Service links retirees, companies

The idea was born during a yachting trip off Sydney, Australia, last year. Don Paré, of Edmonton, had just sold his tech business for $100 million and was feeling, believe it or not, depressed. A new acquaintance, Jack Hughes, was operating a software business in Surrey, B.C., but thinking of retiring.

Both men were 50. What next?

It struck them, says Jack, “that the most knowledgeable people in the world are over 50. That’s where we think nine-tenths of the world’s knowledge resides.”

RCMP losing officers
But with thousands opting for early retirement, never has so much knowledge sat idle. Companies and government departments, says Jack, are facing a crisis as many of their best people opt out. The RCMP has spoken of losing 70 per cent of its experienced officers in the next few years.

The two men and their wives, Deb Paré and Deborah Wilson, brainstormed and came up with GreyStorm.

The idea is to create an online marketplace where clients can access that huge store of experience and knowledge. GreyStorm will operate a directory of advisers — numbering at least 1,000 — covering hureds of subjects.

“I like to call us ‘the eBay of knowledge,’” says Don.

Alberta government potential
Retirees will sign up, have their own web pages listing their qualifications and fees, and GreyStorm will provide marketing, contract and billing services. Advisers will be asked for no money up front, though GreyStorm will retain 30 per cent of commissions — far less, Don says, than administration costs faced by most consultants.

Initially, says Don, they are concentrating on building a “critical mass” of experts in the financial and government services fields. The Alberta Government is among potential clients, showing keen interest. Already GreyStorm has salespeople fanning out in British Columbia, Alberta and Ontario to alert clients to the service.

It’s about time!
At CARP and AARP events where GreyStorm has announced its arrival, the invariable responses are: “My God, why didn’t I think of that!” and “It’s about time!”

From his own experience, though, Don knows GreyStorm will have a powerful emotional dimension.

“Suddenly, at 50, I was out to pasture,” he says. “I became very despondent.” With all that money in the bank, he did not get a whole lot of sympathy. GreyStorm, he says, “has already made a huge difference in my life, as it will for our advisers.”

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