Three things all fee-based financial planners need to know about computer security…


Those exact words went through my head as my eyes opened larger and larger in disbelief.

It was very clear to me that I had been hit with a virus.

Don’t know where it came from.  Don’t really care.  Just get it out of my computer.

It is amazing the pace at which things run through your head when this happens.  You run through a mental checklist of what is critical on your computer and what is replaceable.  Music files, well OK, I can do without and I didn’t listen to all of them that much anyway.  Photo’s, well, that would suck…

OMG, my new Podcast recordings.  I haven’t yet finished editing the recorded files.  That was live stuff.  I spent hours on that.  I could never replace those.  This is serious.

You scan your brain, hoping you remember that there is a copy somewhere else.  There isn’t. It actually hurts.  I mean you are in physical pain.  What to do.  What to do. Well, here is what I learned this weekend after I got hit with a major computer virus:

  1. You need a go to guy.  Someone who knows exactly how to fix this type of thing.  When it comes to the inner workings of a computer and the technology that is below my fingers when I type on my notebook, I am clueless.  You always hope your “anti-virus” software works.  You always hope that your “firewall” works.  But, when it doesn’t work as you would like, you need a go to guy.
  2. You need good anti-virus software.  There are a few on the market (we only use one).  This is critical as it can protect you against a tone of those little nasty’s that can make their way into your computer.
  3. You need to re-think your backup plan.  This has been a real eye opener for me.  The biggest question running through my head as I was trying to get this nasty virus out of my computer was “In a worst case scenario where my computer is toast, how quickly can I get back up and running again?”

So, here is how it went down. I was working away at my computer when it just wasn’t responding properly.  I figured a reboot was in order.  This usually fixes everything. As soon as it rebooted, I began to get pop up balloon after pop up balloon saying “program abc, can’t load”, “program xyz, can’t load”.  There was a problem.  Then, a major message showed up saying that it is critical to protect your computer and I needed to update my anti-virus software.   It said that my computer was infected and I had no virus software running.  It said that for me to fix the problem, I needed to complete the registration for the software that could fix the problem and go through the check-out online to buy a 1 year, 2 year or lifetime subscription for the anti-virus software. It all looked very Windows like.  Very professional.  But, I knew that there was a problem.

So, my first call was to my guy.  I have 24/7 access to an amazing team.  They logged on to my machine, told me that “yes, this was bad”.  Then he said the most amazing thing.  “But, I can fix it.”

OK.  Do as you say, I thought.  He said that it would take him an hour or so but that he would call me back when it was fixed. In less than an hour, I was back on the phone with him and he said, “OK, it’s fixed.  Also, I noticed a few other things and I fixed them also.  Your machine should run quicker now.”  I loved this guy on the other end of the phone.  I wanted to hug him (in a manly kind of way). I had great anti-virus software.  It did it’s job.  My guy did the rest.

So, who was the voice on the other end of the phone who I was able to contact late on a Sunday afternoon?

Let me share with you how I met him first. It was 2009 and I was at a financial planning conference with my partner.  We were frustrated with the amount of time it was taking me to deal with a lot of the computer technology issues and we needed to hire someone to do this for us.  We had a guy who we had worked with in the past but when I approached him, he said he had a program that he could set us up on where he would manage all of our computers technology issues going forward.  The problem was, it was expensive.

Then, we attended a session from a company who seemed to have things dialed in.  They were focusing on professionals who wanted to spend more time doing what they do best and less time worrying about their computers. We signed up.  Why?  Because their offering was phenomenal. New computer every three years.  All software licenses (Office, Anti-Virus, etc…).  Offsite backup, daily.  Finger print sign-on.  Automated updates.  All for the same price as buying a new computer.  The list went on and on.

They delivered a handful of business class HP notebook computers to our office the next week.  They computers were fast.

We opened the box to the new computer, plugged it in and we were up and running.

Every day, our whole hard drive is backed up offline.  We can access this backup whenever we need to.  If someone steals my computer, I can send a “destroy” message through the internet so as soon as the computer goes online, it is wiped clean.  I can get a replacement within hours with my hard drive re-installed from the backup. This makes me feel very confident.

The company is called No Panic Computing.  They are great.  Now, whenever my staff asks me to help with a computer problem, I say “call No Panic”.  They do and they get things fixed.

Also, I have learned that taking things to the clouds is the way to go.  What this means is that we have taken our software to the clouds and haven’t looked back.  Our email is virtual (Google Apps), our contact management system is virtual ( our calendar is virtual (Google Calendar).  So, when I was thinking how long it would take me to get back up and running – for me, it would be minutes.  All I need now is an internet connection and I’m good to go.  Everything is up in the clouds. I’ll speak further on our cloud based solutions and teach you exactly how I use them to run our business. But, in the meantime, do yourself a favour.  When it comes time to upgrade your computer, visit and find out why they are awesome.  I am a customer for life.

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