Canadian Personal Finance Conference 2016: My experience & recap

Prett keynote from CPFC

I spent the past weekend in Toronto, attending Canadian Personal Finance Conference 2016 (CPFC16) with a bunch of personal finance nerds err experts. Although I have been blogging anonymously for roughly two and half years, I have never met up with anyone in the personal finance community. Earlier this year I was debating between FinCon and CPFC. I ended up deciding on CPFC after Barry Choi at Money We Have convinced me. (Actually the real reason is because CPFC turned out to be cheaper due to no exchange rate involved and 2 less days).

When I introduced to Barry and Krystal at Borrowell's pre-conference party on Friday night using my real name, I saw a moment of "Who the heck is this random guy?" facial expressions. It wasn't until I introduced myself as Tawcan a few seconds later they realized who I was.

I knew a lot of well-known personal finance experts were attending Canadian Personal Finance Conference but I had a few starstruck moments this past weekend...

  • I talked to Kerry Taylor from Squawkfox!!! I have been following and reading her blog for a long time now. Can you believe we talked about cloth diapers? FRUGAL NERDS!!!
  • I met and talked to Melissa Leong from Financial Post. She gave an amazing session on Saturday and lit up the room with her funny remarks.
  • I met and talked to Jonathan Chevreau, the co-author of Victory Lap Retirement. Very cool considering I have been reading Jon's articles for many years and had the chance to review the book.
  • I attended sessions from Rob Carrick, Preet Banerjee, and Bruce Sellery. It was unfortunate that I didn't get a chance to talk to them one-on-one. But it was really cool to be in the same room as these PF celebrities at the same time.

Overall the conference was a lot of fun and I gained valuable knowledge on blogging, freelancing, collaboration, and creating an online business. It was great to finally meet people whom I have been talking for a very long time and connect with other bloggers that I have not communicated prior. Two things became clear to me during CPFC. First, everyone is very friendly and very helpful. You would think that personal finance bloggers are competitors and wouldn't share secrets with each other. In reality, this was far from the truth. We shared lots of tips and ideas on how to grow our blogs/businesses. Some collaboration ideas were hashed out after a few drinks too. Second, I received many inquires on why I have been blogging anonymously. After sharing my concerns and hearing other people's experience, now I am re-considering about blogging anonymously. It certainly helped to get feedback from a few people who used to blog anonymously and came out of the woods later. I learned that associating my name and face with the blog will improve my credibility and allow me to build a stronger brand. So I'm now debating whether to go ahead with this or not...

I am really glad that I attended CPFC16. Having already signed up for FinCon17, I'm super stoked about meeting up with more bloggers. I am also looking forward to more information about CPFC17. Attending two conferences next year isn't out of the questions, as long as I plan to save for these trips ahead of time.

Note: Pic from Tom Drake. 

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17 Comments

  • Reply
    DiviCents
    November 23, 2016 at 11:04 am

    It's nice to see that these people are open to helping others succeed in the same space they operate in.

    I work in a very blue collar industry and use to assume (wrongfully) that others in the personal finance space would be snooty and self serving.

    I could not have been more wrong.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      November 23, 2016 at 2:41 pm

      People were so friendly and helpful. The PF community is so great!

  • Reply
    Our Next Life
    November 23, 2016 at 12:31 pm

    I'll be curious to know what you decide on blogging anonymously or not, for obvious reasons! 😉 I personally can't wait to stop being anonymous, but just can't risk it for now. I do think it matters what your goals are, and I actually don't think you need to show your name and face to be credible -- you just need to establish credibility, which takes a certain approach to blogging that isn't everyone's cup of tea. Ultimately, you have to do what feels right, not what the conventional wisdom says. But keep us posted on your thinking about this!

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      November 23, 2016 at 2:53 pm

      Given that I have already linked to our cookbooks and my photography business a couple of times prior, my identity isn't totally "secret." It's just deciding whether to have my name and face in the about section. A few of the media people that I talked to made the points that they'd never interview someone completely anonymously as they want to provide credibility in their articles.

  • Reply
    krystalatwork
    November 23, 2016 at 4:20 pm

    Nice to finally meet you in person, and so glad you came to the conference. See you next year! 🙂

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      November 24, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      It was great meeting you too Krystal.

  • Reply
    J. Money
    November 24, 2016 at 5:24 am

    Rock on! Excited to meet you in person next year 🙂

  • Reply
    BeSmartRich
    November 24, 2016 at 8:41 am

    I live in Toronto and I did not even realize the events are going on! I wish I was there! 🙂

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      November 24, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      There's always next year. 🙂

    • Reply
      Frugal Desperado
      November 27, 2016 at 2:54 pm

      Same here! I'll make sure it's on my radar next year if it's in Toronto again.

  • Reply
    Dividends Down Under
    November 24, 2016 at 3:14 pm

    We are also mostly-anonymous bloggers too - except we share our first names (doesn't really change things).

    Once you open up Pandora's box, it can't be closed. The main reason we stay anonymous is because of our family (most would have varying degrees of judgement/jealousy etc). Plus we're introverted people (that run a blog, lol), so we prefer privacy, particularly as we're going through IVF. We have had a couple of media people want to run a story on us, but they wouldn't when we wanted anonymity.

    I suppose ultimately you must look at the reasons why you didn't go public initially, do those reasons still apply? Would it matter if people knew you blogged or how much wealth you had? For now, our reasons for staying private still remain.

    Tristan

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      November 24, 2016 at 3:34 pm

      Hi Tristan,

      I think the key reason initially was related to work as I write about financial independence. BUT I did mention many times that reaching financial independence doesn't mean I'll quit my job. I do love what I do for work and enjoy it a lot. 🙂

      Ultimately I think it comes down to what you're comfortable with. A few opportunities have popped lately and I think eventually I will reveal my identity. Totally understand why you guys want that privacy and anonymity, especially what you guys are going through with the IVF treatments.

  • Reply
    diningondividends
    November 26, 2016 at 11:25 am

    I think my years of working in the finance industry has temporarily scared me off from attending any more financial conferences! That said, it does sound interesting, so willl have to look into it and see if it is coming to a location near me anytime soon.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      November 28, 2016 at 12:21 pm

      It was a great conference. I had a great experience.

  • Reply
    Team CF
    November 28, 2016 at 1:55 am

    You are more then welcome to fly to Antwerp in February next year. It will be our second meetup with like-minded people here in the Netherlands and Belgium. Albeit not as big or as well organized as the CPFC, it should be a lot of fun again.
    We actually agree with Tristan from DividendDownUnder. We are, and plan to remain, anonymous bloggers for the most part (it's kind of hard to remain anonymous in a face-to-face meetup).
    Cheers mate, you are doing really well and we love your blog.

    • Reply
      Tawcan
      November 28, 2016 at 12:22 pm

      That's cool you guys are having meetups. Will have to try and attend one of these days if I'm around the area. 🙂

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