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Gerry's Blog


July 15 2016

“You Can’t Save Yourself Rich”

“You can’t save yourself rich”, is advice from a Harvard Business School Professor friend of mine who was emphasizing the importance of having a business plan that emphasizes a growth strategy and not just a “cost cutting focus.” 

Although being mindful of expenses and watchful of careless spending is important, you need to ask yourself “How is cutting my paper clip expenses affecting my revenues?”  It isn’t helping revenues, but it may be taking your focus away from things that could.  If you are the business owner or company leader you shouldn’t be focusing on paper clips (that’s someone else’s job and you better make sure they are doing it) you need to be looking to the future.

Indeed, when people operate in silos, companies may miss innovation opportunities altogether. Game-changing innovations often cut across established channels or combine elements of existing capacity in new ways. CBS was once the world’s largest broadcaster and owned the world’s largest record company, yet it failed to invent music video, losing this opportunity to MTV. In the late 1990s, Gillette had a toothbrush unit (Oral B), an appliance unit (Braun), and a battery unit (Duracell), but lagged in introducing a battery-powered toothbrush.

― Harvard Business School Press

July 8 2016

“Build your own dreams, or someone else will hire you to build theirs.”

There are many ways to enjoy a successful career, but one of the unique challenges that business owner’s face is “what to do with the business when it comes time to retire?”  Unlike other careers where employees can move into retirement with a mitt full of common shares listed on the NYSE, or step into a pension plan and let the next generation takeover; business owners face a unique challenge when it comes time to call it quits.

Many business owners in Canada will exit their business by selling to a non-family member. However, only a small percentage of owners planning to transfer their business in the near future have a succession plan.

If you’re selling your business outside the family, bear in mind that there are factors that can make it more attractive to a prospective purchaser. It will be easier to find a buyer for a business that has potential for future growth once you’re gone. Other corporations in your business sector may also be interested in acquiring your business with a view to improving profitability.

Valuation is of central importance. You can get an indication of this by researching the selling price of similar businesses in your area.  Get professional input on tax strategies that can significantly affect your net return.  Most important of all, don’t wait until you are under pressure from economic or emotional reasons. 

For any business owner, now is the time to have your exit strategy in place.  Even if you don’t plan on retiring for 20 years you should have a plan in place today that would deal with an unexpected death or health issue. 

As a client, your relationship with me includes our complimentary business evaluator and Financial Planner who can assist you to develop your exit strategy.  It is a comprehensive evaluation that will provide the “right strategy” for you.  We would be pleased to meet with you when you are ready, and will follow up with the solution that you “want” to have.

June 30 2016

“Happy Canada Day!”

A few interesting facts about our country:

·         Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world's lakes combined

·         Canada's lowest recorded temperature was -63 C in 1947

·         Canada is the World's Most Educated Country: over half its residents have college degrees

·         Canada consumes more macaroni and cheese than any other nation in the world

·         Residents of Churchill, Canada, leave their cars unlocked to offer an escape for pedestrians who might encounter Polar Bears (actually we do this too at the cottage)

·         License plates in the Canadian Northwest Territories are shaped like polar bears

·         Canada has the largest coastline in the world

·         With  1,896 km (1,178 mi), the Yonge Street in Canada, is the longest street in the world

·         Canada consumes the most doughnuts and has the most doughnut shops per capita of any country in the world

·         Over 80% of the world’s maple syrup comes from Canada

·         Canada and Denmark have been fighting  over an uninhabited island  by leaving each other bottles of alcohol and changing their flags since the 1930s

·         The correct number of points on the Canadian Flag’s Maple Leaf is eleven

·         The Canadian flag didn’t exist until 1965, and O Canada officially became the national anthem in 1980.

·         Stanley Park in Vancouver is 1001 acres—making it 10% bigger than New York City’s Central Park

June 3 2016

“The Times They Are A Changin’”

Come gather ’round people

 Wherever you roam

 And admit that the waters

 Around you have grown

 And accept it that soon

 You’ll be drenched to the bone

 If your time to you is worth savin’

 Then you better start swimmin’ or you’ll sink like a stone

 For the times they are a-changin’

Bob Dylan

As the regulators phase in enhanced regulation known as the “Client Relationship Model “ or CRM2, many investors will be surprised to learn how much they are actually paying for investment products such as GIC’s, mutual funds, and other investment vehicles.  This enhanced disclosure is very much welcomed be me and my colleagues as it will help clarify and level the playing field for those of us who have always provided “full disclosure” in an open manner.

CRM2 will not only require that investors be told about the costs involved in owning certain investments, but the regulations will also require advisors to report the historic rate of return for your account, something we have been doing since about 1999. 

If you have any questions about the regulations surrounding CRM2 please phone me directly at 416.231.5092 and I would be happy to discuss what it means for you.  At the same time this might be a catalyst for you to review the benefits of consolidating all of your investments, retirement plans and TFSA’s here with us.  We strive to earn your business daily by providing a service relationship to meet your needs and an investment strategy that will help you meet your goals and satisfy your objectives. 

Many investors open multiple accounts of the same type, with different financial institutions and different advisors, either because it simply happened this way over time or because they believe it to be an effective way to diversify.

Diversification is one of the golden rules of investing to reduce risk and boost your return potential over time. But diversification is really about how you invest your money – not where you keep it.Investing through multiple accounts and multiple advisors instead of consolidating your assets with one trusted advisor may impede proper diversification and potentially expose you to greater risk.

By consolidating your investable assets with us, you will typically pay lower fees, assuming the fees are based on a sliding scale as they are with many investment accounts and programs. By spreading your investments among multiple advisors and multiple financial institutions, you lose these economies of scale.

Simplified administration and consolidated reporting. With consolidation, you bring together all your investment accounts with one advisor, which makes it much easier to keep track of your investments and their overall performance. The paper statements you receive in the mail are minimized and the tax reporting related to your investment income and dispositions becomes easier to manage and more accurate. Your tax preparation fees may also be reduced since your accountant will be spending less time sorting through all the statements and determining the average cost base of identical investments.  We will also speak directly to your tax advisor and share information if you wish, and that can further reduce your costs.

Having investment accounts spread among many different financial institutions will make your estate settlement process administratively more difficult for your executor/liquidator and potentially more costly. By consolidating assets, you have peace of mind knowing that after you pass away, your surviving spouse or other beneficiaries will have one point of contact that you trust who will manage their overall assets to ensure they have adequate income.

Consolidation also enables us to manage your investments more effectively, helping you structure your investments to generate the retirement income you need. In retirement, you will have many different income sources, such as government pensions, employer pensions, Locked-in Retirement Savings Plans, Registered Retirement Income Funds, non-registered income and part-time employment income. If you us managing your investments, it’s easier for us to determine how and in what order you should be withdrawing from all the different income sources to maximize your after-tax retirement income.  It also makes the written Financial Plan that you receive more complete.

The CRM2 regulations that are coming into effect are an excellent opportunity for you to review your investment needs, reduce your costs, and improve your financial well- being. 

Please contact me now to arrange a comfortable discussion about your goals and needs.

May 27 2016

“The asymmetry of the differences in the slope coefficients is striking.”

Matt King, Citigroup

In other words markets (art / equities / wine) go down faster than they go up.

For Bordeaux lovers 2015 is good news.  The vintage is excellent according to the results of tastings held over the past few months.  A buy and hold strategy will pay dividends as the wines mature. 

According to James Lawther’s comments in this June’s Decanter:

“The days of a Right or Left Bank vintage are probably over, but suffice it to say 2015 is an excellent year this side of the Dordogne River.  It is one of those years, like 1998 or 2001, where the Merlot is spot on and where the Cabernet Franc, if brought to optimum ripeness, is also superb.  Even Cabernet Sauvignon had its chance this year.  Climatic conditions matched those in the rest of Bordeaux:  a hot, dry spring permitting a homogenous, fast flowering; and summer heat and drought aiding concentration but instigating a certain amount of stress in the vineyard which was eased by August rain.  This is a seductive vintage with heightened aromatic expression, and fruit and flavour to the fore. Tannins are suave and rounded, so texture is an important element.  Alcohols veer towards 14% to 14.5% so are significant.  They will age tremendously.”

Watch for the 2015’s and stock up!

May 19 2016

“No nation has ever taxed itself into prosperity.”

 Rush Limbaugh

“That’s no tax dodge, that’s my husband”!  Now that tax season is behind us I thought I would pass along an article discussing the benefits of marriage / partners when it comes to doing your taxes. 

Since the introduction of the pension income splitting rules in 2007, many families can now significantly reduce their total tax bill by allocating certain types of retirement income to a spouse who is taxed at a lower rate.  If you or your spouse receives eligible pension income during the year, you and your spouse can split or allocate the eligible pension income for tax purposes. Generally, you or your spouse can allocate an amount of 0% to 50% of the eligible pension income.

In order to lower your family tax bill, the higher income earner will generally allocate their eligible pension income to the lower income earner. 

Only certain income is eligible to be split under the pension income splitting rules. The type of income that is eligible also depends on the age of the person who is the primary recipient of the income. The age of the spouse who is being allocated the eligible pension income is not relevant for the purposes of the pension income splitting rules. However, the spouse’s age may be relevant for purposes of determining whether they qualify for a non-refundable pension tax credit, discussed later. In most cases, if you are under 65 during the entire tax year, you will only be able to split the payments you directly receive from a registered pension plan or a Saskatchewan Pension Plan (SPP).  If you are 65 or older by the end of the tax year, you are eligible to split more types of income with your spouse.

For Primary Recipients Who Are 65 Years of Age or Older During the Year:

1. A life annuity payment from a superannuation or pension plan (including the Saskatchewan Pension Plan); 2. In certain cases, a life annuity payment from a Retirement Compensation Arrangement (RCA); 3. An annuity payment from an Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), which is an old insurance product no longer available; 4. a payment from a Pooled Registered Pension Plan (PRPP); 5. A payment from a RRIF, LIF, RLIF, LRIF or PRIF; 6. An annuity payment from a Deferred Profit Sharing Plan (DPSP); 7. a payment (including the income portion) from a regular annuity or an income averaging annuity contract; and 8. Payment from certain foreign pension plans (including U.S. Social Security).

For Primary Recipients Who Are Less Than 65 Years of Age During the Year:

1. A life annuity payment from a superannuation or pension plan (including the Saskatchewan Pension Plan); 2. A payment you received as a consequence of the death of your spouse described in 3 to 7; and 3. A payment from certain foreign pension plans (including U.S. Social Security).

The types of income which do not qualify for pension income splitting include:

Old Age Security (OAS) benefits; Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefits; Quebec Pension Plan (QPP) benefits; death benefits; retiring allowances; RRSP withdrawals other than annuity payments from an RRSP; amounts from a RRIF that are transferred to an RRSP, another RRIF, or an annuity; any foreign source pension income that is tax-free in Canada; income from a U.S. Individual Retirement Account (IRA); and amounts received from a salary deferral arrangement.

As a client your relationship with us includes tax information, Estate Planning ideas, Will / Power of Attorney reviews, and of course Financial Planning. 

 

May 16 2016

“A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are made for.”

William G.T. Shedd

I’ve done some racing on various types of boats and quite a bit of cruising too.  Looking back on things I have to admit that I would be hard pressed to think of a time when I left the dock with a “perfect marine (weather) forecast” from Coast Guard Canada.  Not that I would venture with a storm warning (well not too often), but waiting for the perfect day would have meant missing a lot of perfect days. 

Depending on the boat and its purpose (e.g. cruising, racing, etc.) there are numerous “sail options” that you can choose, from Storm Sail to Spinnaker and everything in between.  Another option of course is simply reefing, or letting out the reef as the case may be.  Balancing the boat to obtain the greatest waterline leads to better performance but isn’t always popular at tea time.  Downwind legs are nice, smooth and comfortable but nonetheless you have to watch out for an accidental jibe (they can cause some damage!).  There’s also a lot of tinkering that needs to be done even while under sail.  It’s not unusual to be in the middle of Lake Ontario and see someone sailing along with a tool box open fixing their Wind Vane or pulling apart a winch on the windward side. 

Navigating can be a bit tricky at times especially in Georgian Bay where rocks awash are quite common in the open water. 

One of the most enjoyable ways to spend a day is to watch the teens at CORK as they sail out of Kingston for the summer races.  There are literally hundreds of them in hundreds of boats hitting the racecourse with their multi-coloured sails. 

It’s not always smooth sailing but that’s what ships are made for.  Not unlike sailing, investing can be a bit unpredictable at times too.  I have never read a research report that guaranteed a perfect stock to buy.  Lots of recommendations, good forecasts and bad, but never a guarantee that, “this one is perfect”.  I would say however that when everyone is on one side of the boat, it is generally a good idea to move over to the other side.

At the end of the season I honestly would see some boats at dock that had never or rarely ventured out during the season.  They were waiting for the perfect forecast. 

One of my favourites though is the old guy up on Georgian Bay that I’ve sailed with.  His boat has been for sale because he has no one to sail with.  He advertises his boat, takes potential buyers out for a nice sail, then generously offers libations and agrees to discuss price.  Unfortunately no one has yet to strike the right deal with him, so the boat is still for sail. 

May 6 2016

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.”

Albert Einstein

I think he’s being a bit modest, but I get the idea. 

As interesting as Einstein’s quotes are they only offer a glimpse of his personality.  Yousuf Karsh on the other hand captures it all in his collection of Einstein portraits.  As they say, “A picture is worth a thousand words,” and in the case of Karsh that is an understatement.  As a Canadian you may wish to become familiar with Karsh, the world’s most famous portrait photographer, an artist on par with any member of the Group of Seven.  If in Ottawa be sure to visit the Chateau Laurier to see his work.

So, mathematically speaking, if you had a million dollars in your retirement account at age 65 and retired to live another 25 years, what income could you generate for the rest of your life assuming an inflation rate of 2% each year?  A balanced portfolio generating a return of 6% would allow you to enjoy an annual income of $64,000 in today’s dollars that would be increased at the rate of inflation (at age 89 that figure equates to about $101,000).  That’s just simple math.  If you would like a bound copy of your personal Financial Plan that includes everything else please contact me and we will arrange an appointment.

Preparing your personal Financial Plan (including a Will review by our Estate Planning Lawyer) is included in our relationship as part of the overall service we provide.

 

April 22 2016

“Never interrupt your enemy when he is making a mistake.”

Napoleon Bonaparte

With the Dow Jones Industrial Average flirting with setting a “new high” for the index, it may be time to break out the Champagne! Invite your guests, choose your bottle … and of course be sure to serve it at the ideal drinking temperature of 7 degrees.  That would be a wonderful way to celebrate the Dow Jones striking a historic level … a spectacular way of celebrating would be to draw your sword and decapitate the Moet!

Napoleon Bonaparte popularized the ritual of “decapitating a Champagne bottle” while celebrating his victories.  Sabrage, as it is often referred to today, simply involves chopping off the head of the bottle in a clean swift stroke then pouring the bubbly into glasses.  To properly saber a Champagne bottle one must find the seam on the bottle and follow it up to the top where it meets with the other seam.  At that point the continuous momentum of the blade will cause the head of the bottle to cleanly snap off and fall to the ground without spilling a drop! 

A quick motion, steady hand and reasonably heavy saber or similar, will do the trick. 

April 8 2016

“Creativity is contagious, pass it on.”

Albert Einstein

 

When it comes to art, the bottom line is to buy what you like.  Art is as individual and unique as you are.  Your art should reflect who you are and it should bring you joy every time you look at it.

Similar to investing, if you are new to the world of art collecting, you need to do your homework.  Robin Anthony, Curator, RBC, stresses that it’s important to take the time to look and learn, and to discover your artistic taste.  Robin is responsible for RBC’s art collection, consisting of approximately 4,000 pieces displayed in our offices worldwide.  The RBC collection includes original Canadian paintings, sculptures and photography, and was started in the early 1900’s. 

Robin cautions against making impulse acquisitions when it comes to art.  Instead she suggests spending time in museums and galleries to learn about art and to learn about what you like.  Do a lot of looking (it can be fun) before you buy.  Remember there is no rush, and in the process you might learn something about yourself too.

Buying art does not have to be intimidating, nor does it have to be expensive.  There are many avenues to travel when making your purchase.  Certainly commercial galleries are a good source, but so are art fairs such as the Toronto International Art Fair held each year in October.  Several art schools across Canada also offer the opportunity to purchase from students who may well be on their way to an exciting career.

Starting to collect art may be a way to find pieces that resonate deeply with you, an opportunity to give back to the art community or a mode of investment that may pay off in the long run. Regardless of what you’re looking for, you’ll find yourself rewarded.

Then, sit back and enjoy.

April 1 2016

“Judge a man by his questions rather than his answers.”

Voltaire

A rainy day at the cottage, or your other favourite retreat, is better than a sunny day in the city.  There is always something fun to do … relax in front of the fire, read a book or enjoy a long walk down a country lane.  You do need to be a bit more creative and can’t always rely on the internet to be working, but nonetheless there are activities that can be fun.  Hosting an informal and relaxed wine tasting can be a great excuse for having the neighbours over.

Tasting wine goes beyond appreciating flavours. In fact, to fully appreciate wine you need to engage four of your five senses: sight, smell, taste, and touch. If you count the beautiful sound of the cork popping, then it’s all five.

Sight

Hold your glass of wine by the stem and tip the glass at a slight angle, preferably against a white background. Look at the clarity and colour of the wine. The wine shouldn’t be cloudy or have sediments.

Now look at the colour. For reds, it ranges from purple to mahogany or garnet. Usually, the older the wine, the darker the colour.

If you’re tasting white wine, the spectrum ranges from a green tinge to light brown or amber colour. Look out for dark brown hues, which may be a sign that the wine has aged too long.

Now, swirl the wine in the glass carefully and take note of the “legs” of the wine. The longer it takes for the wine to move back down the glass, the higher the alcohol. In the case of white wines, it also indicates higher sugar content.

Smell

When you’re smelling your wine, don’t be shy. Make sure your nose is in the bowl of the glass when you inhale. Warm up your nose and take a whiff. Now swirl the wine again in the glass. Swirling the wine will help release the aromas of the wine.

Inhale again. This time, take a moment to think about the fragrances and try to identify them. What you smell can include: fresh fruit or berries, dried fruit, flowers, nuts, spices, herbs, and vegetation. You might also smell aromas from the barrels the wine was aged in, such as vanilla, cedar or oak.

Finally, take another whiff and try to identify any scents that show the wine’s age and maturity. The smell of leather, coffee beans, truffles or chocolate may be present.

Taste and touch

Take a small sip and swirl the wine in your mouth by taking in a small amount of air. Just like air helps release the aromas of the wine when you smell, they also help release the flavours of the wine in your mouth.

You’ll notice three main phases:

             First impressions – when the wine is introduced to your palate

             Secondary impressions – this is the time to “chew” your wine for 10 to 20 seconds by continually swirling it in your mouth. At this point, you should be able to taste the berries and vanilla that you smelled.

             Finish – Once you’ve spit or swallowed your wine, it will leave an aftertaste. This is where your sense of touch comes in. With a good wine, you’ll feel and taste the flavours and tannins long after you’ve swallowed. Most often, you’ll notice tannins as a drying feeling or bitter taste in your mouth.

If you like it, it’s good

After you’ve tasted the wine, ask yourself if you liked what you saw, smelled and tasted. If you did, then make a note of the bottle (or take a photo on your phone and show it to the sommelier at Vintages) so the next time you have guests, you can share something you actually enjoy yourself. Because in the end, all you need to know about wine is what you like.

 

 

March 24 2016

“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket”

Easter Bunny

It may be hard to believe, but it’s been over 500 years already since the Easter Bunny first arrived on the scene in Germany during the 1500’s.  The Bunny didn’t make it across to North America until the 1700’s when it began hiding coloured eggs in the decorated nests (baskets) of young German immigrants.  Since then the tradition has continued with the rabbit being a symbol of fertility and mascot for the Easter Weekend.

From time to time I get asked what the optimum number of stocks is to hold in a portfolio.  Diversification is important.  Having too few holdings presents unwarranted “portfolio risk” but over diversifying can be harmful too.  Although the subject continues to be debated I think it would be safe to say that 15 - 20 holdings (give or take) is an optimal number for most investors.  It allows for meaningful positions to be taken (each holding could represent 5% - 7%) without too much downside risk to the portfolio overall.  Managing a portfolio of this size also provides the investor the benefit of being able to diversify by economic and geographic sector as well.  Assuming you chose to invest in your most favoured five or six sectors (e.g. financials, telecoms, industrials, consumer, healthcare and energy), there is still room to diversify into a few different companies in each sector.

This manageable number of portfolio holdings allows the manager to closely follow each investment and adjust the portfolio accordingly.  Risk management is achieved and you have a well pruned portfolio providing the best returns.

So, don’t put all your eggs in one basket but don’t “diworsify” your portfolio either.

March 18 2016
“A year from now you may wish you had started today.”
Karen Lamb

In last week's blog I briefly mentioned the benefits of setting aside money on a monthly plan to achieve certain goals. This week I would like to elaborate on that some more and delve into why it is one of the best strategies you can choose to meet your lifelong goals.

Whether it is David Chilton's “Wealthy Barber”, Warren Buffett's mantra “the power of compounding”, or simply “Goals based investing” , the common theme is that you need a disciplined savings strategy if you want to meet your goals. Pay yourself first … invest it wisely … let it compound its growth … achieve your goal.

The first thing I hear when I suggest to someone that they setup a monthly savings plan is that they “don't have any extra money lying around every month” to start with. Yet at the same time, I can't remember a client ever cancelling a monthly savings plan once it has been setup? The best way to start is to choose a nominal sum, such as 1/12th of your annual TFSA contribution room or 1/12th of your annual RRSP room, or ideally both! Once you get the ball rolling you'll find that saving becomes a regular habit just like paying your phone bill. Since you set it up automatically, you too will be saying, “I don't even notice now when it is taken from my account.”

The next step is my job: Investing the money wisely. I will create a plan that suits your needs and also your temperament. A plan that works and lets you sleep at night too.

Compounding &The “Power of 72”: Divide 72 by your rate of return and that will tell you how many years it will take to double your money (72 divided by 10% return = 7.2 year to double your money). The fact that 99% of Warren Buffett's wealth came after he turned 50 years old isn't because his investing became better, it was because of compounding growth.

With the help of a Financial Plan that is designed and tailored for you, you will achieve your goal. If your goal is to enjoy a generous income in retirement then we can build a plan to help you achieve it. Whatever your goal is, we can help you get there.

Call us today because “a year from now you may wish you had started today.”

March 11 2016

“If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would ever get done.”

Rita Mae Brown

Lots of time … the deadline for filing your taxes isn’t until April 30th.  For the real hard core procrastinators, you have until May 2ndto get the envelope post marked as April 30this a Saturday.

Tax season has a way of making us focus on our finances and how we might better manage personal economics.  I think for most of us it starts the wheels turning on things that we could do differently to reduce our tax burden and have more left over for the things we want to spend our money on.  Personally I am a believer that “every little bit helps”.  It is surprising how making use of various tax tips can add up to significant tax savings on an annual basis. 

The following “tax tips” are common, but worth mentioning anyway.  Also, keep in mind that we do offer tax guidance through our Advisory team here at RBC and depending on your situation (business owner, individual, etc.) we can tailor a meeting that suits your needs.

Time Tested Tax Tips

·         Contribute to your RRSP.  We understand that it can be difficult to write a large cheque following the Holidays and that’s why we encourage you to setup regular monthly contributions that not only help ease the pain, but also help you “dollar cost average” your investments.

·         Contribute to your TFSA.  It is simple easy way to escape having to pay taxes on the money you have set aside.

·         Plan your charitable donations.  You benefit not only from a tax point of view but also from the goodwill you create and the benefits derived from that.  Take some time to plan your annual charitable donations, involve the family, and create a strategy on where the money will go and how much, rather than just reacting to every request.

·         Take advantage of income splitting opportunities.  Explore how your incomes (earned as well as unearned) can be split with your children or spouse.  This strategy is often ignored, but can be a big money saver.

·         Claim your medical expenses.  Keep records and make sure you claim all expenses.  Your record keeping doesn’t need to be elaborate, a shoe box will do.

·         File your taxes on time.  There really isn’t a worthy excuse to miss the filing date even if you don’t have the money to pay the taxes.

·         Explore with us the advantages of tax advantaged dividend income over fully taxable interest income.  Discuss with us the benefits of capital gains too.

·         Using an accountant that meets your situation can pay for itself in the savings they generate. 

Good luck!  Please contact me for any assistance you may require.  Our team would be pleased to work with you and your accountant to ensure that your filing goes smoothly.

February 19 2016

“When I hear somebody sigh, ‘Life is hard,’ I am always tempted to ask, ‘Compared to what?’”

 Sydney Harris

While preparing a portfolio review for a client this past week I was reminiscing about “major news” events that have happened over the years since she opened her account.  Her portfolio review included her historic portfolio returns since 1999 (New regulations will come into effect on July 15th2016 making it mandatory for financial advisors to produce historic rates of returns for clients.  We decided to start doing the reports in 1999 just to get a jump on things).  Her average annual return over the period was actually quite good.  The diverse and well managed portfolio generated excellent returns in the form of dividends, capital growth and interest. 

Although the numbers looked good, I thought I’d better double check things.  There was obviously a mistake here.  How could such good returns have been obtained when:

·         There was a “tech wreck” stock market crash in 2000 that not only knocked the Dow Jones down 38% between the years 2000 – 2002, but also literally wiped out companies into bankruptcy at an unprecedented pace?

·          In 2005 Hurricane Katrina drove gasoline prices to new levels putting the brakes on the economy

·         In 2008 the stock markets crashed so badly that the Wall Street Journal headline read, “Stocks, Bonds Tumble To New Crisis Lows”.

·         The crash of 2008 ushered in worldwide financial collapse of banks, economies shrank, some countries went bankrupt and others threatened to quit or get kicked out of Europe.

·         Interest rates actually went negative (seriously). 

·         Every country seems to be involved in a war and crisis looms everywhere.

·         The Canadian dollar has crashed, oil prices plunged to new lows this year (down about 80% from their high).

In retrospect it is a wonder that the portfolio did so well over the years.  The question is “why did it do so well?” 

First of all this portfolio wasn’t a “black swan event”, in fact it was typical of a well-managed portfolio and it wasn’t so much about making amazing decisions … it was more about not doing anything dumb / emotional. 

The real “secret sauce” was pretty boring, more like oil/vinegar versus Chipotle.  The success was due to following a disciplined approach, investing in good quality companies that are leaders in their respective industry, dividends, diversification, a good licensed portfolio manager … etc.  OMG it’s so boring.

Now I don’t blame you if try to spice things up on the side by buying into a marijuana grow-up that uses windmills to generate electricity to power their glow bulbs … just don’t tell me about it. 

Can you believe it?  Ordinary people like you and me actually believed that airplanes would fall out of the sky at midnight on New Year’s Eve 2000.

 February 12 2016

Pick-up Lines to avoid on Valentine’s Day:

“Are you a kleptomaniac? Because you just stole my heart.”

“Good thing I brought my library card, because I’m checkin’ you out.”

“I may not be the handsomest guy here, but I’m the only one talking to you.”

"I forgot my phone number, can I have yours?"

"Are you from Tennessee? Because you're the only ten I see!"

Best wishes for the Family Day Long Weekend and Valentine’s Day!  Although not a National Holiday, Family Day, which started in Alberta in 1990, is celebrated on various Mondays in February in Ontario, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia. 

Many people involve themselves in activities with the whole family. Although traditions are just starting, popular events include; people have family outings, dinners, ice skating, take part in crafting, or even go to a movie together. Communities and special venues—such as art galleries or museums—often offer something special for families. If you want to get out, or get away, there’s no shortage of excursions and special deals to go with them.   With a cold snowy weekend expected (last year we experienced  -40 degrees while we were out of town) there should be plenty of opportunities to enjoy some chat around the fireplace!

Stock markets around the world have gotten off to a rocky start this year, but we must keep in mind that this type of behaviour for the markets is quite normal.  For things to move along smoothly with only moderate change from day to day would be “very unusual” and out of the ordinary.  Furthermore keep in mind that we do manage your strategy to achieve your day to day needs as well as your needs in future years.  Six months of poor markets should not affect your day to day needs, nor should it affect your long term goals ten years from now.  In fact, we anticipate such volatility and take it into account when managing your investments.

As a reminder, managing your investments is only part of what we do.  Building Financial Plans and Retirement Projections are also an important part of our service, as is creating savings plans for your children’s and grandchildren’s education.  A comprehensive approach will lead to savings through Government Grants, tax savings, improved returns and a clearer picture of your future. 

If you are spending time this weekend with family and relatives you might want to ask around the table if anyone has ever received a “hard copy” booklet of their personal financial plan?  A plan that maps out their financial future and what they can expect.  That is a service that we offer to all of our clients, so if you haven’t yet taken advantage of it please call to set up our meeting.

January 29 2016

“I've always been famous, it's just no one knew it yet.”

Lady Gaga

All we needed was a bit of “lady luck” to turn the stock market around, and that’s what Melissa gave us this past Thursday when she rang the bell at the opening of the Toronto Stock Exchange session!

With Melissa’s help, and a settling of international commodity markets, there is reason to believe that 2016 might not be so bad after all.  RBC’s investment outlook is actually quite positive for the year (please take a moment to review our Global Investment Outlook under tab “Updated Publications” on the main page of this website). 

Although economic growth continues at a snail’s pace throughout most every western country, there is an absence of pending crises.  Sovereign banks are no longer on the verge of collapse and financial institutions in general appear in rather good shape overall.  Most industries as a matter of fact seem to have made it through the storm and some of the newer industries are coming on strong.  Business is definitely slow as demand for goods and a service has ebbed, but fears of a precipitous collapse are much less likely.  In fact, the USA (which has been accused of getting us into this mess) is actually experiencing reasonable economic expansion and rising interest rates. 

Stocks will always be volatile, but perhaps the new mantra should be “buy on weakness”?
 
January 22 2016

“The best time to start thinking about your retirement is before the boss does.”

 

One of the bright sides of the recent fall in oil prices, collapse of the stock market and general economic disasters that have plagued us recently, is that it has given the media something to write about.  Normally at this time of year we are inundated with RRSP and TFSA advertisements telling us that “now is the time to make that contribution … borrow if you have to!”  “Buy this product … look how great it did last year (past performance is no guarantee of …etc.).”

A bear market shifts our attention.  It lets us focus on more important things like, “did you know the barrel is worth more than the oil in it?” 

Since the various world disasters have left little space in the media to cover RRSP’s and TFSA’s, I thought I would take this opportunity to fill the void.  The problem is that I don’t have a product to sell nor do I think that now is the time to make your annual contribution. 

Our approach is to identify your goals in both the short term (house purchase), medium term and of course long term (retirement, estate planning).  With your goals in mind and needs taken care of, we design an ongoing strategy to get you there.  Ideally you are making monthly contributions towards your plan that we allocate accordingly (RRSP, TFSA, Savings Account).  There is no magic product, but rather many instruments that we use to meet your liquidity and safety needs, while other solutions are used to meet your growth goals ten years from now. 

With the many resources available to you at RBC, I am confident we can design a plan to meet the most discerning client.

January 15 2016

“You haven’t seen an investor overreact until you tell them their overreacting.”

Over the years and many market corrections, I have learned much about mixing emotion with investment decisions.  It is extremely difficult (next to impossible for some) to separate money and emotion.  Not just for individual investors, but for regulatory bodies and Governments too (2007:  “The markets will regulate themselves”, 2009:  “Regulatory rules introduced to stock markets”). 

I would argue that Newton’s Third Law of physics fails when it comes to the stock market. 

Yesterday I had the pleasure of having meetings with two different clients both of whom are 30 years old or under.  Their life goals were similar in that they wanted to build a retirement savings account, save some money for an emergency, and set some money aside to buy a house in the not too distant future.  We discussed long term returns, tax strategies for saving (RRSP, TFSA, etc.) and most important their regular savings plan (e.g. $75 a week will turn into $250,000 in 40 years).  They are both quite computer savvy (at least by my standards), bright and with promising careers.  Most of all they each have personal discipline.  And their discipline has allowed them to be quite successful in their personal endeavors to date. 

We will balance their investments according to their goals and make adjustments along the way in response to their life events and objectives … not in response to today’s news commentary on interest rates.  Overreacting to near term events can lead to over extended “buying” when optimism is everywhere and over extended “selling” when pessimism reigns.  Overreacting not only contradicts Newton, but it can lead to regret.

Looking ahead I am confident that the two clients will both enjoy financial security going forward in their lives, as they pursue their dreams.  I am optimistic about the next 40 years.

 

January 8 2016

“My Drinking Team has a Curling problem.”

This weekend marks the beginning of the Goldline Curling Bonspiel in the GTA.  With a history of 120 years, this legendary event boasts a longer history than either the Grey Cup or the Stanley Cup. It even pre-dates the Yukon Gold Rush!  Over the course of the next 10 days over 1,000 men from the Greater Toronto Area will compete for the championship. 

Often referred to as the “Roaring Game”, curling is one of the world’s oldest team sports.  Curling originated in the 16th century in Scotland, where games were played during winter on frozen ponds and lochs. The earliest-known curling stones came from the Scottish regions of Stirling and Perth and date from 1511. In the 1600s, stones with handles were introduced.

It has been an “on again / off again” Olympic sport.   Men’s curling was included in the Olympic program in 1924 at the first Olympic Winter Games in Chamonix.  It was then dropped, and later re-introduced as a demonstration sport in 1932 at Lake Placid. Between 1936 and 1992, curling was staged at the Games as a demonstration sport: in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1936 and Innsbruck in 1964, under the German name of “Eisschiessen”; and in 1988 in Calgary and in 1992 in Albertville, with both men’s and women’s events.

Some interesting curling facts to dazzle your friends and be the life of the party:

It was in Nagano in 1998 that curling officially joined the Olympic program, with both men’s and women’s competitions.

Canada is the world leader at Curling, having won the most international events.

It is not uncommon to see curlers enjoying a libation while playing the game.

A curling stone weighs 20 kilograms.

George Clooney, Bruce Springsteen and Gerry Doyle are all avid curlers.

Good sportsmanship, referred to as 'the spirit of curling' is an integral part of the game. You should always congratulate your opponent on a good shot, and never cheer a mistake or miss. Traditionally the winners have to buy the losers a drink after the match.

 

December 23 2015

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass.  It’s about learning to dance in the rain.”

Happy New Year and best wishes for 2016!  We have the opportunity to start off fresh … a clean slate of 365 days ahead of us.  It’s time for a New Year’s Resolution!

January gets its name from Janus, the two-faced god who looks backwards into the old year and forwards into the new. Janus was also the patron and protector of arches (Ianus in Latin), gates, doors, doorways, endings and beginnings. He was also the patron of bridges and we see this statue set on the bridge Ponte Fabricio which crosses the Tiber River in Rome to Tiber Island, where it survives from its original construction in 62 BC during the time of Julius Caesar. Even today it is believed that if you touch the Janus head as you cross the bridge, it will bring good fortune.

The custom of setting “New Year’s resolutions” began during this period in Rome two millennia ago, as they made such resolutions with a moral flavor: mostly to be good to others.   The tradition has evolved over the years and is now observed as an opportunity to “make a personal promise to one’s self to improve our habits, give up a bad habit, or simply make a stretch towards becoming a better person.”

You have a few days left to think up a good one, then 365 days to create the new habit!  What will it be?  Here are some examples of resolutions to help get you started:

·         Get Fit … or fitter.  Begin a regular exercise program that you can keep and is easy to do.  Maybe walk more, stand at your desk when you are on the phone, or try playing outside with your kids.

·         Help others less fortunate … offer to shovel the elderly neighbours driveway, choose a favourite charity or neighbourhood cause.

·         Lose a bad habit (you know what I mean).

·         Learn something new.  Take a course at the Art Gallery, sign up for a six week painting course, take up a new sport or activity.

·         Get organized!  Throw out stuff you don’t use, make a schedule and stick to it.

·         Learn how to use your iPhone!

Here are some resolutions from last year:

·         “My challenge for 2015 is to read a new book every other week — with an emphasis on learning about different cultures, beliefs, histories and technologies … I’ve found reading books very intellectually fulfilling. Books allow you to fully explore a topic and immerse yourself in a deeper way than most media today. I’m looking forward to shifting more of my media diet towards reading books.”  Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook Founder

·         “Be less messy so I don’t make my husband crazy.” Katie Couric

·         “My new years resolution is to address and combat the hideous way people treat each other via social media. Please, be kinder to each other.”  Adam Levine

·         I need a good fresh start; I’m excited for this year to be over with,” Khloe Kardashian says. “You only live once so let’s make that one time perfect. We can’t fix our mistakes and imperfections, so let’s have fun. You get what you give out in life.”

December 18 2015

“Don’t stop because you’re tired.  Keep going because you’re almost there.”

In other words, never give up. 

With the Toronto Stock Exchange back to the level it was at about 10 years ago and the Canadian dollar at its lowest level in 12 years ($0.714 US) it can be a bit “tiring” for Canadian investors.  Add to that the fact that interest rates are near zero (unless you have Euros; we will be introducing negative interest rates on Euro accounts effective 2016). 

In this environment it is difficult to be optimistic, easier to capitulate. 

If we are near the point of capitulation then that also means we are near the bottom of the cycle.  The last time we saw the TSX at the point of capitulation was in 2009 … it rose over 100% in the following 5 years.  When the Canadian dollar capitulated in 2002 it nearly doubled in the following six years. 

Just something to think about. 

December 11 2015
“There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.”
John Holmes
Well, ‘tis the season for giving and no doubt you have been approached numerous times in recent weeks by those asking for contributions to a worthy cause. Throughout the year, and more intensely during the last couple of months, we are asked to share our wealth with those less fortunate and most of us gladly do.
When spring rolls around and we are doing our taxes, the charitable receipts can sometimes be a surprise. “Didn’t realize I gave to them twice. Looks like I completely forgot to donate to the … this year. Wow, this year I gave twice as much as last year.”
Have you ever thought that it would be nice to have a specific sum of money set aside for donations each year? What if you could assemble your own board of directors (spouse, children) and get everyone’s input on where the donations should go? Maybe even create your own little foundation and give it a name (Bob’s Charitable Foundation)? Do you think that might be a better way of handling things? Do you think it might set a good example for your children and get them involved?
At RBC we think there are some very good reasons for taking a more organized approach to giving. That’s why we introduced the “Charitable Gift Program.” You can name the fund, recommend investment options for the Fund’s gift capital, recommend where the money is donated, and appoint successors. There are significant tax advantages available to you as well. Donating securities, insurance policies and other assets may be accommodated as well.
If you are interested in learning more please contact us and ask for the “RBC Dominion Securities Charitable Gift Program” brochure.
 
December 4 2015

“You're so beautiful," said Alice. "I'm afraid of looking at you and not knowing who you are."

“I think that even if you don’t know who I am someday, you’ll still know that I love you.”

“What if I see you, and I don’t know that you’re my daughter, and I don’t know that you love me?”

“Then, I’ll tell you that I do, and you’ll believe me.”

― Lisa Genova, Still Alice

I will always remember the story told to me about the young man who picked up his mother to take her out for lunch, run some errands and do some banking.  He noticed an advertisement amongst her stack of bills personally addressed to his mother from a major Canadian bank.  “Oh, I didn’t know you had an account there,” he said.  “I don’t.  They just send me adverts all the time,” she replied.  On their way to lunch in this small town he decided to stop in at that bank “where she didn’t have an account”. 

The receptionist kindly greeted his mother by name and remarked that she hadn’t seen her in a while.

This past Wednesday there was an interesting article in the Globe & Mail entitled, “Online Accounts Cause Estate-Planning Headaches.”  The article highlighted the fact that it is quite easy for anyone to open a bank account or investment account online.  Simply selecting the e-statement option ensures that no mail or statements are sent out in hard copy.  Security is also tight with password protection.  Unfortunately if your family or executor doesn’t know the account exists and your computer is password protected, it could become a problem. 

The article states that over $58 billion sits unclaimed in the USA from bank accounts.  With the growing popularity of paperless online accounts this number could grow. 

Just something to consider the next time you are thinking of appointing your executor. 

Yes, we have a solution for this too.

November 26 2015

“Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it ... he who doesn't ... pays it.”

Albert Einstein

One of my favourite dinner party games when we have the youngsters (of all ages) over is to ask the question:  “How many times would you need to fold a regular 8 ½ X 11” piece of paper in half, so that it would be so tall that it would reach the moon?”  Invariably it creates some conversation, a few questions to clarify things, some discussion and agreement that this isn’t a trick question … then the guessing begins. 

I have just as much fun when I meet with a new client and ask them, “How much do you think you will need to save in order to reach your goal?”  Yes, I know it’s my job to come up with the answer, but just the same it is interesting to hear the responses. 

The good thing though is that most people will offer up a guess.  Maybe something like “if I save $400 a month, that should be enough to reach my goal don’t you think?” 

The scary answers I get are, “Here’s a wad of money, do your best to turn it into a million before I retire.”

I’m no Einstein, but I do know the importance of a regular savings plan that compounds (ideally tax free) its returns over time. 

Forty-two … that’s it.  Just fold a piece of paper in half 42 times and you will have a tower that will reach the moon.

November 20 2015

“If you are not yourself people will look right through you and see the pale shadow of someone else.”

Rasheed Oganarlu

 

Last week in the “spirit of disclosure” I promised to comment on some of the upcoming CRM2 changes being introduced by the Ontario Securities Commission.  First of all, CRM is an acronym (our industry loves acronyms) for Client Relationship Model.  CRM2 specifically relates to amendments that were introduced by the Ontario Securities Commission in 2013 and are being phased in.  The new rules are being put into place to help bring more clarity to you when dealing with financial advisors.

For the most part I hope you don’t notice any difference between the “before and after” of the CRM 2.  The reason I hope you don’t notice any difference is that for many years we have provided transparency in our dealings with you.  It has been difficult at times (Telling someone that “last year you had an overall return of minus 2%”), frustrating at times (“why are you charging me 1 ½% fee, everyone else does it for free?”), and occasionally comical (“my friend …”). 

Effective July 15, 2016, investment brokers and dealers will be required to provide two new annual documents. One is an account-performance report, summarizing how investors did over various standard measurement periods. This report will require calculation of money-weighted rates of return, customized according to when new money was deposited or taken out of the account.

The other new required report, as of July 2016, will disclose fees and other charges. This report will itemize the cost of everything from embedded trailer-fee commissions, to redemption fees, point-of-sale commissions, switching fees and RRSP administration fees, and provide an aggregate dollar figure for the 12-month period.

In the coming months you will no doubt hear more about CRM2.  Please contact me with any comments or questions you may have. 

November 13 2015

“There were times when my pants were so thin that I could sit on a dime and tell whether it was heads or tails.”

Spencer Tracy

I’m not cheap … but last week while I was away at a conference, I was a bit nervous about drinking that bottle of water in the refrigerator.  There was no price tag on it, yet I knew it couldn’t be “free”.  I also knew from experience that I might find a charge buried on my checkout bill for $5 - $7 for the bottle.  Worse … I might have also gotten hit for a “re-stocking fee” if I had drank the water.  On the other hand maybe RBC would have covered the cost of the water after all they were hosting the conference?  But as a shareholder would I have wanted them to?

In the end, I walked across the street and bought 12 bottles for $3.99, brought them back and put them in the fridge.  Perhaps “I doth protest too much” but it’s not that I’m cheap, I just don’t like hidden costs or undisclosed fees.  The reason I don’t like it is because in my experience “undisclosed or hidden fees” are always more than you think and more than would be charged if the cost were clearly disclosed on the label or sign.  In other words by not disclosing that the bottle of water was $7.00 + $1.00 (restocking fee) + $1.04 (HST) = $9.04 makes me feel like I am “getting ripped off”.  I’m not saying that $9.04 is too much to spend on a bottle of water.  In fact there are probably times and circumstances when I would pay the price happily.  I just would like to see full and clear disclosure of the cost of a bottle of water in a hotel refrigerator. 

Next week we can talk about CRM (Client Relationship Model).  In the meantime google or alphabet it if you’re curious.

November 6 2015

“If you’re going through hell, keep going!”

Winston Churchill

It must be that time of year … we have had many requests for assistance in interpreting employee benefit plans.  Generally the requests involve explaining the benefits of Employee Profit Sharing Plans, the difference between Defined Benefit Pension Plans versus Defined Contribution Pension Plans, Stock Options as well as the more common Group Benefit Health Plans. 

Did you know that interpreting and discussing such employee benefits is something we do often?  If you are wondering whether you should join that plan where “the company kicks in 50 cents for every dollar”, then give me a call and let’s talk about it.  Generally the benefits are being offered to you as a way to strengthen your relationship with your employer, reward your productivity, and retain good employees.  You may have to make choices between one plan or the other, and you may want some clarification as far as tax treatment too.   Please feel free to give me a call with any questions you may have.

Aside from interpreting and commenting on the benefit plans being offered by your employer, we also offer a service for employers who wish to introduce a “Group Benefit Plan” to employees.  In this case, RBC will work with you to prepare an employee benefit plan that serves the needs of the small business owner (between 2 and 35 employees).  Offering a benefit plan that includes Life, health, drug, disability and dental insurance is a great way to compete for the best employees and keep the ones you already have.

If you run a small business give us a call and we can discuss some options that might strengthen and reward your employee relations.

October 30 2015

“A Grandmother pretends she doesn’t know who you are on Halloween.”

Erma Bombeck

Straddling the line between fall and winter, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honour all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and treats.

Halloween Trivia:

·         Owls are associated with Halloween because, in Medieval Europe, owls were thought to be witches. To hear an owl’s call meant someone was about to die.

·         Orange and black are Halloween colors because orange is associated with fall harvest and black is associated with darkness and death.

·         Vampire bats do exist, but they are not from Transylvania. They live in South and Central America, and thrive on the blood of cattle, horses, and birds.

·         Halloween originated in Ireland

·         Chocolate candy bars top the list as the most popular candy for trick-or-treaters with Snickers first.

October 23 2015

“I see ye visibly, and now believe

 That he, the Supreme Good, to whom all things ill

 Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,

 Would send a glistering guardian, if need were

To keep my life and honour unassailed.

Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud

Turn forth her silver lining on the night?

I did not err; there does a sable cloud

Turn forth her silver lining on the night,

And casts a gleam over this tufted grove”

John Milton

Milton coined the phrase “every cloud has a silver lining” in 1634 in Comus: A Mask Presented At Ludlow Castle.

Not to be outdone by Milton, the Canada Revenue Agency enacted the Tax Loss Carryback / Forward Rule for Capital Gains.  Under the CRA’s rules qualified capital losses may be used to reduce the amount of tax you pay.

In practice, if you have capital losses that cannot be used in the current year, you can carry back the losses to any of the 3 preceding taxation years.  Capital losses can also be carried forward indefinitely.  The only time they can be used to reduce other income is in the year of a taxpayer's death, or the immediately preceding year.

Given the volatility of stock markets in 2015 there may be opportunities for you harvest some losses to offset taxable capital gains.  Contact Melissa and ask her to email you a report detailing your losses / gains so far this year, last year (she doesn’t have next year’s yet).

October 16 2015

       "Things don't go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be."

                      Charles Jones

In 1936 Moet et Chandon released a 1921 vintage Champagne and named it after the 17th Century cellar master of the Hautvillers abbey, Dom Perignon.  To this day Dom Perignon Champagne is only released in vintages that are considered outstanding. 

To produce the world’s most prestigious Champagne, Moet’s chef de cave seeks to create an aromatic finesse, silky in texture with a honed elegance.  The final blend of Chardonnay and Pinot noir (almost all Champagnes are a blend of these two grapes) spends at least 6 years on the lees before being disgorged. 

Today’s bottle is a replica version of the one created in 1735. 

Odds & Ends:

·         It is unusual for a Champagne maker to also grow the grapes, and as such Champagne made from grapes grown in house is known as “Grower Champagne”.  Test it out the next time you are in France as it is typically too expensive by the time it reaches the LCBO.

·         Sparkling wine made in France using the “Methode Champenoise” is known as “Cremant de …” (e.g. Cremant de Loire).

·         Prosecco, Italy’s version of sparkling wine is not fermented on the lees and as such has a fresher bouquet and lighter flavours.

·         Throughout the world sparkling wine is produced in nearly every wine producing country and as you can imagine, with fewer restrictions than Champagne.

Cheers!

October 9 2015

"If you made a list of all the things you could be thankful for, the list would undoubtedly be longer than your misfortunes."

Catherine Pulsifer

Thanksgiving in Canada is celebrated on the second Monday of October, in celebration of the harvest and other blessings of the past year.  It was first celebrated in North America in Newfoundland when English explorer Martin Frobisher landed there in 1578 during his quest for the Northwest Passage.  It was a day of celebration and thanks for their safe arrival in the New World (42 years before the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth). 

Thanksgiving was celebrated annually from then but was not declared a national holiday until 1879 (perhaps because we didn’t have a nation until 1867?).  In 1957 the second Monday of October was set as the consistent date for the holiday.

Turkey trivia:

·         35% of all turkeys sold in Canada are for Thanksgiving

·         The average North American consumes 15 pounds of turkey per year

·         Turkeys have roamed North America for more than 10 million years and are the only poultry native to North America

·         Only Tom (male, named after Thomas Jefferson) turkeys gobble

·         Turkeys cannot fly.  Wild turkeys can fly at 90 kmh

·         Sleepy after the big meal? Turkey contains an amino acid called "Tryptophan". Tryptophan sets off a chemical chain reaction that calms you down and makes you sleepy.

·         The wishbone is a tradition of Thanksgiving. Allow the wishbone to dry. Then, two people grasp each end of the wishbone. After making a silent wish, they pull it away. Whoever gets the joint portion, gets their wish.

Happy Thanksgiving!  Best wishes for the holiday.

Melissa, Jessica, Gerry

October 2 2015

       "Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it."  

 Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister

 

The headline of the October 1st issue of the Financial Post read, “Investors Left Dazed by Worst Quarter in Years”.  Third quarter World Stock Index down 10.7%. 

Market volatility can happen anytime and most often when we least expect it.  Over the years we have witnessed causes that have ranged from Ebola viruses to debt crises and everything in between.  Volatility is a natural component in economic growth.  It is an expectation and part of the process in a free market.  Nonetheless it is always a bit discomforting.

The best strategy is to “have a strategy”:  a plan that looks at your whole picture including immediate and long term needs, as well as your temperament.  Developing your strategy does require the help of a professional who receives ongoing training and support from professionals.  Much like the days of the “Grand & Toy Wills”, the “do it yourself” days are gone. 

The family approach to managing finances is becoming much more prevalent in society.  When estates worth millions of dollars hang in the balance, heirs become a bit more interested (as they should).  Conversely, with divorces being common, parents are becoming a bit more wary of just gifting their children down payments for homes.  Then of course there is the fact of “volatility” that is well covered by the media. 

On the bright, side bear in mind that the S&P 500 has returned 178% since the financial crisis of 2009.  A balanced portfolio has generated 7.98% average annually since 1926. 

September 25 2015

“If you can’t be kind, at least have the decency to be vague.”

As a client of RBC Dominion Securities, you’re familiar with the investment management services we can provide. But there’s another side to the story: professional wealth management service that can help to minimize overall taxes, safeguard your assets against undue risk or ensure you leave a legacy for your family and charity.

As your wealth grows, so too do the complexities associated with wealth. This is often the case for successful business owners, executives, large families and those enjoying or approaching retirement.

Your personal and financial goals are the baseline for wealth management. We will work with you to understand your personal goals, and collaborate with professionals from throughout RBC to present strategies that can help you reach those goals. We then build on these strategies with potential solutions to be implemented and coordinated with your own tax and legal professionals.

Financial planning: Clarifying your overall financial situation

The wealth management process normally starts with a comprehensive, professionally prepared financial plan. With this calibre of financial plan, you can address all aspects of your financial affairs, including cash and debt management, tax and risk exposures, investment management, retirement planning and estate planning.

Retirement planning: Ensuring your retirement lifestyle

With your retirement goals in mind, we look at strategies above and beyond maximizing your RRSP or RRIF, including enhanced retirement plans such as Individual Pension Plans (IPPs) and Retirement Compensation Arrangements (RCAs), or tax-advantaged investment vehicles such as Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs). We may also consider insurance-based strategies utilizing tax-exempt life insurance, insured annuities, and segregated funds, and ways to structure your retirement income to enhance your after-tax retirement income.

Taxation: Minimizing your tax exposures

In consultation with your tax and legal advisors, we consider strategies to manage or reduce your tax liabilities. These considerations include restructuring your personal and business assets, and legal ownership, holding companies, trusts and other strategies. It may also include income-splitting strategies to reduce your family’s overall taxes, or tax-loss harvesting, tax-efficient asset allocation and tax-exempt investment vehicles. 

Estate planning: Leaving your affairs neat and tidy

A major focus of wealth management is on protecting your legacy to your family, while making it easier for them to settle your estate. Working with your tax, legal, insurance and trust experts, we look at your overall estate plan, including major documents such as your Will, Powers of Attorney and Trusts. We then consider insurance-based strategies to enhance and protect your estate value, and estate settlement services, which can especially useful when you have a more complex estate.

Insurance: Protecting everything you’ve built

Insurance is an indispensible and very flexible wealth-planning tool that not only covers the major “what-ifs” in life but can also help build and protect wealth during your lifetime and when your estate is settled. Here we look at how you can maximize insurance to provide financial security for you and your family in case the unexpected happens, shelter your investment and estate assets from taxes and provide tax-free retirement income and tax-free death benefits.

Credit and lending: Using debt wisely

Working with an RBC credit specialist, we assess your credit and lending needs to reduce or eliminate unnecessary debt, restructure your existing debt so that the interest is tax-deductible wherever possible and consider the use of “good debt,” such as a spousal loan strategy or non-recourse mortgage to potentially reduce taxation.

Charitable giving: Giving back and creating a legacy

To help you make the most of your charitable giving, we can help with tax-effective giving strategies such as donating stocks in-kind and establishing family foundations.

If you have not already taken advantage of our extensive wealth management services, please contact Melissa or I today to learn more.

September 18 2015

“When in doubt, throw doubt out and have a little faith....”

 E.A. Bucchianeri, Brushstrokes of a Gadfly

 

Every quarter the RBC Investment Strategy Committee builds a detailed investment forecast for the global capital markets, consolidating insights from our senior investment professionals around the world.  From this global forecast, the committee develops specific guidelines around:

 

·         Current asset mix recommendations related to equity, fixed income and cash

·         Sector and country allocations within equity and bond portfolios

·         Views on markets around the world

·         Currency comments

The headline view from the Strategy Committee this quarter is:

“The combination of still-sluggish growth and significant downside risks creates a challenging environment for investors. While the recent stock-market volatility has attracted the bulk of the public’s attention, a wide range of markets have actually been involved in the correction. Bond yields declined materially, commodity prices dropped and currency markets have been in flux. These types of corrections tend to be difficult to anticipate, and it is no easy task to distinguish between garden-variety reactions and the onset of a bear market. In our view, this episode looks more like a correction than the beginning of a new bear market.”

If you would like to hear more about our views please contact Melissa or I, and ask to have an electronic copy or hard copy mailed to you.  On Wednesday October 21st RBC’s Chief Economist will be presenting his outlook and answering questions at the Islington Golf Club in Etobicoke.  Please contact Melissa if you would like to attend.

September 16 2015

Taking kids to money school

 

Strong money management skills will serve children well in any career.

 

As anyone who’s visited a toy store with a child or grandchild knows, kids understand the concept of spending money at an early age. What children don’t always learn is how to save and spend wisely.

 

Here are some of the saving and investing basics your children or grandchildren can enjoy learning. They can practice these skills every day, no matter how young they are.

 

Learning to earn

Paying your children an allowance is a good way for them to learn the value of money. It also opens the door to a discussion about the essentials of financial planning, such as banking, saving, and spending.

 

Many parents pay an allowance based on a child’s age. For example, a 12-year-old might receive $12 a week. Encourage your children to put aside a portion of any money they receive. They will learn quickly that spending their hard-earned money on an inexpensive toy might mean they can’t afford to buy a more expensive video game later.

 

One way you can allocate a child’s allowance is to divide it into three pools – one for spending, another for saving and a third for sharing with charities. This helps children not only understand the value of budgeting and saving, but also helps them develop a sense of social responsibility by giving to charitable causes.

 

With older children, you can lay the groundwork for their retirement savings by helping them file an income tax return once they start earning money. They usually won’t owe any taxes, but filing a return reporting employment income for that year will generate contribution room for a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RSP). This contribution room can be carried forward until they have enough money to make contributions and can take advantage of the tax deductions.

 

Beginning to budget

Offer to help your older children establish a workable budget. The budget could factor in money they earn or receive, regular expenses they expect to incur, and the savings they need for specific goals.

 

Budgeting can help them distinguish between short-term savings (a new CD or DVD), medium-term savings (a new bike or game console), and long-term savings (a car or post-secondary education).

 

Investing for growth

As your children grow older, you can teach them the basics of investing. The first step might be to open a savings account for them. This is your opportunity to discuss how banks pay interest for money on deposit. With straightforward compound-interest calculations, you can show how a regular amount set aside each month can grow.

 

As a next step, try letting your older children invest in a company that produces something they know and like, or a mutual fund that invests in these companies. Showing them where to find information on their holdings in newspapers and on the Internet will make tracking their investment fun and rewarding, and give them a real sense of ownership.

 

While teaching your children about saving and investing will help them get on the right financial track at an earlier age, remember that few children can tackle major financial undertakings — like the cost of post-secondary education — on their own.

 

To help your children save for their education, consider making annual contributions to a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). This plan allows savings for their post-secondary education to grow tax-sheltered until they need them, and lets them benefit from the Canada Education Savings Grant (up to $500 per child per year) that your RESP contributions attract.

 

Please contact Gerry or Melissa for more information at 416-231-5092.

 

This article is supplied by Gerry Doyle, an Investment Advisor with RBC Dominion Securities Inc. Member CIPF.

September 4 2015

'You don't have to outrun the bear … You just have to run faster than the person next to you.”

Portfolio Manager

Okay, what’s going on here?  I just got back from a rainy cool week at the cottage (better than a sunny day at the office) and I think I missed something.  Was there a “stock market correction” or was it a “bear market” that happened while I was away?

First of all a “correction” in Wall Street lingo is when the stock index falls 10% or more from its recent high point.  A “bear” market occurs when the index falls 20% or more.

Arguably “corrections” are very healthy in investment management.  They are reminders that things are becoming a bit too optimistic, prices are a bit inflated relatively speaking.  Corrections have a bit of a sobering affect, sort of like switching to water after that second glass of wine.

“Bear markets” too are healthy for the economy.  They can be a real eye opener to significant underlying problems in the economy.  The concept of loaning money to people to buy houses knowing that they could not afford to pay back the mortgages, then turning around and selling those mortgages to other investors, who greedily seek high income, would be considered a “significant problem for the economy.”  Bear markets not only have a sobering affect, but can lead some investors to vowing to “never drink lemon gin again.”

So, yes, corrections and bear markets do have a purpose.  They lead to better long term stability and stronger economies in a free market system.

Wondering when this will end?  It just started!  We won’t even know if it’s a bear or a bull until it’s over.  There are signs to look for when things start to bottom, and we will discuss those signs in upcoming blogs. 

Two important things to remember:

·         Historically the market has always recouped its losses and moved higher in subsequent years following every bear market or correction.

·         I am back from holidays.

August 21 2015

Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.

 Margaret Mead

“Steve Jobs dramatically unveiled the iPhone on Jan. 9, 2007 along with the sad news that it wouldn't be available for six more months. By the time the combo phone-iPod-PDA- camera-computer hit Apple and AT&T stores on June 29, the frenzy had reached a fever pitch, and customers waited in line to snap up the 200,000 units made available.”

Mortgage rates for a 5 year term were 7.01% in July 2007.

Today, 8 years later, the world has changed a lot in many ways … but some things haven’t changed much at all.  For example, today the Toronto Stock Exchange Index is trading at the same level as it was back in 2007. 

In fairness, the TSX has been both up and down during the past eight years and maybe it’s the iPhone that hasn’t changed much? 

One thing is for certain though and that is that a well managed portfolio of good quality dividend paying common shares and investment grade bonds / fixed income has done well over the past 8 years.  It has served you well and generated a good return. 

Looking ahead?  Probably more of the same.  The TSX is likely to go up and down during the next 8 years, and Apple will probably introduce an iPhone this year that does pretty much the same stuff as the last one. 

Thank you for the opportunity to navigate your savings through all the twists and turns.

P.S.   A client asked me during a meeting today what the” PIM” stood for?  Without going into too much detail we just agreed that it meant they were getting the best care RBC can offer.

August 14 2015

"The hard part is discipline, patience, and judgment. Investors need discipline to avoid the many unattractive pitches that are thrown, patience to wait for the right pitch, and judgment to know when it is time to swing."

Seth Klarman

Charlie Munger has made similar statements over the years but I chose Seth’s because he is a little less known and could use the publicity. 

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 200 years already (“Time’s fun when you’re having flies”, as Kermit the Frog used to say).   Yes, 200 hundred years ago Louis Combes completed the design for Chateau Margaux’s iconic building and cellars … and just weeks ago owner Corinne Mentzelopoulos proudly opened the redesigned cellar, created by award winning British architect Norman Foster.  The new cellars are in keeping with the neo-classical lines that made the Chateau a tourist attraction back in 1815.  A “must see” the next time you are passing through.

Although change creeps through Bordeaux at a glacial pace one thing that doesn’t seem to change much is the trajectory of prices.  Whether it’s the terroir or the bottles themselves, the top wineries continue to command top dollar.  Sure there have been “lesser” years when prices have been lower than the previous vintage, but when you look back over the years your cellar has done well.  Very well in fact. 

Managing a wine cellar isn’t an easy task.  There are many factors to consider when allocating shelf space:  geography, time to consumption, leaving a few (just a few) bottles to the estate, and of course taste!  It’s hard too not to be distracted from your focus, by passing fashions that appear on the cover of the latest Vintages magazine or other publication. 

Who knows, but maybe with the recent economic slowdown in China I might even have the opportunity to pick up a Margaux at prices not seen in years.

 

August 7 2015

"No one ever attains very eminent success by simply doing what is required of him; it is the amount and excellence of what is over and above the required that determines the greatness of ultimate distinction."

Charles K. Adams

As a client of The Doyle Wealth Management Group at RBC Dominion Securities, you’re familiar with the investment management services we can provide. But are you familiar with some of the other professional wealth management services that are included in your relationship with us?  We can also help to minimize overall taxes, safeguard your assets against undue risk or ensure you leave a legacy for your family and charity.

As your wealth grows, so too do the complexities associated with wealth. This is often the case for successful business owners, executives, large families and those enjoying or approaching retirement.

Your personal and financial goals are the baseline for wealth management. We will work with you to understand your personal goals, and collaborate with professionals from throughout RBC to present strategies that can help you reach those goals. We then build on these strategies with potential solutions to be implemented and coordinated with your own tax and legal professionals.

Financial planning: Clarifying your overall financial situation

The wealth management process normally starts with a comprehensive, professionally prepared financial plan. With this caliber of financial plan, you can address all aspects of your financial affairs, including cash and debt management, tax and risk exposures, investment management, retirement planning and estate planning.

Retirement planning: Ensuring your retirement lifestyle

With your retirement goals in mind, we look at strategies above and beyond maximizing your RRSP or RRIF as well as tax-advantaged investment vehicles such as Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs).

Minimizing your tax exposure

In consultation with your tax and legal advisors, we consider strategies to manage or reduce your tax liabilities. These considerations include restructuring your personal and business assets, and legal ownership, holding companies, trusts and other strategies. It may also include income-splitting strategies to reduce your family’s overall taxes, or tax-loss harvesting, tax-efficient asset allocation and tax-exempt investment vehicles. 

Estate planning: Leaving your affairs neat and tidy

A major focus of wealth management is on protecting your legacy to your family, while making it easier for them to settle your estate. Working with your tax, legal, insurance and trust experts, we look at your overall estate plan, including major documents such as your Will, Powers of Attorney and Trusts.

Insurance: Protecting everything you’ve built

Here we look at how you can maximize insurance to provide financial security for you and your family in case the unexpected happens, shelter your investment and estate assets from taxes and provide tax-free retirement income and tax-free death benefits.

Credit and lending: Using debt wisely

Working with an RBC credit specialist, we assess your credit and lending needs to reduce or eliminate unnecessary debt, restructure your existing debt so that the interest is tax-deductible wherever possible and consider the use of “good debt,” to potentially reduce taxation.

Charitable giving: Giving back and creating a legacy

To help you make the most of your charitable giving, we can help with tax-effective giving strategies such as donating stocks in-kind and establishing family foundations.

If you have not already taken advantage of our extensive wealth management services, please contact Melissa, Jessica or myself today, so that we can have a chat and discuss your financial plan in more detail.

July 24 2015

"'Your father does not know how to teach. You can have a seat now.'

To Kill A Mockingbird

T’is the season … yes, I have already given Melissa the “heads up” that in about 2 weeks the phones will be ringing.  “The question on everyone’s mind?  How do I get money out of my child’s RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan)?”

No doubt you are quite pleased with yourself.  You did it!  High fives!  Your child is off to pursue their post-secondary education and all you need to do this fall is harvest some of the savings that have accumulated (Government Grants, contributions, investment income) in the RESP.  You’re flush with cash to pay for their education (hopefully they have worked at a summer job to cover some of their expenses too).

Please take a moment to speak with Melissa to find out exactly what you need to submit in order for us to satisfy the Government’s regulations concerning withdrawals.  An e-mail from you is not enough.  An invoice from the institution on their letterhead would be best.  All post-secondary schools are familiar with this procedure, so they will accommodate you request.

Most importantly, ask your child to watch for the invoice and tell you when it arrives in their e-mail box!  This may sound obvious but from personal experience I can attest that I was once handed the invoice on a Wednesday evening that had a due date of 2 days.  He figured that 2 days was lots of time to have a cheque cut from RBC and delivered to the out of town school.

Once Melissa gets the ball rolling for you it is a seamless and enjoyable experience. 

To Do List:

·         Contact Melissa and ask her what exactly you need to do to get a cheque from the RESP

·         Ask your child to monitor their mailbox

July 10th 2015

“The murder of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo is accepted by historians as the immediate cause of World War I … although several causes had been brewing for a while.”

 

Ironically if his carriage had been equipped with a GPS and he had not gotten lost in the sketchy part of town, WWI might have been entirely averted (or not). 

So what do Alexis Tsipras and Franz Ferdinand have in common?  Hopefully absolutely nothing as far as the stock markets are concerned … although several causes have been brewing for a while.

As things stand today fixed income investments are generating about 1% return (I’m being generous) and North American equity markets have posted about a 1% gain (I’m being generous) so far this year.  Overseas the story is not as bright. 

Sure, things look a bit shaky but is this the end?  No, actually there is no end, there are cycles though. 

It is difficult to say where the stock market is in terms of “bull / bear” cycles with any certainty.  That is why we manage things to meet your needs today and goals of tomorrow.  It’s called “balance”, and balance doesn’t mean 50/50.  It has to do with asset allocation. 

Asset allocation is argued by some to be the key to successful investing and earning superior long term returns.  I simply see it as the best strategy to manage your wealth, to meet your children’s tuition bill next month and your million dollar retirement in ten years.

Within your Investment Policy Statement (IPS for those who are into acronyms) we stated and reviewed your asset mix.  Please contact me if you would like to revisit it or chat a bit about it. 

June 29th 2015

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees, just as things grow in fast movies, I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

 F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Winding on down the road … and heading for the great outdoors this summer.  It’s summer time and the living should be easy as they say … relaxing on the dock, camping, hiking, biking, chasing bears.

Do you ever think that maybe it’s nearly time to retire and just “hang out” fulltime?  Regardless of whether you own your business, are professionally employed, or play an important role within your organization the following excerpts from an RBC article might strike a few chords with you and your plans:

Many business owners tend to procrastinate implementing a business succession plan since running and growing their business is their priority. According to a 2012 survey of Canadian entrepreneurs by PROFIT magazine, only 18% of business owners have a formal, written succession plan. 

Business owners, long dedicated to their business and its day-to-day operations, tend to delay this important planning step, however PROFIT’s study indicated that nearly half of Canadian business owners plan to exit their business within the next five to 10 years.

A formal succession plan can assist business owners in planning a smooth and successful transition to retirement. For example, 50% of Canadian business owners plan to sell their businesses internally, and another 24% plan to sell or transfer to family members. Careful planning helps with the future of the business, as new owners have time to plan for their tenure and learn how to run the business successfully.

Formal planning can also help to improve the financial stability of the business itself, and drive innovation as new leaders bring new ideas and energy. It can also help to minimize tax and, in the case of family businesses, maintain family harmony.

As you prepare for the transition of your own business, consider the following planning steps as part of a formal plan:

Choose your successor wisely

Communicate openly with your family and determine who is most interested and capable to lead your business. In some cases, you may have to choose a non-family member, such as a key employee, to take over your business; or you may need to sell the business outright.

Let your chosen successor lead the plan

According to family business consultant Dr. Dean Fowler, letting your chosen successor lead the succession plan and focus on strategies to buy out the senior is more successful than the senior taking the lead.

Groom and transition out

Succession planning should ideally start five to 10 years before your anticipated retirement age. Have your chosen successor gradually take on more responsibility and meet key business contacts well before you transition out. Then be willing to let go of the lead. Have faith in your chosen successor to take over the business.

Hire an external advisor for assistance

A professional family business succession facilitator is specially trained to assist with business succession plans. As a neutral third party, this advisor can help open the lines of communication between family members and partners, for a more successful transition.

Consider key financial planning strategies

             Contribute more to your retirement fund than is currently permitted by a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) through an Individual Pension Plan (IPP)

             Consider an estate freeze to minimize taxes

             Consider a shareholder’s agreement that addresses business ownership issues triggered by events such as retirement, disability, death, etc.

             Look into insurance to cover unforeseen events or fund buy-sell arrangements

If you are planning on retiring from your business within the next 3 – 5 years you should be in the early stages of executing your exit strategy, not thinking about it.  Contact me for more information.  We can take care of that.

 
June 26th 2015

"You are what you are and you are where you are because of what has gone into your mind.  You change what you are and you change where you are by changing what goes into your mind."

Zig Ziglar

So in other words … it’s okay to change your mind?

As summer approaches Canadians are prone to head outdoors and enjoy the natural beauty that this country has to offer.  For many it’s spending time with family and friends at the cottage building memories.  Cottages in northern Ontario, Georgian Bay & Muskoka have become quite popular over the years and as such prices have moved higher.  Various articles in summer publications liken Canada’s Lake Cottages as our answer to the Hamptons and other coastal getaways.

Cottages have been passed along from generation to generation, and if you asked most cottagers today they would probably tell you that they intend on leaving the family cottage to their children and grandchildren.  They want to preserve those memories and give their heirs the opportunity to build new ones. 

Buying a cottage is out of reach financially for most families with young children, although arguably that might be the time of life when they might enjoy it the most.  Unfortunately for some families, the children cannot afford to inherit the gift of a cottage.  I am not speaking of the annual maintenance expenses, but rather of the taxes that are due upon the owner’s death. 

If your cottage has been in the family for many years, its value has probably increased dramatically. The property your family bought for a few thousand dollars might be worth a million dollars today. Even property bought within your lifetime might have experienced this type of exponential growth.

This increase in value can result in a very large, taxable capital gain, which is triggered when you pass along the property to anyone other than your spouse, including your children. However, there are several ways you can address this tax bill, and even reduce or defer it.  When you pass along your cottage to anyone other than your spouse, the government views it as having been sold at current market value – a “deemed disposition.” The capital gain on this deemed disposition may be taxable.

Imagine for a moment passing along your $1.5 million cottage to your children, along with a tax bill of $250,000.  What do you think they would do?  Could they write a cheque or add the amount onto their already burgeoning mortgage?  Would they be forced to sell it because between the taxes and annual upkeep they just can’t afford it?  What would their spouse say to all of this?

I am not trying to ruin your weekend on the dock … but this is something you should consider.  Naturally, I have a solution to the problem and it can be tailored to suit most any family.  We can take care of that.

June 12th 2015

“Ninety five percent of us name a family member or friend to act as our Attorney, Executor or Trustee to help manage our affairs if we become incapacitated, to help settle our estate after we pass away or to administer an ongoing trust.”

 

Doesn’t that strike you as a bit odd?  Seriously, if I approached you and asked for a recommendation for an executor to manage my estate, would you suggest I call your brother in law the electrical engineer? 

When the time comes to act, many people find they do not have the knowledge, interest or time to properly fulfil their responsibilities as an Attorney, Executor or Trustee.  That’s why it’s important to keep everyone concerned well informed about their various responsibilities and to consider your options, whether you are naming someone, or you have been named yourself.  Being named an Attorney for Property (Mandate for Property in Quebec) means that you are required to act exclusively for the benefit of the individual who appointed you. You may, for example, be required to manage and safeguard all assets including reviewing their investment portfolio with their Investment Advisor to ensure that it is structured in a way to meet their financial needs.

As Attorney (called a Mandatary in Quebec), you may be responsible for a number of tasks related to an individual’s property and assets, including gathering documentation and administering the account, making investment decisions in your loved one’s interest, detailed record keeping and filing income tax.

If you have been named Executor (called a liquidator in Quebec and an “estate trustee with a Will” in Ontario) you are responsible for a lengthy task list to ensure your loved one’s last wishes are carried out as expressed in their Will and according to provincial law.  The tasks associated with the settling of an estate can seem endless and complex – from making funeral arrangements and meeting with beneficiaries to obtaining probate, protecting and itemizing estate assets, distributing the estate and filing final tax returns, just to name a few.

The role of Trustee involves several key legal obligations including significant management and administrative responsibilities. Trustees are responsible for a lengthy task list that bears with it the burden of legal liability and ensuring that the terms of the trust are carried out as outlined in the trust deed and according to provincial law.  Trustees are faced with a number of complexities and obligations including ensuring the trust assets are protected and managed, that there is proper trust accounting and record keeping for beneficiaries, that payments are made to third parties and beneficiaries and that necessary tax returns are filed.

I know, you are thinking about “how much it costs to hire a professional” but do you actually know how much it costs or do you just think it’s a lot?  Do you know how much it cost if errors are made?

Would you hire a banker to re-wire the electrical panel in your home?

June 5th 2015

"Every penny you think I'm p***ing away here, comes back to us dressed up like a nickel."

Ross Johnson, Barbarians At The Gate

I promise (at least for a while) that this will be my last comment on the benefits of setting up an automatic monthly savings plan … but I just have to share this one.  She gave me permission to tell this story so long as I promised not to reveal her name (true story), so let’s just call her the “not so dumb blonde”.

Way back in 2007 or 2008 we were discussing financial planning.  She had just bought a car and was somewhat sticker shocked by the price.  Given that we knew she would need to replace the vehicle in another 7 or 8 years there was concern about another big expense on the horizon (that might be untimely).  I suggested that she simply have a sum of money deducted from her bank account every month and placed in a separate account somewhere out of reach (“out of reach out of mind”) then when the time comes to buy a new car she would be all set.  She was a bit skeptical (who has extra money lying around to “save”?) but agreed, and in a moment of weakness actually opened an account and set things up.

Over the years the financial institution being environmentally conscientious (not to mention saving millions of dollars in mailing costs) decided to change her from paper statements to e-statements.  Not being too computer savvy (other than texting, emailing, shopping online and talking on her cell phone) she never really followed up on the “online” thing.  As more time passed she completely forgot the account existed.

Then, this month tragedy struck.  A rust spot appeared on her fender that resembled a map of Italy.  Taking into account the cost of repairs versus buying a new car with hands free talking, GPS, voice activated computer that will tell you how far you are from the nearest shopping mall; it seemed that the logical choice was to buy a new car.  The only problem was that cars are so expensive.

That was her Eureka moment!  Didn’t she have an account somewhere with car money in it? 

After a bit of forensic accounting she found the account (that she was still contributing to) and figured out how to access the cash.  Apparently there was more money there than she needed.

That’s when she proudly announced, “that she got a new car for free and has money left over.”  When I asked if she was going to continue with her monthly savings plan, she told me “yes, of course, anyway I don’t know how to stop it.”

Friday May 29th 2015

“There’s so little trading in the Right Bank that it gets sidelined and left alone.”

Gary Boom, Bordeaux Index

Gary is referring to the Right Bank of Bordeaux and how it has “bucked the trend” (of recent years) across Bordeaux, and enjoyed an upward trend in pricing.  Petrus and Cheval Blanc, from the Right Bank, are considered to be the “top” wines and tend not to be sold or traded.  Such wines tend to be cellared and enjoy visibility at only the top restaurants.  Another mystery of Bordeaux solved.

Not unlike wine, certain “stock fads” can affect the short term returns in your portfolio.  Piling into high tech stocks would have been a great idea in August of 2009 … but not so great six months later.  The technology sector was a fad at the time just as other sectors have been fads at other times (think gold, tulips, etc.).  To effectively manage any investment portfolio, whether it wine or stocks, it is of paramount importance to adhere to quality and diversity.

In this morning’s newspaper there was an article discussing how a portfolio manager is frequently inundated by phone calls touting “this month’s past return” or “how we beat the market last year”.  If you are saving for retirement or a house purchase your focus should be on the long term track record of the returns you are receiving … everything else is just noise that will distract you and cause you to make mistakes.  It’s reacting to “short term” events that can cause long term pain.

Combine accurate long term reporting of your returns with a financial plan / policy, and you should find yourself in good hands. 

Friday May 22nd 2015

       "Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries."

James Michener

Persistence is the key … so I have been told on numerous occasions by some of the most successful people around.  It is the key ingredient to achieving your goal.

Given that it is the season for our children to strike out on their own and “get a summer job”, I thought the attached article prepared by RBC might be of interest to you.  If you are a business owner, or in a similar position then this article might be worth a look.  The article focuses on “income splitting” and the tax savings that go along with it.

There are two reasons why income splitting in Canada can reduce the family’s tax burden:

1. Canada’s tax system is based on graduated tax rates; and

2. Everyone in Canada has a tax-free basic exemption amount.

A graduated tax rate system basically means that the tax rate increases as taxable income increases.. Furthermore, each Canadian resident can earn approximately $7,800 to  $11,000 (varies by province) of taxable income every year tax-free due to the basic personal tax credit. As a result of these two factors, if income can be shifted from a high-income parent to a low-income spouse or child, then the family can realize tax savings up to $11,000 per year (varies by province). If there are four members in a family, then family tax savings of up to $44,000 per year can be realized. Due to this amount of potential annual tax savings, families earning a high income should strongly consider family income-splitting strategies.

Friday May 15, 2015

“We can keep the Victoria Day name for old times’ sake. But since it now really celebrates the beginning of the Canadian summer season, May Two-Four is probably the more accurate moniker.”

Maclean’s Magazine

Victoria Day (Fête de la Reine) is a National Canadian holiday celebrated on the last Monday before May 25, in honour of Queen Victoria's birthday. It is also the date on which the current reigning Canadian sovereign's official birthday is recognized. Victoria Day informally marks the beginning of the summer season in Canada.

For many Canadians the “May Two Four” weekend is the beginning of the summer celebration that brings friends and families together, after a very long cold winter.  It is a time to relax, sit back, and enjoy the things that only a Canadian summer can offer.  It can also be an opportunity to make that list of things you will do this year:

·         Play golf with some friends who have never tried the sport

·         Go fishing

·         Try camping in one of Ontario’s amazing Provincial Parks

·         Water ski

·         See a bear in its natural habitat

·         Host a dinner el fresco

Summer is also a great time for me to get out and meet new clients.  If you have an opportunity to refer someone to me, I would be pleased to follow-up on it.  It is important to me to continuously grow my business and work to serve you better.

Best wishes for the “May Two Four” holiday!

Friday May 8, 2015

 "If you have an apple and I have an apple, and we exchange these apples, then you and I will each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea, and we exchange these ideas, each of us will have two ideas."

George Bernard Shaw

As we continue our ongoing discussion on how to best save for the future there are some strategies that your financial advisor can add to the mix beyond creating automatic withdrawals from your bank account into your RRSP or Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA). 

In earlier blogs I have alluded to the concept of “compounding” and how it can be very attractive in a tax free account, especially over a long period time. 

Now I would like to discuss the strategy that applies to the savings themselves.  This is a strategy for making the most of the dividends you receive from your good quality common shares that you hold in your account.

Dividends are income distributions from a company to its shareholders. And today’s healthy dividend yields are eclipsing those of money market funds and the bond market. Their advantages are numerous and they carry great potential. But how powerful is the power of dividends?

Over the past 27 years, dividends have contributed an average of 2.7% per year to the S&P/TSX Composite Total Return Index, representing over 30% of the average annual total return (RBC Global Asset Management). 

Many stocks make automatic Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs) available, through which investors can reinvest their dividends for future growth (and more dividends) instead of spending them. These reinvested dividends can compound into significant returns over the long-term. In the United States, dividends have represented a significant portion of total returns for the S&P500 over the past 70 years, with a long-term average contribution from reinvested dividends of over 40% of its total return (RBC Capital Markets Quantitative Research).

Suppose you invest $100 initially, and an additional $75 per quarter, at an anticipated stock price appreciation of 7% and an anticipated dividend yield of 2%. In 20 years, you would have invested a total of $6,025 and reinvested dividends of $2,324.88 for a total cost basis of $8,349.88. Your capital gain would be $8,166.42 – and your total value would be $16,516.29!

When considered in light of total returns and tax advantages, dividend-paying stocks can play an important role in your overall savings plan.

Friday May 1, 2015

“We can, I guess, all agree on this: There will never be enough good red burgundy to keep the wine drinkers of the world happy.”

Andrew Jefford, Decanter Magazine

Please take a moment to welcome Melissa Mihaichuk and wish her well in her new role.  Melissa has been with our office for over a year and is now stepping in to replace Jessica who begins her maternity leave today.  Jessica will be back in May 2016 and Melissa will be your new contact effective today.

In past blogs we have discussed the power of compounding, the power of 72 (divide your rate of return by 72 and that will tell you how many years it will take for your money to double), the importance of building an RRSP, saving in a TFSA and all the other ways you can build a nest egg to retire on.  Although nothing is perfect I think we would all agree that as a Canadian we have some very tax friendly savings plans available to us. 

Why then are we not all taking advantage of these opportunities to become independently wealthy?  I think it’s procrastination.

There is an easy solution to this that can set you well on your way.  A solution that many people find doesn’t affect their lifestyle, goes along unnoticed, and pleasantly surprises them.  The solution is to simply contact Melissa and ask her to setup an automatic monthly deposit from your bank to your RRSP / TFSA accounts here. 

Once completed you will be well on your way to achieving your financial goal and hardly notice the automatic withdrawal.  You will however, be surprised at how much you will be saving!

Don’t procrastinate … call Melissa today and “get the saving started”!

Friday April 24, 2015

The pessimist complains about the wind the optimist expects it to change the realist adjusts the sails.

William Arthur Ward

2015 Federal Budget’s Tax Measures

A summary of the key tax measures that may have a direct impact on you.

Key Highlights of the Budget

An increase to the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) contribution limit to $10,000 per year beginning in 2015.  If you have already made your maximum contribution for 2015 you will be able to contribute an additional $4,500 in 2015. If you have never made a TFSA contribution you can make a maximum contribution of $41,000 in 2015.

Reducing the minimum withdrawal requirements for Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) beginning in 2015; The effect of the new RRIF rates is to reduce the RRIF minimum withdrawals that are required and allow you topreserve more of your RRIF savings in order to provide income at older ages, while continuing to ensure the tax deferral on RRSP/RRIF savings

A decrease to the federal small business tax rate from 11% to 9%, to be implemented gradually from 2016 to 2019, and a corresponding adjustment to the gross-up factor and dividend tax credit for non-eligible dividends; and

The elimination of capital gains tax upon the donation of cash from the sale of private corporation shares and real estate.

Prior to implementing any strategies, you should always consult with a qualified tax advisor, legal professional or other applicable professional.  Speak with us and let us introduce you to one.


Friday April 17, 2015

‘Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.”

Dale Carnegie

Ah yes, Dale Carnegie … more on that later.  In the meantime if you haven’t read “How To Win Friends, and Influence People” lately then now is as good a time as ever to dust off a copy, step outside this weekend, and enjoy.

As most everyone knows, we are now on the cusp again of an exciting new En Primeur season.  It is exciting because this year’s tasting of the 2014 growths is expected to be the best in several years!  Even better, the prices are planned to be relatively unchanged from recent years.  A combination that could mean great value for collectors and enthusiasts alike.

Even the most sunnily optimistic Medoc chateau owner would be forced to admit that the past three en primeur campaigns have been less than successful, blighted by a combination of variable quality and eyebrow-raising release prices from some estates.

Here are some thoughts from Richard Woodard at Decanter Magazine:

“With a challenging market and a sizeable secondary market for back vintages, there’s a growing feeling that something has to give with the 2014 vintage.

A dozen-strong chorus of UK merchants said in an open letter to Bordeaux chateaux and negoces that prices should return to the level of the 2008 vintage campaign, which took place in the shadow of a threatened global economic apocalypse. The problem isn’t just the past three vintages, they argued – their customers are also facing ‘significant losses’ on their purchases of 2009s and 2010s.

Bordeaux has had three lacklustre en primeur campaigns with the 2011, 2012 and 2013 vintages, and to restore consumer faith in this system, 2014 needs to succeed,’ said Tim Sykes, head of buying at The Wine Society. ‘The good news is that 2014 looks like it will be a better vintage. The bad news is that release prices are unlikely to come down.”

Bon chance!

Friday April 10, 2015
 

“It’s not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It’s the customer who pays the wages.”

 Henry Ford

 

Bon chance!

Speaking of money, Benjamin Franklin once said that “time is money”.  When I first heard this quote I thought it had a nice ring to it, but wasn’t really sure what it meant … “maybe time is money because you get paid by the hour?”

Later in life as I became more interested in investing it became clearer as to what is meant by “time is money” when it comes to earning wealth:  “One of the best ways to build wealth is to start early – even if it’s only a small amount.” 

If you are 30 years old and contribute $500 per month to your savings (RRSP or TFSA or both would be nice) and earned a 7% (typical long term return historically for a balanced portfolio) then at age 60 you would have savings of $584,726.  If you continued on to age 65 your savings would be over $855,000.  Not bad, eh?

On the other hand, let’s suppose you finally run out of excuses for not having saved any money (mortgage, never have any extra money, the dog ate your financial plan), but finally at age 50 you decide that your back is sore and perhaps it’s time to start saving for your retirement at age 65.  Unlike your neighbour who earns less than you, you can afford to put away $1,000.00 each month (twice the amount shown in the above example).  Starting at age 50 you begin saving $1,000 per month, earning 7%.  At age 65 you will have accumulated $311,104. 

That’s what “time is money” means. 

Thursday April 2, 2015

Happy Easter !!

 “According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests. Additionally, children often left out carrots for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping.”

 

The dividends you receive from the common shares in your portfolio play a significant role in your total returns.  Although dividends are paid at the discretion of the company’s board, blue chip companies have a history of uninterrupted payments that are “increased” as profits grow.  The attached article discusses some of the advantages of dividends:

Harnessing the power of dividends

Dividends are income distributions from a company to its shareholders. And today’s healthy dividend yields are eclipsing those of money market funds and the bond market. Their advantages are numerous and they carry great potential. But how powerful is the power of dividends?

Income-focused investors often look to dividend-paying stocks – typically large-cap companies that are less volatile – as a source of stability and income and as a way to diversify their portfolios. Although companies are not obligated to pay dividends to investors, most continue to do so. Some investors see dividend payments as a signal of the company’s confidence in its future earning power, particularly in tenuous markets. They also help to mitigate stock market downturns, particularly in the wake of a financial crisis.

The long-term advantages

Over the past 27 years, dividends have contributed an average of 2.7% per year to the S&P/TSX Composite Total Return Index, representing over 30% of the average annual total return (RBC Global Asset Management). 

Many stocks make automatic Dividend Reinvestment Plans (DRIPs) available, through which investors can reinvest their dividends for future growth (and more dividends) instead of spending them. These reinvested dividends can compound into significant returns over the long-term. In the United States, dividends have represented a significant portion of total returns for the S&P500 over the past 70 years, with a long-term average contribution from reinvested dividends of over 40% of its total return (RBC Capital Markets Quantitative Research).

Suppose you invest $100 initially, and an additional $75 per quarter, at an anticipated stock price appreciation of 7% and an anticipated dividend yield of 2%. In 20 years, you would have invested a total of $6,025 and reinvested dividends of $2,324.88 for a total cost basis of $8,349.88. Your capital gain would be $8,166.42 – and your total value would be $16,516.29!

The tax advantages of dividend investing

Dividends received from Canadian corporations are effectively taxed at a lower rate than interest income, due to the dividend tax credit that is applied to the federal and provincial tax payable. This tax credit is meant to recognize that the Canadian corporation paying the dividends has already paid tax on its earnings, which are now being distributed to its investors. Dividends from foreign corporations do not receive the same dividend tax credit, and are taxed at a higher rate than those of Canadian corporations.

For example, if you earn more than $132,000 in annual taxable income, and receive $1,000 in dividend income from a Canadian company, you keep approximately $735 after federal and provincial taxes – less the dividend tax credit. By comparison, $1,000 in interest income will net about $555 after taxes – the same for $1,000 in foreign dividend income, because it is not subject to the tax credit for Canadian corporations, and is taxed at a higher rate.

When considered in light of total returns and tax advantages, dividend-paying stocks may be an attractive option. If you think it’s time to talk about the power of dividends, please contact us today.


Friday March 27, 2015

"The worst enemy of the strategist is the clock. Time trouble ... Reduces us all to pure reflex and reaction, tactical play. Emotion and instinct cloud our strategic vision when there is no time for proper evaluation. "

Garry Kasparov

There are two reasons why income splitting in Canada can reduce the family’s tax burden:

1. Canada’s tax system is based on graduated tax rates; and

2. Everyone in Canada has a tax-free basic exemption amount.

A graduated tax rate system basically means that the tax rate increases as taxable income increases. Furthermore, each Canadian resident can earn approximately $7,800 to $11,000 (varies by province) of taxable income every year tax-free due to the basic personal tax credit. As a result of these two factors, if income can be shifted from a high-income parent to a low-income spouse or child, then the family can realize tax savings up to $11,000 per year (varies by province). If there are four members in a family, then family tax savings of up to $44,000 per year can be realized. Due to this amount of potential annual tax savings, families earning a high income should strongly consider family income-splitting strategies.

In order to prevent abusive income-splitting arrangements, the Income Tax Act has income attribution rules. These rules will attribute certain types of taxable income back to the high-income family member that actually supplied the capital for investment, thus achieving no tax savings.

For business owners, you can split income by paying reasonable salaries to lower-income family members based on the services they perform. However, if a low-income spouse or child is not actually working in the family business or their services are minimal, then paying them a salary or bonus that is in excess of the services rendered simply for income-splitting purposes is not permitted.

A common investment income-splitting strategy with a low-income spouse is the prescribed rate loan strategy. A high-income spouse loans capital to a low-income spouse for investment at the CRA-prescribed interest rate. All future investment income will be taxed to the low-income spouse, provided the low-income spouse pays the high-income spouse interest annually. The high-income spouse must declare the interest on the loan.

Gifting funds to minor children and earning capital gains on the funds is still an effective income-splitting strategy that many high-income parents with low-income children should consider. A child with no other income can earn approximately $15,000 - $22,000 of capital gains every year tax-free (varies by province) due to their basic personal exemption. If you are concerned about gifting monies to your child outright, then consider loaning the funds to a family trust on an interest-free basis. This will accomplish the same capital gain income-splitting benefit as an outright gift if the trust and loan are set up properly, and you can call back the loan principal any time.

Speak to us for more information, or let us introduce you to a tax specialist who can offer more insight and strategies customized for your personal situation.

Friday March 20, 2015

If you don't like something change it; if you can't change it, change the way you think about it.”

 Mary Engelbreit

At first glance (and maybe second glance too) you might wonder “what the heck is going on” when bonds are being issued with “negative interest rates”.  Why would anyone take their money and buy a bond that is guaranteed to lose money if held to maturity? 

As mentioned in an earlier blog Governments have now begun to issue bonds with negative interest rates, this past week Nestles (Food Company) issued a bond with a negative interest rate too.  Is this the beginning of a new era?  If so, what does it mean?

Whether or not this is the beginning of a “new era” or not is a discussion for another time.  Why would investors buy them: 

·      Capital Preservation … better to know you’re going to get most of your money back at maturity, versus a six   percenter that might go bankrupt before the maturity date.

·      Currency play … buying a 0% bond from the US Government might have been a great idea when our dollar  was at par.

·      Hedge on lower rates … a coupon of -.25% might look pretty good if rates fall to -75%. 

These are only a few reasons why an investor might buy such bonds, but none really sound too compelling, unless you have a portfolio manager that understands how to actively manage a fixed income portfolio so that you can actually profit in such an environment.  Even if interest rates are negative a properly managed portfolio of bonds with negative coupons can generate positive returns.  Contact me if you would like to know how.

On a more serious note, I am pleased to report “red" Sancerre is finally getting the recognition it deserves.  After years of Sancerre being synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc we are now beginning to see some of the reds hit the shelves.  More on this later.
Friday March 13, 2015

“I'm not going to vacuum until Sears makes one you can ride on.”

Roseanne Barr 

A few years ago, I somehow got saddled with the job of trying to find the Executor for someone who had passed away 14 years earlier and still had unclaimed securities in their account.  Eventually, I did find the Executor (the daughter).  She was surprised and later during our discussion admitted that it was possible that there might be outstanding insurance policies too (I reminded her that insurance companies don’t read the obituaries, then phone you if they recognize a name).  The thought of a safety deposit box hadn’t occurred to her either. 

This is not a “promo” for naming us as your Executor, but it is a promotion for a new guide that RBC has put together called “The Family Inventory”.  Quite simply, the guide helps you to create a list of important documents (Wills, POA’s, and Insurance Policies), the location of bank accounts, safe deposit boxes, deeds to land, ownerships, etc. 

Once the list or inventory has been completed it can become an invaluable document for someone who you need to help you (when you are on vacation and a tree falls through the roof) or who you have named as Power of Attorney or Executor. 

The inventory is also helpful to you as an Estate planning tool (if you can’t find your Will maybe it’s time to do a new one?) or as part of your financial planning process. 

In any case, creating an inventory that is comprehensive and easy to follow can be extremely important.  

Please phone or send us an e-mail and we will have your “Family Inventory” sent out.

Friday March 6, 2015

“Rafa was congratulating Smyczek for acting not like a professional tennis player, but like a human being.”

Stephen Tignor, Tennis Magazine 

“As Nadal tossed the ball to serve at 30 – 0, someone inside Rod Laver Arena screamed, and the ball sailed long.  After his plea for help from the chair umpire was rejected, Nadal slumped his shoulders in reluctant acceptance.  That’s when Smyczek surprised him by letting him have another first serve.  All Rafa could do was give him a thumbs up – and beat him.”  What makes Smyczek’s gesture so admirable:  He didn’t have to do it, but “I thought it was the right thing to do.”

Last week Germany issued a 5 year bond with a negative yield, which means that investors are guaranteed to lose money if they hold the bond to maturity.  The bond issue was over subscribed.

We have just posted The Global Investment Outlook – Spring 2015 Release on our website under “publications”.  The overall conclusion or theme looking forward is that investors should expect lower returns from their portfolios and higher volatility.  Here are a few quotes from the report:

“As economic normalization progresses, the requirement for extraordinary monetary policy diminishes and the need to position interest rates at levels capable of fighting future economic weakness rises as a priority.  That process should begin this year for the US and UK, although without the urgency of unfavourable inflation rate hikes should be modest, well telegraphed and distributed over a long period.

Real rates of interest in particular will rise, pushing nominal bond yields up, limiting or eliminating total returns on longer dated sovereign fixed income investments.

In the US large cap stocks are now slightly above fair value and mid- and small-cap issues are even more expensive.

Fixed income investors face unusual risks and very likely many years of below-normal total returns on sovereign bonds especially.  Equity investors too should view the world a bit more skeptically as valuations are no longer steeply discounted and in the leading markets, a bit above the norm.”

Friday February 27, 2015

“True sportsmanship is knowing that, win or lose, you will walk off the court with pride.”

Lorii Myers, No Excuses, The Fit Mind-Fit Body Strategy Book

Everyone’s financial plan is unique because as individuals we are all unique in our own way.  The definition of success varies from one person to the next.  Our goal is simply to discuss it with you, gain an understanding of your goal; then provide the plan to help you get there.

We have a vast amount of resources at our disposal to assist you with most every aspect of your financial well-being.  Believe me, over the years we have seen just about everything! 

Coming up soon we will be hosting lunchtime meetings where we will introduce topics that may be of interest to you.  Presentations will be done by experts on the subject, most likely from RBC but also independent professionals.  Please feel free to drop us a line and tell us what you might like to hear about.  Estate Planning Lawyers, Accountants, Trust Officers, and even Funeral Directors are on our slate for the coming year.

Friday February 20, 2015

"There is no child so bad that he/she cannot be used as an income tax deduction"

As a client you can expect to receive a tax package mailed to you containing all receipts of income and expenses associated with your account here.  It should be in your hands by mid-March.  If you like we can send it to you or your tax advisor by e-mail too.  Please call me (or have your accountant call me) directly with any questions you may have with regard to the package.

Here are a few things to consider when doing your taxes, and planning for next year:

- Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA), a great way to shelter earnings on your savings from taxation.

-  RRSP, great deduction and it grows tax free until withdrawal.

-  Goods & Services Tax (GST) Credit, a way to offset some of the GST you pay.

-  Deduct Medical Expenses (including home care services).

-  Public Transit Tax Credit

-  Family Tax Cut, a savings for parents with children under 18 years.

-  Universal Child Care Credit can earn you up to $1,920 per year per child under 6 years.

-  Children's Fitness Tax Credit & Children's Arts Tax Credit (up to $500 tax credit).

-  Child care credit has been increased to up to $8,000 per child under the age of seven.

-  Caregiver Tax Credit.

-  Pension income credit for seniors.

-  Pension income splitting can dramatically reduce your tax load.

-  First time home buyer's tax credit.

 

If you are looking for someone to do your taxes for you this year, contact us.  We work with numerous tax accountants and would be pleased to provide you with some referral names. 

As a reminder a full financial plan (hard copy) is part of the overall service that is included in our relationship with you as a client.  Often good financial planning can help reduce your overall tax bill as well as provide the peace of mind that having a “plan” can provide.

 Friday February 6, 2015

       "There is power in well-chosen words, and often there is equal power in silence. Learning when to talk and when to listen are among the most powerful skills you can develop."

Sharon Bower

Okay, so here is the conundrum.  Romanee-Conti makes the best Burgundy wine (argue with me if you like).  Obtaining a bottle of this wine often means putting your name on a waiting list or bribing your local LCBO.  In other words you want to get a bottle but its tough to arrange.  On the other hand I can’t think of a winery that has had more bad luck!

Their luck is so bad, that a book has been written about it “Shadows in the Vineyard” and today I saw a news bulletin, most of the $300,000 of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti wines stolen from The French Laundry restaurant in California on Christmas Day have been found in a warehouse thousands of miles away.

 

So here is the conundrum, would you want to bring a bottle of this wine that has been condemned by such bad luck, into your home?

 
 
Top Ten Ways To Simplify Your Finances in 2015
-  Consolidate your savings and investment accounts here with us.  It can help lower your overall fees, avoids expensive duplication, less paper, and only one person to talk to when you need to have something done (we actually answer the telephone when it rings).
- Get online.  Doing your banking , money transfers, RRSP contributions, etc. online is much easier and less costly.  Even setting up pre-authorized savings is a breeze and will improve your returns over time.  It also creates less paper that then has to be disposed of discreetly.
-  Pay yourself first.  This is particularly important for the under 40 crowd.  If you setup regular monthly payments (just as you do with your Hydro bill) you will achieve the financial independence you dream of.  Thinking that you can start saving later is called procrastination.
- Make use of the Tax Free Savings Accounts, Registered Education Savings Plans (for your children and grandchildren) and of course an RRSP.  All of the above will put money in your pocket.
-  Use credit wisely.  During these times of cheap money use it as an opportunity to restructure debt, decrease what you are paying on debt, and perhaps even make some interest charges tax-deductible.
- Ensure you have an up to date Will, Power of Attorney and an executor named (either a professional or someone you don’t like because it is a thankless task).
- Review the charities that you give your time and money to.  Maybe it’s time to refocus or at least be aware of where your money is going?
- Have us prepare a written financial plan for you that outlines you what you need to do in order to achieve your goals.  Then follow the plan and review it with us annually.  As our client, these plans are included in your service package.
- Help your family members by introducing them to us.  As your trusted advisor we would be pleased to extend our services to your parent or child and consider it an honour to have been chosen.
-   If you are self-employed confirm that the annual CPP contributions that you are making will provide you with the pension you would like.  This is something to be discussed with your accountant.

 Friday January 30, 2015

"If you really want to do something you will find a way.  If you dont, you'll find an excuse."
Jim Rohn

Making the most of your RRSP

 

When it comes to saving for your retirement, you just can’t beat the tax advantages offered by your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Here are some tips on making the most of your RRSP.

 

1. Maximize your RRSP contributions every year

 
Not only are your contributions tax-deductible, they also grow on a tax-deferred basis. In other words, you don’t pay taxes on the investment income earned within your RRSP, until you eventually withdraw it. This can result in significantly greater growth over time.

 

Make your maximum contribution every year and, if you have unused RRSP contribution room from previous years, catch up as soon as possible. Also consider contributing earlier in the year, or at regular intervals throughout the year. This can result in greater growth over time compared to contributing a lump sum at the end of the year.

 

2. Set the right asset mix for your life stage

 
Your RRSP’s risk/reward tradeoff is largely based on your asset mix between stocks, bonds and cash. Over the long term, stocks tend to perform better than bonds and cash. Since 1926, large stocks have returned an average of 9.6% per year, while long-term government bonds have returned between 5% and 6%, according a 2009 report by Ibbotson Associates. Stocks tend to provide higher returns over 10-20 years, but fluctuate more in value. Bonds and cash tend to provide lower, but more consistent returns. How you balance these three asset classes largely depends on your life stage.

 

When you have 10 or 20 years to go before retirement, time is on your side, so you can afford to allocate more of your RRSP to stocks. As you approach retirement, it’s generally a good idea to add some more stability to your RRSP with a fairly even balance between stocks and bonds.

 

During retirement, shift your balance more towards bonds to provide income and stability. Allocate part of your portfolio to stocks to enhance the longevity of your savings, which is particularly important given today’s longer life spans.

 

3. Reduce future taxes now – with a spousal RRSP

 
In Canada, the higher your income, the higher your tax rate. Because of this, it can make sense to “split” your income with your spouse, so that you have two smaller retirement incomes taxed at a lower combined rate. The spouse expected to have the higher retirement income can split income by contributing to a spousal RRSP on behalf of the lower-income spouse, who will then receive income from the spousal RRSP during retirement.

 

4. Bring it all together

 
If you find it difficult to determine how much you have saved for retirement – or what rate of return you are getting on your savings – you could probably benefit from a consolidation strategy. By consolidating your savings into one overall plan, you can reduce the extra costs associated with multiple RRSP accounts, while making it easier to understand where you stand today, and where you will be tomorrow.

 

5. Making your 2014 RRSP contribution

 
The deadline for your 2014 contribution is Monday, March 2, 2015. You can contribute up to 18% of your 2013 earned income to a maximum of $24,270, minus any pension adjustment from your 2013 T4 tax slip.
 
Contact us to discuss your contribution or to set up an automatic savings plan.
 
Friday January 23, 2015

“The only difference between a tax man and a taxidermist is that the taxidermist leaves the skin.”

Mark Twain

There are two reasons why income splitting in Canada can reduce the family’s tax burden:

1. Canada’s tax system is based on graduated tax rates; and

2. Everyone in Canada has a tax-free basic exemption amount.

A graduated tax rate system basically means that the tax rate increases as taxable income increases.. Furthermore, each Canadian resident can earn approximately $7,800 to $11,000 (varies by province) of taxable income every year tax-free due to the basic personal tax credit. As a result of these two factors, if income can be shifted from a high-income parent to a low-income spouse or child, then the family can realize tax savings up to $11,000 per year (varies by province). If there are four members in a family, then family tax savings of up to $44,000 per year can be realized. Due to this amount of potential annual tax savings, families earning a high income should strongly consider family income-splitting strategies.

In order to prevent abusive income-splitting arrangements, the Income Tax Act has income attribution rules. These rules will attribute certain types of taxable income back to the high-income family member that actually supplied the capital for investment, thus achieving no tax savings.

For business owners, you can split income by paying reasonable salaries to lower-income family members based on the services they perform. However, if a low-income spouse or child is not actually working in the family business or their services are minimal, then paying them a salary or bonus that is in excess of the services rendered simply for income-splitting purposes is not permitted.

 If you own a Canadian corporation, there are a number of creative strategies to split income with family members. One such strategy, typically done in combination with an estate freeze, is called “dividend sprinkling.” Although there are some attribution rules to consider, this strategy involves paying dividends from the corporation to adult children and spouse shareholders based on the growth of the corporation after the estate freeze. If the spouse or adult children had no other income, then approximately $$8,000 - $49,000 of tax-free dividends (varies based on province) could be paid to them from the corporation every year if structured properly.

Gifting funds to minor children and earning capital gains on the funds is still an effective income-splitting strategy that many high-income parents with low-income children should consider. A child with no other income can earn approximately $15,000 - $22,000 of capital gains every year tax-free (varies by province) due to their basic personal exemption. If you are concerned about gifting monies to your child outright, then consider loaning the funds to a family trust on an interest-free basis. This will accomplish the same capital gain income-splitting benefit as an outright gift if the trust and loan are set up properly, and you can call back the loan principal any time.

Friday January 16, 2015

“It’s all fun and games until someone calls the cops, then its hide and seek”

Investors have a lot on their minds these days:  Its tax season, RRSP contributions need to be completed, Tax Free Savings Accounts contributed to, portfolios reviewed, and various other financial duties to be completed so that we can relax knowing that our financial future is in good hands.

For some investors just the thought of having to deal with a financial institution is unnerving.  There are many decisions to be made, and those decisions could have a significant impact on how you enjoy the “back nine” of your life.  These decisions should not be based on today’s newspaper headline.  You must have a strategy in place to reach your objective.

With about thirty years of experience as an advisor I can assure you that “it is not how much your income is that will determine your retirement lifestyle, your ability to help educate your children, or your ability to enjoy the years leading up to your retirement.  It is how much you save and how you save it.”

With equity markets becoming a bit more challenging these days and your retirement getting a little bit closer “its no longer just fun and games.” 

If you would like to take on a more serious approach then please contact me for an appointment.

Friday January 9, 2015

“Get going. Move forward. Aim High. Plan a takeoff. Don't just sit on the runway and hope someone will come along and push the airplane. It simply won't happen. Change your attitude and gain some altitude. Believe me, you'll love it up here.”

Donald Trump 

Best wishes for the New Year!  I hope it has started off well for you.

As we reflect on the past year and plan for the next, I would like to share some of my goals for 2015 with you.  For the most part our objectives have not changed:  “We continue to focus on helping you build and manage your assets / savings so that you can enjoy life and get the most out of every day.” 

To best achieve our objectives it is important that we align your best interests with an investment style that suits you.  We have been very successful in this regard through the support of the many analysts, economists and gurus at RBC.  With about 30 years of experience managing money, I am comfortable steering the ship on a day to day basis.

Most important, perhaps even more important than having the best Portfolio Manager, is that you must also address and prepare for the life events that may / will affect you directly.  The life events that I refer to include; marriage, buying a house, providing for a child’s education, changing jobs (transferring the pension), building your retirement savings, emergency savings, life insurance, your Will, your Powers of Attorney, family gifts, divorce, trusts for minors or “heirs who have a tendency to spend”. 

These are just a few of events that you will likely face over the years ahead.  If you are not prepared then there is a good chance you will be overwhelmed and possibly fail to have things work out as you had hoped.

“Hope” is a good thing, but combined with a little planning it is even better.

Did you know that included with your services, as part of the Private Investment Management, you are entitled to:

·         Meeting with our RBC Estate Planning Lawyer who will review your existing Will, review your Powers of Attorney, review your Trust agreements, and discuss any changes you might be considering.  Following the meeting you will receive a summary that you can take to your lawyer to implement.

·         We can arrange to introduce you to a nearby Lawyer to help you with your Will.

·         We can act as your Executor, using the services our Royal Trust division.

·         If you have an accounting question we can approach our RBC accountant who may be able to provide information to help you make your decision.

·         We can speak directly to your accountant, exchange tax slips, answer questions, and provide helpful information.

·         If you don’t have an accountant we can refer you to one that fits your needs (simple or complex).

·         We can setup automatic monthly savings plans to fund your retirement and your children’s / grandchildren’s education.

·         We can help you get the best mortgage rate for you and family members.

·         Private Banking services can be arranged for clients with more complex needs or those who just require a little more personalized service.

·         You can have your entire family’s finances handled in one spot, regardless of the size of your child’s savings account, or the objectives of Grandma’s emergency money. 

·         We can provide you with a written comprehensive view of what your retirement income will be.  It will include your Government and corporate pensions as well as the projected income from your savings. 

·         We can answer your questions:  How much will I need to have saved to retire comfortably?

·         Opening Registered Education Savings Plans, obtaining the Grants from the Government, issuing a cheque to your child’s school, is something we do every day.

·         Our insurance specialist can review your existing insurance policies and explain the coverage to you, and even suggest how you might make changes to save money and enhance coverage.

This year please take a moment to send us an e-mail or phone call to discuss some of the services I offer, as part of your overall package, to help you plan for the inevitable life events that you will face. 

You see, as a member of the Private Investment Management division of RBC, I am held to a higher fiduciary standard and much higher level of responsibility than a regular investment advisor.  I am required to represent your best interests.

Whether you are a client or not, I think it would be worth your while to call me at 416.231.5092 for a quick chat. 

Best wishes for 2015!

Friday January 2, 2015

“A good plan implemented today, is better than a perfect plan implemented tomorrow.”

George Patton

 

A tax-smart way to save - The Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

 

On January 1, 2015, you can contribute an additional $5,500 to your TFSA to benefit from additional tax-free investment growth. If you haven’t opened your TFSA yet, you can also make your 2009-2014 contributions, up to $5,000 per year for 2009-2012, and up to $5,500 per year for 2013 and 2014, for a total contribution of $36,500 – tax-free.

 

Within your RRSP or RRIF, your investment earnings grow on a tax-deferred basis, which means you don’t pay tax on the earnings until you eventually withdraw them – typically resulting in faster growth. But with the TFSA, your investment earnings grow on a tax-free basis, which means you never pay tax on them – not even at the time of withdrawal. This tax-free growth enables your savings to grow much faster than they otherwise would.

 

The TFSA is an extremely flexible savings account that can meet a wide range of needs. It can help you:

 

-          Save for short-term goals like financing home renovations or long-term goals like retirement.

-          Build additional tax-advantaged retirement savings above and beyond your RRSP.

-          Earn tax-free income on surplus RRIF payments that you don’t currently need.

-          Contribute to a family member’s education savings beyond their Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).

-          Reduce your family’s overall taxes when you gift investable assets exposed to your higher tax rate to your lower-income spouse or adult children to contribute to their own TFSAs.

-          Shelter fully taxable interest income that you are currently earning in a taxable account.

-          Create a contingency fund for emergencies or time-sensitive opportunities.

 

How does the TFSA work?

Opening a TFSA

Any Canadian resident aged 18 and older with a Social Insurance Number can open a TFSA. In some provinces, you have to wait until you turn 19 (British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland & Labrador). However, TFSA contribution room starts accumulating at age 18 regardless of your province of residence.

 

Making contributions

From 2009-2012, you could contribute up to $5,000 per year to your TFSA. In 2013, this amount increased to $5,500.

 

-          You can also gift funds to your spouse or adult child to contribute to their own plans.

-          There is no income requirement to contribute to a TFSA – you can make contributions even if you have no income.

-          While your contributions are not tax-deductible against your income, as they are with an RRSP, any investment income they earn accumulates tax-free.

-          If you don’t use all of your available contribution room in a given year, you can carry it forward indefinitely. There is no maximum age limit for contributing to your TFSA – it’s a lifelong plan.

 

Making withdrawals

You can withdraw as much as you want, whenever you want, for whatever reason you want – and you pay no taxes on the withdrawal. What’s more, any amounts you withdraw are added to your available contribution room for future years, beginning on January 1 of the following year.

 

Contact us for more information on opening a TFSA, or to discuss your 2015 contribution.

 

Friday December 12, 2014

“Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;

 Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;

 Thy fate is the common fate of all,

 Into each life some rain must fall,

 Some days must be dark and dreary.”
 

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

 

With the Toronto Stock Exchange posting losses of 12% or more since Labour Day, I have been in close contact on a daily basis with the RBC Investment Strategy group as well as our Canadian partners and associates in Europe / USA.  We discuss economic data, corporate earnings, and strategies and try to create a strategy for moving forward.

The recent volatility in the market during October was viewed as an “overdue” correction.  It was the result of stock valuations having gotten ahead of the posted earnings.  Quite simply, there had been a little too much optimism.  When investors hit the “sell button” it drove the index down over 2,000 points in a broad based selloff that spared few.  The selloff may have also been driven in part by an opportunity to do some year-end tax planning (buying & selling to realize gains / losses). 

Once the dust settled, we were down about 12% in October … then the sun began to shine again.  The TSX rallied nearly 2,000 points by mid-November to recover nearly all that had been lost.

Only days ahead of the US Thanksgiving Feast energy prices slipped sharply.  Since then oil has continued to slide, taking anything related with it including car dealerships in the Prairie Provinces, oil rig suppliers, housing in the west, and many other related businesses.  The decline in the price of oil is likely to last much longer than the “3 week stock market correction in October”.

These events caused the TSX to move back to where it was a month ago.  It is down again, by about 2,000 points from where it had recovered to in November.

If one believes the argument that the USA is experiencing an economic recovery, which is supported widely by the economic indicators then US consumer related companies should experience growth and improved sales.  If oil prices remain low and the western provinces experience an economic slowdown then this could be a negative for some Canadian companies that have exposure, with the rate of inflation relatively low in Canada it is not a cause to raise interest rates, if the USA does raise rates and Canada does not then it might be argued that the Canadian dollar might fall further, and if international investors decide to pull away from Canadian stocks for a while that too could create some selling pressure.

From where we sit today, there are many opportunities to capitalize on a stock market that has lost nearly every point that it gained over the past 12 months.  The strategy of course is to understand why the market is back to where it was a year ago,  and how do you want to be invested a year from now?  As you can see, buying the index a year ago provided virtually a zero return, but having your portfolio managed by us was much more rewarding. 

 Friday December 5, 2014

"While I relish our warm months, winter forms our character and brings out our best."

Tom Allen

 

2014 Year-End Tax Planning

Opportunities to Reduce your 2014 Tax Bill

 

As year-end approaches, taking some time to review your financial affairs may yield significant tax savings. To ensure that you leave no stone unturned, we have summarized some common year-end tax planning strategies below.  Of course every situation is unique and you should always consult with your Tax Advisor to ensure that your own circumstances have been properly considered.

 

At Doyle Wealth Management we take all of these strategies into consideration for your portfolio.   In order for us to effectively implement these tax strategies for your portfolio, we need to be able to see the whole picture.  Consolidating your accounts with us makes it easier for you to report and keep track of your financial accounts and for us to actively achieve the most beneficial tax advantages for you.  Please contact us with any questions.

 

Tax Loss Selling

If you have sold some assets and realized capital gains during the year, and you are holding other securities with unrealized losses, consider selling them as well. This “tax loss selling” strategy of selling securities at a loss to offset other capital gains realized during the year is a common year-end tax planning technique.

 

Superficial Loss Rules

In order to ensure that your capital loss can be claimed, you must be aware of

the “superficial loss” rules. A superficial loss will occur when a security is sold for

a loss and both of the following occur:

i) the identical property is acquired or re-acquired during the period beginning 30 days before the disposition and ending 30 days after the disposition of the original

security; and

ii) at the end of the above period, you still hold the identical property.

 

Among other situations, the superficial loss rules will also apply if you sell an investment at a loss and it is acquired by an affiliated person during the time period described above. An affiliated person includes your spouse, a corporation controlled by you and/or your spouse, or a trust of which either you or your spouse is a majority-interest beneficiary.

 

Carryforward / Carryback of Capital Losses

A capital loss must first be applied against any capital gains (including capital gain distributions from mutual funds) of the current year. However, once the capital gains of the current year have been offset, the balance of the loss can be either carried back three years (to capital gains realized in 2011, 2012, or 2013) or carried forward indefinitely to offset future years’ capital gains.

 

Capital Gains Deferral

Deferring a capital gain to next year is also a common tax planning strategy. As we approach the end of 2014, if you currently have unrealized capital gains you may want to consider deferring the realization of capital gains until 2015 for the following reasons:

a) Your marginal tax rate may be lower in 2015 compared to 2014;

b) Realizing capital gains at the end of this year means that any tax payable associated with the gains would have to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) by April 30, 2015. Realizing capital gains at the beginning of 2015 means that any tax payable would not have to be paid until April 30, 2016 (unless you are required to make tax instalments); and,

c) If you have net capital losses in 2014, you can carry back those losses against previously realized capital gains in 2011, 2012 and/or 2013. However, before losses can be carried back, they must first be used to offset capital gains in the current year. Therefore, realizing capital gains at the end of 2014 would reduce the amount of capital losses you could carry back.

 

Tax Instalments

If you are required to make quarterly tax instalment payments to the CRA, you should make your final payment on or before December 15, 2014 to avoid late interest charges. If you missed an earlier instalment payment deadline, then you may want to consider making a larger final instalment payment or make your final instalment payment earlier than the December 15, 2014 deadline to minimize late interest charges.

 

Charitable Donations

Making a charitable donation is one of the ways that you can significantly reduce the personal tax you pay. The final day to make contributions to a registered charity in order to claim the donation tax receipt on your 2014 income tax return is December 31, 2014.

 

RRSP Contributions

You have until March 2, 2015 to make a contribution to your RRSP, or a spousal RRSP, and deduct the amount on your 2014 tax return. However, by contributing to your RRSP before December 31, 2014, you will benefit from two extra months of compounding tax-free growth which will ultimately increase your savings for retirement.

 

TFSA Contributions

If you have not yet done so, you can now make your Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) contribution for 2014 (up to $5,500) and catch up on any unused contribution room from 2009-2013. The TFSA enables you to earn tax-free investment income, including interest, capital gains and dividends, which results in greater growth compared to a regular taxable account.

 

RESP Contributions

A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is not only an excellent way to save for a child or grandchild’s post-secondary education costs, but it is also a good income splitting strategy. The lifetime contribution limit is $50,000 per beneficiary and there is no annual contribution limit.

By making RESP contributions, you may be eligible to receive the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG). The government will match 20% of the first $2,500 in annual contributions to a maximum grant of $500 ($2,500 x 20%) per beneficiary, per year.

 

Year-End Expenses

Since on your personal income tax return you can only deduct what you paid in the year, remember to pay all investment management fees, tuition fees, deductible accounting and legal fees, childcare expenses, alimony, medical expenses and any business expenses (if deductible on your personal tax return) by year-end if it is your intent is to deduct them on your 2014 tax return.  

Friday November 28, 2014

 

       "Success is the child of audacity."

Benjamin Disraeli, British Statesman

Is it too early to begin thinking about our New Year’s resolutions?  Maybe not according to some self-help gurus.  Thinking about your New Year’s resolution well in advance of midnight on the 31st can help you prepare for the task you plan on taking on.  It’s a way of “trying it on for size” so to speak.  In any case, giving it some thought now and discussing it with your friends not only makes for fun holiday conversation but might also lead to a more fulfilling year ahead.

According to Wikipedia, “A New Year's resolution is a secular tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person makes a promise to do an act of self-improvement or something slightly nice, such as opening doors for people beginning from New Year's Day”.  Here are some ideas:

Get your photo taken in five interesting places.

Learn a decent party trick.

Do a good deed every day.

Make sure you never spend an entire day in the house.

Go on more creative dates than just a meal or the cinema.

Only promise to plan to do a manageable amount of exercise. That way you're more likely to keep to it.

Always take the stairs.

Play a new sport.

Let us know what your New Year’s resolution ideas are and we will try to post them before the end of 2014!

Friday November 21, 2014

“Chionophobia”

The Fear of Snow

Each year, many retired individuals escape from the long and cold Canadian winters by flocking to popular warm climate destinations in the U.S such as Florida and Arizona. While some Canadian snowbirds choose to rent their vacation or retirement home in the south, others choose to purchase their own condo or other U.S. real estate property. Though owning your own U.S. vacation or retirement property may have its advantages, you may be surprised when you factor in the numerous tax requirements and other considerations that can substantially increase the complexity of owning a home in the U.S. Those additional issues may include U.S. tax on rental income, potential U.S. withholding taxes should you sell your real estate property and U.S. Estate Taxes upon death. Additionally, it is important to be aware of your potential dual tax filing requirement that may require you to file both a Canadian and a U.S. tax return (even for taxation years for which there is no tax payable in the U.S.). While foreign tax credits are available to reduce or eliminate potential double taxation, it is not always possible to avoid any incremental taxation.

Whether you are a Canadian resident who either already owns real estate property in the U.S., or if you are contemplating such a purchase, this article is intended to raise your awareness of key U.S. tax implications and other considerations by addressing questions such as: What are my tax obligations on renting/selling U.S. real estate property? What are the tax implications on death? Are there any strategies available to minimize tax? Is my Canadian Will and Power of Attorney adequate to cover my U.S. real estate property?

If you would like to receive a copy of our full article “Owning & Renting Property In The USA” please contact me and I will have one e-mailed to you or send out a hard copy. 

Friday November 14, 2014

All courses of action are risky, so prudence is not in avoiding them (thats impossible), but calculating risk and acting decisively.

Niccolo Machiavelli

 

All courses of action would include; saving for retirement and managing your wealth. 

One might argue that the above statement is not quite true buying a AAA Government Guaranteed Treasury Bills is a risk free act.  In fact it is not.  There are many risks associated with such a strategy. 

It is Machiavellis argument that the calculation of risk, or as we call it risk management, and decisive action is the most prudent course for reaching your goal.  I would agree.

There are thousands of calculations that go into building and managing a portfolio to meet your long term goals and short term needs.  Risk is consistently in play, but avoiding risk is impossible.  Managing risk is one of my prime concerns as a Portfolio Manager with RBCs Private Investment Management Division.  It is what we do, while you do what you know best.

Contact us to learn more about the services the Doyle Wealth Management Group, of RBC Dominion Securities can offer to you and your family.

Friday November 7, 2014

Presence is more than just being there.

Malcom Forbes

Between deciding where to go, what to pack and how to keep the kids busy, Canadian families heading off for a much needed holiday escape can easily forget about travel insurance. In fact, a recent RBC Insurance survey found that among the 39 per cent of Canadians planning to travel outside of Canada within the next year, only 60 per cent are planning to purchase travel insurance for their upcoming trip.

 Its surprising that so many Canadians dont think about purchasing travel insurance before their vacation, says Isabelle Forget, Head of Travel for RBC Insurance. The last thing travellers want to find out is that they either dont have travel insurance or they dont have the right coverage when something unexpected happens.

Forget stresses the importance of purchasing travel insurance if travellers do not already have coverage, but for those travellers who believe they already have existing travel coverage, here are a few questions they should ask themselves before leaving on their family vacation:
  •  Are there any gaps in your existing travel insurance coverage? Government health plans, employee plans and credit    cards may only provide a limited amount of coverage.
  •  Does your travel insurance extend to your children? Many employer plans have an age limit for children covered under their parents insurance.
  • Who will care for your child if you are hospitalized during your trip? Travel insurance can help ensure that arrangements be made for the safe return of your child back home, with an escort if necessary, or cover the cost for  someone to come to your bedside.
  • Does your existing medical insurance arrange direct payment of medical bills? Many hospitals and treatment centres require up front payment for medical costs.
  • Are you prepared to handle additional costs? If you or your children require hospitalization, you may incur unexpected expenses. In addition to hospital fees, you may need to make numerous international calls back home as well as pay for a hotel and meals beyond your original trip, which can quickly add up.
  • What if you have to cancel your trip before you go for an unexpected medical emergency? Or miss your flight because of weather conditions? Travel insurance can provide coverage for trip cancellation or trip interruption.
  • Are your familys baggage and personal belongings protected? It can be expensive to replace lost or stolen luggage. What if your baggage is delayed? Travel insurance can provide protection for lost or damaged baggage, or when your baggage is delayed.

For further information or a quote, please contact me directly.

Friday October 31, 2014
What do you get when you divide the circumference of your jack-o'-lantern by its diameter?  
Pumpkin ∏

Happy Halloween !!!

It is generally believed that Halloween has evolved from the ancient Celtic holiday of Samhain, through to a harvest celebration, pagan holiday, and bridge between the worlds of the living and dead, to the more modern Halloween that is less about literal ghosts and ghouls and more about costumes and candy.  Nonetheless it can still be scary and full of surprises! 

Retirement on the other hand shouldnt be like Halloween.  It shouldnt be scary and full of surprises.  Retirement, I believe, should be more similar to Thanksgiving.  Retirement should be a time for you to reap the rewards of your many years of labour. 

Aside from the years of labour spent raising a family and giving to your community, it is also important to have a comfortable disciplined plan in place to ensure your retirement is less like Halloween and more like Thanksgiving.  Creating that plan and putting it into action is something I do every day, but it does require your participation too (were not allowed to pull you in from the street and give you a shake). 

Contact me directly and ask about how you can create a million dollar RRSP for your retirement.  We are here to help you.

Friday October 24, 2014

Everyone has a plan, until they get punched in the face.

Mike Tyson 

When Tyson made this comment he was likely referring to the fact that a boxer can train, have a strategy, and prepare for that next big fight but when that left hook comes out of nowhere and leaves you reeling maybe you start to swing wildly at your foe and look over at your corner hoping someone can bring the fight to an end.  That is, Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.

Having been in the industry for 30 years (as I was reminded during a recent phone call to the CSI when they told me that I had written the exam before they had computers) I have met with many people and helped them prepare a plan to meet their financial needs, objectives and goals.  The plans are adjusted on an ongoing basis to accommodate lifestyle changes (births, deaths, career changes, retirement, etc.), but on the whole the long term goals remain the same.  The discipline remains the same.  The strategy that has been successfully tested over the years remains the same. 

Nonetheless when that left hook comes out of nowhere I see some people swinging wildly or looking over their shoulder asking their trainer to throw in the towel.  So much for the plan.

A sound financial strategy, like any good plan, needs to be developed by someone qualified who has experience in the ring.  Like any good plan, your financial strategy must anticipate challenges as well as opportunities and be flexible enough to respond accordingly. 

With the Doyle Wealth Management Group you can be assured that a disciplined plan is in place, so when that left hook comes out of nowhere you can respond with a dodge and a jab that will knock them on their backside.

Friday October 17, 2014

They dont ring a bell to tell you when the correction is over.

It may be true that they dont ring a bell when its time to buy, but neither do they ring it when its time to sell.  In other words trying to time the market on a day to day basis isnt advisable. 

Under the Updated Publications tab on my home page you will find an article entitled The Correction Has Arrived.  Here are some excerpts from that article:

We wrote back in May about the nature of stock market corrections.  We broke down market corrections into three buckets:

         Mild corrections, which we defined as 5% to 10% pullbacks tend to occur about once per year and take about one month to reach a bottom and a further two months to see the market recover to its prior highs.

         Intermediate corrections, those between 10% and 20%, tend to occur about once every 2 to 3 years and take about four months to reach a bottom and a further four months for the market to recover to its prior highs.

         Bear markets, which we define as declines of greater than 20%, occur about once per decade and take about 18 months to reach a bottom and a further 26 months for the market to recover to its prior highs. 

As we wrote then and would once again reiterate, bear markets are almost always associated with a US recession.  We continue to rate US recession risks as very low, especially because the usual precursors of such an extended economic downturn are nowhere in evidence.  Rather, we believe the current correction is very likely to fall into either, the mild or intermediate categories, where the selloff is generally very swift and the recovery often just as rapid.

Another thing to keep in mind when we go through a correction is that when the market goes down 2% on a given day, it doesnt mean that every stock went down 2%.  In fact, some may go down 5% while others rise.  Some sectors of the market may decline substantially (energy stocks, commodities) with very good reason, while other shares (Leisureworld Seniors Care) simply fall because the market was down that day. 

The main thing to take away from todays blog is that we believe that we are not entering a bear market today.  The S&P Index has fallen about 10% and could fall a bit further on any given volatile day.  We think this represents an opportunity to add good quality dividend paying equities from the sectors we favour, over the course of the next month or two so that we are well positioned to enjoy the rebound.

Friday October 10, 2014

Make it a habit to tell people thank you and express your appreciation, sincerely, and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and youll soon find many others around you. Truly appreciate life, and youll find that you have more of it.

Ralph Marston 

With the Thanksgiving Weekend ahead of us it is a sign that we are in the final quarter of the calendar year.  The year to date performance of the economy has grown stronger as the months passed, and equity indices have moved higher.  Interest rates have begun to edge upwards during the past couple of months and will likely continue to rise in a not so linear fashion over the months ahead.  The hint of rising rates, year- end portfolio housekeeping, and capital gains/losses strategies, should keep the market indices volatile for the next 6 weeks or so.  Overall though, it should be another solid year of performance. 

The Thanksgiving celebration in Canada began as more of a continuation of the Thanksgiving traditions of Europe, where most of our forefathers were originally from.  Well before Europeans set foot in America festivals of thanks and the Harvest Celebrations took place in Europe during October.  Canada celebrated its first Thanksgiving in Newfoundland in the year 1578, when Martin Frobisher, an English explorer arrived on the east coast.  The celebration at the time was both a continuation of the European tradition as well as an overall thanks for the safe ocean crossing of him and his crew. 

For the next few hundred years Thanksgiving continued to be celebrated in late October and early November here in Canada.  Finally in 1879 Thanksgiving was declared a national holiday to be celebrated on November 6th.  Nearly a hundred years later in 1957, the Thanksgiving Holiday was changed to the second Monday in October, by an act of Parliament. 

This Canadian holiday is shared in namesake by the USA but in fact is somewhat different in meaning.  The Canadian Thanksgiving is more a celebration of thanks for the harvest (which occurs somewhat earlier than in the US due to our geography) and does not include the Pilgrims.  Otherwise the meals, parades and celebration are quite similar. 

Traditionally it is a time for families to gather and share their good fortune and good harvests.  Locally you may find pumpkin farms competing for prizes, rural pie bakeoffs and other outdoor activities to keep the children busy before the cooler weather sets in. 

Best wishes for your Thanksgiving Weekend!

Friday October 3, 2014

Did you know that saying June 4th in China is banned and subject to prosecution?  If you search that date on your computer wile in China, nothing comes up.

 

Given the recent selloff of global equity markets this past month I thought it might be interesting to ask RBCs portfolio strategy team for their thoughts.  Here is a prcis of what they had to say:

The secular outlook for global growth has stabilized and leadership has clearly shifted to the U.S., where a durable, if somewhat subdued, economic expansion is unfolding. Global growth is moderate and challenges remain, but many of the headwinds that defined the post-crisis investing environment have diminished or disappeared. That said, a number of new risks have surfaced. The most critical, at least with regard to the global economy and financial markets, relate to military conflicts in Ukraine, Iraq and Israel-Gaza, and public-health emergencies such as the Ebola virus of West Africa and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. In addition, upcoming elections in Brazil and the U.S. will bring some uncertainty.

A fascinating recent theme has been diverging economic momentum in the U.S. and the Eurozone. After a nasty start to the year, the U.S. economy appears to be achieving escape velocity. Much of this is thanks to diminishing fiscal drag and the restoration of normal risk appetite. The Eurozone, on the other hand, has stumbled. Fiscal consolidation, Russian sanctions, and a cautious European Central Bank (ECB), have all conspired to slow European growth over the past few quarters. The good news is that another recession seems unlikely. Crucially, the ECB is awakening to the twin dangers of recession and deflation, and the central bank took significant action over the summer and fall, cutting its policy rate into negative territory and introducing new programs of targeted liquidity injection and the buying of asset-backed securities.

Emerging-market economic growth has decelerated materially over the past few years. We had largely anticipated this trend as the prior growth rate was unsustainable. As we look to the future of emerging-market economies collectively, we suspect the worst of the deceleration is over, as long as credit excesses do not sour significantly.

Updating Economic Forecasts

Our U.S., Eurozone and Japanese economic forecasts for 2014 have all been clipped in response to bouts of economic adversity experienced in the first half of the year. We continue to look for above-consensus economic growth in the U.S. and U.K., anticipate roughly consensus Japanese and Canadian growth, and below-consensus Eurozone growth. In the emerging-market space, our forecasts are beginning to stabilize after a long slide of diminishing expectations and are no longer as uniformly below consensus as they were.

Inflation Mostly Stabilized, Europe the Exception

In a fair chunk of the developed world, inflation rates have rebounded from earlier lows, or stabilized at close-to-normal levels. The Eurozone is a glaring exception to this, although we continue to believe that the threat of persistent deflation is limited given an absence of obvious catalysts to drive the inflation rate substantially lower. Our general thesis remains that, in aggregate, inflation could surprise slightly to the upside relative to market expectations.

Central Banks Head in Different Directions

Central bankers are no longer operating in unison. On the one hand are the Bank of England (BOE) and the U.S. Federal Reserve (Fed), which are increasingly close to tightening. On the other hand are the ECB and the Bank of Japan (BOJ), which are busy delivering more stimulus. Much of this divergence can be explained by inflation: prices are rising normally in the U.K. and U.S., whereas deflation concerns dominate in Europe and Japan. The Fed has communicated that it will complete its bond-buying program this fall and has strongly hinted that 2015 will be the year of the first rate hike. We look for a slightly earlier rate hike than does the market, targeting the early summer of next year.

U.S. Dollar Gains on Central-Bank Policy Divergence

The U.S. dollar has been gaining since early July amid a bounce back in U.S. economic growth, broad improvements in the labour market and increasing inflation, all of which contributed to higher short-term bond yields. Also aiding the greenback has been the U.S. Federal Reserves approach to monetary policy relative to the European Central Bank and the Bank of Japan. While the Fed is expected to reduce its balance sheet by more than $1 trillion by 2018, the ECB and the BOJ are likely to increase theirs by similar amounts. Given the approaching end of U.S. quantitative easing and looming Fed interest-rate hikes, we expect this preoccupation with central-bank policies to continue driving currency markets.

Low Bond Yield Unsustainable

Global bond yields remain stubbornly low. After yields briefly rose through the second half of 2013, bonds have rallied in nearly every major country, pushing yields back toward the bottom of our equilibrium channels. This is in sharp contrast to stabilizing economies and the rapid approach of tighter monetary policy. While the forces justifying lower yields are significant, sustainable global growth has taken root following a long period of repair and recovery. Consequently, we continue to look for moderately higher bond yields over the coming year, and this will likely lead to a period of price correction and low or negative returns for sovereign fixed-income markets. However, the speed of the rise in yields shouldnt be extreme given the damage that was done by the 2013 taper tantrum, and the likelihood that many investors will find rising yields irresistible in a low-return world.

Turning to Profits to Sustain Bull Market

Global equity markets have come a long way since the financial crisis. Although the improvement has been seen worldwide, valuations are beginning to differ among regions. Europe remains far below equilibrium, while the U.S. and Canada are now roughly at fair value. As a result, expanding valuations may still drive returns in some areas of the world, but may no longer be the catalyst for higher equity prices in every region.

With valuations now much more full on a global basis, a pickup in corporate profits is now an increasingly important pre-condition to higher stock prices. Conservative profit forecasting by analysts continues to provide fuel for the bull market, and we may now be seeing signs that earnings growth is poised to accelerate. So, while we are respectful of the growing risks of correction as equity prices rise, the outlook for economic growth and corporate profits continues to favour stocks.

 Friday September 26, 2014

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didnt do than by the ones you did do, so throw off the bowlines, sail away from safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails.  Explore, Dream, Discover.

Mark Twain

 

As an investment advisor, I feel that when my clients are aware of their overall savings, investments, insurance, credit and real estate assets, they are not only more confident about their financial situation, but they are better prepared to achieve their financial goals.

 

If we have not already discussed it, I offer a Family Snapshot service that is an invaluable planning tool that can summarize your assets and determine the following.

-          Ways to minimize your familys overall annual taxes

-          When you can retire, and how much income you will need to enjoy your retirement

-          How to protect the value of your estate during your lifetime and after you pass it on to the next generation

-          Whether your asset mix is appropriate for your investment objectives.

Together we can complete a short questionnaire on your basic financial situation and review some recommendations that may be appropriate for your situation.  Then, we can discuss how to implement these recommendations so that you can meet your own financial objectives.

 

Upon completion you will have:

-          A complete overview of your familys finances, primary concerns, net worth and cash flow situation.

-          A personalized wealth management report highlighting relevant tax, estate and retirement planning strategies that can be analyzed in further detail and reviewed as your goals change.

-          A financial projection overview that uses your current situation to project your financial retirement and estate situation and evaluate any life insurance needs.

       

Becoming fully aware of your familys assets and other financial information is an extremely helpful exercise that can help you establish realistic objectives and explore wealth management opportunities that you may not have considered before.

 

Please contact me if you wish to explore our Family Snapshot planning tool.

Friday September 19, 2014

If you need a friend, get a dog.

Gordon Gekko, Wall Street

Mergers and acquisitions are ongoing in the marketplace as companies attempt to increase market share, reduce costs, capture new markets, or simply diversify.  In recent weeks in Canada we have witnessed a takeover bid for our beloved Tim Hortons as well as for Canadas East Coast telephone company Bell Aliant.  The M&A game is being played out daily but normally the ones you hear about are the big names such as Loblaw taking over Shoppers.  The fact is however that most businesses in Canada are small businesses.  Have you ever wondered about the M&A activity in that sphere?  As a business owner have you ever toyed with the idea of taking over a competitors business?  As a business owner have you ever wondered how you are going to sell the successful business that you have built up over the past 25 years?  How about instead of starting your own business, just buy an existing successful one?

You might be surprised at how many successful business owners are at the stage in their life where they would like to sell their business (did you ever buy that David Foot book I mentioned a few weeks ago?) and retire.  Some business owners just assume that when they retire they will just let the lease expire and lock the door.  Others have no exit plan in place at all sort of like not having a Will.

Amongst the many services we offer at RBC, advising and assisting small & mid-sized businesses in the M&A game is service we provide.  Our M&A team provides advisory services to Canadian companies operating in a variety of industries.  When it comes to divestitures we work with business owners to develop and execute a divestiture process designed to maximize the value of the business being sold.  When it comes to acquisitions we have extensive experience assisting companies to manage the acquisition process including valuation, negotiations and capital structure.  When it comes to buyouts we provide advice to companies or individuals seeking to complete a management or shareholder buyout (this applies to family businesses as well). 

If you fit the profile of someone contemplating succession strategies, growth through acquisition, seeking full or partial liquidity of your business, or seeking to buyout one or more shareholders, then contact me.  We can discuss your situation then decide where we want to go from there.

Friday September 12, 2014

In Victory you deserve Champagne.  In defeat you need it.

Napoleon Bonaparte 

About a month or so ago I was treated to a wonderful dinner at a friends home, followed by a glass or two of Port under the stars on their balcony in the woods.  For me it was a re-introduction to Port, as it had been a while since I had last indulged. 

Buller Wines defines Port as a sweet fortified red wine that is served as a dessert wine. Port wine is a fortified red wine hailing from the terraced slopes of Douro Valley in Portugal. Port got its name from the city of Oporto, where the lodges of major port winemakers are located. These lodges, situated at Vila Nova de Gaia, are where the wines develop and mature before being shipped all over the world.  It was when the war broke out between England and France that the British turned to Portugal for their wines. It wasnt clear when the discovery of Port wine was. But legend has it that a Liverpool merchant sent his sons to Portugal in the 1670s to search for wine. When they reached the Douro valley, they met an abbot in a monastery in Lamego. He was adding brandy into the wine during the fermentation process to increase the alcohol content. Another story goes that brandy was added into the wine during fermentation to arrest fermentation process to prevent spoilage of wines allowing it to last the long journey from Portugal to England.

On choosing a Port to enjoy during the celebratory months ahead, Decanter Magazine quotes Richard Mayson on how to choose a Vintage Port:  Vintage Port traditionally enjoys a bloom of youth for about two to three years before starting to close up and enter into an adolescent period.  This may last anything up to 20 years, depending on the year and the shipper.  Single-quinta vintage Port tends to emerge into fragrant adulthood a bit earlier, after about 10 years in bottle.  Having said this, over the past decade there has been a big improvement in the quality of the spirit used to fortify Port, and this has caused the wines to behave differently.  The 2000 vintage marked the change, but it is probably most evident in the widely declared 2007 and 2011 vintages their wonderful fruit purity has been evident right from the start.  David Guimaraens, head winemaker for the Fladgate Partnership, thinks the transition from youth to maturity will be much smoother in the future, with less of the awkward adolescent stage that sometimes makes you wonder why vintage Port is so special.

Richard Mayson will be writing an article in Decanter Magazines December issue suggesting Ports to buy for the holidays.  Contact me if you would like a copy of the article.

Friday September 5, 2014

 

Demographics explain about two-thirds of everything: which products will be in demand, where job opportunities will occur, what school enrolments will be, when house values will rise or drop, what kinds of food people will buy and what kinds of cars they will drive.

 

Dr. David Foot, Economics Professor, University of Toronto;  Boom, Bust & Echo (Author)

 

Having met Dr. Foot a number of times over the past 20 years I have always come away impressed by his ability to explain economic change and forecast future trends through the use of demographic projections.  I would put it near the top of must reads for anyone interested in forecasting and understanding economics.

 

Although Dr. Foot claims to be able to explain about two-thirds of everything, where can we look to for the other third?  Fortunately at RBC we have the answer to that too:  Dan Chornous, Chief Investment Officer.

 

Earlier this week I was in a discussion with Dan who was at the time in London (I mention this only to emphasize the global nature of his view).  The discussion focused on the global investment outlook and how we as investors should position our investment assets to best capitalize on returns during the quarter and year ahead.  A complete report may be found on my website under updated publications.

 

From a historic perspective stock markets in Canada and the USA are at normal levels reflecting a fair value.  Indices have risen from the under valued state that provided above average returns over the past few years.  This does not present an imminent danger but does forecast more moderate returns ahead.  Although Europe is slipping with a currency that is perhaps too strong given the too low inflation rate, China is slowing but still growing, and Russia causes grief, there is leadership coming from the US economy where a subdued growth rate is gaining traction.  Yields in the US are at risk of rising which is causing trepidation in the fixed income markets.

 

With equity markets at fair valuation it is reasonable to expect that if expectations for earnings or economic growth fall short, then we could experience a market correction.  It would be too optimistic to think this wont happen.  Nevertheless, valuations are not yet excessive. 

 

For a balanced global investor we recommend an asset mix of 37% fixed income, 4% cash and 59% equities. 

 

The S&P and TSX Composite indices are forecasted to provide returns of less than 7% over the coming year, while 10 year Government of Canada bonds are expected to provide negative returns.  The Canadian dollar is forecasted to be weaker by about 4%. 

 

The foregoing comments can be seen in more detail on page 2 of the Global Investment Outlook (see my website Updated Publications).  Dr. Foots books are available in a store near you.

 

If we do some math here, based on the above forecasts and the assumption that we avoid 10 year Canada bonds in favour of shorter term bonds that provide a positive yield of 2%, then a 60/40 balanced portfolio might provide a total return of 5% over the coming year.  Somewhat less than previous years but still quite good relatively speaking.  There are no guarantees of course.  An economic surprise to the downside is always a possibility, especially in a bull market that is entering its sixth year.

 

On a more serious note, did you see that Roger Federer win over Monfils!  Unbelievable!  Yes, Roger is the greatest of all time!

Friday August 29, 2014
 

Photo by: G. Doyle 08.2014

It is my goal that flutes will be obsolete by the day that I pass away.

Maximillian Riedel, CEO of Riedel Glassware

 

With the US Open in full swing it is timely to debate the question:  Is Roger Federer the greatest tennis player of all time?  According to Tennis Magazine (September 2014) Rogers long term dominance stands firmly as the greatest player of all time.  His long term dominance of the game has withstood the challenges from several other respected greats such as Nadal, Williams and Djokovic, but none have the long term record of being on top for so long.  No doubt others will come along during the years ahead and challenge Rogers standing, but what stands out amongst the greats such as Williams, Nadal, Djokovic and Federer is their attitude and what they give back to the game.  All are great ambassadors to the game and modest about their accomplishments.  Yelling at the ball boy is not part of their game.

 

Friday August 22, 2014
In British Columbia 30% of respondents make their own investment decisions.  In British Columbia 33% of retirees work full or part time after retirement the highest in Canada. 
The 2014 Fidelity Retirement Survey Report

There has been much discussion of late as to the direction that stock markets will take during the balance of the year and beyond.  The following comments from RBC research team help to answer that question.

While some risks have faded, such as the threat of deflation, others have intensified. Geopolitical risks have mounted, most obviously as the struggle for eastern Ukraine drags on. Emerging-market credit excesses remain largely unaddressed, with tentative evidence of a reckoning underway in Chinese housing. The mystery of subdued global trade constitutes a new risk, hinting that all is not harmonious in the global economy. Our sense is that the coming economic good news for the developed world is more likely than not to trump the downside risks. Normalization unbowed We continue to subscribe to an economic-normalization thesis, with the revival of risk appetite in 2013 and the abatement of fiscal austerity in 2014 enabling materially faster growth for the rest of this year and beyond. Since the turn of the year, the consensus outlook for developed-world growth has edged higher, while emerging market expectations have slipped. We welcome these developments, as they reflect the tendency for the economic reality to converge upon our relatively optimistic developed world forecasts and more cautious expectations for emerging markets. Much of the heavy lifting with respect to our improved global growth forecasts will come from the rejuvenated developed nations, the U.S. in particular. Two key drivers of the U.S. economy are housing and employment. The general trend in the U.S. housing market has been quite poor for many months. From the perspective of the U.S. Federal Reserve, the sluggish housing market is a clear concern, but the economic outlook is otherwise sufficiently promising to warrant an end to quantitative easing by the fall of this year and a turn toward rate hikes sometime in 2015. The U.S. job market has recently accelerated, a trend we believe can persist if our optimistic GDP growth forecast prevails. All of this supports our view that personal income growth can accelerate nicely, supporting consumer spending and the overall economy. Global inflation to rise At the onset of 2014, one of the markets key concerns was that declining inflation might eventually transform into deflation. We believe that deflation is unlikely and that inflation should continue to trend higher over the next few years, conceivably even running ahead of the consensus and central-bank expectations. This view is based on our assessment that the financial crisis has eroded away a significant amount of the global economys potential, leaving less distance between current output and full capacity. U.S. dollar strength expected to continue We expect the U.S. dollar to continue strengthening against most major currencies over the next few years. The biggest adjustment should occur versus the euro, which is the only major currency that hasnt weakened much against the greenback in recent years. The euro is extremely overvalued based on many models, and relative monetary policies favour the U.S. dollar. We expect the yen to keep weakening, assuming additional monetary easing by the Bank of Japan accompanied by a significant rebalancing of pension funds to favour Led by North America and other developed markets, the global economy continues to gain traction, although the U.S. suffered an unwelcome drop in first-quarter output due to unusually bad weather and a decline in inventories and exports. The market is grappling with whether the recent economic weakness will persist. We believe the answer is no, and our key economic theme remains that of accelerating growth in 2014.

We continue to take advantage of tactical opportunities as they are presented, and the recent bond rally has prompted us to remove one percentage point from our fixed-income allocation, expanding our modest underweight position in bonds. We remain below our benchmark exposure to fixed income as we expect that rising bond yields will eat into coupon income and lead to low returns for holders of bonds. We have maintained our overweight position in equities. We added two percentage points to our allocation in April and reversed half of that move during the month of May. While valuations suggest that near-term returns from equities should be lower than they have been since the crisis, stocks are still expected to outperform bonds across all time frames and this is reflected in our asset mix.

As highlighted in this mornings Globe & Mail newspaper, asset mix plays a key role in a portfolios returns.  Managing that asset mix requires the discipline of a professional portfolio manager. 

Later this fall we will be hosting a luncheon to discuss the importance of having your portfolio professionally managed.  Contact us if you wish to be invited.

 Friday August 15, 2014

"The difference between school and life? In school, you're taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you're given a test that teaches you a lesson."

Tom Bodett

 

The Canadian National Exhibition officially opens today, marking the countdown to the new school year.

As you enjoy the last few weeks of summer and begin to prepare them for the upcoming year it is important to remember that many preparatory life lessons are not always learned in school.

 

Taking kids to money school

Strong money management skills will serve children well in any career.  As anyone whos visited a toy store with a child or grandchild knows, kids understand the concept of spending money at an early age. What children dont always learn is how to save and spend wisely.

Here are some of the saving and investing basics your children or grandchildren can enjoy learning. They can practice these skills every day, no matter how young they are.

 

Learning to earn

Paying your children an allowance is a good way for them to learn the value of money. It also opens the door to a discussion about the essentials of financial planning, such as banking, saving, and spending.

With older children, you can lay the groundwork for their retirement savings by helping them file an income tax return once they start earning money. They usually wont owe any taxes, but filing a return reporting employment income for that year will generate contribution room for a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RSP). This contribution room can be carried forward until they have enough money to make contributions and can take advantage of the tax deductions. 

Beginning to budget

Offer to help your older children establish a workable budget. The budget could factor in money they earn or receive, regular expenses they expect to incur, and the savings they need for specific goals.  Budgeting can help them distinguish between short-term savings (a new CD or DVD), medium-term savings (a new bike or game console), and long-term savings (a car or post-secondary education). 

Investing for growth

As your children grow older, you can teach them the basics of investing. The first step might be to open a savings account for them. This is your opportunity to discuss how banks pay interest for money on deposit. With straightforward compound-interest calculations, you can show how a regular amount set aside each month can grow.

As a next step, try letting your older children invest in a company that produces something they know and like, or a mutual fund that invests in these companies. Showing them where to find information on their holdings in newspapers and on the Internet will make tracking their investment fun and rewarding, and give them a real sense of ownership.

 While teaching your children about saving and investing will help them get on the right financial track at an earlier age, remember that few children can tackle major financial undertakings like the cost of post-secondary education on their own.

 To help your children save for their education, consider making annual contributions to a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP). This plan allows savings for their post-secondary education to grow tax-sheltered until they need them, and lets them benefit from the Canada Education Savings Grant (up to $500 per child per year) that your RESP contributions attract.

Friday August 8, 2014

"Everyone has an invisible sign hanging from their neck saying, "Make me feel important." Never forget this message when working with people."
Mary Kay Ash

Well theres nothing like a few negative days on the stock market to cause some talk chatter at the summer cocktail party!  Is this the beginning of a new bear market? 

Actually, having a run up in the market or correction, can help investors determine their overall risk tolerance and how to best position themselves  financially.  Has this recent selloff made you nervous or concerned about your portfolio?  Do you see it as an opportunity to buy equities or do you wish you had sold last month?

On an ongoing basis it is important to ensure that your portfolio is adjusted to reflect the risk and goals that you are trying to achieve.  Establishing your objectives through an investment policy statement is one of the best ways for us to ensure that your needs are met.  Using an investment policy statement to guide us, we can make the day to day adjustments on your behalf so that on those days when the market does go down it doesnt cause any sleepless nights, but instead is just fodder for interesting conversation over the summer BBQ.

Bullish outlook still intact . A comment from RBC research this week. 

Credit Related News Flow Impacts Volatility

Given the 76% market rally spanning 1,032 days without a 10% correction, many are asking

if the 3% decline since July 24 marks a turning point. This recent hiccup is consistent with the

VIX rising from 11.8 to 17.0, and in our view is likely the result of credit-related news flow

from Argentina (default) and Portugal (Banco Espirito). Importantly, the economic

environment remains healthy. As such, volatility should decline and stocks should rebound.

Recent Economic Data Favorable

Recent economic data has been largely positive. 2Q GDP came in at 4.0% with favorable

revisions to 1Q on Wednesday, and this morning the July ISM printed at 57.1, well ahead of

expectations (56.0) and Junes reading (55.3). July non-farm payrolls came in at 209,000, the

sixth consecutive month over 200,000.

Corporate Earnings Growth Robust

With almost 80% of the S&P 500s market cap reported, EPS is on track for a 9.0% YoY (11.4%

excluding C/BAC legal expenses) increase in 2Q. Importantly, results have been strong almost

across the board with earnings surprises in all ten sectors.

Market Rally Not Unprecedented, Valuations Remain Reasonable

On July 21, we laid out the case for a continued rally despite the lack of a recent pullback.

More specifically, we noted the 2,553 and 1,673 day rallies in 1990-1997 and 2003-2007,

which were accompanied by 233% and 95% returns. Importantly, with the market trading at

15.2x (NTM P/E), valuations are not stretched relative to the historical average

Please contact me for a more detailed comment or to discuss how you might benefit from an Investment Policy Statement.

 

Friday August 1, 2014

"People are not remembered by how few times they fail, but by how often they succeed. Every wrong step is another step forward."

  Thomas Edison -  Inventor

I was fascinated to learn that 78% of new cars sold in Canada were acquired through a loan or lease!  I was further surprised to learn that 57% of car loans have a term of 6 years (how much do think your buggy would be worth after 6 years?).  On average the monthly payments are about $520.

When you add that bit of information to the size of payments Canadians are making on mortgages and lifestyle expenses its not surprising that the savings rate in Canada has declined to 4.90% of household income according to StasCan. 

I doubt its the Governments fault that people arent saving.  After all the 2014 RRSP limit is 18% of your 2013 income up to $24,270 and the Tax Free Savings limit is another $5,500 and for RESPs the Government will actually give you free money if you start saving.

Since Canadians like spending, and seem to like to do it on a monthly basis, how about adding a new bill to the pile?  Lets call it something fun:  The Ferrari Fund or South of France pied de terre Fund?  Then each month lets throw $500 into it and see what happens.  After 37 years you would have way over a Million Dollars, but if you decided to cash out sooner, say after 25 years you would still have way over $400,000 (based on 7% rate of return). 

Perhaps starting next month you can slip another bill into the pile under the cable bill and see what you have to show for it at the end of the year or in ten years.

As part of our overall Family Office of financial services The Doyle Wealth Management Group would be pleased to help you to setup monthly savings plans with tax advantages and other features so that you can enjoy more financial freedom.

Please contact us for more information.

Friday July 25, 2014

Who are you to suppose that you hold the key to the sacrosanct typicity?  Who authorized you to prevent the consumer from experiencing the real taste of wine?

Patrice Lescarret

Estate planning is an ongoing event that each of us must make a part of our financial plan if we are to consider ourselves good stewards of our wealth.  It involves several different steps, some of which may or may not apply to you, but nonetheless you need to have a proper plan in place if you wish to leave a legacy, assist family members with ongoing support, or simply transition your wealth on to someone specific (or specifically not someone). 

Failing to have a proper estate plan in place could lead to unnecessary taxes being paid, money and assets could be lost due to mismanagement, family members might lose their homes and lifestyle due to your poor planning, and of course there is always the changing dynamics within the family (your widow remarries, then dies, then that new spouse excludes your children when it comes to distributing the assets that you built over your lifetime). 

Another very important concern that was brought to my attention recently by a young man was, Who can I trust to manage the money once I receive an inheritance?  I dont know anything about investing and I dont want to lose it or be taken advantage of.  A couple of million dollars is a lot of money to me.  When I was asked this question it really hit home that the best laid plans can come undone if this final link in the chain is weak.  He was really concerned that he might do something stupid and lose all the inheritance his father had worked so hard to earn.  He also realized what a wonderful difference it could make to him and his young family if the inheritance was handled responsibly.  Imagine having your familys trust or inheritance lost in the stock market or risky business venture?  How would that change your familys future?

Although we have discussed and offered our services to assist you in preparing your Will, Powers of Attorney, Testamentary Trusts and Executor Services, you should also ask yourself the question, Who will actually be managing (investing) the money?  Do I trust them with my childrens inheritance:  My spouses future?  Are they really qualified to do this? 

Please feel free to call me for a chat at 416.231.5092.  As a Portfolio Manager and Vice President in RBCs Private Investment Management division, this is something I deal with every day, and I have the best resources worldwide to execute your plan, the way you want.  Whether you are a client now or not, I would be pleased to take a few minutes to discuss your situation.



Friday July 18, 2014
 

"Someone's sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago."

 

Warren Buffett

 

 As an Executor, you are responsible for settling an estate according to the deceased's wishes.  With so many tasks to complete and so many people and organizations to deal with, including the beneficiaries, legal advisors and tax authorities, settling an estate is a complicated undertaking - one that can seem overwhelming when you are also grieving the loss of a family member or friend.  Executors can face responsibilities that demand a great deal of time, energy and attention to detail.

 

 As a Power of Attorney you are required to act exclusively for the benefit of the individual who appointed you.  This coupled with governments increased interest in regulating an attorney's activities has resulted in more complex tasks for attorneys. 

 

If you have been appointed as Executor or as a Power of Attorney, but do not want or have the time to administer the estate or require assistance with certain duties, you have the ability to appoint agents to help you.  RBC Estate and Trust Services can offer you a variety of services including help with all of your executor duties or only those you specifically choose. 

 

 If this service is of interest to you or anyone you know, please contact us for an information package or an introduction to one of our Estate and Trust Specialist.  They can assist in Will Reviewing and Preparation offer advice and assistance and provide specific guidance to your unique circumstances.  Alternatively, we can provide you with information regarding the roles and responsibilities for executors to assist you in your specific function.
 
Friday July 11, 2014
 

 "The person interested in success has to learn to view failure as a healthy, inevitable part of the process of getting to the top."

 

Dr. Joyce Brothers, Psychologist

 

Summer jobs for students, whether they are paying or volunteer, help them become much better prepared for choosing their secondary education programs.  The experiences and soft skills that they learn at these summer jobs give them an advantage in finding higher paying fulltime jobs that are suited to their skills and aspirations.  These observations and conclusions are part of a Canadian study of students over the past 15 years. 

 

Personally I think the summer job that I learned the most from was the one where I worked in a foundry using a hand grinder to grind spurs off freshly casted ship propellers. The propellers were about twice my size.  At the end of the day my skin would be orange from the perspiration mixing with the iron filings.  You can guess what I learned from that summer job.

 

More recently the Sauder School of Business released results from their study.  Heres what they found:

 

Seidel and his co-authors found teens in part-time jobs progress to better-suited careers since the early exposure to work helps them hone their preferences. They enhance their soft skills, acquire better references and learn how to job-hunt more successfully establishing wider career networks.

 

The more hours that 15-year-olds work, particularly during the school term when they have to learn to manage their time, the better their career prospects, says Seidel. The study showed benefits arose from working up to as much as 33 hours per week during the school year or 43 hours during summer.

 

Researchers used data from the Statistics Canada Youth in Transition Survey. This represented 246,661 15-year-old Canadian teenagers, looking at their work history over a 10-year period beginning at age 15 and ending at 25 in 2009.

 

Adolescent labour has been stigmatized as exploitative with many parents opting to put their kids in summer camp rather than summer jobs, says Seidel. However, our research shows that working can offer educational and developmental opportunities that prepare adolescents for the real world.

 

Over the course of the next couple of months prepare yourself to be inundated with RESP strategies from our office.  As a grandparent you will be targeted too as youre eligible to open a Registered Education Savings Plan for your grandchildren. 

 

For more information please contact me at 416.231.5092 and we can discuss, answer questions and mail you information.

 
 
Friday July 4, 2014

 "The time is always right to do what is right."

 

Martin Luther King Jr.

 

If you are up for lazing around in a caf this weekend and are looking for an impressive magazine to tote along with you, then pick up a copy of the June 30th issue of Forbes Magazine:  The Best Investment Advice of All Time. 

 

Amongst the many great articles in this issue is a section devoted to The best investment advice of all time.  The premise of the article made sense to me:  Ask rich successful investors for investment advice.  Although blowhard know it alls are generally more entertaining; when it comes to advice Id prefer to hear from the likes of Warren Buffett. 

 

It is best to pick up a copy of the Forbes issue and read the entire article but here are a few choice excerpts:

 

If you buy the same securities everyone else is buying, you will have the same results as everyone else.  Sir John Templeton.

 

Whether socks or stocks, I like buying quality merchandise when it is marked down.  Warren Buffett

 

Information is money Nathan Mayer Rothschild

 

Destruction is a mechanism for progress.  Joseph Schumpeter

 

Everyone has the brainpower to follow the stock market.  If you made it through grade five math, you can do it.  Peter Lynch

 
Friday June 27, 2014
 

I can calculate the movement of the stars, but not the madness of men.

 

Sir Isaac Newton

 

Newtons comment following a tough day in the stock market rings true to this day.  Predicting the day to day direction of stocks is an impossible task.  Managing an investment portfolio requires a long term view of objectives and goals combined with a strategy and well researched knowledge. 

 

With the rainy buggy May two four weekend behind us, its nice to see the sun shining as we head into the CANADA DAY Long Weekend!

 

Here is our list of the Top Ten things to do this Weekend:

 

        Attend a fireworks show or host one in your own backyard. 

        Whether you are in Toronto or on one of Canadas many lakes you can try your hand at fishing.  Whens the last time you sat at the rivers edge or on dangled your feet over a bridge with a fishing pole in hand, surrounded by nature?

        Go cycling.  You will be surprised at the many sites and smells you miss when trapped in a car.  Cycling can help you rediscover your own neighbourhood.

        Plant a vegetable garden complete with carrots, cucumbers, green beans, onions tomatoes and zucchini

        Go to Canadas Wonderland

        Visit the Hockey Hall of Fame

        Enjoy Traditional Canadian Foods - Eat Canadian back bacon, have poutine, beaver tails, and feast on pancakes with real maple syrup.

        Have your family and friends over for an old fashioned barbecue.

        Look up local concerts in your area. Many cities and towns hold festivals where bands will play music at outdoor venues

        Go to your local brewery. What better way to celebrate Canadas birthday than to take a tour of your favourite brewery. Many of these tours are free and come with samples

 

Whatever your plans may be, we wish you a Happy Canada Day and a safe and wonderful long weekend!

 

 
Friday June 20, 2014

Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.

 

Napoleon Hill, Author
 

 

 

The Globe and Mail Friday June 20, 2014

 

 

This past Thursday the seniors took part in the St. Hildas Foundation Snail Strut Walk in Toronto.  It is an annual walkathon to raise money for repairs and enhancements to the St. Hildas Towers Foundation, which provides affordable housing for seniors.  The average age of participants was 97 years old.

 

The secret to successful investing is maintaining an asset mix that reflects your needs and objectives.  By asset mix I am referring the percentage of cash, bonds and stocks. The tricky part is actually managing your savings on an ongoing basis to ensure that the asset mix targets are in place.  Most people dont have the time, discipline or the understanding of how important it really is. 

 

There was an article in the Globe & Mail this week (June 14th) that reprinted a chart from Morningstar that showed three different scenarios for investors who started with $100,000 fully invested in the market on January 1st 2007.  The first investor endured the crash (lost about $32,000 on paper), then road the recovery over the subsequent years and has $113,355 today.  The second investor cashed out at the bottom and went to T-Bills.  They now have $69,021.  The third investor cashed out at the bottom, but got their nerve back a year later and jumped back in.  They have $76,970 today.

 

Obviously the moral of the article is to not sell at the bottom and buy at the top, or more simply just hang in there and understand that the market will go up and down, but over the long term it has historically provided good long term returns.

 

All of the above is good advice.  You would have done well to follow it over the years. 

 

The best advice in my opinion is to have someone actually managing the asset mix for you too.  In general terms, when the market goes down the portfolio manager must buy more equities to maintain your prescribed asset mix, and conversely when the market is striking new highs the portfolio manager needs to pare back on equities. 

 

An investor, who hung in during the tough times fared well, but adjusting the asset mix too, can improve performance even further.

 
Friday June 13, 2014
 
Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.

 

Confucius

 

 

By drawing on RBC Wealth Management Services team of highly accredited lawyers, accountants and financial planning professionals, The Doyle Wealth Management Group is able to deliver the highest level of integrated wealth management expertise including:

Financial Planning

 Development of a comprehensive financial plan that includes projections to determine if you are on track to meet your goals such as retirement, estate and risk management

 Help you take a financial planning approach related to every financial decision that impacts your life

Taxation

 Recommend strategies to help reduce your familys tax burden

 Discuss strategies to minimize tax through structures such as family trusts, holding companies and insurance

 Provide specific corporate and personal tax planning strategies for business owners

Business Succession Planning

 Discuss strategies to effectively transition from your business in a tax-effective manner

 Identify the missing elements of your succession plan and provide strategies and solutions to fill in the gaps

 Assist in implementing an Individual Pension Plan for yourself or your key employees as part of your succession plan

 Assist in providing you with an overall financial plan and contingency plan as part of your business succession plan

Charitable Giving

 Help you determine which charitable giving strategies are most suitable for you based on your objectives

 Assist you and your family to implement a charitable foundation to minimize tax and leave a lasting legacy

Education Savings

 Provide you with strategies and a variety of options to fund your children or grandchildrens education in the most tax-effective manner

 Through a financial plan, determine the required annual savings required to meet your education funding goals

Estates and Trusts

 Provide tax-efficient strategies to transfer your wealth to chosen beneficiaries

 Review your current Will and provide Will and estate planning recommendations consistent with your objectives

 Help you determine which trust solutions may be appropriate for you based on your family situation and your objectives

Insurance

 Assist you in analyzing the need for insurance to provide for your loved ones due to disability or death

 Deliver creative insurance strategies to minimize tax, maximize your estate, increase retirement income or create a legacy

Retirement

 Help you determine strategies and techniques to meet your retirement income goals

 Provide you with strategies to maximize your after-tax retirement income

Holding Companies

 Provide creative strategies to minimize tax during your lifetime and maximize your estate for your holding company assets

 Provide robust, consolidated financial reporting to corporations owning significant investment portfolios and seeking professional administration

U.S. and International

 Provide you with information and strategies on U.S. tax and estate planning related to issues such as purchasing U.S. properties, moving to and from the U.S. and U.S. citizens living in Canada

 Discuss international planning strategies and issues of owning foreign assets and having family members located outside Canada

Strategies When you meet with a member of the RBC Wealth Management Services team, we will work with you to understand your personal goals. Drawing on the depth of experience that members of our team have developed as financial, taxation and legal professionals, we are able to present strategies that are appropriate for your personal situation. Reaching your goals often requires an interaction of strategies that minimize taxation, provide sufficient retirement income, safeguard your wealth, and provide for the effective transition of assets between generations.

Solutions RBC Wealth Management Services team members will work with you and your advisor to turn proposed strategies into actionable solutions. For example, both the Spousal Loan Strategy and the RBC Family Trust are solutions that may meet your personal goal of minimizing tax. Leveraging the experience and knowledge of both your advisor and members of the team, we can assist in determining which solutions can best allow you to reach your familys goals.

Implementation I work with your own tax and legal advisors and members of the RBC Wealth Management Services team to effectively execute on the strategies and solutions that will help you to reach your personal goals and bring you peace of mind.

 

Some examples of the situations in which we can help include:

 Business owners who need help managing their personal, holding company and business financial assets

 Professionals requiring assistance in structuring their affairs to both safeguard assets and minimize taxes

 Individuals looking to grow and protect their wealth

 Individuals looking to balance their current needs with a savings strategy that will help them achieve their long-term financial goals

 Retirees requiring strategies that will maximize their income after taxes while preserving their capital for the long-term

 Families looking to efficiently transfer accumulated wealth to the next generation

 Parents and grandparents looking to fund the educational and living costs of their offspring in a tax efficient manner

 Business owners looking to tax-effectively transition their businesses

 Charitably inclined individuals who are looking for their donations to provide maximum long-term benefit and value

 Individuals with U.S. and international connections requiring specialized tax and estate planning assistance

 
Whether your goals include converting the equity in your business into an enhanced retirement benefit, planning for your childrens or grandchildrens expenses, or your desire to leave a family legacy,  The Doyle Wealth Management Group at RBC  can provide advice and suggest strategies to achieve your goals in a tax efficient manner.

 

Please call for a telephone discussion with me at 416.231.5092

 
Friday June 6, 2014
 

The power of compound interest is the most powerful force in the world.

 

Albert Einstein

 

If you take a regular sheet of lined paper off your desk and fold it in half, then fold it in half again, how many times would you have to fold it in half for it to touch the moon?

 

Feeling generous?  How about gifting some fresh new Ontario Savings Bonds to your children or grandchildren?

 

Once again the annual Ontario Savings Bond campaign has kicked off and will run until June 20th, the last day to purchase your bonds.  This year the maximum purchase an individual can make is $1 million and the minimum purchase is $100.  Possibly the best deal is on the 5 year step-up bond that pays 1.25% 1st year, 1.50% 2nd year, 2.00% 3rd year, 2.25% 4th year and 2.50% in the 5th year. 

 

Although the rates themselves may not seem compelling (especially when compared to the fabulous job I have been doing over the years), there is a place for many of us to hold the bonds.  All of the bonds are guaranteed 100% by the Ontario Government and most are redeemable either annually or every six months. 
  

Arguably the interest rates arent all that attractive (except when compared to the deposit rate recently announced in Europe), but where can you do better with a similar guarantee?

 

Ive spoken before about my days at the Bank of Canada when I worked in the Canada Savings Bond department, and how we truly believed that offering employees the opportunity to purchase bonds on their payroll really did make a big difference in their lives.  Buying Ontario Savings Bonds for your children or grandchildren can have a similar benefit.  They can actually hold the certificate in their hand, calculate how much it is going to grow to, and gain an understanding and appreciation of the value of saving.  Imagine if you helped them out every year?  A gift or matching their savings is one strategy.  Ultimately its a great way to introduce the concept of saving and compounding interest.

 

You might want to try it yourself?

 

Oh, by the way, the answer is that you only have to fold it 42 times.
 
Friday May 30, 2014
 
"This above all: To thine own self be true; And it must follow, as the night and day; Thou canst not then be false to any man."

William Shakespeare

As a reminder High Park hosts a wonderful outdoor theatre production of Shakespearean plays throughout the summer.  Its a great way to spend the evening under the stars, having a picnic, and drinking tea ;) from your thermos.

 

Although Shakespeare appears poised to last forever, current historically low interest rates may not.  Please take a moment to skim through the following note from my colleagues as they comment on the high yield bond market in particular.

 

Valuation alone should not be viewed as a reason to eliminate all exposure to high yield bonds, but a lofty valuation leaves this market vulnerable to a reversal in sentiment. Investors could sour on high yield if there is a pick-up in defaults, a marked increase in M&A/LBO activity, a deterioration in underwriting standards, a slowdown in economic growth or an unexpected tightening of monetary policy. We dont know which (if any) of these potential negative catalysts will cause the market to eventually re-price, but we are concerned that high yield bonds are more vulnerable to one of these potential negative catalysts because of our worries about valuation.

 
Investors Have Flocked to High Yield Bonds Due to Historically Low Yields
 

The high yield bond market has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of the low interest rate environment. In a world where most investment grade bond indices yield between 3% and 3.5%, investors with a 6%-8% total return target on a balanced portfolio have increased exposure to the high yield bond market to try to maintain a reasonable yield on their fixed income holdings. Exhibit 1 highlights the impressive inflows to the high yield bond market that have occurred over the last five years as the yield on the BofA Merrill Lynch investment grade corporate bond index has fallen from 8% to 3%.

 

1: Yields Are Near Historic Lows
 

Its difficult to make the argument that the valuation of the high yield bond market is compelling on an absolute basis. The BofA Merrill Lynch US High Yield Master II Index currently carries a yield of 5.19%. Exhibit 2 highlights the fact that a 5.19% yield is near an all-time low and 32 bps lower than the average yield on the BofA Merrill Lynch investment grade index since 1996.

 

2: High Yield Spreads Below Historical Averages
 

Credit spreads on the overall high yield market are not at record lows at the current time but are below the historical average. Narrow credit spreads combined with low absolute yields reduce the margin of safety that protects high yield bond investors from a move higher in government bond yields or a move wider in credit spreads. Should government bond yields start to move higher, credit spreads may not have room to tighten enough to meaningfully offset the negative impact higher interest rates will have on high yield bond prices. Conversely, if credit spreads widen (even just move back to the historical average), there is limited capacity for government bond yields to move lower and offset the impact of a move wider in spreads on high yield bond prices. The vulnerability of high yield bonds at low absolute yield levels was underscored in May-June 2013 when credit spreads widened at the same time that government bond yields moved higher.

 

3: Select Quality Spreads Are Near All- Time Tights
 

While the overall market is not yet at its all-time tightest spread level, a number of individual quality spreads are either at or approaching historic tights. It appears that the reason the high yield market has not established a fresh tight is actually the investment grade bond market. Investment grade bond spreads remain well off the tights established in 2005-07 as uninspiring all-in yields have sent investors further down the quality spectrum in search of yield. Exhibit 4 illustrates that the yield differential between high yield bonds and investment grade bonds is very close to the record tights. Furthermore, yield differentials between the different ratings buckets within the high yield market are also near the narrowest spreads ever as investors have pushed out the risk curve in search of yield.

 

4: Coupon Returns At Best From Current Price Levels
 

Most high yield bonds are callable so it is very important that investors are mindful of the average dollar price of bonds that comprise the high yield market. If prices get much above $100 it is unlikely that the high yield market will produce a return in excess of the underlying index yield. Exhibit 5 highlights the fact that the average price of the high yield bonds in the universe that KDP Advisors follows is over $105. From this level, a near-best-case scenario is one where prices remain stable and investors continue to earn their coupon.

 

Many investors dont fully grasp the risk return profile of the market at a dollar price that exceeds $105. In our view, investors should not be buying high yield bonds today and anticipating that the asset class will be able to replicate the ~16% annual return it has generated over the last five years. This is just not mathematically possible from the current valuation. In early 2009 the index yielded ~20% and the average dollar price of a high yield bond was in the low $60s, a significant difference from todays respective levels of ~5% and $105. Exhibit 6 lays out a more reasonable return expectation for high yield bond investors over the course of the cycle in the context of the current environment.

 

5: Beware The Annual 5%+ Correction
 

At a time when the high yield indices yield ~5%, we believe it is important to remember that the high yield market has endured at least one 5% correction in each of the past seven years (using the largest high yield ETF, HYG, as a barometer). If such a move were to occur for an eigth year in a row, it would wipe out an entire years worth of interest earned. While its always difficult to call a top in something, the lofty average dollar price (as well as the other concerns we have raised) emboldens us to recommend an underweight position in high yield because the asset class appears to offer limited upside. Exhibit 7 illustrates that there have been 12 instances where a correction of 5% or more has occurred since 2007.

 

Many investors access the HY space through funds or ETFs; with regard to these holdings the following items provide a checklist to decide on the best vehicle to use for this exposure in an effort to try to minimize volatility.

 

Avoid funds that use leverage

 

Favor funds that have the ability to improve credit quality when risk premiums narrow

 

Whether investors own high yield in funds, ETFs, or individual securities, as a result of these concerns about valuation, we believe investors should evaluate current portfolio allocations to this asset class with an eye toward reducing exposure. Our cautious view is predicated on investors having an inadequate margin of safety at current valuation levels. Valuation alone should not be viewed as a catalyst to eliminate all exposure to the asset class, but a lofty valuation leaves the market vulnerable to a quick and dramatic sell-off should a negative catalyst emerge.

 
Friday May 23, 2014
 

What is important is not what happens to us, but how we respond to what happens to us.

 

Jean Paul Satre

 

I remember once, when I was checking out a Vespa XL150 at the local dealership, asking the mechanic how to open one of the panels on the body of the machine.  You see there are several panels imbedded into the design of the machines body.  A couple are for storing a wallet, cell phone, purse and stuff.  The one I was curious about was the panel that gave access to the engine and I couldnt easily get it to open.  The mechanic looked at me and said, You dont open that.  I open that.  If the machine needs to serviced, bring it to me, but dont open that and start playing around.  There is no need to you to ever open it.  I could tell by both his tone and stare that he meant it.  In fairness, he was probably correct.  Im curious about what goes on inside that panel, but truthfully if I touched something or inadvertently turned a screw that shouldnt be turned well it probably wouldnt be for the better.

 

The mechanic didnt boot me out of the shop for asking such a question, but instead went on to describe the benefits of owning one of the legendary machines.  I had to agree that a company that has been in business since 1882 doesnt need me fiddling around with the engine. 

 

It seems that Vespas actually come in various models.  I had never really thought of that before.  I just figured that there was one model that changed a bit from year to year. 

 

My education continued as the mechanic focused on my needs.  Was speed an issue?  How many passengers?  Where would it be driven?  The list went on. 

 

Finally he recommended a couple of models, that I had to agree, would fit the bill perfectly.  Again he assured me of the integrity of the machine but reminded me that if anything should go wrong, Dont open that panel.  I open that.

 
 
Friday May 16, 2014

 

 

In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.
 

Charles Darwin

 

If your plans for this long weekend include weeding or lounging in the garden, nothing disturbs the calm serenity faster than a pesky mosquito buzzing around your head.

Ways to avoid the itchy bites include covering up with long sleeves and a hat or applying insect repellent.  Another idea is to add some mosquito-repelling plants to your garden.

 

Here is a list of six popular plants that have been proven to repel mosquitoes.

 

Lemon Balm

Also known as horsemint, this hardy perennial repels mosquitoes by giving off a strong, incense-like odour, similar to citronella grass. The smell, however, does not deter bees and butterflies. Lemon balm is extremely aggressiveits fast growing, drought resistant and reseeds itself easily. Try containing it in a planter that can be moved to a seating area when you want some relief from pesky mosquitoes.

 

Marigolds As a popular annual, marigolds are always found in flower beds and containers during the summer months, but their mosquito-repelling ability hasnt been widely advertised. Many gardeners use them in the veggie garden to deter other insects, but as a mosquito repellent, marigolds are powerful. Its not surprising since their distinct smell is unbearable to insectsand even some people.

 

Plant marigolds in containers as you normally would, but then place the containers anywhere in the garden where you want a mosquito-free zone.

 

Catnip

We all know that cats love catnip, but this perennial also has a quite a reputable history as a medicinal herb. One trait that this plant is less known for is its mosquito-repelling ability. The natural oil within the leaves has been proven to be ten times more effective than DEET at repelling mosquitoes.

 Plant catnip around your patio and deck, but remember while youre repelling mosquitoes, you may be attracting a few of your feline neighbours.

 

Basil

Basil is one of the few herbs that give off a scent without the leaves having to be crushed or physically disturbed. There are many varieties of basil, but the ones with the most mosquito-repelling powers include lemon basil and cinnamon basil.

 

For a quick, natural insect repellent in the garden, take a few basil leaves and rub them on your skin. The oils will deter any nearby mosquito from bugging you while you work.
  

Lavender Mosquitoes and many other insects dont like the smell of lavender. This trait makes lavender a welcome addition to any garden, especially considering how attractive this plant is when it blooms. Aside from planting lavender around seating areas to deter pests, try making your own natural insect repellent with lavender leaves

 

Citronella grass

Many natural insect repellents found on the market contain citronella oil, which of course is derived from a natural plant sourcecitronella grass. When candles and lanterns containing citronella oil are burned, the fumes repel mosquitoes.

 

This tropical perennial, native to Asia, is a member of the Poaceae grass family and can grow up to six feet tall. Handling citronella can cause skin irritations or allergic reactions when the grass blades are broken, so make sure you wear gloves. In addition to its mosquito-repelling abilities, its also quite an attractive ornamental grass. Plant it along walkways and seating areas to allow its strong fragrance to deter mosquitoes.
 
Whatever your plans include, we hope you and your family have a wonderful long weekend!!
 
Friday May 9, 2014
 

At least half the Chateau Lafite sold in China is fake and, like other high end Bordeaux counterfeits, probably made on boats moored in international waters off the mainland coast, a senior Chinese government official has said.

 

Decanter Magazine, May 2014

 

When I hear such comments it just reminds me that the best wines, are the ones you like best.  As someone who enjoys a modest collection of bottles and the occasional sip I am occasionally asked to make recommendations for friends.  Once I have ask a few questions, I can usually steer the person towards something satisfying and interesting, but in the end it really comes down to your personal taste and what you like but if you want to have some fun at a dinner party, how about doing a vertical?

 

A vertical wine tasting is surveying a series of wines based on vintage years and is a nifty way of experiencing just how unique every year can be in the world of wine.  A vertical wine tasting involves tasting one wine varietal (for example Chateau Vignelaure, Coteaux DAix en Provence) from a single wine maker and comparing it over different vintages.  Doing so can help you and your friends understand how the same wine, made from the same vines, at the same Chateau can be affected by the varying weather from year to year. 

 

Vertical tastings can be a lot of fun and also very much an eye opener when it comes to comparing vintages from one year to the next.  It is interesting too to understand what exactly was different with the weather:  Was it rainy?  Buggy?  Hot and dry?  If youve ever wondered why critics rave about certain vintages, doing your own vertical at your next dinner party might help to explain. 

 

Perhaps the next time you are in Niagara you can stop by Vineland Estates or Peller Estates and tell them that you would like to host a vertical tasting with your friends.  I think you will be surprised at the difference each vintage makes. 

 

Personally I cant wait to taste the 2012 Brunellos when they are released in 2017.

 

Have fun and tell me how it goes!

 
Friday May 2, 2014

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.

 

Benjamin Franklin

 

Give parents an A-plus for talking up the importance of a postsecondary education for their kids, and a C-minus for backing it up with financial help.  That is a quote by Rob Carrick from the Globe & Mail this week.  A comment that I would echo should anyone ask me.

 

A survey conducted by HSBC concluded that parents are big supporters of postsecondary education in Canada.  The survey also revealed that 82% of parents aspire to have their children attend university or college.  A Globe & Mail survey of students found that only 33% claimed to have received some assistance from an RESP that their parents had setup.  Seems to be a bit of a disconnect here when it comes to the walk the talk part.

 

The most successful stories come from parents or guardians who setup RESPs right after the childs birth (keep in mind that one plan can have multiple beneficiaries) had the largest RESPs (ya think?) and found it the least onerous to save. 

 

If you contributed a modest sum monthly and tossed in some birthday money and perhaps some money received at holidays, you should be able to get to an annual contribution of $2500.  If you do, the Government will kick in another $500 (20% up to a maximum lifetime limit).  Assume a 5% rate of return and youre on your way.  Actually well on your way after 18 years you would have close to $90,000 in the plan.

 

Setting up and promoting Registered Education Saving Plans is a service I offer and we can even provide you with marketing materials to share with family members.  Whether you are an existing client or not, contact me for a quick chat on how to setup your plan.

 
Friday April 25, 2014

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Antoine de Saint-Exupery

 

The hidden risks of acting as an estate executor

 

There is a good chance that at some point, you will be asked to be an executor to someones estate if you havent been asked already. The request may come from a spouse, a parent or a close friend, and you may be well inclined to accept. But do you know what the job entails?

 

The truth is, settling an estate can be a very complicated and time-consuming process. It can mean a deluge of responsibilities that could take years to carry out: managing investments, selling real estate, dealing with upset beneficiaries, even making funeral arrangements. And you may be trying to accomplish all of this while you yourself are mourning the loss of your loved one. Whats more, executors are personally liable, so it will be your responsibility to see to it that everything gets done properly.

 

According to a recent Ipsos-Reid survey conducted on behalf of RBC Estate and Trust Services, less than half (47%) of Canadians said they were familiar with whats involved in being an executor of a Will. In fact, more than one quarter (27%) said they have no idea how long it will take.

 

If youre considering, or have accepted, a request to be an executor for someones estate, there are some important considerations to bear in mind.

 

Executor duties are numerous

Whether its collecting life insurance, applying for death benefits, filing a tax return or making a probate application, the range and complexity of executor responsibilities can be daunting. In fact, depending on the size of the estate, there can be upward of 70 individual tasks expected of an executor, some of which can carry a liability risk.

 

Estates can take a very long time to settle

The survey also found that 37% of respondents believe the process will take less than six months and 54% estimate less than a year. But depending on the size and complexity of the estate, it can take anywhere from an average of 18 months, to up to four years.

 

You may be working through your own grief and sorrow

Dealing with the death of a loved one is often very difficult, and the added demands of settling that persons estate can make the situation far more trying. Be sure to ask yourself how well you think you will be able to carry out your duties while in mourning yourself, and dont be afraid to raise your concerns with the person who has asked you to be their executor.

 

Consider family dynamics

Dont be shy to ask if there is existing family tension and to consider how a dispute among family members and friends may affect you. As the executor, you may have to deal with discontented beneficiaries, especially if the estate is unequally distributed.

 

You can seek help

If you feel uneasy about being named an executor or you dont think you will be able to handle the responsibility effectively, you have options. If it is not something you feel you can turn down, but you still have concerns about dealing with all the duties involved, you can seek out professional assistance for some or all of your duties whether that assistance is provided by a trust officer for a trust services company, a lawyer, or an accountant.

 

If you need assistance with your executor duties, or to get a better understanding of the principal duties as an executor, we can help. Contact me at 416.231.5092 and I can send along our Estate Planning Guide, discuss some of the details surrounding executorship and even arrange a meeting for you with our Trust services department if necessary.

 

 
Friday April 18, 2014
 

Easter is the only time of the year when its perfectly safe to put all your eggs in one basket.

 

Best wishes for the holiday weekend and congratulations on surviving another Canadian winter!  Soon the warmest weather will be here and summer will have begun. 

 

As you finish up your taxes and hope that your personal information hasnt been compromised on the CRA website you might be wondering if there is anything more you can do reduce your taxes.  In this weeks blog I thought I would touch upon something that you might want to think about and discuss with your accountant to ensure that you are maximizing this little opportunity. 

 

In an effort to more fairly tax retired couples the Government allows couples to split their pension incomes.  The idea was introduced for various reasons, but one thought is that in some households the differential in incomes between spouses is sometimes quite disproportional for very good reasons (stay at home spouse, fulltime worker versus par-time, etc.).  Pension income splitting can result in a significant tax saving in many households. 

 

In 2013 Canadians are eligible to allocate up to 50% of their pension income to a spouse or partner.  This of course can carry huge tax benefits for the household.

 

Pension income from a company pension is eligible for income splitting regardless of the pensioners age.

 

Some forms of pension income however carry some restrictions.  Income from a RRIF or LIF or LRIF is only eligible for splitting for those 65 or older. 

 

Typically pension incomes from CPP or OAS is not eligible for income splitting under this scenario. 

 

Before acting on the above you should consult with a qualified tax advisor who is familiar with your situation to ensure that it is right for you. 
 
Friday April 11, 2014

I am ready to meet my Maker.
Whether my Maker is prepared for the great
ordeal of meeting me is another matter.

 

Winston Churchill

 

Having read David Foots books and attended a few of his lectures I am a believer that demographics have a profound affect on economics, the media, food, sports and just about everything else that touches our life.  By studying the population bulge or baby boom Dr. Foot provides explanations for past events, an understanding of current events, and a prediction for future trends.  His books are worth reading if you are an investor or in a business that serves the public.

 

Looking ahead it seems obvious to me from where I sit, that one of next biggest trends in the financial industry will be dealing with the transfer of wealth from one generation to the next.  It is something that I think you should be thinking about.  Without going into any details, who do you want your wealth to be transferred to and who do you not want your wealth transferred to?  Perhaps you have worked hard to build a business thats worth a lot of money, or perhaps you made a good home purchase and worked hard to payoff the mortgage, or perhaps you are just a good saver? 

 

Handling the transfer of wealth will be a fumble for some and a touchdown for others.  Having had a ringside seat during a few transfers of wealth I can attest that seeking professional service is mandatory, otherwise you will be shocked at what will actually happen to your estate. 

 

One obvious estate planning tool that lawyers often use is the Testamentary Trust.  A testamentary trust is a type of trust established through your Will that enables you to give assets to your beneficiaries with certain conditions that you have specified, while providing them with income tax advantages.  Through your Will you would direct your chosen trustees to hold and invest the inheritance in a trust for your children until they reach the age that you have specified. Alternatively, you can give your trustee full discretion on the amount and timing of trust distributions to the beneficiaries.  One of the major benefits of establishing a testamentary trust is the annual income tax savings for the surviving beneficiaries. These income tax benefits are not available to beneficiaries who receive outright inheritances. Taxable income earned in a testamentary trust can be subject to the same graduated tax rates as an individual taxpayer and then paid out after tax to the beneficiary.

 

In addition to the tax benefits, there are many reasons why a testamentary trust may be advantageous. A testamentary trust provision in the Will can make sense in the following scenarios:

 

> Individuals in second marriages

> Disabled or minor beneficiaries

> Parent is concerned about spendthrift beneficiaries

> Parent is concerned about inheritance being accessed by son- or daughter-in-law

> U.S. citizens

> Beneficiaries are high-income earners or will receive a large inheritance

 

If you do not have an Estate Plan in place please arrange a meeting with me to discuss.  Included in our service to you is access to our Lawyers who are specialists in this area.

 
 
Friday April 4, 2014
Its the sides of the mountain which sustain life, not the top.
 

Robert M. Pirsig, Zen And The Art Of Motorcycle Maintenance

 

Not exactly a handbook on how to do oil changes.

 

Its that time of year when many households throw open the windows, let the fresh air in, welcome back the sunshine, and begin a spring cleaning.  Historically it was a time to drag furniture, draperies and even paintings, outside to be dusted and fluffed.  According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica you can benefit both mentally and from a health perspective by doing a spring clean.

 

In todays world you might not want to drag your Art Shoppe sofa onto the front lawn and whack it with a broom, but there are other ways to get into the spirit starting with your investment portfolios.

 

As I have mentioned recently, stock markets around the world have recovered significantly from their lows a few years ago.  But as Warren Buffett once said, A rising tide lifts all boats.  Ironically he also added, When the tide goes out you will see whos swimming naked. 

 

With the economy bumping along at a decent pace and stock markets reflecting the good times, now might be an ideal time to do a spring cleaning.  By this I mean that now would be a good time to re-evaluate some of those stray accounts and funds that you have sitting at various financial institutions.  Perhaps its time to show us, and let us either consolidate them into your portfolio or evaluate their potential?  Now is also the time to re-visit your asset mix.  Does your current portfolio reflect your current objectives, or have equities grown beyond their place and need to be trimmed?  Are there a few straggling investments that youre not exactly sure where they came from, but you just hold them because? 

 

If youre really serious about getting your house in order contact our office.  A quick portfolio review today along with an Estate Plan review could make a huge difference in how things turn out over the next 18 months.

 
Friday March 28, 2014
 

If you dont lose, you cannot enjoy the victories.  So I have to accept both things.

 

Rafael Nadal

 

Next week is a big week in the world of Bordeaux wines.  Its en primeur week and much of the wine trade will arrive in Bordeaux next week for the 2013 en primeur tastings.  How things go will determine the pricing of the 2013 Bordeaux Vintages for years to come. 

 

The outlook for 2013 Bordeaux prices is likely to be flat or weaker than the 2012s.  Aside from reduced demand from China, the grapes harvested in 2013 were challenged by very poor weather early in the growing season, then later in the season during harvest. 

 

En primeur week will be a bit more challenging this year.

 

For readers who enjoy art as well as wine, RBC recently published the spring edition of Perspectives for our clients.  In this months edition RBCs curator discusses art as an investment and how to begin buying your collection.  Much like a 1st Growth Bordeaux, it seems that art too can rise in value if you know what to buy.

 

Contact Jessica or I for your complimentary copy.

 
Friday March 21, 2014

 

Someone reminded me I once said "Greed is good". Now it seems it's legal. Because everyone is drinking the same Kool Aid.

 

Gordon Gekko, Wall Street:  Money Never Sleeps

 

Dan Chornous, RBCs Chief Investment Officer recently published his quarterly report on the outlook for world equity markets.  Attached is an excerpt from that report. 

 

Given that the TSX is up about 90% today from where it was 5 years ago, I thought it would be interesting to review the streets take on things.
 
For several years, we have watched the interlocking conditions for economic normalization gradually click into place. Today, bond yields are roughly in line with equilibrium as measured by our models, and several equity markets, including the S&P 500, are closing in on fair value following years of trading at a significant discount. This normalization thesis has recently been challenged by a number of new threats, but we dont believe that these represent critical risks to the cycle. The recent stint of bad economic data is mainly due to poor weather, inflation is unlikely to remain this low for long and political unrest (like the current situation in Ukraine) rarely bleeds into the global economy or markets. With the path to normalization only slightly more challenging, and given that the Fed is set on tapering its bond-buying operations, bond yields should continue to edge higher and the equity rally should endure.
 

Global growth should improve in 2014 and be slightly stronger again in 2015, with the heavy lifting coming disproportionately from rejuvenated developed nations where consensus expectations for GDP have continued to rise over the past quarter. We expect the developed world to grow twice as quickly in 2014 as it did in 2013, and our 2015 forecasts look for a little more growth still. The previous trend of downward revisions to emerging-market growth has stopped, at least for now. The outlook for emerging nations remains a central point of uncertainty after poor growth in 2013. This year looks to be slightly improved, in large part due to the prospect of rising global trade. However, emerging markets remain imperiled by credit excesses that have built up over the past five years. These countries have grown unusually quickly since the turn of the millennium, outperforming developed nations by a greater degree than normal. An era of more normal credit growth likely signals a reversion toward a more normal outperformance relative to developed nations.

 

Equities Nearing Fair Value

 

Equity market valuations have risen materially, signalling investors are indeed pricing in a sustained global recovery. To us, the rise in valuations, especially since 2013, represents a regime shift as investors moved out of a post-crisis mindset into one that reflects the progressive normalization of the economy and risk premiums. While the S&P 500 has moved up to approach fair value, global equity markets generally still lie below equilibrium. However, recognizing that stock valuations are no longer extraordinarily low, we have adjusted our total-return expectations to recognize the superior returns so far in this bull market and the more demanding valuation multiples that have resulted. That said, valuations are only half of the equation, and earnings can be just as important to determining potential returns. With the global recovery gaining traction, stronger revenues and corporate profitability could contribute another leg to the rally.

 
Friday March 14, 2014
 

A lack of transparency results in distrust and a deep sense of insecurity.

 

Dalai Lama

 

I couldnt help myself.  There I was sitting in first class on an Air Canada flight enjoying a free upgrade.  I pulled out my cell phone and clicked a picture of myself and sent it along to my brother with a note saying, nice eh, and they have free champagne too! 

 

He sent me back a text that said, Gerry, theres no such thing as free Champagne. 

 

I have already warned most of my clients that in the face of tighter anti-money laundering laws and in an effort to reduce the amount of tax fraud, everyone will be expected to provide full disclosure, confirm identities on all accounts and much more.  As an employee and shareholder at the countrys best financial institution I welcome the changes.  To me it means greater transparency. 

 

Transparency however is in the process of going even further over the months and years ahead.  Full transparency will soon mean disclosing all fees in detail for every investment transaction and account you hold at an institution.  No doubt there will holdouts and poor compliance by some institutions, but the best firms will comply openly. 

 

One of the aspects of my job that I enjoy the most is that I get paid for doing whats best for you, your needs, your goals, and your objectives.  I dont make a dime more for buying you a stock than I would for holding a GIC.  As a Vice President & Portfolio Manager in RBCs Private Investment Management division, I sincerely work in your best interests without any temptations.  The annual management fee that RBC charges, is quite frankly in my opinion, a bargain and in many cases fully tax deductible.

 

The next time you make an investment with your financial person ask them if there are any charges for buying that:  GIC, pooled fund, ETF, IPO, bond, coupon or whatever it is.  Transparency means that you will be told the costs, hidden or not.

 

because theres no such thing as free Champagne.
 
Friday March 7, 2014
Times Fun When Youre Having Flies.
 

Kermit The Frog

 

Benjamin Franklin first came up with the idea of shifting clocks ahead and back to save on energy (he was thinking of burning of candles).  The concept however didnt take off until 1918.  Then it stuttered a bit during the war time, was resurrected in 1966, and was modified a bit more in 2005.  All of which lead to the hit song Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is. 

 

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to review RBCs investment outlook with the firms Chief Investment Officer.  Here are some observations and opinions that I found of interest:

 

During the past 35 years interest rates on the US 10 Year Bond have trended downward from around 15% to 2.65%. 

 

The global outlook for the worlds economies is positive with GDP Growth expected across the board.

 

Inflation is expected to remain low throughout the western world and short term interest rates are projected to remain at rock bottom levels. 

 

Corporations have solid balance sheets in general, and are in a position to finance acquisitions or expansion. 

 

The outlook for 2014 is for another year of economic expansion.  The outlook for equities is for another year of positive returns that should be much more in line with historic norms (read 10% range).

 

Anyone interested in the full report can simply contact me.  I will e-mail it to you or send it by regular envelope your choice.

 

With a positive outlook we continue to believe that a properly balanced portfolio designed to meet your objectives will serve you well.  Quality and discipline are the cornerstones to success.  Do not be tempted by passing fashions, build for the future.

 
Friday February 28, 2014
 

The secret of getting ahead is getting started.  The secret of getting started is breaking your complex overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.

 

Mark Twain

 

Big weekend ahead; the RBC Doyle Wealth Management hockey team is in the finals at Rennie Park this Saturday evening (outdoor rink is awesome).  Tickets are free and the hot chocolate is great! 

 

To make it an even more exciting weekend, Warren Buffetts annual letter to shareholders (and the public if you have access to Google) will be released on the weekend.  It is always worth a read and you can be sure the newspapers will be commenting on the billionaires words of wisdom next week.  The Oracle of Omaha, as he is often called, has provided valuable advice on investing in his past letters as well as comments on the world at large. 

 

Whatever your definition of success is there is strong evidence to suggest that reaching your goal can be aided by the company you keep. 

 

Jim Rohn (American author, motivational speaker) claimed You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Look around does this hit close to home?  Since you likely spend the most time with people who you work with or friends who share similar interests, you are going to be very much like these people. This really shouldnt come as a surprise, as we do tend to hang out with people who share the same interests, tend to be around our age, live in our neighbourhood, etc.  But, have you ever considered the advantages of having a friend who was outside of your normal circle?  Maybe outside your comfort zone?

 

Dropping by Roger Federers house might be a bit of a stretch for the budding tennis player, but now may be a good time to assess who youre spending time with and how they could be influencing you, believes Jim Rohn. 

 

No ones suggesting you un-friend anyone on your Facebook page just because they have a harem scarem life that never seems to be going anywhere, but realize that hanging out with someone like this is going to bring negativity into your life. Being around people who are always negative, unhappy, inactive and scared of failure might be influencing you and causing you to be cautious when approaching your dreams.

 

Rohn believed, you shouldnt aim to hang out with those experiencing the same success level as you and certainly not those who could drag you down, but rather those who have already surpassed you. Successful people can teach you from their mistakes.  Successful people tend to be more positive, willing to assist others, and can provide all kinds of sound advice.

 

If Jim Rohn is correct then now might be the time to make a new friend who you can look up to and grow with.

 

 
Friday February 21, 2014
 

I had no option, I had to go for it.  Today one of my goals was to have no regrets.

 

Dominique Maltais, Canadian Olympic Medal Winner 2014

 

Estate planning is never easy, but often amusing.  Nevertheless it is something that might be timely since you are already immersed in tax season and really having nothing better to do in the midst of the winter season.  For our clients Estate Planning is a service that is included in our relationship.  Simply contact us and we will arrange your meeting with RBCs Estate Planning Lawyer.

 

Since your Will and Powers of Attorney are the cornerstone of  your estate it should be reviewed from time to time and adjusted whenever you experience a life event (new phrase created by the financial industry for marketing purposes when discussing deaths, divorce, daughter marrying some guy you may or may not approve of, etc.).  Here are some things to consider when preparing your Will:

 

Who will be named executor?  Since this person will essentially be handling all of your affairs after youre gone (liquidating or distributing assets, paying bills, paying your taxes, managing the estate for perhaps years before it is settled), you will want to choose this person(s) with care. 

 

Who will be the beneficiaries of your estate?  Who wont be a beneficiary?  How will the beneficiary receive the inheritance (monthly payouts from a trust because they tend to be a spendthrift, outright inheritance)? 

 

Who will be the custodian of your minor children?  Who will be the custodian of your childrens inheritance?  These arent loaded questions meant to cause a family squabble they are simply things that need to be addressed.

 

The above questions are just a few of the things that must be discussed.  Typically an experienced lawyer will provide lots of guidance for you to follow.

 

If you are not yet a client, please contact us before you die so that we can help pull things together for you.

 
Friday February 14, 2014

 

Do one thing everyday that scares you.

Eleanor Roosevelt

 

 

Louis Riel Day, Heritage Day or Family Day (depending on which Province you live in) is a fabulous Canadian Holiday!  The holiday has been phased in across the country (B.C. actually held a vote, which in some ways doesnt surprise me) in recent years as a welcome break between Christmas holidays and Easter.  Given this years winter weather Im sure everyone appreciates the day off. 

 

If you are looking for some fun activities, toss these ideas out to your family and see what they think:

 

There are many outdoor skating rinks around most cities and towns in Canada.  My favourite haunt for a skate under the stars is the Swansea Rink http://www.swanseahockeyassociation.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=featured&Itemid=181  but I also have a soft spot for the romance of Torontos Harbourfront Natrel Rink http://www.harbourfrontcentre.com/venues/natrelrink/Both offer a fun night out, even if you only do a couple of laps you can always enjoy the aprs skate in nearby restaurants.

 

Have you ever tried downhill skiing or cross country?  This weekend most every resort is open and offering lessons to newbies at special rates.  The Collingwood area is an obvious choice, but Mt. St. Louis and Horseshoe offer excellent facilities too.  What are you waiting for?

 

Maybe a tour of the Art Gallery, then lunch at Franks?

 

Whatever you do this weekend I hope you find it relaxing and fun!  Remember, we are one day closer to spring and this snow wont be here forever.

 
Friday February 7, 2014
 

 Team Canada enters Fisht Stadium for opening ceremony

 

 
Good Luck Canada!!!!
 
 
Friday January 31, 2014
 

To get the full value of joy you must have someone to divide it with.

 

Mark Twain

 

I think the best managers and small business owners know the benefits of having their employees, co-workers, and partners feel appreciated and needed.  Ken Blanchard, certainly made it clear in his best selling book The One Minute Manager and further expanded upon it in the book 1001 Ways To Reward Employees.  Both books are an excellent read whether you are a small business owner or part of a household family.

 

Here are things that great companies are doing to recognize great people as taken from 1001 Ways to Reward Employees:

 

Theres only one reserved parking spot at Odetics Inc. the manufacturer of robots and spaceborne tape recorders in Anaheim California and thats for the person selected as Associate of the Month.

 

Every Westin Hotel holds an annual banquet honouring employees with more than five years service.

 

Coopers & Lybrand, the consulting company, rewards its top employees with 5 day trips to New York City.

 

Blue Cross held a contest to select employees to appear in company commercials.

 

The Walt Disney Company grants an extra five-minute break (or a candy bar) to the employee who finds the guest who has travelled the farthest to come to the park.

 

There are many ways to recognize and reward your peers, co-workers, family and friends.  Some rewards involve money, but most involve little or no cash value.  It seems that simply being recognized and appreciated can be a great motivator in itself and lead to greater happiness and success for all involved.

 

Friday January 23, 2014
 

I would rather have it said that he, Lived usefully than Died rich.

 

Benjamin Franklin

 

I had the pleasure this week of sitting with a friend who is very much a self made person.  He has been very successful and much admired by me and others I am sure.  He is successful not because of the many hundreds of million dollars he has earned personally, but rather because of what he has done with it.  He gives it away.  My admiration for him is not because of his great skill in amassing a fortune, but rather I admire how he has maintained a simple life, goes into the office regularly even though he was eligible for OAS more than 10 years ago, and is focused on helping others. 

 

Should you ever be in a position where making a donation from your stock portfolio might make sense contact me and we can discuss some of the benefits you could enjoy from a tax point of view.  The following excerpt from an RBC article provides a nice overview.

 

When it comes to charitable giving, you have a number of different options that can help you achieve your philanthropic goals, while at the same time providing you with some tax relief.

 

Donating securities

The federal government introduced several tax incentives in recent years to encourage charitable giving by Canadians, including the elimination of capital gains tax when you donate publicly listed securities to qualified charities. Not only do you receive a tax break, you also receive a donation receipt equal to the fair market value of the donated security.

 

For example, due to the donation tax credit, your out-of-pocket cost for making an in-kind donation of a security worth $100,000 with a cost of say $40,000, if your marginal tax rate is 45% is approximately $55,000. However, if you sold the security first and then donated the cash, your out-of-pocket donation cost would be $68,500 due to paying about $13,500 in capital gains tax.

 

 

 
Friday January 17, 2014
 

"If standard of living is your major objective, quality of life almost never improves, but if quality of life is your number one objective, your standard of living almost always improves."

Zig Ziglar, Motivational Speaker

 

The first Grand Slam of the season opened in Australia and so far all the favourites are still in the race:  Genie Bouchard, Milos Raonic, and of course Federer and Nadal.  Come on Roger, just one more time!

 

Aside from tennis many clients are getting a hint of whats to come as tax season approaches.  It wont be long before you wander into your accountants office and drop a box on her desk, hoping that all the receipts and slips are in there somewhere.  Hope, of course, is the operative word because no doubt you will receive a phone call days later from your accountant asking for clarification or a missing T-3.  One way to avoid the stress, reduce your taxes and do the job more efficiently is to simply make the Executive Decision to consolidate your RRSPs, TFSAs and investment accounts all in one spot here.  Doing so will allow us to correspond directly with your accountant, deliver missing tax slips, answer questions on your behalf and provide missing ACBs and other acronyms.  Consolidation may also lead to a reduction in fees.

 

Many wealthy investors open multiple accounts of the same type, with different financial institutions and different advisors, either because it simply happened this way over time or because they believe it to be an effective way to diversify.

 

Diversification is one of the golden rules of investing to reduce risk and boost your return potential over time. But diversification is really about how you invest your money not where you keep it. Investing through multiple accounts and multiple advisors instead of consolidating your assets with one trusted advisor may impede proper diversification and potentially expose you to greater risk.

 

The benefits of consolidating your assets with RBCs Doyle Wealth Management Team are:

 

Reduced costs. By consolidating your investable assets with us, you may pay lower fees, based on a sliding scale. By spreading your investments among multiple advisors and multiple financial institutions, you lose the economy of scale.

 

Simplified administration and consolidated reporting. With consolidation, you bring together all your investment accounts with one advisor, which makes it much easier to keep track of your investments and their overall performance. The paper statements you receive in the mail are minimized and the tax reporting related to your investment income and dispositions becomes easier to manage and more accurate. Your tax preparation fees may also be reduced since your accountant will be spending less time sorting through all the statements and determining the average cost base of identical investments.

 

Easier Estate settlement process. Having investment and bank accounts spread among many different financial institutions will make your estate settlement process administratively more difficult for your executor/liquidator and potentially more costly. By consolidating assets, you have peace of mind knowing that after you pass away, your surviving spouse or other beneficiaries will have one point of contact that you trust who will manage their overall assets to ensure they have adequate income.

 

More efficient retirement income planning. Consolidation also enables you to manage your investments more effectively, helping you structure your investments to generate the retirement income you need. In retirement, you will have many different income sources, such as government pensions, employer pensions, Locked-in Retirement Savings Plans, Registered Retirement Income Funds, non-registered income and part-time employment income. If you have one trusted advisor managing your investments, its easier for that advisor to determine how and in what order you should be withdrawing from all the different income sources to maximize your after-tax retirement income.

 

Diversifying by advisor. Sometimes, investors decide against consolidating their assets with one advisor, thinking that they can diversify by advisor. This is particularly true of investors with portfolios of $1 million or more. The idea is that if one advisor doesnt do well, the other might.

 

Unfortunately, this is a myth. By dividing your investments among multiple advisors, you actually make it more difficult to properly manage your investments. Since each of the advisors doesnt know what the others are doing, it often results in over-diversification, conflicting advice and needless duplication of your investments. Furthermore, its difficult to know how your investments are performing overall by having your assets spread among more than one advisor. A better option is to consider consolidating your assets with one knowledgeable advisor who can provide you with a properly coordinated financial strategy.

 

Consolidating your investments with us and introducing me to your accountant will accomplish to major goals:  Your costs may be reduced, your workload and stress of having to answer to your accountant will be eliminated, and the overall return on your investments will be much more coordinated and focused on your goals. 

 

Please call me so that we can discuss and make your life better and easier (416.231.5092).  Thank you.

 
Friday January, 10, 2014
 

A person could make a career out of laying the groundwork to do something really big.  Getting ready is quite frankly, a stalling tactic, an act of anxiety, a con game youre working on yourself.

Price Pritchett

 

Im not bragging, but have you checked out the Swansea Hockey site http://www.swanseahockeyassociation.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=10&tab=6&Itemid=118  to see who is in first place?  Actually what is really amazing is that the community has pulled together for over 40 years to offer the children in the area a place to play together and learn some sports.  Its success is due to the efforts of volunteers and supporters such as the City and local businesses.  Even the Toronto Maple Leafs have been known to show up in the past to lend their support!

 

During the first few weeks of this year you will be receiving phone calls and letters reminding you to make your RRSP contribution, RESP contribution for the children, and of course adding to your TFSA.  For the typical family of four, that could amount to having to write a cheque for $40,000 or more.  Not everyone keeps that amount of money in their Chequing account.

 

Rather than miss out on the benefits (need?) of saving for retirement, not sheltering some savings in a Tax Free Savings Account, or not getting the $500 Government Grant each year for your childs RESP, perhaps it is time to put a strategy in place to achieve your dreams and goals?

 

Dollar cost averaging is simply a strategy whereby we setup an amount of money that is automatically debited monthly from your chequing account and deposited to your account here.  We will set it up for you and invest it for you.  You can adjust the amounts, etc. anytime.

 

Aside from reducing the stress at this time of year when you know what you should do but find it hard to come up with the cash, dollar cost averaging has many other benefits:

 

During choppy or volatile markets, dollar cost averaging can reduce the risk of trying to time the market.

 

Dollar cost averaging forces a disciplined approach that is not derailed by personal emotions.

 

Dollar cost averaging creates a good habit of saving that ultimately can lead to some positive surprises as the years pass and you become wealthy.  Once you get used to making monthly contributions it becomes as much of a habit as paying your electric bill.  The big difference is that it can lead to your personal financial freedom and happier life.
 
Friday January 3, 2014
 
 
The Best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.
Chinese Proverb 

 

Six years ago, the Canadian government introduced the Tax-Free Savings Account, in an effort to prompt Canadians to save more.  Since its launch in 2009, the TFSA has presented Canadians with another option in their savings arsenals arguably one of the most important since the RRSP was first launched in 1957.

 

For decades, the advice was short and simple: put as much in your RRSP as you could afford. But then the TFSA came along, and now investors are faced with new decisions about whether to put their savings in an RRSP or a TFSA (or both).

 

We get questions every day from our clients about TFSAs, such as:

 
1.With limited funds, which one should I choose the TFSA or RRSP? How do I prioritize?

2. Are there rules of thumb that can guide the decision as to which to invest in, such as income levels, tax rates, or stages of life?

 

You contribute to an RRSP with pre-tax income; however, withdrawals are taxable.  Although RRSPs are used primarily as a retirement savings vehicle, government programs exist that allow you to borrow funds from your RRSP to, for example, buy your first home or continue your education without tax consequences.

The younger TFSA, on the other hand, is more flexible. A TFSA contribution is made with after-tax dollars and withdrawals are tax-free. You dont lose contribution room if you make a withdrawal, but you will need to wait until the next taxation year to re-contribute the money. This makes it an ideal vehicle to fund a variety of expenditures, particularly a short term cash cushion or emergency fund.

 

One of the most important distinctions between a TFSA and an RRSP is in regards to tax. An important point to look at is your marginal tax rate. If your marginal tax rate stays about the same throughout your working career and beyond into retirement, the relative advantages of an RRSP and TFSA (assuming the same investments are made inside each) are similar. If, however, you expect marginal tax rate to decrease at retirement, an RRSP would likely be more advantageous to you. Conversely, if you expect your marginal tax rate to be higher at the time of withdrawal than at the time of contribution, the TFSA is likely a better choice. This can be tricky, as it can evolve into a guessing game when it comes to predicting your marginal tax rate in the future and making RRSP/TFSA decisions accordingly.

 

We know that it can be a challenge to make a decision between contributing to a TFSA or RRSP. Its important to remember that one plan is not inherently better than the other; they just provide different ways to save on taxes and compound your returns over time. A successful investor can use both plans to achieve the maximum benefit for his or her savings goals.
 

The choice of a TFSA or an RRSP depends on your individual goals and objectives, as well as your current situation, needs, expected future financial situation, and future income level.  Contact us for more information, to contribute or to set up your new RRSP or Tax Free Savings Account.

 

Friday December 27, 2013

Chi E Uso Alla Zappa Non Piglia La Lancia

He who uses a shovel doesnt take up a spear.

 Slow Life In A Tuscan Town

  

It is that time of year, time to make a New Years resolution.  A great tradition started many years ago when The Romans began each year by making promises to the god Janus, for whom the month of January is named.  Since then resolutions have become a part of societies around the world with generally the same theme:  A promise to ones self to improve an aspect of our life.

 

Despite the 88% failure rate (according to some polls) the tradition lives on.  According to Wikipedia some of the most popular resolutions are: 

  • Improve physical well-being: eat healthy food, lose weight, excercise more, eat better, drink less alcohol, quit smoking, stop biting nails, get rid of old bad habits
  • Improve mental well-being; think positive, laugh more often, enjoy life
  • Improve finances: get out of debt, save money, make small investments
  • Improve career: perform better at current job, get a better job, establish own business
  • Improve education: improve grades, get a better education, learn something new (such as a foreign language or music), study often, read more books, improve talents
  • Improve self: become more organized, reduce stress, be less grumpy, manage time, be more independent, perhaps watch less television, play fewer sitting-down video games
  • Take a trip
  • Volunteer to help others, practice life skills, use civic virtue, give to charity, volunteer to work part-time in a charity organization (NGO)
  • Get along better with people, improve social skills, enhance social intelligence
  • Make new friends
  • Spend quality time with family members
  • Settle down, get engaged/get married, have kids
  • Try foreign foods, discovering new cultures
  • Pray more, be closer to God, be more spiritual

In an effort to improve the success rate of New Years resolutions amongst my clients I have attached some advice from a Judy Librach (Life Coach) on how to succeed in keeping your resolution.  Judy says:

To start, don't make too many New Year's resolutions. Choose one or two really good ones. So, if you want to lose weight, be specific. Write down exactly how much you want to lose and by when. For example, "I would love to lose 10 pounds by March 15th." Then write down exactly and realistically how you are going to accomplish it. What diet plan and what exercise plan can you commit to? Keep a journal or diary and put a checkmark beside your commitments as you have accomplished them.

The top resolution pitfalls include being too vague about what you want, procrastinating, and letting your gremlin or inner critic get in the way. Having an advocate to keep you accountable to your goals is way more powerful than going it alone, and is proven to improve your success rate. Choose a friend or loved one to help you accomplish your goal, whether that's a weight goal, writing a script or organizing closets and cupboards.

Do something towards your goal every day, even if it's the tiniest action. 
 

Personally I like to make a few resolutions.  Diversify a bit, dont you think?

 

Friday December 20, 2013
 

In oneself lies the whole world and if you know how to look and learn, the door is there and the key is in your hand.  Nobody on earth can give you either the key or the door to open, except yourself.

 
 J.Krishnamarti

 

Whoaa a bit deep.  Good, but deep.

 

For those who are on our mailing list you will soon be receiving our December newsletter.  Answers to the Estate Planning Quiz in the newsletter are on our website under the tab Estate Planning Quiz.  If you arent on our mailing list send us a note and we will add you to our future mailings.  Aside from the occasional article on estate planning we often cover ideas on how to improve your retirement plan, tax saving ideas, and general investment ideas.

 

In addition to managing your investments, planning retirements, assisting you with your Private Banking needs and providing estate planning we also provide advice on how to build snowmen.  Since most of our clients tend to be of the A Type, just any old snowman will not do.  We focus on designing snowmen or snowwomen that are suitable for the most discerning trust child.  Size is of great importance as are the accessories chosen to adorn your snowwoman or snowman.  At the risk of telling you how to build it right, I have collected some tips for your consideration. 

Unless you grew up in Fiji, you probably already know the basics of snowman building.  That is why I will only highlight a few of the secrets to building a bigger, better, faster, stronger snowman. Okay, maybe not faster; Frostys still not going anywhere. But these tips can help you or your kids create the best snowman in the neighborhood.

Start with good snow. You cant make a silk purse out of a sows ear and you cant make a good snowman from powdery snow. You need the slightly wet stuff. Not slush mind you, but the kind of snow you get when its just above or just below freezing. Slightly wet snow packs easier and holds onto buttons and coal lumps better. If the snow you have to work with is too dry, you can help nature along by spraying it with a hose fit with a nozzle that produces a fine mist. Youre also going to need about 4 inches of snow on the ground to avoid hitting dirt and creating a mudman.

Make the balls. Start with a big snowball you pack in your hand and then roll it on the ground, allowing it to pick up snow and get bigger. Remember to roll it in different directions so that you dont wind up with a cylinder instead of a nice sphere. Keep the ball from making contact with the snowless ground and from picking up dirt and twigs and such.

The bottom ball is the biggest. Place it where you want the snowman to reside; if you can see it from inside the house, all the better. Try to pick a place thats shaded and not in direct sunlight. This will help increase the snowmans longevity.

Positioning your snowman can not only be key to keeping it from melting, but it is also key to ensuring that everyone in the neighbourhood knows that aside from being a super-parent, you are also an awesome over the top snow sculpture. 

Stack the balls. Jim Sysko, an expert snowman builder who helped work on the largest snowman in the world, recommends that you flatten the top of the first ball. Then when you make the middle segment ball, flatten the bottom of that ball before you place it on the first ball. Flat on flat=more stability. Repeat this process so that the top of the middle ball and the bottom of the top ball are flat too.

If youre building a gigantic snowman and find that you cannot lift the middle or top ball to be placed, get a plank and roll the ball up it.

Once you have all the balls stacked on top of one another, pack snow in-between the segments to add further stability to the structure.

Spruce up your snowman. Once you build the snowmans basic structure, your next task is to bring Old Frosty to life. An old silk hat is key in this, although it stands a good chance of blowing away. A carrot for the nose and coal (although who can find coal these days? Little rocks work almost as well) and buttons for the eyes and mouth are classic add-ons. Just get creative and see what you have in the backyard and the kitchen. Prunes work well for the eyes and provide a snack for the birds. Place some sticks in the side for arms.  Scarves, gloves, Canadian Toque are also great ideas. 

If you can set a spotlight or two on her then go for it!  Maybe some fake jewelry that glistens and sparkles! 

In lieu of physical add-ons, consider painting your snowman with a mixture of food coloring and water. You can paint on a smile or traumatize your children by adding some tears as Frosty starts to melt. Or if you really want to traumatize the kids, you can give your snowman a bleeding bullet wound or head injury. Just kidding but hey maybe painting on a tuxedo might be a fun New Years Eve event? 

Send us your photos! 

Friday December 13, 2013
 

"Each experience through which we pass operates ultimately for our good. This is a correct attitude to adopt and we must be able to see it in that light."

 Raymond Holliwell ( writer )
 

The Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA)

Starting January 1, 2014, you can contribute an additional $5,500 to your TFSA to benefit from additional tax-free investment growth. With the contribution room from 2009 through 2013, you may be able to contribute up to $31,000 to your TFSA if you havent opened yours yet.

Within your RRSP or RRIF, your investment earnings grow on a tax-deferred basis, which means you dont pay tax on the earnings until you eventually withdraw them typically resulting in faster growth. But with the TFSA, your investment earnings grow on a tax-free basis, which means you never pay tax on them not even at the time of withdrawal. This tax-free growth enables your savings to grow much faster than they otherwise would.

 

The TFSA is an extremely flexible savings account that can meet a wide range of needs. It can help you:

 

-Save for short-term goals like financing home renovations or long-term goals like retirement.

-Build additional tax-advantaged retirement savings above and beyond your RRSP.

-Earn tax-free income on surplus RRIF payments that you dont currently need.

-Contribute to a family members education savings beyond their Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).

-Reduce your familys overall taxes when you gift investable assets exposed to your higher tax rate to your lower-income spouse or adult children to contribute to their own TFSAs.

-Shelter fully taxable interest income that you are currently earning in a taxable account.

-Create a contingency fund for emergencies or time-sensitive opportunities.

 

How does the TFSA work?

 

Opening a TFSA

Any Canadian resident aged 18 and older with a Social Insurance Number can open a TFSA. In some provinces, you have to wait until you turn 19 (British Columbia, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland & Labrador). However, TFSA contribution room starts accumulating at age 18 regardless of your province of residence.
 

Making contributions

From 2009-2012, you could contribute up to $5,000 per year to your TFSA. In 2013, this amount increased to $5,500.

You can also gift funds to your spouse or adult child to contribute to their own plans.

There is no income requirement to contribute to a TFSA you can make contributions even if you have no income.

While your contributions are not tax-deductible against your income, as they are with an RRSP, any investment income they earn accumulates tax-free.

If you dont use all of your available contribution room in a given year, you can carry it forward indefinitely. There is no age limit for contributing to your TFSA its a lifelong plan.

 
Making withdrawals

You can withdraw as much as you want, whenever you want, for whatever reason you want and you pay no taxes on the withdrawal. Whats more, any amounts you withdraw are added to your available contribution room for future years.

 
Transferring your TFSA

You can transfer the assets in your TFSA at the date of your death to your spouse (or common-law partner) tax-free by naming them as the successor holder or beneficiary on your TFSA. Your spouse can transfer these assets to their own TFSA without affecting their available contribution room. If you do not name a successor holder or a beneficiary on your TFSA, then the TFSA assets will form part of your estate.

 

 
Friday December 6, 2013
 
Success is more a function of consistent common sense than it is of genius."
An Wang, Founder of Wang Laboratories

 

Results from  the RBC Dominion Securities National Client Survey show an increased interest among our clients in learning more about the services offered by RBC in the Estate & Trust services area.  In response to this interest, RBC has created similar marketing material around Power of Attorney services and are pleased to provide you with a sample of the new brochure called Your Reference Guide For Acting As An Attorney under a Power of Attorney. 

 

The brochure explains the duties an attorney for property (named under a Power of Attorney) would need to undertake. 

 

As outlined in the Mind The Gap special repo0rt, as Canadas population ages, it will become increasingly important for clients to prepare for the possibility of incapacity and plan ahead by establishing a power of attorney.  An attorney boom is expected, where many clients will be appointed as attorneys but may face complications such as being located in a different jurisdiction, lack of financial expertise or time to devote to managing someone elses affairs. 

 

This brochure is available to you simply by contacting Jessica or I.  We also have additional resources too.  We would be pleased to assist.
 
Friday November 29, 2013
 

In simplest terms, a leader is one who knows where he wants to go, and gets up and goes."
 John Erksine - Author

 

Okay, I know this isnt the first time its ever happened, but wasnt that snow storm we had last week a great opener to the season?  Based on my observations of animal activity the past two months Im betting on a cold snowy winter ahead.  This brings me to my next question, one that has been debated throughout the office and around the curling rink.  Do snow tires really make much difference?  Are they worth the added expense?

 

Amongst my peers their seems to be a general agreement that within the city a good set of all season tires that are in good shape will do the job.  As you stray north or into the snow belt, well thats a different story. 

 

These are David Singhs (writer) thoughts on the subject:  In a very simple, non-scientific brake test We put two Ford Focuses on an icy course and had them drive at 50 km/h to a marker before slamming on the brakes. The Focus equipped with winter tires stopped a significant distance shorter than the Focus with all-season tires 4.5-car lengths shorter, to be exact. 

On the other hand according to the Ontarios Ministry of Transport Our analysis of recent data from Quebec indicates there is not enough evidence yet to suggest that mandatory winter tire legislation has had a significant impact on traffic collisions or injuries.

In the end I decided to get snow tires.  My reasoning was that given that I tend to drive my cars into the ground before replacing them, I do need to replace my tires over the life of the car.  If I have two sets of tires (snows & all season) then that seems to work out. 
 

Let me know your thoughts on this one.

  

Friday November 22, 2013
 

I was asking myself why I was having these obstacles in my life then I suddenly became aware that these obstacles were my life, and I began to enjoy them.

 

John Kanary, Author

 

If the credit crunch has taken the fizz out of the UK's champagne market, Italy's best-kept secret Prosecco is emerging as the clear winner over the festive season (Rebecca Smithers, The Guardian).

Despite the general downturn in sales of fizz across all retailers this year, the sparkling tipple has been bucking the trend. Prosecco has proved to be the star of its fizz category. Sales are already double what they were this time last year, with the biggest expected concentrated sales of the year still to come in the run-up to New Year celebrations.

Alain Guilpain, said: "What makes the rising demand for Prosecco even more startling is that until about five years ago it was generally only known by connoisseurs. But it has grown by word of mouth and has become our fastest-growing fizz this year, not only riding the credit crunch storm but emerging as a true winner because of its great quality and keen price point."

Prosecco takes its name from the Glera or Prosecco white grape variety which is grown mainly in the Conegliano and Valdobbiadene wine-growing regions of north-east Italy. It is a fresh and lively wine with crisp, fruit-driven character, often compared to apples and dessert pears with a clean, refreshing finish.

It was the original wine used in the Bellini. The Bellini was invented sometime between 1934 and 1948 by Giuseppe
Cipriani founder of,Harrys Bar in Venice Italy. Because of its unique pink color, which reminded Cipriani of the color of the toga of a saint in a painting by 15th-century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini he named the drink the Bellini.  Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles frequented Harrys and are said to have enjoyed many a Bellini.

The next time you are in Rome or Venice stop by Harrys, but in the meantime consider trying it as this years festive option. 

Friday November 15, 2013

Lost time is never found again.

Benjamin Franklin

 

Private Investment Management

 

A more personalized approach to discretionary investment management

 

As you pursue your goals, you may discover that you have less and less time to focus on important matters such as the management of your wealth. Indeed, as you enjoy greater success in life, your financial affairs will likely become more complex and demand more of your time.

 

To help you delegate these important responsibilities with confidence, RBC is pleased to offer RBC Dominion Securities Private Investment Management. Private Investment Management is our premium level of discretionary wealth management, available exclusively to our clients. It is designed to free you from the day-to-day details of managing your wealth, so you can pursue your own personal and professional goals.

 

The highest credentials at your service

Only a select group of RBC Dominion Securities advisors are able to offer discretionary portfolio management services through Private Investment Management. In order to offer Private Investment Management, advisors must possess a certain level of experience managing significant investment assets, in addition to completing advanced investment industry accreditations. Applicants are then presented to the board for review and approval.  I am pleased to be able to offer this service to clients.

 

A fully customized experience

With Private Investment Management, you receive a completely customized portfolio, designed in close consultation with you, then managed on your behalf to free your time. Your individual portfolio is built from the ground up based on factors such as your growth requirements, income needs and risk tolerance. Furthermore, you hold segregated securities in your portfolio providing you with greater flexibility in how your portfolio is structured. We will handle all the details on an ongoing basis, working within specific guidelines, which are established in your customized Investment Policy Statement. We are always accountable to these guidelines, which are reviewed at least annually and updated in consultation with you.

 

Advantages of personal discretionary management

 Fewer missed opportunities. We are able to take advantage of investment opportunities quickly and efficiently because your approval is not required for every single transaction. A careful process involving strict guidelines, checks and balances, and formal reviews ensures that your portfolio is managed to the highest standards of ethics and professionalism.

 

A personal touch. Most discretionary accounts offer portfolio management through a centralized source usually an institutional investment management firm. While you enjoy a high level of money management, you dont have a personal relationship with your Portfolio Manager. With Private Investment Management, you can sit down with us one-on-one to discuss your needs. Its this personal understanding that makes Private Investment Management unique. It also gives you a greater degree of control compared to traditional discretionary accounts, where people you are unlikely to ever meet manage your wealth. Because you have a personal relationship with us, your portfolio can more accurately reflect your individual needs and goals on an ongoing basis.

 

Minimize your risk. Your portfolio will also be reviewed quarterly by our Private Investment Management Portfolio Risk Group to ensure it is managed according to the terms of your Investment Policy Statement. The Portfolio Risk Group also reviews your portfolio based on a second set of guidelines that overlay the entire program. These guidelines are in place to ensure that all Private Investment Management clients hold quality investments and a suitable asset mix for their situation

 

If you desire the freedom to pursue your interests, while knowing that your portfolio is in the care of trusted professionals, I invite you to consider Private Investment Management. Please contact us at 416-231-5092 for more information.

 

 

Friday November 8, 2013
 

Parents today might be surprised to discover what kids can do if they are left to their own devices.  We certainly learned to figure things out for ourselves.  If we wanted to play (hockey), we had to do the work to make it happen.  If there is no one there to tell you to play nice, you figure out pretty quickly that there really is a code, and kids naturally respect it.

 

Bobby Orr
Bobby Orr: Great Book. Put it on your list.

 

Did you know that as a client you can have access to many specialized resources to help manage your personal financial and estate planning?  Although the term Family Office is often tossed around in the financial community, I like to believe that it is a service that my clients can truly enjoy.

By drawing on the RBC Wealth Management Services' team of highly accredited lawyers, accountants and financial planning professionals, we are able to deliver a level of integrated wealth management expertise that previously was available only to the most affluent families.

The professionals within RBC Wealth Management Services and I, will work with you to help meet your goals by providing the personalized advice required for your unique financial and personal situations.  As you may be able to appreciate, having dealt with families for many years, we have seen a lot of unique situations and have created many solutions to meet personal and business needs.

Creating unique solutions to accommodate your credit needs is only one of the many services offered by our Private Banking Team.  Safeguarding your childrens inheritances is a common concern that our Estate Planning Lawyers face regularly.  Tax questions are regularly fielded by our accountants in the Financial Advisory Group. 

As a client, dont forget to take advantage of the services that are included and part of our relationship.

Friday November 1, 2013
 

There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.

John Holmes - Writer, "Politics of Humanity"
 
If you have ever driven through Frances Burgundy region you may have noticed a glorious building roofed with patterned tiles of yellow, red and other colours.  It is of course the Hotel-Dieu and November is the month of the annual charity auction.  Christies will be managing the auction and for those who cannot attend, there will be website access to the live auction.

 

Each year, on the third weekend of November, Beaune plays host to the world's most famous charity wine sale. Professionals, connoisseurs and wine lovers come together for two days of festivities, the epitome of pure Burgundy tradition.

 

Nestling in the heart of  Burgundy, Beaune is the capital of wine and the domaine des hospices, its historic emblem. Beaune and its hospices (charitable institution) have been passing on the singular taste of the grapes of Burgundy since the 15th century. These highly sought-after wines are drunk around the world and this is largely thanks to the internationally renowned annual charity auction.

 

The auction takes place in a unique setting: the Htel-Dieu is an extraordinary collection of hospital buildings with their glazed coloured tiles, built by Nicolas Rollin, chancellor of Philippe le Bon (Philip the Good), Duke of Burgundy, in 1443. Since 1471, vast tracts of land have been donated and bequeathed to the Hospices de Beaune and its vineyards extend throughout the ctes de Nuits and the ctes de Beaune. And since 1859, the Hospices' prestigious vintages have been sold by candlelight on the third Sunday of November every year. For several centuries now, the entire proceeds of this exceptional charity auction have been dedicated to the charitable and religious works of the old hospices as well as new civil and secular hospital institutions.

 

As an aside, if you think buying a barrel of wine is a bit much (288 bottles), bottles are available within the town of Beaune. 

 

 

Friday October 25, 2013
 
I owed the government $3,400 in taxes.  So I sent them two hammers and a toilet seat. 
 Michael McShane

 

 

As year-end approaches your thoughts may be turning to the holidays, winter sports, spending time with family and friends, and of course ... year-end tax planning! Well, to be fair, perhaps tax planning is not the first thing you think of, however, taking a few minutes to review your financial affairs can yield significant tax savings. To ensure that you leave no stone unturned, I have summarized a popular year-end tax planning technique.

 

Understanding that there is risk when investing your capital, the Government does offer an attractive tax rate on capital gains that you earn.  You are taxed at your personal tax rate on only 50% of the capital gains you realize. 

 

To further minimize your taxes it is important to net out where possible any gains against any losses that you may have incurred.  This would then minimize your net taxable capital gain for the year. 

 

The strategy of selling securities at a loss to offset other capital gains realized during the year is probably the most popular year-end tax planning technique. When disposing of an investment, you must remember that the sale for Canadian tax purposes will be deemed to have taken place on the settlement date. 

 

Any capital losses generated that cannot be used in the current year can be carried back three years to be applied against capital gains of prior years (i.e., 2010, 2011 or 2012) or carried forward indefinitely. Note that this is the last year which you can carry your losses back to 2010 and offset them against your 2010 capital gains.

 

Although it is important to reduce taxes whenever possible it is important to ensure that any such action is within the context of your overall long term plan. 

 

As the year end approaches I will be reviewing your account for opportunities and as always will welcome your comments.  This is also a good time of year for me to have a chat with your accountant, as they typically keep good records of your historic gain/loss position. 

 
Friday October 18, 2013
 

One hundred percent of the shots you dont take wont go in (the net).

Hockey Dad

Howard Buffett, son of Warren Buffett.

If you had the resources to accomplish something great in the world, what would you do? That was effectively the question my dad, Warren Buffett, posed to my brother, sister, and me in 2006 when he announced he was giving the bulk of his fortune away to philanthropy. With what is now around $3 billion for each of our individual foundations, he made one thing crystal clear: we should work on the most difficult challenges and sometimes we should expect to fail. As he put it, You can bat a thousand in this game if you want to do nothing important. Or youll bat something less than that if you take on the really tough problems.

It took me almost a decade to realize that his encouragement to take risks was just as important as the financial resources he provided.

Initially our foundation focused on animal and habitat conservation. It didnt take long, however, to figure out that poverty and hunger drive vulnerable people to do things they would not otherwise do like poach elephants, kill cheetah, slash and burn rainforests, grow illegal drugs, or even kill each other over limited and valuable resources. I realized I couldnt accomplish my goals in conservation without focusing on people first. Nearly one billion people in the world go to bed every night hungry or unsure where their next meal is coming from. And that level of suffering in turn fuels conflict, environmental degradation, human trafficking and other acts of desperation.

Within a few years I realized that much of the money my foundation had spent had made very little permanent difference. Yes, we had helped protect pockets of endangered species, and we had provided vital help to people in short-term crisis. But the standard development playbook dependent on aid was not addressing the fundamental causes of what we wanted to change.

Frustrated and impatient, I knew we had to figure out how to do things differently. And I realized if a private family foundation cant take chances on new ideas, then who can? As Ive written about in my new book, 40 Chances: Finding Hope in a Hungry World, taking higher risks meant making mistakes and I made enough to have lots of interesting stories to tell. But in the process I gained a much clearer idea of what needs to change if we really want to address global food insecurity.

For example there is Joe Whinney, the CEO of the Seattle premium chocolate company Theo Chocolate. I think of Joe as the equivalent of a special forces entrepreneur. Joe is a risk-taker who sees potential even in conflict in his case the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, one of the poorest, most conflict-ridden, and frankly most dangerous places on earth. Today, Theo sources significant amounts of cocoa and vanilla from the DRC, creating sustainable livelihoods for local farmers with few other good options for survival.

Eva Longoria, a serious and thoughtful philanthropist who also happens to be a successful actress and producer, is also not content with the status quo. She is investing in low-income, Latina entrepreneurs in the United States, offering microloans so that women at high risk for food insecurity a problem for 1 in 6 Americans can start businesses and secure a better future for themselves and their families.

Former Prime Minister Tony Blair and I took very different paths to working on development, but we share a common belief that leadership and governance are vital. That is why I am partnering with his Africa Governance Initiative in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and other countries.

I am drawn to people like Ed, Joe, Eva, and Tony because I relate to their way of thinking and decision-making. I am not the kind of person who suffers from analysis paralysis. I trust my gut, and when I see a problem I jump in and try to fix it. That can be messy, I know I will make mistakes, but I always learn something that makes me smarter on the next go-around. Ed, Joe, Eva, and Tony are the kind of people who not only work intensely toward the right goals, they will keep improving the process as they go so others dont keep making the same mistakes.

In my day job I am a farmer. In farming, you have on average 40 growing seasons or 40 chances to produce the best crop possible. We have to learn something every year to increase our odds that next years harvest will be better than the last, and there are plenty of variables outside our control like weather that we have to work around. This applies in life as well, and it is a way of thinking that has shaped my views on philanthropy and the risks we need to take to really accomplish something important.

I think my dads advice about risk applies whether your passion to create change involves business, philanthropy, or your personal life (or some combination of all three). Remember to ask yourself:

What are the risks worth taking to achieve something truly important?

What is my unique advantage and how can I best leverage it? (in my case, the freedom of running a private foundation)

How will I embrace and learn from failure?

Most importantly, we all need to remember that we have a limited time window to create impact. So I urge you: dont worry about your batting average but about how to make the most of your 40 chances.

Friday October 11, 2013
 

If you cant live through adversity, youll never be good at what you do.  You have to live through the unfair things and keep you eyes focused on what you have to do.

 

Hank Greenberg, CEO

 

Best wishes for the Thanksgiving Weekend!  Hope to talk soon.

 

 

1. According to the Butterball corporation, they recommend that you thaw a wrapped turkey in the refrigerator how long per 4  pounds of bird?

 
(a) One hour per 4 lbs.
(b) 8 Hours per 4 lbs.
(c) One Day per 4 Lbs.
(d) 4 hours per 4 Lbs (or one hour per pound)
 
2. The first department store to hold a Thanksgiving parade was:
 
(a) Montgomery Wards
(b) J.C. Penney's
(c) Gimbel's
(d) Macy's
(e) None of the above. It was a non-commercial event.
 
3. Butterball says that once the turkey is done, you should let it stand for 15 minutes before serving because:

(a) So you don't burn your tongue when you eat it.
(b) It's easier to carve
(c) To let the aroma go through the house.
(d) To let the stuffing cool a bit before you take it out.

 

4. What was the name of the ship the pilgrims came over on?
 
5. Before being harvested and sold, an individual cranberry must bounce at least how many inches high to make sure they aren't too ripe?
 

(a) 1 inch
(b) 2 inches
(c) 3 inches
(d) 4 inches

 

6. Turkeys can drown if they look up in the rain. True or False?

 
7. How fast can a turkey run?
 

(a) 7 mph
(b) 11 mph
(c) 18 mph
(d) 25 mph

 
8. Baby turkeys are called?

(a) Chicks
(b) Poults
(c) Tommies
(d) They don't have a name for them.
 
9. What are unhappy cranberries called?
 

Thanksgiving Quiz Answers:  1.(c), 2. (C), 3. (d), 4. (Mayflower), 5. (d), 6. True, 7. (d), 8. (b), 9. Blueberries!

 

 

Friday October 4, 2013
 Decide that you want it more than you are afraid of it.

Bill Cosby

Already this week I have had several discussions with clients regarding their childrens Registered Education Savings Plan.  Perhaps it is the fact that kids are back in school or simply that the calendar year end is fast approaching, regardless parents and grandparents understand the value of giving the gift of knowledge.

There are several different ways you can save for a family members education but a registered education savings plan (RESP) offers tax-deferred investment growth and direct government assistance (free $$) to help you reach your education savings goals. 

As a client we can offer you Family RESP plans that allow you to name more than one beneficiary under the same plan.  You can also name more than one subscriber (contributors).  The lifetime contribution limit for each child named in the plan is $50,000 therefore if both the parents and the grandparents are contributing the limit is still only $50,000. 

Plans that are started early in the childs life can grow considerably through compound earnings.  The growth is sheltered and deferred until the child withdraws the funds and given their very low tax bracket at that time, most often little or no income tax is paid by them. 

Probably the biggest attraction of RESPs are the fact that each year (up to the childs age 17) the Government will give you a grant of up to $500 which is directly deposited to the RESP (equal to 20% of your contribution, up to a maximum of $500 per year, lifetime total maximum grant $7200). 

Translation:  You contribute $2500 to your childs RESP each year and Government gives you $500 each year.  You do this for 15 consecutive years to get the maximum.  The money grows at 6% each year and after 15 years you have $81,639.

Execution:  At Thanksgiving Dinner while grandparents are have children sitting on their lap show them this blog.  Tell them that for only $209 a month (we take monthly deposits) that they can ensure their lovely grandchildren can afford to get an education, a gift they will never forget.

My Phone Number:  416-231-5092

Friday September 27, 2013

Be careful when things are going well, because you can be a rooster one day and a feather duster the next.

Syd Fischer, Australian Yachtsman

 

This week while I was walking down Bay Street I couldnt help but notice a guy in front of the old Stock Exchange, with no shoes on, standing in a box of topsoil, wearing tree branches sticking out of his head and shoulders, with water dripping from his fingers.  Not sure what to make of that? 

Predicting investment returns is one of the most frequent questions we are asked, and one of the most difficult to answer.  There is no guaranteed answer (unless we are talking about Guaranteed Investment Certificates) and thus our response is always tempered by saying something like, it depends on the asset mix and the time frame.  In addition the skill of the portfolio manager is a major factor, as are management fees. 

The Governments Canada Pension Plan (CPP) is using an after-inflation rate of return target of 4%.  This is based on an assumed long term inflation target of 2%.  Thus the number they use is about 6%.  Remember this number is a long term estimated return over a period of perhaps 20 25 years.

Based on actuarial calculations and investor forecasts, 6% seems to be the consensus number for a well balanced (65% equity / 35% fixed income) actively managed portfolio.  A good portfolio manager can improve those returns and reduce volatility along the way, and avoiding over priced fees can obviously help too. 

So what does this all add up to?  If you have $500,000 in your RRSP at age 65 and begin withdrawing $3,000 per month, you will run out of money somewhere around age 93.

Friday September 20, 2013

You do things when the opportunities come along. Ive had periods in my life when Ive had a bundle of ideas come along, and Ive had long dry spells. If I get an idea next week, Ill do something. If not, I wont do a damn thing.

Warren Buffett

Being able to retire at 65, with an RRSP that can support you, and a spouse to share retirement with
is like hitting a triactor these days, but if youre so lucky here are a couple of things to keep in mind:

Recent changes by Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) allow Canadians to split pension incomes with their spouses for tax purposes.  This can result in substantial tax savings for one partner is in a lower tax bracket.  Furthermore it can mean that OAS benefits, which may have been clawed back for the higher income earner, might not be clawed back and thus result in a greater income for the household. 

Keep in mind that not all income qualifies to be split.  Generally any pension income such as annuity-type pension payments from a pension plan, RRIF (registered retirement income funds) and LIFs (Life Income Funds) are all eligible.  Note that RRSP withdrawals are not eligible as they would not be considered pension income. 

One other factoid is that the first $2,000 of pension income that one receives qualifies for the Federal Pension Income Credit, and is non-taxable.  So, even if you dont need to convert your RRSP into a RRIF at age 65 (due to ample other sources of income) you might want to at least move enough money from your RRSP into a RRIF to allow you to take out $2,000 a year tax-free pension income from your RRIF.

Obviously your tax advisor is the best person to review and confirm the above ideas with.  As always you should not act until you have discussed such strategies with your personal advisor.

Friday September 13, 2013

When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.

 

Lao Tzu

 

A young man I know spent a couple of summers building up a clientele of neighbours who needed their lawns cut.  He went out every week and cut their lawns, adding a few clients here and there.  The following year he had the same people and a few more, but what should he do once he finishes school and starts working fulltime?

 

Its really surprising how many business owners dont recognize the value that others would pay to buy their businesses.

 

Many business owners in Canada will exit their business by selling to a non-family member. However, only a small percentage of owners planning to transfer their business in the near future have a succession plan.

If youre selling your business outside the family, bear in mind the factors that can make it more attractive to a prospective purchaser. It will be easier to find a buyer for a business that has potential for future growth. Other corporations in your business sector may also be interested in acquiring your business with a view to improving profitability.

Valuation is of central importance. You can get an indication of this by researching the selling price of similar businesses in your area.

To help you find a purchaser and obtain a better offer:

> Have a valid reason to sell

> Dont wait until youre under pressure to sell for economic or emotional reasons

> Have financial statements and other essential information professionally prepared for the sale

> Consider hiring a business broker to help you identify a purchaser

> Dont let the business decline while youre preoccupied with the sale

> Learn to judge whether a potential buyer is serious

Assemble a team of experts to help you

Your team of experts should include an experienced tax advisor to ensure you have planned your sale in the most tax-efficient manner, a qualified legal professional to prepare legal documentation and a business valuator.

As a business owner dont wait until your ready to retire to start looking into an exit strategy.  Start exploring it now.  Keep your thoughts in your back pocket, revisit the plan and youll be ready to act when you want to, and also be ready to act should the situation be thrust upon you.

 

Friday September 6, 2013

 

The highest test of courage and integrity is to be yourself in the face of adversity choosing right over wrong, ethics over convenience and trust over prosperity.

 

Author Unknown

 

Prompted by an article in this weekends Globe & Mail article by Rob Carrick, I think September would be a wonderful time for us to review our financial plans, assess our current situation and make any minor adjustments that might be necessary.  We have the kids back in school, summer holidays are over, the snow birds havent flown south yet and there is still time to make any year end tax changes that might be advantageous. 

 

As a client, part of our service includes helping you develop a financial plan that focuses on your personal dreams, aspirations, goals and needs in the future.  Aside from our expertise at managing money, we offer guidance and assistance that covers all of the steps for your financial future.  According to the Financial Planning Standards Council, those steps include:

 

Management of day to day finances:  banking, mortgage, investment loans, credit.

 

Investments:  professional money management that is in sync with your plan.

 

Estate Planning:  Will, Powers of Attorney, Trust services.

 

Managing Financial Risk:  disability and life insurance.

 

Taxes:  Ensuring that you enjoy all the tax benefits

 

Retirement:  Providing the income your desire

 

Life Events:  a new car, a new baby, weddings, deaths, education savings.

 

As a client of the Doyle Wealth Management Team at RBC Dominion Securities you have an opportunity to enjoy and benefit from services that are simply not available elsewhere.  Ironically, part of our service is to keep your costs as low as possible.  If you are a client and would like to take greater advantage of our services or if you are someone who simply would like to learn more, then contact us.  We look forward to chatting.

 

Friday August 30, 2013

"One sometimes finds what one is not looking for."

Alexander Fleming, Discoverer of Penicillin

 

In recent years, interest rate returns on bonds, GICs and other safe investments have declined and remained quite modest relative to their historic levels.  In addition, on a personal taxation level, interest income is fully taxable, leaving you much less on an after-tax basis.  To make matters worse a guaranteed income from a GIC for example is fixed, and thus not increased with the rate of inflation. 

 

Fixed income investments such as GICs and bonds do play an important role in the make-up of a well balanced portfolio.  They provide stability, no risk, and that guaranteed stream of income.  Fixed income investments definitely serve a purpose that is needed by most investors. 

 

At the same time however, as you build a portfolio to serve your income and retirement needs either now or in the future, you must also consider the important role that equities play.  In particular understand the importance of good quality blue chip equities that pay dividends, and regularly increase those dividends. 

 

In recent weeks Canadian investors have witnessed turmoil in the telecommunications industry and witnessed the stock prices of such names as BCE, Telus and Rogers fall.  Other sectors of the economy also have (and will) come under pressure from time to time too.  Such volatility is why some people simply avoid owning equities altogether there is volatility and risk. 

 

Risk also presents opportunity, as the proverb states.  RBC research recently published an article reminding investors that dividend growth is an important quality attribute when considering purchasing stocks.  Looking back since the 1930s RBCs strategy group has found that dividend investing outperformed.  The resilience of the dividend strategy stems from the fact that the dividend, and in particular a dividend increase, is a reliable signal of ongoing fundamental performance.  Simply put, healthy and growing companies are typically the ones that can grow dividends over long periods of time.  More over, such stocks provide investors with reasonable capital growth over the long term. 

 

Taking into account the dividend tax credit and the capital gains tax treatment in Canada the argument becomes even stronger.

 

Did you know that if you had bought Royal Bank shares 20 years ago that today you would be earning a dividend income of 33% on your investment (and earn a dividend tax credit)?  Thats right, your $1 million investment would be paying you $330,000 a year, that is until they raise the dividend again. 
                  

Friday August 23, 2013

The yield for the 2013 Champagne harvest has been set at 10,000 kilograms per hectare, with an additional 500kg/ha allowed to be released from producers' reserve stocks next February

 Comit Interprofessionnel du Vin de Champagne (CIVC) has announced (August 2013)

In light of the relatively strong performance from stocks this past year (assuming you have your portfolio held with us) this news on the Champagne front may be of interest as you celebrate your successes later this year.  For those who prefer to reinvest their gains I have attached the following article (is this a hint about something that may be happening in November?):

Art collecting: A winning pursuit

Starting to collect art may be a way to find pieces that resonate deeply with you, an opportunity to give back to the art community or a mode of investment that may pay off in the long run. Regardless of what youre looking for, youll find yourself rewarded.

 

Dont know what you like?

If you dont know what you like then you just need to do a little research, whether at home or on the road. There are plenty of sites to search, magazines to read, galleries and museums to visit, people to ask, and even more types of art to choose from.

 

You may want to focus on a particular genre because most collectors specialize in order to gain solid expertise in one category.

 

Decide what to spend

You should create an annual budget, whether its $1,000 or $100,000. If your plan involves less than $30,000 youre going to have better luck finding pieces in the contemporary category (from the past 20 to 30 years). At $5,000 or less, prints and drawings, instead of paintings, are your best bets. At the low end of an art-buying budget, the best prices are for multiple-edition works such as photographs and prints, rather than unique pieces, like oil paintings.

 

Gallery rules and lingo

There are certain universal rules and jargon that you should remember when walking into a gallery. A red dot stuck on a painting's label means the work has been sold. A green or half-red dot indicates another buyer has reserved the work or has a right of first refusal. More art lingo to remember: ''Primary'' market means a work's first sale, usually through a dealer. ''Secondary'' means a resale of a major work, via a gallery or auction.

  

Friday August 16, 2013

 

"One should expect that the expected can be prevented, but the unexpected should have been expected."

Norman Ralph Augustine

 

Do you have your family covered on your vacation?

 

Between deciding where to go, what to pack and how to keep the kids busy, Canadian families heading off for a much needed holiday escape can easily forget about travel insurance. In fact, a recent RBC Insurance survey found that among the 39 per cent of Canadians planning to travel outside of Canada within the next year, only 60 per cent are planning to purchase travel insurance for their upcoming trip.

 

"It's surprising that so many Canadians don't think about purchasing travel insurance before their vacation," says Isabelle Forget, Head of Travel for RBC Insurance. "The last thing travelers want to find out is that they either don't have travel insurance or they don't have the right coverage when something unexpected happens."

 

Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before leaving on a family vacation:

 

Are there any gaps in your existing travel insurance coverage? Government health plans, employee plans and credit cards may only provide a limited amount of coverage.

 

Does your travel insurance extend to your children? Many employer plans have an age limit for children covered under their parents' insurance.

 

Who will care for your child if you are hospitalized during your trip? Travel insurance can help ensure that arrangements be made for the safe return of your child back home, with an escort if necessary, or cover the cost for  someone to come to your bedside.

 

Does your existing medical insurance arrange direct payment of medical bills? Many hospitals and treatment centres require up front payment for medical costs.

 

Are you prepared to handle additional costs? If you or your children require hospitalization, you may incur unexpected expenses. In addition to hospital fees, you may need to make numerous international calls back home as well as pay for a hotel and meals beyond your original trip, which can quickly add up.

 

What if you have to cancel your trip before you go for an unexpected medical emergency? Or miss your flight because of weather conditions? Travel insurance can provide coverage for trip cancellation or trip interruption.

 

Are your family's baggage and personal belongings protected? It can be expensive to replace lost or stolen luggage. What if your baggage is delayed? Travel insurance can provide protection for lost or damaged baggage, or when your baggage is delayed.

 

Get coverage that's right for you, contact us for more information.

 

Friday August 9, 2013

 

 I really had a lot of dreams when I was a kid, and I think a great deal of that grew out of the fact that I had a chance to read a lot.

Bill Gates

When was the last time you read a book, or a substantial magazine article? Do your daily reading habits center around tweets, Facebook updates, or the directions on your instant oatmeal packet? If youre one of countless people who dont make a habit of reading regularly, you might be missing out: reading has a significant number of benefits, and just a few benefits of reading are listed below (taken from Lana Winter-Heberts article in Lifestyle).

1. Mental Stimulation

Studies have shown that staying mentally stimulated can slow the progress of (or possibly even prevent) Alzheimers and Dementia, since keeping your brain active and engaged prevents it from losing power. Just like any other muscle in the body, the brain requires exercise to keep it strong and healthy, so the phrase use it or lose it is particularly apt when it comes to your mind.

2. Stress Reduction

No matter how much stress you have, it all just slips away when you lose yourself in a great story. A well-written novel can transport you to other realms, while an engaging article will distract you and keep you in the present moment, letting tensions drain away and allowing you to relax.

3. Knowledge

Everything you read fills your head with new bits of information, and you never know when it might come in handy. The more knowledge you have, the better-equipped you are to tackle any challenge youll ever face.

4. Vocabulary Expansion

This goes with the above topic: the more you read, the more words you gain exposure to, and theyll inevitably make their way into your everyday vocabulary. Being articulate and well-spoken is of great help in any profession.

5. Memory Improvement

When you read a book, you have to remember an assortment of characters, their backgrounds, ambitions, history, and nuances, as well as the various arcs and sub-plots that weave their way through every story. Thats a fair bit to remember, but brains are marvelous things and can remember these things with relative ease. Amazingly enough, every new memory you create forges new synapses (brain pathways) and strengthens existing ones, which assists in short-term memory recall as well as stabilizing moods. How cool is that?

6. Stronger Analytical Thinking Skills

Have you ever read an amazing mystery novel, and solved the mystery yourself before finishing the book? If so, you were able to put critical and analytical thinking to work by taking note of all the details provided and sorting them out to determine whodunnit.

7. Improved Focus and Concentration

In our internet-crazed world, attention is drawn in a million different directions at once as we multi-task through every day.

When you read a book, all of your attention is focused on the storythe rest of the world just falls away, and you can immerse yourself in every fine detail youre absorbing. Try reading for 15-20 minutes before work (i.e. on your morning commute, if you take public transit), and youll be surprised at how much more focused you are once you get to the office.

8. Better Writing Skills

This goes hand-in-hand with the expansion of your vocabulary: exposure to published, well-written work has a noted effect on ones own writing.

9. Tranquility

In addition to the relaxation that accompanies reading a good book, its possible that the subject you read about can bring about immense inner peace and tranquility.

10. Low Cost Entertainment

Visiting a library or spending an evening in your neighbourhood caf can not only be relaxing when you take a book, but can also be quite interesting if you peek over the top of your novel and see whos reading what!

What are your summer reads?  What are you taking to the hammock this August?

 

Friday August 2, 2013

Whoever gossips to you, will gossip about you.

 

Ancient Proverb

Regatta Day, Simcoe Day or Civic Holiday (depends on where you live in Canada) are all synonymous with the August Long Weekend. 

Enjoy, go fishing!  Here are some tips from Dan Hall, fisherman extraordinaire:

 

1. Think of fishing a pond as unraveling a puzzle. You must figure out the proper lure for the conditions of the day and the type of pond your fishing. Is it shallow, clear, or dirty? Does it have weeds, stumps or other places where the fish can hide?

 

2. Approach the pond quietly and carefully. Small bodies of water will transfer disturbances like bushes or weeds shaking in the water and shadows from you standing on the edge. Try to blend into the surrounding environment. Stand in the shade or back off so your shadow is not on the water.

 

3. Water clarity will help determine how deep the fish will be. The dirtier the water the more shallow the fish will relate. Remember if you can see the fish, they can see you and the harder it will be to get them to bite

 

4. On windy or overcast days the fish cannot see you on the shore as well as sunny calm days. Use this to your advantage in your lure selection. Calm days dictate surface lures because the fish can see lure breaking the surface layer of the water better than windy days. On windy days the ripple on the waters surface will help hide your image making the fish less spooked. This also tells you to use a sub surface lure such as a spinner bait pictured below, because the fish will be more aggressive and willing to chase a faster moving lure.

 

5. A medium action spinning rod and reel using 6 to 10 lb. test line should be a perfect combination for most pond fishing.

 

6. A small selection of lures is all that will be needed to cover the water from top to bottom. We will start with the surface. If the pond has a large portion of weeds on the surface such as lily pads or reeds, a weedless rat or frog such as the one pictured will be your first choice. Simply cast the rat into the pond and wait for the ripples from the lure landing on the water to dissipate. Twitch the bait with short movements of your rod retrieving it slowly in a pull-wait, pull-wait motion. Be ready, the fish will usually hit the lure while it is at rest.

 

7. Another surface presentation is a fluke or slugo, which imitates a dying baitfish. This is a great lure if the pond weeds are below the surface. Cast the lure in and retrieve with short jerks to let the lure go side-to-side looking like a dying fish. When the fish strikes this lure, WAIT! Do not set the hook until you feel the weight of the fish or see your line moving sideways. This is an excellent lure but requires patience on the hook set to keep your catch ratio high.

 

8. A shallow running stick bait such as the one pictured can be excellent if there arent many weeds because the two treble hooks have a tendency to catch on anything near the hooks. Cast this lure and retrieve, reeling slowly, pausing every couple of feet or cast and retrieve with a rapid pull-wait motion. Let the fish tell you which method is best.

 

9. A spinner-bait or safety pin lure (pictured) will help you search the surface to mid-depth areas of a pond. Simply cast the lure out and retrieve fast enough to feel the blades thumping in the water. Vary your retrieve until the fish bite. Example: retrieve steady with small pauses. Yo yo the lure by letting it sink toward the bottom, then retrieve and sink again.

 

10. A weedless rubber worm such as the one pictured (A Charlie Brewer Slider Head with worm) is an excellent lure to use along the bottom of the pond. Cast this lure in and let it sink to the bottom. You can tell when the lure reaches the bottom because your line will go slack. Move the worm by raising your rod tip, pausing, and again watching the line go slack. Continue this motion slowly letting the lure rest on the bottom each time. When the fish eats the worm you will feel a slight tick or the slack line will jump or start moving sideways. Set the hook hard because the hook point must exit the worm body to penetrate the fishes mouth.

 

11. The sink worm or Senko rigged wacky style is a great method for catching big fish and is easy for a novice to use. Wacky style simply means hooking the worm in the middle with a weed less hook as pictured. Cast the worm and wait as mentioned above until it sinks to the bottom. Then move the worm slowly with a hopping motion.  When the fish bites and you feel a peck, WAIT! The line will start to move to the side or out away from you. When the line gets tight, set the hook and hang on.

 

12. Remember to use good conservation practices when fishing. Keep only what you can eat if you must keep fish. Use catch and release when ever possible so other people can enjoy the sport.  Clean up your mess and help keep the area around the pond clean whenever you are there. Ask permission and always thank the owner of the pond for letting you fish. The twelve tips mentioned above should help you become a better angler and up your odds of catching and enjoying pond fishing.

 

 

1.       

Friday July 26, 2013

Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.
Abraham Lincoln

Despite their young age, Generation Y are already investing and looking for trusted advice about their finances.  According to a report produced by TD Investor Insights released on Monday, Gen Y is investing almost a fifth of their income and would like to increase this to up to about 30%, all while paying off student loans and trying to get into the housing market.  Family members have driven this early interest, with 41% of Gen Y investors saying they started to invest because of family encouragement.

Setting up automatic savings contributions and putting finances and budgets into perspective at an earlier age offers more growth potential for the younger investor.  We would be happy to meet with you and your children to discuss the benefits of financial planning earlier in life and working out a savings strategy that they can understand and achieve.

 

Friday July 19, 2013

Necessity is the mother of taking chances.

 

Mark Twain

 

I consider myself to be very lucky in that I have had the opportunity to meet and become friends with many successful people:  People from all walks of life who have become leaders in their particular sphere.  Generally these people are happy, outgoing, hard working, persistent and never give up.  But, why?  Why is it that some people are very successful and others are not? 

 

It is a question that has been tossed around by business professors, psychologists, and even a few parents.  The best answer that I have been able to come up with is that these people are motivated.  They have self-motivation (if there is such a word).

 

The motivation can come in the form of a passion to do something or simply from a fear, but it must come from within.  The motivation removes failure as an option.

 

As I said, I consider myself lucky to know so many people who do the craziest things for a living but are very successful. 

 

Friday July 12, 2013

 

"A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty."

 Winston Churchill

 

If history is any guide, both the economy and the markets will eventually recover - despite all the negative headlines. As an investor, it's important to be properly positioned for the recovery well in advance.

 

No one can say exactly when we'll see a recovery. What looks like the beginning of a new long-term bull market today could turn out to be a short-lived "bear market rally" months from now - or vice versa. The key thing for investors to know is that the markets have always recovered strongly, even after a major economic crisis that, at the time, had many people doubting they ever would.

 

History tells us that the markets will recover - but it doesn't tell us exactly when. However, it does give us some clues. Most importantly for investors, history shows that the stock markets are a "leading indicator" of economic recovery - that is, they tend to recover before the economy as a whole.

 

Since the Second World War, the longest recession has lasted about 16 months. If the current recession lasts as long, then we should start to see signs of an economic recovery later this year. As a leading indicator, stock markets should recover even earlier. For investors who have been sitting on cash, waiting for the economy to pick up before getting back into the markets, this is a crucial point. Waiting for actual signs of economic recovery could mean missing out on all or part of the stock market recovery

 

Friday July 5, 2013

 

"The greatest use of life is to spend it doing something that will outlast it."

Williams James, Psychologist

 

Frequently our financial planning reviews and discussions turn to the subject of estate planning.  It is a subject that can be very sensitive, emotional, and require the expertise of professionals.  As part of our home office approach to managing your financial affairs we offer you the opportunity to meet and speak with our lawyers, accountants and trust representatives during one general meeting.  Naturally this service is available to you at no charge since it is all part of the process we use to ensure your long term goals and objectives are met.

 

One topic that invariably comes up for discussion is the use of trusts as a vehicle for distributing Estate assets.  Below I have an excerpt pertaining to Testamentary Trusts in particular.

 

In addition to a direct or outright distribution of estate

assets to beneficiaries, assets can be left to a testamentary

trust for the benefit of your beneficiaries. A testamentary

trust only takes effect at death. The creation of the trust is

documented within the text of the Will.

 

A testamentary trust allows you to pass specific assets to

beneficiaries without allowing them to gain control of the

assets. The assets held in the trust are invested and

managed by the trustee of the trust with income and

capital distributed to the beneficiaries in accordance

with your wishes as stated in the Will.

 

Often the trustee is also the executor/liquidator of the

estate, although you may wish to consider a separate

person to act in this capacity.

 

Typical situations where a testamentary trust might be

used include:

Spousal trusts - a trust established for the benefit of the

surviving spouse for their lifetime. Commonly,

remaining assets pass to the children on the spouses

death. This is an effective income-splitting opportunity

since the income in the trust can be taxed at its own

graduated tax rates separate from the spouse.

 

Trusts for minor children - established to support the

children until they reach the age of majority or beyond.

 

Trusts to provide continuing financial support for

disabled children.

 

In Quebec, if you have minor children to whom you

want to leave money, a trust is not required, but it may

be beneficial - at least until they reach the age of

majority. In Quebec, it is the responsibility of the tutor

to hold and administer the funds for the minor child.

However, if you want to bequest assets to a minor and do

not want the assets administered by the childrens tutor

then it would be wise to include this fact in your Will.

Trusts for adult children - used to protect an inheritance

from potential creditors or a divorce settlement. This

use can also provide income-splitting benefits since

income in the trust can be taxed at the trusts tax rate.

 

Spendthrift trusts - and trusts for family members with

special needs.

 

Insurance trust - proceeds from a death benefit of

an insurance policy can be transferred to a trust.

This arrangement can avoid probate taxes, offer

the deceased some control over the asset and offer

income-splitting opportunities.

 

Friday June 28, 2013

 

Become so wrapped up in something that you forget to be afraid.

 

Lady Bird Johnson, First Lady

Best wishes for a safe and fun Canada Day celebration.  As the unofficial kick-off to the summer of 2013, I hope this weekend helps you set the mood for a relaxing and well deserved rest following a rather long winter. 

 

Here is a checklist of things to do between now and Labour Day that you might want to add to your list:

 

        See a movie at the drive-in

        Blow bubbles

        Play golf

        Go fishing

        Sleep outdoors in a tent or on the beach

        Experience an early morning canoe ride on a misty lake

        Lie in a hammock

        Go swimming

        Eat El Fresco

 

E-mail some of your ideas for us to share with others.

 

Friday June 21, 2013

 

Stare at the dark too long and you will eventually see what isnt there.

 

Cameron Jace, Snow White Sorrow

 

This week Ben Bernanke pulled away the punch bowl and the party began to peter out.  Guests were seen leaving throughout the week, cashing their chips at the door and wobbling toward the exits.

 

Ben Bernankes statement itself is really quite open to interpretation and even at that, the US Federal Reserves comments this week about reducing economic stimulus in the economy hinges upon there being evidence of sustainable economic growth.  Translation:  if we see rising employment, improved demand in the economy and expansion then there will be no further need to stimulate the economy and thus the Fed will reduce its activities.  Makes sense to me.  Then we shouldnt bail out of the market?

 

If there is a change in interest rate policy it would be because unemployment levels have fallen.  It would be because the economy is not in a recession, instead it is in a growth phase.  Economic expansion should lead to increased profits for the companies you own and as such they should become more valuable.  Growing economies lead to increased demand for goods and services.  Tax revenues rise for Governments under such scenarios and can be used to reduce debt.  Reduced Government debt is good. 

 

Although it has been nice when the banks were giving away money it seems that the party is over in that regard.  On the other hand the good quality blue chip companies that have been paying you dividends over the past few years are likely to enter a cycle of greater prosperity. 

 

Friday June 14, 2013

 

A woman with a voice is by definition a strong woman. But the search to find that voice can be remarkably difficult.

Melinda Gates, philanthropist, co-founder and co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

You have until June 21st to place your order for Ontario Savings Bonds and I think most everyone should make some sort of a purchase now thats a rather broad statement dont you think?  To clarify let me say this:  As a savings vehicle for amounts less than $5,000 I cannot think of a safer way to encourage your children, grandchildren and others to set some savings aside.  For individuals too, Ontario Savings Bonds can be a great way to set aside some extra dollars for a rainy day.

As you know, the principal and interest on the bonds is fully backed by the Province of Ontario.  They are available in amounts of $100 to $1,000,000 and can be registered into certificates so you can give them away to the grandkids, or if you prefer, they can be held in your account here. 

By way of disclosure I did work for the Bank of Canada (ironically I never made it to Governor) for a number of years in the savings bond division and witnessed the benefits that saving had on many Canadians that I came in contact with.  Lets just say I am a big fan.

Friday June 7, 2013

 

The ultimate freedom for creative groups is the freedom to experiment with new ideas.  Some sceptics insist that innovation is expensive.  In the long run, innovation is cheap.  Mediocrity is expensive and autonomy can be the antidote.

 

Tom Kelly, General Motors CEO

 

Roland Garros is in full swing!  My hero Roger Federer was knocked out in the quarterly finals.  I still think he is amazing. 

 

For wine enthusiasts who like to buy on the cheap; heads up the Vintages Bin Ends Sale is now on.  I think it is one of the best ways to pick up a real bargain on a well qualified wine.  This time of year the LCBO has a sale of Vintage Bottles that are simply the end of the Bin (only a few remaining bottles, so they put them on sale to clear the bin for the next arrival).  Simply go to the LCBO website and search online to see whats left.  Each wine comes with a description, comment and usually a short write-up by someone from Wine Spectator or other wine critic.  I think it is a great way to find an interesting wine at 25% off the regular price. 

 

Finding a Chateau Latour at 25% off with reliable provenance is a feat in itself, but how do you know it is authentic, and if your not buying directly from the LCBO, how do you know where this wine has been before ending up in your cellar?  Effective January 2013 Chateau Latour began tagging each bottle that leaves the property with a unique foolproof tag.  Buyers can simply enter the code on the tag into Chateau Latours website and confirm authenticity as well (perhaps) as a little history on the bottle, adding all the more to the intrigue as you present the bottle to your guests. 

 

Friday May 31, 2013

 

Nothing is often a good thing to do, and almost always a clever thing to say.

 

Will Durant, Philosopher

 

As I was driving into work this morning, the talk on the radio centred on what to do if you win the lottery this weekend which is apparently valued at over $50 million.  Callers phoned in with their advice (one guy promised to buy everyone in his office a new car if he wins) on how to spend it and how their life would change.  Its no wonder that in the USA 70% of large lottery winners end up declaring bankruptcy.

 

Now lets suppose for a moment that instead of buying a new car or having a bath in Moet Et Chandon, you decided to become charitable with some of your lottery winnings or investment savings.

 

Donating securities

The federal government introduced several tax incentives in recent years to encourage charitable giving by Canadians, including the elimination of capital gains tax when you donate publicly listed securities to qualified charities. Not only do you receive a tax break, you also receive a donation receipt equal to the fair market value of the donated security.

 

For example, due to the donation tax credit, your out-of-pocket cost for making an in-kind donation of a security worth $100,000 with a cost of say $40,000, if your marginal tax rate is 45% is approximately $55,000. However, if you sold the security first and then donated the cash, your out-of-pocket donation cost would be $68,500 due to paying about $13,500 in capital gains tax.

 

We can help you determine which securities would be best suited for donation and assist in the actual donation to your charity. 

 

On the other hand you could just take the money and go shopping at http://gizmodo.com/5963882/everything-you-should-buy-with-your-550-million-lottery-winnings

 

 

Friday May 24,2013

 

Do not be tempted by passing fashions, build for the future.

 

Dramatic volatility in the Asian trading session has cascaded across the globe for the second consecutive day Whipsaw trading was the order of the day in Japan Selling pressure yesterday brought the year-to-date decline in copper to nearly 10%.

 

Those were just a few of the headlines today on a relatively quiet Friday ahead of the long weekend in the USA.  Its no wonder that one can easily get caught up in the excitement of the moment and make decisions that in no way reflect their long term goals and strategies.  Not only can knee jerk reactions cost money in the near term, but such decisions can derail your long term strategies and goals as well. 

 

How then does a busy person, trying to manage a career and raise a family, also ensure that their savings are being watched by someone who has their best interests and goals in mind?

 

One of the luxuries of having your investments managed by a Portfolio Manager from RBCs Private Investment Management division is that they handle all of the day to day stuff including todays headlines.  As a client of the Private Investment Management (PIM) division of RBC, you enjoy having your own personal Portfolio Manager manage your investments and making adjustments regularly while you take care of the more important things in your life.  We create a personalized portfolio to meet your needs, provide complete tax summarized tax packages for your accountant, transfer monthly sums to your Canadian Bank, pay your tax installments, help you set retirement dates, offer Canada Pension Plan forecasts, retirement income projections, a personalized financial plan that forecasts your revenues and assets into the future, and of course daily access and contact with your portfolio manager and team. 

 

Portfolio Managers within RBCs Private Investment Management division must meet rigorous requirements that include education, experience and temperament amongst many other things.

 

As a Portfolio Manager I would be pleased to meet with you at anytime and discuss the benefits of Private Investment Management.  Simply contact me at 416.231.5092 and we can arrange a time that works best for you.

 

Friday May 17, 2013

Best Wishes for the Victoria Day Weekend!

For those who are planning on taking advantage of the warm weekend ahead and do a little camping, here are some tips from the Discovery Program on how to avoid being eaten by a bear.

Rule No. 1 when you're hiking in bear country: make noise. Most bear attacks occur when hikers stumble upon and surprise a bear, often a mother and her cubs. Don't think they'll be easy to spot; even huge grizzlies can conceal themselves in the brush or the high grass of meadows (Personally I can attest to this strategy.  Since a friend of mine gave me bear bells I havent been eaten by a bear).

If you see a bear, fight the urge to run. Repeat after me: You can't outrun a bear. Bears can sprint for short distances at speeds up to 35 mph! And don't assume you can escape by climbing a tree. That only works if you have enough time to climb at least 30 feet high. Black bears are good climbers and grizzlies can climb at least partway up a tree. And if you're near water, e.g., a lake or river, don't get in the water and try to swim away from the bear. They can swim.

OFFER SOOTHING WORDS

What you need to do is stay calm and slowly begin backing away. If you are downwind and the bear hasn't seen you, try to make as little noise as possible as you slowly backtrack. If the bear sees you, however, you also should start talking to the bear in a calm, firm voice. That will allow him or her to identify you as a human. And try not to stare into the bear's eyes. The bear may interpret direct eye contact as aggressive behaviour; it's better to avert your eyes and turn your head to the side, a more submissive pose. As you move away, it's not a bad idea to stay upwind of the bear, if possible you want him to know you're a human.

If you're in a group, stay together. You'll look larger and that could keep the bear from charging.

Often bears will bluff a charge, meaning they will rush toward you and then stop in close proximity to your position. It's a warning to back off. Heed the warning. Back off, slowly. But should the worst happen and the bear attacks, reach for your bear pepper spray. If you carry bear pepper spray, make sure it is easy to reach it won't do you much good in your backpack, so keep it close to your hands. 

DUCK AND COVER

Sometimes, just the sound of the spray discharge will stop a charging bear. But if the bear keeps coming, as a last resort, drop to the ground and play dead. Either lie on your stomach with your hands protecting your neck, or lie on your side in a fetal position with your legs and head tucked into your chest. And keep your backpack on. It can serve as a shield. Basically, you want to protect your soft tissue and organs to the best of your ability against a large animal that is built to maul.

Finally, don't move or get up until you're certain the bear has moved a distance away. There's a story of one hiker who made the mistake of reaching for his bear spray while the animal was nearby, an action that provoked another attack.


TAKE A BANKER   

 This one is my personal favourite.  Get chummy with that banker who always has a problem with loaning you money (preferably the least athletic banker who spends most of his day in meetings).  Invite him along on your next trip to Algonquin Park and your bear fears vanish!  In the event of an attack all youll have to do is outrun the banker.

 

Friday May 10, 2013

 

It's a great advantage not to drink among hard-drinking people.


F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby

Speaking of sobriety, RBC just released our Global Insight report for May 2013 (call me if you would like me to send a copy along to you).  Without going into too much detail here, the report was optimistic that world economic expansion will continue without encountering a major disruption (recession) during the year or more ahead.  Beyond that things may improve considerably but at this stage judgement is being reserved.  The following comments have been lifted directly from that report.

Near term, global equities could encounter a round of profit taking or could pull back following the strong rally since last fall. Any corrective phase should be manageable so long as economic conditions dont unexpectedly deteriorate or policymakers dont deliver unwanted surprises. During the next six to 12 months, most major equity markets have the potential to advance modestly if the U.S. economy can regain some momentum, if China continues to work through its economic transition process, and if Europe manages to at least stabilize its economy. We maintain our Neutral with a Positive Bias rating for global equitiesthat is, we recommend investors hold overall equity exposure slightly above the benchmark level.

Given our generally positive outlook for investment overall it is also important to realize that not all sectors of the economy act in unison.  Much of a portfolios success will depend upon which sectors you own and, in the case of gold this past quarter, sectors that you dont own.  As such watch for the new catch phrase coming to your newspaper soon called the great sector rotation.

 

Interest rates remain the big elephant in the room, but for the time being we do not see an imminent rise.

 

Friday May 3, 2013

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. 

 

Steve Jobs

 

Congratulations Jessica for winning the RBC Performance Award (and all the prizes that go with it).  You went out of your way to do an outstanding job assisting one our clients who faced a difficult financial and service issue.  Your extra efforts resolved the issue and made a big difference in her life.  Way to go!

 

As the May long weekend approaches its time to revisit some summer cottage safety tips such as avoiding collisions with deer.  Obviously cottage country is the focus of this article, but on two occasions I have had near misses on Riverside Drive in Etobicoke (not to mention a few bucks that Ive seen on Bay Street).   As aware as we try to be, these types of collisions are increasing each year. According to OPP Statistics and an article from this months Cottage Life Magazine, one of every 17 motor vehicle collisions in Ontario involves a wild animal and 90 percent of these collisions occur on two-lane roads, outside of urban areas. So what should you do if you meet a deer or another large animal on the highway? Here are some tips from Cottage Life that could reduce your risk on the road and hopefully keep youand the deersafe.

1. Avoid peak hours: Try to stay off the roads at dusk or dawn, which is when deer are most active and wildlife collisions most often occur.  Be especially attentive near swamps, lakes and stream crossings.

2. Slow down: If a deer crosses the road in front of you, slow down and assume that there are more following, as deer tend to travel together. Even if the deer hasnt made it onto the road yet, you should still slow down and pass carefullytheyve been known to suddenly bolt onto the road (this one happened to me).

3. Scan the road: At night, use your high beams when possible to get the widest possible visibility and scan the road from shoulder to shoulder, watching for glowing eyes of animals (bears too).

4. Brakes: If an animal is standing on or crossing the road, hit the brakes, says the Ministry of Transportation. Never assume the animal is going to move out of your way. If youre not able to brakes in time, go for the deer; swerving could result in a more serious collision, perhaps with another car on the road.  Always go for the deer, seriously.

5. Keep your head up: While this is something you should always apply to your driving, its especially important this time of year when deer movement is high.

 Enjoy your summer and have fun, but please be careful! 

Friday April 26, 2013

It's like wrestling a gorilla- you don't quit when you're tired, you quit when the gorilla is tired.

 Robert Strauss, Sports Writer

 

Four ways consolidation can enhance your retirement income

Consolidation joins all your investment accounts eliminating duplication and reducing account fees, simplifying the management of your investments. In addition to convenience, consolidation enables effective management of your investments, helping you structure your investments to generate the retirement income you need.

 

Four key advantages of consolidation:

 

1. Properly coordinate your retirement income sources

Coordinating your various sources of income to ensure youre receiving everything youre entitled to and utilizing them most effectively can be difficult. It gets even more confusing if you have more than one RRIF or non-registered investment account.

 

Working with one advisor helps ensure all your various income sources are accounted for and structured to provide the income you need.

 

2. Make the most of your registered plans

More than one registered plan not only adds confusion it could also mean you are missing some important tax advantages. Consolidation helps you and your advisor determine if you have sufficient income from all sources. Simplifying complicated RRIF payment calculations often involved in owning multiple RRIF accounts is another benefit.

 

3. Generate tax-efficient income

Consolidation allows you to properly allocate your assets and provide tax-efficient income. The structure of your assets significantly impacts your after-tax income as different types of income are taxed in different ways. Consolidation supports balancing the tax-efficient income you need, while keeping risk at an acceptable level.

 

Accountants like our service too.  Rather than sorting through various receipts, we provide one consolidated tax package that summarizes the numbers they need and yes, we also follow it up with a phone to answer any outstanding questions leaving you with time to do more important things. 

 

4. Get the advice you need without conflicting opinions or finger pointing. 

As a client you will enjoy the services of a dedicated team that delivers all of your financial services on one platform with one phone call.  One phone call to us is all you need to co-ordinate your personal tax issue, investment need, or banking requirements.

 

Please contact us at 416.231.5092 to discuss how consolidation can help you enhance your financial plan.

 

Friday April 19, 2013

 

Stop waiting to become the person you want to be someday, and start living as that person today.

Bruce Springsteen

 

Its hard to believe but when Chateau Mouton Rothschild released their 2012 First Growth Bordeaux this week at 240 Euros a bottle, it became pretty much the cheapest First Growth on the market today.  The price being down by 33% from last year (yet double the price of the 2008 vintage, which is best left for another discussion).  Lets just say it was no Lafite. 

 

About a year ago we discussed the effects of the en primeur system on the quality of wines being served at dinner.  An argument against the system simply came down to the fact that too many good wines were being drunk too soon and thus not being allowed to reach their full potential.  As you may recall Chateau Latour stepped away from the en primeur system about a year ago sparking both outrage in the wine industry and my personal support. 

 

A source (considered to be neutral since she is an owner of a Brunello winery in Montalcino far from the Bordeaux region) told me the whole thing was just a marketing scheme cooked up by the French to flog their wines that are a mere shadow of a good Brunello. 

 

Friday April 12, 2013

Id rather be dead than singing Satisfaction when Im 45.

Mick Jagger

 

I was offered a pair of tickets today at face value for the May 25th Rolling Stones Concert at the ACC:  $1,275.54 a pair.

 

Are you aware that a strategy exists that enables you to attach terms and conditions to the distribution of life insurance proceeds? This strategy allowsinsurance proceeds to bypass your estate, enabling you to avoid provincial probate taxes and potential creditors. This strategy also offers a mechanism that facilitates the deferral of taxes and the splitting of income. This strategy is the use of a testamentary insurance trust.

 

Proceeds paid to a beneficiary from a life insurance benefit are protected against creditors of the deceased whose life was insured. However, whether or not the insurance proceeds are protected against the creditors of the beneficiaries depends on how the insurance trust was created.  Creditors of the beneficiaries generally have access to distributions from a trust that are paid or payable to the beneficiary. A regular trust does not protect a beneficiary from aggressive creditors. The solution is to create a fully discretionary trust for which the trustee has full discretion to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries.

 

The creation of an insurance trust or a testamentary trust created within a Will works very well if you have beneficiaries that are receiving government benefits. To have this type of insurance trust work, the trust deed must state that the trust is a fully discretionary trust and the trustee has full discretion to decide on how much income or capital to pay to the beneficiary (e.g. the child with special needs). The beneficiary (child) has no outright entitlement to the funds, which may pass to other beneficiaries when the beneficiary (child with special needs) passes away, subject to the terms of the trust.

 

This insurance trust also works very well for beneficiaries that have substance abuse problems and/or financial management problems. In both cases the settlor has control (via the trust deed) over the disbursements of the trust. The settlor can even give the trustee discretion to pay additional amounts in the hope that the beneficiaries will one day rehabilitate themselves.  

 

 It must be stressed that any such strategy must be reviewed with qualified professionals to ensure it is correct, current and sensible for your particular situation.

 

Friday April 5, 2013

 

Clever people seem not to feel the natural pleasure of bewilderment, and are always answering questions when the chief relish of a life is to go on asking them.

 

Frank Moore Colby

 

Today the TSX / S&P Composite Index rests near the 12,450 level.  It tends to go up and down throughout the day, ending either up or down at the end of the day.  But what exactly is it?

 

The S&P/TSX Composite Index is an index of the stock (equity) prices of the largest Canadian based companies on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX) as measured by their market capitalization (size).  It does not include for example companies such as Lulu Lemon, Corby Distillers, Rogers Sugar or many other great Canadian companies.  It does include a lot of energy and material related companies, so much so that they represent about 45% of the index. 

Arguably there are about 10 economic sectors (healthcare, financials, utilities, etc.) in Canada, but two of the sectors represent 45% of our index.  Many people would argue that there is nothing wrong here.  Canada is a resource based country therefore our TSX should reflect that.

I would agree that the TSX  / S&P Composite Index is representative of Canada and its economy.  As such when the price of gold, oil and other materials fall it will have an impact on the stock exchange index.  It will have less of an impact on your individual portfolio which is much more diversified amongst the economic sectors. 

Therefore it can be said that a well diversified portfolio has a lower beta relative the TSX.

Beta?

Thursday March 28, 2013

Dont put all your eggs in one basket

Easter Bunny

 

As Canadians near retirement and calculate their various sources of income during the non-working days, one consideration will be when to take your Canada Pension Plan (CPP) benefit.

 

One of the first steps is to determine if you qualify for CPP and if so, to what extent (%).  It depends on how many years you contributed to the plan, how much you contributed, and when you wish to begin receiving your CPP benefit.  Details can be found on the Governments website. 

 

At this time the maximum monthly benefit for a 65 year old is $1,012.50 per month. You may however begin receiving the benefit as early as age 60, but your monthly benefit would only be $672.33 per month.  If you deferred your CPP until age 70 then your maximum monthly benefit would be $1,437.75.  Please note that the above figures are for guidance only.  Your benefit may vary depending on your circumstances.

 

Choosing when to take your CPP benefit depends on your personal situation and can be affected by many different circumstances.  It is important to make the best decision as it will affect your lifestyle and the enjoyment of your retirement. 

 

Retirement benefits are something we can discuss together as we prepare your retirement plan.  Please contact our office and arrange a meeting today.  This is what we do everyday.

 

Best wishes for the long weekend.

 

Friday March 22,2013

 

You can tell more about a person by what he says about others than you can by what others say about him

 

Leo Aikman, Newspaper Editor

 

This Saturday March 23rd you have the opportunity to participate and join hundreds of millions of people around the globe and one Canadian who is circling the globe as we celebrate Earth Hour 2013.  The primary goal of Earth Hour for the past nine years has been to draw attention to the issue of climate change. It was created by the World Wildlife Fund, which is concerned about the impact of global warming on endangered species as a result of habitat loss, wildfires, water shortages and other issues. However, the event has also been embraced by others to promote energy conservation, reduce light pollution and other causes.

Personally I will be hosting a candle light dinner cooked on a wood fired BBQ and served to a rather famous Green Entrepreneur who must remain nameless, an environmentally conscious artist, and a couple of other greenies.  If you happen to be at Chateau Whistler, stop in and peddle power yourself a cocktail the City of Whistler was top of the list last year reducing power by 12.1 percent!

Earth Hour begins a 8:30 pm and lasts (you guessed it) 1 Hour.  Switch off the lights, play some family environmental trivia games, and enjoy the peace!  Who knows maybe with all the lights out you will even catch of glimpse of Chris Hadfield flying by.

 

Friday March 15, 2013 -

 "As you slide down the bannister of life, may the splinters never point the wrong way."

Even if you're solving problems and running around and working 80 hours a week, it's not enough. You have to have a strategy.'"

Roman Stanek, CEO and founder, GoodData

Creating a sensible, personal, financial strategy depends upon your unique circumstances. The factors to consider for a successful strategy are amongst others, your stage in life, the amount of risk you are willing to accept, your ability to manage debt, your desire to build a safe retirement fund, or save for your child's education.  The list goes on and it is never too late to start or to revisit your strategy, which may need to change as circumstances do.

 Events in your life play a key role in determining your personal financial strategy. A large part of the success of your portfolio is dependent on your disclosure of such variables, first and foremost to yourself.  What are you saving for? How do you envision your retirement?

We offer Financial, Will and Estate and Insurance Plans to all of our clients to help formulate or clarify your strategy. 

 

Friday March 1, 2013

 

Courage doesnt always roar.  Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, I will try again tomorrow.

 

Mary Anne Radmacher

 

Kadri living the dream!  Nice hat trick!  Go Leafs Go!!

 

Today is the first day of a new month and as part of the ritual I spent much of the morning in discussion with the analysts and portfolio advisory team reviewing, revising, and positioning our outlook for investments.  It is a daily routine but on the first of the month we tend to take a somewhat broader outlook.

 

At the top of the list was the question, where are interest rates going?  The general consensus seems to be that given the current fragility of the economic recovery, the numerous outstanding political concerns and lack of inflation, we are not likely to see an increase in interest rates in 2013 by the Bank of Canada.  Having said that, assuming that the economic recovery continues to bump forward, we may see weakness in the bond market (long bonds) toward the end of this year in anticipation of rate hikes in 2014.  The reason we are so interested in interest rates has to do with their effect on individuals ability to service debt (mortgages, etc.) and on the effect that rising rates would have on the price of bonds (negative).  As such our overall outlook is to remain very cautious on fixed income investments by focusing on shorter term maturities of 5 years or less. 

 

The equity market has enjoyed a buoyant past couple of months and todays question is, How much longer will this last?  Based on my review of RBCs opinions it is felt that investors can expect to enjoy further growth from equities over the 12 months or more, although in the near term (6 weeks +/-) volatility may occur.  Companies in general have strong balance sheets and are well positioned to enjoy growth from manufacturing, consumer demand, telecommunications, and the financials.  Canadas biggest risk would be a decline in demand for resources and energy (i.e. a slowdown from China or worldwide demand in general). 

 

Looking ahead then, maintaining an asset mix that is appropriate for your goals and objectives will be paramount.  There is risk in all financial instruments so it is as important today as ever to ensure that your savings are balanced and managed appropriately. 

 

For specific recommendations or articles please contact me directly.

 

Friday February 22, 2013

 

A horse walks into a Paris Caf.  Bartender says, So, why the long face?

 

When France has problems France has problems!

 

I truly believe that some people think that if they talk about life insurance (or worse buy a policy) they will fall over dead.  Hence, they avoid the subject all together.  At my own peril I am opening the Pandoras box today with an excerpt from an article put together by RBC.

 

There are ways insurance can help provide financial peace of mind for you and your family.

 

1. Wealth creation

Its important to know that your family would be financially secure if you became unable to earn an income due to illness or disability, or if you passed away prematurely.

 

 Life insurance can help provide wealth that you would have otherwise created if you hadnt passed away. The funds can be used in any way your family needs to help with mortgage and other debt payments, to fund your childrens education costs, or to cover daily living expenses.  How much life insurance would you need to replace your spouses income if they were to die while you are raising a family (a million dollar policy might generate enough income to cover a $50,000 salary).

 

2. Estate preservation

You are probably familiar with Benjamin Franklins famous quote, In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. Unfortunately, death and taxes often go hand in hand.

 

While you can pass along your assets tax-free to your surviving spouse, you cant pass them along to anyone else without triggering taxes. Unless you have a surviving spouse, there is a deemed disposition of your assets at death which may trigger income taxes.

 

To help preserve the value of your estate for your beneficiaries, consider the cost/benefit of a life insurance policy to help fund your estates tax liability. A life insurance policy can either provide a fixed death benefit, or one that grows with the tax liability.

 

Tax-exempt investing

Under the federal Income Tax Act, assets accumulate within a tax-exempt life insurance contract free of annual accrual taxation. When you pass away, any proceeds of the policy are distributed to your beneficiaries on a tax-free basis outside the scope of your estate, bypassing its associated costs.

 

Because of these advantages, many high-net-worth Canadian families have come to regard tax-exempt insurance not so much as insurance, but rather as an additional investment pool, complementing their registered retirement plans and non-registered investment portfolios. However, there is also an insurance benefit to tax-exempt insurance a tax-free death benefit that your beneficiaries can use to cover estate taxes, or for other purposes such as creating a family trust or a charitable legacy.

 

As part of our overall financial planning strategy we invite you to explore your insurance related questions with the licensed members of our team.  Please contact me directly to set up an appointment.

 

Friday February 15, 2013

Choose a job you love and youll never have to work a day in your life.

Confucius

 

 

What does employee turnover really cost your company? Although often not recognized, losing and replacing employees is one of the largest expenses many organizations incur.

 

The U.S.-based Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) revealed in a November 2012 study that two of the biggest challenges facing HR over the next 10 years will be retaining and rewarding top employees and creating a corporate culture that attracts them to the organization. As more employees question our governments ability to support post-retirement benefits, employees are looking for better supplementary retirement income sources for their employees future financial security, including Group Registered Retirement Savings Plans (RRSPs).

 

To attract and retain employees, especially the most valuable ones, companies need to create a signature value that sets them apart. By clearly showing what makes working at your company rewarding, you will experience significant improvement in employee loyalty, not to mention the potential increase in productivity.

 

Group Saving Plans, like Group RRSPs, give your company the right tools to start

With a Group RRSP, employees can:

 

Reduce their taxable income by contributing pre-tax dollars to their plan.

 

Control their investments to ensure a diversified portfolio that meets their individual needs.

 

 Receive tangible financial benefits that can significantly increase the value of their retirement savings and their loyalty to their organization, especially when your organization matches the employees contributions.

 

In todays competitive work environment your assistance in helping an employee develop a disciplined savings plan can not only increase retention but it can also help give them a happier life. 

 

Contact me directly and I would be happy to help you setup an RRSP or even a TFSA savings plan for your employees even if your staff is only two!

 

Friday February 8, 2013

 "When people like each other, the details rarely get in the way.  When people don't like each other, details are likely to become insurmountable obstacles."

James Henning

This thing about the pennies is getting really confusing.  Some places are rounding and others ar