for the first time in recorded memory and it feels very rewarding to be a part of that effort.

On a larger scale, we were pleased to see Canada’s new climate law, Bill C12, passed in June of this year. It is a critical step forward for action on climate change and will allow Canadians to hold the federal government accountable for meeting climate commitments. Our friends at Ecojustice played a critical role in shaping and advancing this legislation. We support Ecojustice because they focus on systemic change, which we believe is critical to making big changes in the shortest period possible. I am looking forward to helping where I can in advancing more legislative changes, such as the development and passing of federal Benefit Company legislation and Corporate Climate Accountability legislation. You will hear more about this initiative in 2022.

On April 20, 2022, Cove will be hosting our first webinar on Canadian Corporate Climate Accountability legislation. Our speakers will be Allan Andrews, Program Director – Climate and Ecojustice’s Lead on the Corporate Climate Accountability legislation initiative, and Kate Williams, CEO of 1% For the Planet. The webinar will focus on how we, as businesses and individuals, can support these two influential organizations to effect rapid change. Mark your calendars and stay tuned for more information in the new year.

1% For People

Cove continues to support our community through our commitment to funding 1% For People. For 2021, we split our contributions between 3 organizations, including the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Skills Centre, SheEO, and Aranya Refuge Theravada Buddhist Monastery.

Cove is proud to be a founding sponsor of the new Aranya Refuge Theravada Buddhist Monastery (ARTBM) on Vancouver Island. Christie and I have been students of Thanissaro Bhikkhu (Ajaan Geoff), the Abbot of Wat Metta in Valley Centre California, since 2015 and took Ajaan Geoff’s wish to form a branch monastery to heart, and on behalf of Cove, offered to fund the formation of the Society and the registration of the society as a charitable organization in BC. We were pleased to be able to get this done in record time and look forward to the next phase in the process which is establishing a permanent monastery on southern Vancouver Island. In the meantime, Ajaan Geoff will be offering online retreats that are open to all as well as planned monastic visits to Vancouver Island when the pandemic allows. The one-month visit that was planned for November of 2021 has been postponed until May of 2022. Stay tuned for more on the developments of ARTBM.

You can find our complete Impact Report on our website.

2021 Team Highlights

Christie

It is hard to believe that we are at the end of 2021, and we are still dealing with pandemic life—I am hoping we can reach some sort of normalcy soon. For the first time in my 58 years on this planet, I injured myself through sport—I broke my right ankle while riding the A-Line on Whistler Mountain. It’s been four months post-injury and I’m finally starting to walk normally. I have whole new respect for people going through this. To those out there who have dealt with or are dealing with a major injury, I send my regards!

I took my first trip out of the country in November when I went to Merida, Mexico to celebrate my niece’s wedding. I have to say, Mexican weddings are something! A highlight of my year is that my other niece, Shanna, and her husband, Alex, moved to Vancouver from Edmonton to join our company. In addition, Nikki, our daughter, has transitioned from Customer Service to an Insurance Agent. We now have a strong female presence and I’m so proud to have them in our Women’s Division team and the Cove team!

Warren

Wow, did that year ever go by fast. In this COVID world, I continued to work from home partaking in all meetings virtually. It’s a good thing we have the technology to do this, although it did make for some long days. One of my goals in 2022 is to keep working on that work/life balance. My youngest daughter, Jordan, hit double digits on her 10th birthday. My oldest daughter, Chelsea, officially became a teenager on her 13th birthday. Chelsea also graduated elementary school and moved on to high school.

This past summer I was able to enjoy a trip to California in July—mainly by myself. Chelsea spent two weeks at the Weil Tennis Academy in Ojai and I went off to explore the mountains in the Southern Los Padres Forest.  There, I relaxed in a mountain cabin and took the three-peak challenge hiking Mount Pinos (8,848′), Sawmill Mountain (8,818′), and Grouse Mountain (8,583′) all in one go. Nothing like trying to run 18 kilometres when you can hardly breathe! This year will end with some family get-togethers for Christmas and some promise for a more relaxed new year with fun and travel.

Luciana

The year started off great with Brent, my husband, and I celebrating New Year’s Eve at Sun Peaks. We also kicked off the year with skiing, but unfortunately, our ski season was cut short, as Brent accidentally skied into a tree, which turned out to be very serious—he was immediately sent off to the Kamloops hospital. I didn’t get to see him for what seemed to be the longest two weeks of my life, as they didn’t allow any visitors into the hospital. They called me with the results: he ended up breaking 8 ribs, cracked his pelvis and punctured a lung. For the next two months, I was the full-time nurse, housekeeper, and butler. Once Brent got better though, we were able to join our annual BC Day long weekend trip with friends at Christina Lake. Brent and I also went to Shuswap Lake for 12 days at our family cabin where I got to kayak and paint every day. I’ve checked off a lot of goals I had for myself this year, and now I’m looking forward to some snow (hopefully!) and Christmas gatherings with family and friends.

Brent

2021 was a good year overall for me and my family. As a foodie, I am always challenged by healthy eating selections but was able to add plant-based foods to my diet and reduce my consumption of meats and dairy. This has added to my energy level and generally contributed to improved cardiovascular health and reduced body weight. I also stepped up my efforts to get outside more and exercise in the fresh air by picking up downhill skiing after years of abstention and going for more walks and hikes.

My family is all doing well with two of my children living and thriving in London, UK, and another working in California as a computer engineer for a “flying car” company. They are happy, healthy, and enjoying balanced lives, so my wife, Katherine, and I are happy despite their absence from home! Katherine is working too much but is generally happy and healthy as a partner in a mid-sized accounting firm. Despite the ongoing pandemic, I continue to be optimistic and excited about 2022, which I anticipate to be a good year!

Nikki

2021—what a year. It seemed to have gone by so quick, yet oh so slow at the same time. On a professional level, my proudest moment of 2021 is finishing off my LLQP schooling and officially becoming a licensed Insurance Agent. I decided to do all the final exams in one day (instead of spreading them out over different days like a normal person) and was extremely happy with the outcome, and I’m proud of my hard work. I am overjoyed to be working at Cove, which cares as much for their clients as they do for their environmental and social impacts.

On a personal level, the highlight of 2021 would have to be being able to reconnect more with friends and family. After COVID first hit, there was a very long stint of not being able to see the people I was so used to seeing. With restrictions lifting earlier in 2021 and cases going down, I was so happy to enjoy a bit of my old social life. Although that has changed as we get closer to 2022 with cases surging, I’m still grateful to get a taste of what pre-COVID life was like.

Shanna

2021 was like a trip around the sun. I went through the most changes in my personal and professional worlds than any other year. What started with a phone call to Christie, Bernie, and Warren exploring the potential of working at Cove transitioned to studying and passing exams, selling a house, quitting an 11-year government career, then officially making the move from Edmonton to North Vancouver, and starting my new career at Cove! I’ve enjoyed being so welcomed into the culture here and finding my place as an Insurance Agent in the family business.

Since settling in North Vancouver, it’s tough to get me, my husband, Alex, and our dog, Piper, out of the trails, which is where we all feel the most at home. I was warned about “all the rain” here on the west coast prior to the move, but so far, it has not slowed us down one bit! Additionally, this year I travelled to Merida, Mexico for my younger sister’s wedding—it’s a day I will forever cherish, as I got to spend time with family and loved ones after being far too long apart.

Alex

Up until this past spring, I had never lived anywhere outside of Alberta, but when the opportunity to move to North Vancouver arose, it was something I couldn’t pass up. Since then, Shanna, Piper, and I have been enjoying everything the area has to offer and taking nothing for granted—running, hiking, mountain biking, swimming, and anything else that gets us outside. Lifelong North Vancouverites often tell us that we have explored more of the North Shore in our past 7 months here than they have their entire lives, and yet it still feels like we have a lifetime of things to see and do right here in our own backyard.

And of course, our move to North Vancouver provided us with a change in careers that has been an eye-opening experience in the best way possible. I started officially working here at Cove in August and since then have learned so much and can genuinely say I enjoy what I’m doing.  I’m excited to see what the next year brings in terms of both personal growth and professional development.

Jonathan

2021 was certainly a year of growth for me. I completed my renovation project for the basement suite at my family’s house and moved into the space. My dad and I did a lot of the work on our own, which made it all the more rewarding when we finished. I also got myself my first car, an EV hybrid. It has always been convenient for me to bike or transit to get to places before but getting from Vancouver to North Vancouver is a bit harder without my own car (I still biked to work throughout the summer though!). It was also nice being able to travel outside of BC this year. I visited Banff and did a half vacation and half remote work trip in Quebec the past month.

I joined Cove in August as the new Marketing Manager and was welcomed with warmth and kindness. It’s crazy to think almost half a year has gone by working here! I feel so at home with the team and excited to be breaking ground with Cove’s marketing. Stay tuned for what’s to come with Cove!

The Future

No one knows what the future holds, but we are sure it will be filled with change. We recognize how fortunate we have been and that so many have found 2021 incredibly hard. We encourage you to think of those who may be facing difficulty this holiday season.

With that in mind, we send you best wishes for the holiday season and hope that your change will be the kind that brings you peace and happiness in the coming year.

 

Sincerely,

Bernie Geiss
Founder

PS, Please note that our office will be closed for the holidays from:
2:00 PM, Thursday, December 23rd until Tuesday, January 4th, 2022

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270-2255 Dollarton Highway
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