Asking Myself How Well I Did by the Globe’s Rob Carrick’s Standards.

Rob Carrick writes about personal finance for the Globe and Mail. I read his columns regularly. I think he provides a valuable public service. He educates investors – both those who are “do-it-yourselfers” and those who work with an advisor. Whenever he writes something directed at investors about how they should evaluate their advisors, my interest is piqued. In the past, he published a questionnaire to help measure the value you get from your advisor. I sent it to all … Continued

People Ask: “Why Not Just Put it in a GIC at 5%?”

After years of painfully low rates, Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs) are now paying in the area of 5% annually. And after a year of lousy stock and bond returns, this is causing some people to ask “why not just put it all in GICs?” Here is my take on that. First of all, yes, you could do that. There are concepts that advisors use to determine what to recommend to investors. But I always put that aside and say “comfort … Continued

Why It’s so Important to Hear People’s Stories

There is a very basic and strict rule that advisors must follow called “Know Your Client”. It refers to our obligation to have a thorough understanding of our client’s financial position; things such as their employment, income, assets, liabilities, and their capacity for and comfort with risk. All of this is essential, but if you ask me, this just scratches the surface. Getting to know about them as people is equally important and the information is not recorded on any … Continued

People Say: “This Market Wouldn’t Bother Me if I Were Younger”

In difficult markets as we are experiencing now, I often hear people in or near retirement say that what concerns them is that they don’t have as much time for things to recover as when they were younger. Well, you’re younger than you think … from an investing point of view. Whether you’re retired or close to it, you’ll only use a small portion of your investments in the near term. Most of your money will be there for you … Continued

A Lot of People are Retiring in Stages

I was talking with a close friend recently who works as a trade with a major manufacturer. He said that for many years now, he could work overtime just about any time he wanted. At his plant, many trades have often worked 7 days a week.  But since Covid, most people are turning down the overtime; especially people late in their careers. “I’m winding down”, he said. “I’m interested in working less, not more.”  For him, this is Stage One of retirement.  As … Continued

I Picked Olives in Italy and it Strengthened My Optimism in Financial Markets

When I launched my brand, I told the story of a trip to Italy that inspired the Olive Tree theme. I visited Italy again recently and among the stops was a small town in Abruzzo where I helped with the olive harvest at the home of a friend. What an experience! It’s quite fascinating how it is done. Something akin to a rake is at the end of a long pole. The tines ofthe tool move rapidly, powered by an … Continued

Why I Became a Financial Advisor

When you read an account of a topic like this, the writer usually starts with a story such as “when I was a child, we had no money” or “I always knew I wanted to be…”. I have no such story. I’m from a working-class family and my parents were practical, no-frills people. But I can’t say that I ever felt poor. I did recognize that some people had loftier lifestyles than us and it gave me something to which … Continued

People Ask: What Do You Think of My Portfolio?

One of the first signs that someone is considering changing advisors is when they ask me to review their investments and give them a second opinion. No two advisors will create exactly the same portfolio and every one of us brings a personal touch or a specific approach to things. That’s understandable and I wouldn’t criticize a portfolio because it’s not exactly what I would do. But what strikes me most often are not the individual holdings, but rather the … Continued

How a Jar of Smarties Can Help Make Sense of Market Forecasts

In my last blog, I explained how I deal with uncertainty by always being ready for anything. I argued that proper portfolio construction, aligned with the client’s unique needs, should leave them in a strong long-term position regardless of what is going on in the economy and in capital markets. Still, people often ask me what my outlook is and how I feel markets will perform over the next few months. It won’t surprise you that I try not to … Continued

People Ask: How Do I Deal with Uncertainty?

So far, it’s been a tough year for investors. As of late August, major stock indices are down a fair bit and so are bonds. Globally balanced portfolios are lower by 10% to 15% year to date*. The common refrain in the financial media that I follow very closely is “uncertainty”. The talk is about how high-interest rates will go; how long will it take for inflation to come down; what will be the impact on the economy; how will … Continued