All posts by Financial Independence Hub

Aman Raina’s Robo portfolio — 2 years later

Aman Raina

By Aman Raina, Sage Investors

Two years ago I decided to set up an account with an online wealth management company that manages portfolios using algorithms and computer code. At the time, these Robo Advisers were just getting out there but there was a fair bit of buzz on how they could threaten traditional wealth management services.
I was intrigued by the model, but there was one thing that many marketing materials, blogs, and mainstream media was avoiding … do these things make money for investors?


I was having a hard finding an answer to this so I decided to try to find out myself.  I set up an account with one of the big Robo Adviser firms. My goal was to go through the process and blog about my experience and more importantly, the results. We’ve now crossed the two-year anniversary of my ROBO account, so let’s take a look at how it’s doing now.

When we last checked in with our ROBO portfolio in January it was taking some hits along with the overall stock market. Since then the market has recovered quite nicely. Let’s take a look under the hood to see if the Robo Portfolio has bounced back.

Performance Continue Reading…

Why aren’t robo-advisors being used by those who need them most?

By Edward Kholodenko,  Questrade

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Uber has quickly become the largest personal transportation company in the world, yet it  doesn’t own a single vehicle. That’s because there’s more to Uber than just hailing a ride from your phone. It’s providing more convenience at a lower price and in turn, transforming the transportation industry.

Substitute Uber for Amazon, Airbnb, or any other tech disruptor and a common theme emerges. On the road to becoming mainstream, applications that reduce cost and improve convenience are often first adopted by millennials and the tech-savvy. While the early adopters reap the many benefits of these innovations, those who hesitate are missing out.

Retirement challenge and the Robo-Revolution

When it comes to financial technology, there are certain populations that can no longer afford to be late adopters. Thanks to the innovation in the investment space, preparing for retirement has become easier than ever. Enter robo-advisors: an online wealth management service that provides diversified investing, much like a mutual fund, but at a much lower cost.

Given the current state of retirement savings in Canada, it’s apparent that this technology has great value to those willing to take the leap.

There is concern that 80 per cent of middle-income Canadians nearing retirement won’t have enough to support themselves. The average Canadian’s retirement savings of $71,000 will last only a few years, and, 50 per cent of Canadians are not confident they will have enough to retire comfortably.

Not only are Canadians saving far too little for their retirement, but also many can no longer depend on company pension plans to provide the income needed to stop working.  Our golden years are increasingly self-funded and investment decisions now fall on the shoulders of the individual. There’s a fantastic opportunity for new solutions in this space, and those willing to embrace a solution provided by fintech providers are reaping the reward.

Robo-advisors, in spite of the name, aren’t actually robots. Professional (human) portfolio managers handle all of the investments. In fact, there are two types of managed robo-advisor accounts: actively- and passively-managed:

Actively-managed advisors have a dedicated team of portfolio managers who select investments and adjust the portfolio to take advantage of market opportunities, all of this at a low cost. Passively-managed advisors typically invest according to set investment rules that only track the market.

These advisors use leading technology and proven strategies to provide a better investment experience at a lower cost to the consumer. And, by reinvesting the money you save in fees, individuals are able to increase their retirement savings and returns.

Robo-advisors are helping Canadians retire wealthier

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Burn Your Mortgage: The simple, powerful path to Financial Freedom

By Sean Cooper

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

Five years ago I read Jonathan Chevreau’s financial novel, Findependence Day, and it changed my life forever.

One of the central themes of the book is that the foundation of Financial Independence is a paid-for home. I wasn’t a fan of six figures of mortgage debt hanging over my head for the next 30 years, so I aimed to pay off my mortgage as quickly as possible.

A little over a year ago I reached my goal of “Findependence” when I burned my mortgage – literally. I paid off my home in Toronto in just three years by age 30. Thanks to a stroke of luck and good timing, the story went viral, making headlines around the world from the U.K. to Australia. I received hundreds of email from people congratulating me and wanting to follow in my footsteps.

This inspired to me write my new book, Burn Your Mortgage: The Simple, Powerful Path to Financial Freedom for CanadiansWith home prices skyrocketing in cities like Toronto and Vancouver, many feel like  the dream of homeownership is out of reach. I’m here to tell you that it’s not. I may have paid off my mortgage in three years, but that doesn’t mean you have to. There are simple yet effective lifestyle changes that anyone — from new buyers to experienced homeowners — can make to pay down their mortgage sooner.

Some people argue it doesn’t make sense to pay down your mortgage early with interest rates near record lows. I see it differently. Instead of using low interest rates as an excuse to pile on more debt, use them as an opportunity to pay down the single biggest debt of your lifetime: your mortgage.

Here’s an excerpt from my book that looks at why you’re most likely better off paying down your mortgage instead of investing. [Editor’s Note: the official launch of the book is today.]

Why pay down your Mortgage when you can come out ahead Investing?

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When you should NOT invest in an RRSP

Eva Wong, Borrowell

By Eva Wong, co-founder, Borrowell

As the March 1 deadline looms for contributions  to a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) this year, many Canadians will be thinking about how much they should contribute to their retirement savings.

Perhaps surprisingly, for many, that number should be zero.

That’s because 30 to 40% of Canadians carry a balance on their credit cards, where many of them are paying 19.9% interest and even more.

To pay 19.9% interest on money that is borrowed, and invest money in an RRSP where it would only earn a return of 6 or 7%, doesn’t make sense.

Let’s say someone had $5,000 to either pay down their credit card or invest in their RRSP, and they chose to put that money into an RRSP. They would pay $995 in credit card interest and earn only $300 in return on their investment, assuming a 6% return

There may be situations where if they had the discipline to use their tax refund to pay off some of the balance on their credit card, it could work out evenly — but that assumes a high enough income to get a significant tax refund and the discipline to use the tax refund to pay off debt.

Paying down debt is a guaranteed return

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How to Supersize your RESP – Use it as a TFSA and other tips

By Aaron Hector, Doherty & Bryant Financial Strategists Inc.

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

The purpose of this article is to show you how to think outside the box and use an RESP [Registered Education Savings Plan) in ways that you may not have previously considered. But before we get to that, let’s look at the basics.

How does an RESP work?

To help you save for your child’s post secondary education, the government provides a 20% match by way of the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG). The CESG matching is subject to both annual and lifetime maximums.  Specifically, on your first $2,500 of contributions each year, you’ll receive $500 in grant money, to a maximum of $7,200 in lifetime grants per child. To illustrate over time, if you contribute $2,500 per year, you will max out the grants available to you in 15 years (14 years at $2,500 + 1 year at $1,000, with a 20% match = $7,200).

If you don’t start making contributions when your child is born, or if there’s a lapse in contribution installments, you are able to ‘reach back’ and receive grants for previous years. You can reach back one year at a time. Therefore, you could consider a contribution of up to $5,000 this year if you missed making a contribution last year, or any year prior, and that would net you a CESG of $1,000 in total- $500 for the current year grant, and $500 for a prior year grant. The carryforward of unused CESG accumulates for every year including the year of birth, regardless of whether you have actually opened an RESP account.
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