On My Way!

I have passed the first hurdle in completing my Certified Financial Planners designation.

I am now considered a Registered Candidate for the CFP marks. All of us who wrote the first exam and passed will be lauded in an upcoming Globe and Mail article. The tough part yet to come. We must complete a capstone course and pass another final exam.  Looking forward to the challenge and the information. The materials covered in the previous four courses covered everything from tax and estate planning to family law. It was fabulous and I found it really useful in my own practice. So it’s on to the capstone course for me.

Almost there !

Roughly two weeks of study time left before the first big exam. The Financial Planning Standards Council has set the bar high. If (when) I pass this one, I have to take another cap stone course and challenge another exam in June 2011.

The web site has some good information for clients as well as planners and is worth a look. Besides a great explanation of the hows and whys of a CFP designation the site provides great tips on selecting an advisor  and how those who use advisors come out way ahead of those who do not.

Fall is that time to put the flower beds to rest and clean up the yard. On those days when it’s not so nice it’s also a super opportunity to clean up that desk, organize the files and catch up your books. It’s never too early to prepare for that April tax time.  A tax heads up can help you decide how much and if , contributions to RRSPs or TFSA s  are the way to go this year.

So check out  www.fpsc.ca

Back from Vacation and Ready to Study !!!

Hi All,

I am back from vacation and back to work. At present, I’m completing the last course required for the first of two CFP final exams. It’s been very comprehensive, and we have covered a lot of material from tax to estate planning. We intend to write in November so will keep you all posted as to how we do.

In the meantime, Ontario has gone HST. The financial services industry is still in a quandry as how this affects us all regarding service fees. Here is a recent article on how the mutual fund companies are trying to deal with it. Remember this is for informational purposes only folks.

 

Fund Industry News

Release Date: 19-Aug-10 04:00 PM

Fund industry divided over tackling HST

Vikram Barhat

A tug-of-war is developing as fund companies try to find the fairest solution for dealing with the inequality of the HST as it relates to mutual-fund investors.

Much has been written about the various options pursued by fund managers across Canada since the introduction of the HST in Ontario and British Columbia on July 1. Undeniably, this has created some confusion among investors and advisors as to which alternative is in their best interests.

Most companies opted for a blended tax rate, while a handful have chosen to introduce non-HST series. Both camps claim to have kept investor interest front and center.

A month later, as the clouds of confusion begin to lift, there seems to be a trend emerging that suggests the industry is leaning heavily towards the blended rate alternative.

“Considering the options presently available, we strongly believe that as fund fiduciaries the best course of action for our investors is to adopt a blended tax rate rather than create a separate non-HST series,” says Peter Intraligi, president and COO of Invesco Trimark.

Intraligi says the decision to proceed with the blended tax rate approach was the result of a through and detailed analysis of available options.

The HST implementation rules drafted by the federal government require that the HST be calculated separately for each series of each fund in proportion to the amounts invested by residents of the HST-participating provinces when compared to the non-HST provinces. The HST is currently being collected in B.C., Nova Scotia, Ontario, New Brunswick, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

“In practical terms, this will result in the application of a blended rate of HST to each series of each fund,” says Intraligi.

Early adopters of the non-HST series are quick to point out tax fairness and potential MER savings associated with their concept. They argue that non-HST residents will benefit from lower MERs in a non-HST series and pay lower tax rate applicable in their province.

Intraligi understands the arguments, but asserts treating groups of investors differently is inconsistent with the pooling concept of mutual funds and could lead to future inequalities.

“Where would it end?” he asks. “If a new series can be launched for residents in non-HST provinces, then why shouldn’t there be a separate series created for the BC residents? After all, their HST rate is 12% versus 15% for Nova Scotia residents.”

As the debate continues, some members of the industry choose to reserve their judgment.

Joanne De Laurentiis, president and CEO of the Investment Funds Institute of Canada (IFIC) says while the scales do seem to be tilted towards the blended rate, it would be rash to take sides.

“They both have their pros and cons,” she says. “It’s almost premature at this point of time to say one is better that the other.

While admitting that most funds are indeed going the blended rate way, she says it may take up to a year to get a clearer picture, in part because the rules are not yet final. “The next set of draft rules that we’re going to see is in November. There’s still lots of open questions for many firms.”

Industry watchers say the rules of the game will continue to evolve due to many reasons, not least of which is more provinces getting harmonized going forward.

Reproduced with permission from advisor.ca

 

 

Mutual Funds provided by FundEx Investments Inc.

Vacation time

Hi All

 

Please note I will be on vacation for the first two weeks of August. I will be attending the Hastings Plowing Match the day after I arrive home  Aug 18 & 19.  See you all there and enjoy what’s left of the summer !!

Summer Heat …

Hi All

We are having a summer heat wave !!!  Stay hydrated and stay cool .

Just a quick update on my CFP progress. We are finishing the third course  Comprehensive Practices in Risk and Retirement Planning. One quiz and the exam to go. Then course four. We are on target to write the first FPSC final 6-hour exam in Nov.  So far I have done well with the course material  and really enjoyed the class I attend once a week. It’s been a great help and support .

When it’s too hot to be outside, stay in!  Its a great chance to sit and do a mid-year review of your investments, handy to have those June statements,  and go over all your other financial papers.  Is your will current?  Where is that life-insurance policy, and how old is it anyhow ???? Has anything changed in the way of beneficiary designations ???  Moved ???   Married/divorced? Added to the family? Changed employment or employment status?  Tally up a pre-tax estimate.

So many things to do in the cool of the basement …

Stay cool people

Top 12 Mistakes Made by You, the Client

Here are a few of the major mistakes we as agents see clients make when purchasing life insurance.

How many of these mistakes are costing you time and money?

Top 12 mistakes people make regarding their life insurance

1. Blindly trust their advisor, any advisor

  • a. Many advisors specialize in gaining trust and selling product ONLY
  • b. Important financial decision for welfare of family
  • c. Mistakes can be costly (hundreds of thousands of dollars)
  • d. Use a specialist? Why not get a second opinion? Existing or new.
  • e. Get it in writing

2. Don’t know why

  • a. Only one true need

3. Make decision emotionally (100%)

4. Don’t use guaranteed products

  • a. Usually based on greed + unrealistic expectations and salesmanship and misunderstanding of how these things work (most advisors don’t understand on this stuff works either).
  • b. Buy wrong type. Illustrates well but can result in overpaying and losing insurance
    i. Examples include YRT Universal Life and enhanced Whole Life

5. Don’t optimize

  • a. See Life Guide survey
  • b. Calculate ROI

6. Don’t know what they’re buying

  • a. Get involved in grandiose schemes that they don’t fully understand (see 1. Above) and involve bank financing and/or complex tax strategies that can “blow up” if not carefully set-up (initially) and administered (on-going).

7. Misleading presentation

  • a. Purchase a policy without being fully made aware of their options and shown a market survey and

8. Double duty dollars

  • a. Cash accumulation doesn’t work. Double duty dollars.
  • b. Tends to result in overpaying for what you get

9. Don’t coordinate with other financial planning

10. Haven’t discussed their Bequest Preference

11. Don’t compare to alternatives

12. Don’t measure solution to determine viability and appropriateness

 

How to make sure you have the right policy.

1. I don’t know how much I have and why

2. I don’t know what type I have (3 types, some guaranteed, some aren’t)

3. I don’t know about structure (corporate) (beneficiary)

4. I don’t know if I’m optimized (cheaper, take advantage of features, understand what 300 contract pages say).

 

Biggest Mistake

1. Spend too much

2. Non guarantees that make insurance look good

3. Relying on salesman

4. Blind trust

5. Don’t put it in writing

6. If you don’t fix it early, you might not be able to

7. No on-going communication and reviews

 

What are most people not aware of:

1. Understand contract

2. No idea of how much and why

3. Understand different types

4. Short term focus/emotion

5. It’s part of a planning process

6. Dealing with unqualified people (knowledge is critical)

 

 

 

Time to Think About That RRSP Contribution

Its getting to be that time! Income taxes and RRSP season go hand in hand. But we have a new twist this year—the TFSA. Which is best for you?

Depending on your projected retirement income, either could be the answer. Projections using just the math show both to be even bets in the long run; however, if you have a significant RRSP account or pension coming,  look more closely at the new TFSA.  All the same investment vehicles qualify, and the market looks good to get in! No more standing on the sidelines people, it’s time to get your feet wet in the investment pool.

If you have more questions contact me  or any professional advisor !  Get the straight facts on investing.

Busy me

It’s been too long since I updated but I have a good excuse !!

I have gone back to school to pursue my Certified Financial Planner’s designation. It will take me over a year and consists of 4 modules and a 6-month proficiency course then exam. I am really enjoying the course material and to-date, we have covered  a variety of information from family law to government benefits. Our next module will  cover income tax, how exciting.  I will still try to update and post relevant educational material as time permits. Wish me luck!

Come visit me

Hi All

Its that time again   !!!

Come visit me at my booth at the Hastings Plowing Match  Aug 19 & 20

The match is being held on the farm of Art DeSnoo and his brother  in Thurlow

Check out the Hastings Plowing Match web site for all the particulars

Top Ten Techniques from 45 Years of Investing

Hi All,

Here is a fascinating article  written by an ordinary guy —a wealthy ordinary guy though.

He has some great tips and comments on building wealth, and I really like his advice on educating oneself financially.  So take a rainy day and read on how Hedley Dimock achieved his dream life.

For more advice on the agricultural ideas in the article, see the following sites or links

www.fbc.ca       www.ofa.on.ca                    www.cra.gc.ca

—–

•http://www.canadianmoneysaver.ca • September 2004

Wealth Creation and Preservation
Top Ten Techniques from 45 Years of Investing

Hedley Dimock

Let me start by describing where I am coming from with these techniques and thus my bias. These techniques (which would be called “secrets” if I was selling something) have come from my experiences as an investor and are focused on what has worked— not on one or more theories of investing. I was a millionaire
at age 50 while earning less than $50,000 a year. So, these are “in my pocket” techniques—no fancy charts or graphs—and more successes than failures. But many of the failures have consolidated my techniques, as it is one thing to read about what not to do and another to then do it and lose money.

I am a retired university professor and organization consultant presently just writing, operating a Christmas tree hobby farm, and managing 9 financial portfolios
and some real estate. I am not in the finance business and have nothing to sell you.

1. Take charge of my own investments. No one is more concerned about my money than I am. For many years I was too busy making money to spend
time managing my investments. I monitored Trimark’s Select Growth’s rate of return compared to the Trimark Fund of which it was a clone. As Select Growth produced over a 1% lower return a year, I converted my Select Growth without cost as soon as the delayed commission (rear-end load) feature expired.

2. Gather informed opinions and data from many sources. I read, ask questions, listen to my friends and colleagues, and file the track records of my present investments and possible future ones. I tracked the 10-year return of the Trimark Fund for 3 years before investing in it. It was first then and still is 9 years later. I subscribed to three investor newsletters for a few years before finding MoneySaver. Each has taught me a lot and shown me new ways of looking at data on returns and their tax implications. The single best tax book I’ve read is Personal Tax Planning by the certified general accountants of Ontario. I read it every year to keep up with the tax changes.

3. It is not what I make but what I keep that counts. My present net worth, while earning a modest income (maximum $50K), substantiates this action. It was confirmed years ago, for example, by my next door neighbour— a financial advisor—who had 2 BMWs, 2 ultralight airplanes, a beautifully renovated house and swimming pool. I was getting a bit envious as our lifestyle was very plain with only 2 entry level cars, until he went bankrupt and moved away.

4. Taxes are usually the biggest taker of what you make. There are marvelous ways to minimize and defer taxes. I learned about them through my readings, but a few I had to figure out for myself. Tax exemptions are part of minimizing taxes. I am a member of the Ontario Federation of Agriculture which exempts me from Ontario’s 8% sales tax on farm-related purchases. My hobby farming makes me eligible for reduced property tax, and I signed up with the Conservation Tax Incentive Program for another reduction. These are farming examples but there are similar exemptions and reductions in many areas. The best tax minimization and avoidance strategy I have found is to do my partner’s and my own tax return. You can do the paper return before, after, or with your tax consultant. If I didn’t do it myself, I wouldn’t know the relationship between and among the tax credits, tax brackets, clawbacks, surcharges and comparable rates for my three income sources. My learnings have included: how to split income most effectively (dividends are best for the low-income partner), which partner should declare medical expenses and charitable donations, whether the donation credit should be postponed to a future year, how to shift income to be in a lower tax bracket while avoiding clawbacks and surcharges, and how to withdraw money from an RRSP tax-free. It is one thing to do last year’s return accurately and use all the benefits available, but quite different to figure out how you can save 10-20% on taxes for the next return by rearranging your income. •http://www.canadianmoneysaver.ca • September 2004

5. Split income.
Splitting our incomes has saved us a couple of thousand dollars a year since I learned how it works. As we refined our splitting, Mary was able to make at least half of my income and pay little, if any, tax. This took a while. Mary mostly worked part-time and had no pensions or savings. But I finally found out that the baby bonuses that she invested in our first farm entitled her to share the money from selling the farm. Four other openings were also available for splitting—only one was suggested by an investment advisor.

6. Set up and contribute to an RRSP very carefully. RRSPs are not for everyone and there are many potential drawbacks to consider. When self-directed RRSPs came out in the mid-1970s, I thought they were the best thing since canned beer, and quickly got one. I was holding a number of corporate bonds and preferred shares at the time and put them in my SDRRSP. My maximum contributions in the ‘70s were low as half the limit was taken by my university pension, so our savings were mostly in non-registered accounts. This was fortunate because I gradually uncovered the serious limitations of my RRSP and stopped contributing. After its conversion to a RRIF I started wishing even more that I had not contributed as much as I did. My present opinion on RRSPs agrees with the C. D. Howe report that one third of Canadians with low incomes should not use an RRSP as savings for their future. For the rest, people should determine what percent of their retirement portfolio they want in fixed-income securities (usually 30-60 %) and have only those investments in their RRSP.

7. The plan and process of creating wealth is most important. As David Chilton (The Wealthy Barber) said, “Ninety percent of wealth creation is spending less than you make.” The power of compound interest means that investing regularly at an early age can outweigh the return of periodic “hot” investments. A plan with clear goals and measurable objectives for wealth accumulation beats opportunistic investing. Work your plan with how much and when to invest and don’t fret the “what”. The wealth creation goal Mary and I established was to be financially independent by age 50 or at least by 55. Independent for us meant not having to be dependent on future work income, government benefits, or company pension plans. Our plan of consistent investment of 10-20% of my earnings, the growing economy, and some good luck enabled us to reach our goal at age 50. While there was no theme for our success, three farms and solid blue chip-stocks (Bell Canada was our rock) were the winners. The duds were 80% of our mutual funds. Near disasters were Massey- Ferguson, Dennison Mines and Royal Trust (near disasters because they were preferred shares and we did receive some compensation).

8. Invest in things you like and are going to use. Investing is more fun when the things you buy can enhance your everyday life or provide enjoyable activities. I have reported my fondness for the Bank of Nova Scotia stock as Nova Scotia is the location of the Dimock ancestral home in Canada and my father’s birthplace. Our three houses have been marvelous investments as have our two cottages. We enjoyed a vacation farm so much that we moved to it after six years and commuted by train to work in Montreal. When we moved to Guelph, we bought another farm near the city. Our hobby farms have been the single biggest contributor to our wealth creation and my physical health and emotional well-being.

9. Be very careful with mutual funds. The media hype on mutual funds can be very misleading if not pure B.S. (beguiling statements). The management expenses plus brokerage fees for the average Canadian equity fund is over 2.8% a year. Over a fifteen-year period about one fund in ten will beat the index of stocks to which it is related. The proliferation of iUnits and exchange- traded funds covering most markets mean you can be diversified, play a global or specialized market and beat most mutual funds while deferring tax on the fund’s yearly earnings and capital gains. I was an enthusiastic mutual fund participant with my first purchase 45 years ago (AGF Growth). As I watched their performance and studied them more carefully, I have reduced my enthusiasm and most of my fund holdings. The two I haven’t sold, all or part of, are ABC Fully Managed and Trimark Fund (though it is on my watch list after 3-4 years of mediocre performance).

10. Stay the course. I did not start to increase our net worth until I had a plan with clear and attainable goals and yearly measurable objectives to see how we were doing. I have worked hard not to get suckered out of position by flaky trends and the media hype over the sexy avant-guard investment or hot stock. I did get scammed by a persuasive salesperson on a penny gold mine stock. Well, everyone knows better, but there is nothing like learning from experience. The stock changed its name and then mysteriously disappeared. During the run-up of sexy high-tech stocks, I held the course but got caught by the Nortel shares I inherited from my large Bell Canada holdings.

My attempts to predict the market have also met with failure. I sold Imperial Tobacco (Imasco) when I saw a series of lawsuits coming. By selling, I also lost Shoppers Drug Mart and Canada Trust. Even after they were sold, all three did well. Stay the course or as Tom Peters said of the best run companies (In Search of Excellence) “stick to your knitting”— what you know best—and “never acquire any business you don’t know how to run”.
Hedley Dimock, EdD, RR1, Puslinch, Ontario N0B 2J0
(519) 822-2749 hdimock@infinity.net