All posts by Jonathan Chevreau

Do you need to “De-FANG” your portfolio of giant US tech stocks?

Do you need to De-FANG your portfolio or are you so focused on Canada that you’re actually underweight on the big US tech stocks?

My latest MoneySense column looks at the post-Trump surge in tech stocks and the more recent retrenchment in the sector. For the full article, click on the highlighted text here: Do you need to de-FANG your portfolio.

FANG is of course the famous acronym created by Mad Money’s Jim Cramer and stands for Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google.

But as the piece goes into in some detail, and per the image above, there are alternative acronyms that include Apple and Microsoft, although not IBM (despite the graphic above).

The question is whether so-called “Couch Potato” type investors who use the MoneySense ETF All-stars already have sufficient technology exposure to participate in the expected long-term growth of technology and particularly Internet giants like Google, Facebook, Amazon and the like. Certainly after last week’s  big announcement that Amazon seeks to acquire Whole Foods, this question is increasingly relevant.

As you’ll see, broad-based ETFs tracking the S&P500 index already have significant tech exposure: roughly a third in these names. Less so for global ETFs exposed to firms outside North America, although these too have healthy exposure to the sector.

Canadian-centric investors woefully underweight technology

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Turning 65 soon? Service Canada wants to give you OAS benefits!

Turning 65 in the next year? These things do eventually happen, God Willing!

The bad news is you are now considered by the Government to have reached Old Age; the good news is that also means Ottawa wants you to consider starting receiving Old Age Security (OAS) benefits the month after you officially turn 65.

My latest MoneySense column provides all the details, starting with a letter Service Canada should be sending you automatically shortly after you reach 64. Click on the highlighted text for the full column about how to get ready to receive Old Age Security benefits and possibly the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) to OAS: What to expect when receiving OAS at 65.

As you’ll see, no action at all is required if they did send you this initial package and you’re happy to receive gross (pre-tax) cheques mailed to the address they have on file. If you want the funds deposited electronically to your bank and/or have tax deducted at source (as I did), then you either have to go to the web site provided or call them on the phone.

I have to say my initial attempt to do this on the Internet was a frustrating one. It turned out to be far easier to call them on the telephone on the English-language helpline listed in the letter: 1-800-777-9914. Due to “high call volume” I was put on hold for 15 minutes, during which time the automated voice advised listeners to apply for OAS at least six months before their 65th birthday and no more than a year in advance. It also said the maximum monthly OAS benefit is currently $578.53.

I chose to have 25% tax withdrawn at source so with no further action on my part, I can expect my first OAS deposit of $433.90 (net of tax) to arrive magically in my bank on or about May 29, 2018, and every month after that for as long as I live, like any other pension. By then it may be slightly more, as it may be indexed to the cost of living.

Take OAS early, CPP late if you can possibly swing it

Keep in mind that, like the Canada Pension Plan (CPP), you can opt to defer receipt of OAS benefits to as late as age 70, thereby raising the payout. I revealed my reasons for taking OAS as soon as it’s on offer in an earlier MoneySense column last summer: Why I’m taking OAS right at 65. Continue Reading…

Large RRSPs nice problem to have, tax on them not so much

My latest Financial Post column can be found in Friday’s paper or online by clicking on this headline: Confronting the ‘wonderful’ problem of the too-large RRSP.

It describes what one source describes as a “nice problem to have.” That’s having accumulated so much money in a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) that it presents a lucrative source of tax revenue for the federal Government once you reach age 71 and have to start making forced annual — and taxable — withdrawals from a Registered Retirement Income Fund or RRIF.

Doug Dahmer

This is a huge tipping point: moving from Wealth Accumulation to De-Accumulation, or what this site calls Decumulation.  Suddenly, you’re confronted with the flipside of what CIBC Wealth’s Jamie Golombek has famously dubbed “being blinded by the refund,” a reference to the juicy tax deductions we enjoy by making regular RRSP contributions during our high-earning high-taxed working years.

The article quotes regular Hub contributor Doug Dahmer – president of Burlington, Ont.-based Emeritus Retirement Income Specialists, and pictured here – who says baby boomers have a huge looming tax problem ahead with their 6-figure RRSPs once it comes time to start withdrawing money or securities from them. The FP piece references Dahmer’s Hub blog earlier this year: Better Retirement Choices: An elegantly simple solution.

The case for early RRSP withdrawals and delaying Government benefits

As Dahmer has related here and elsewhere, he does believe RRSPs can get too large (at least if you’re averse to generating large amounts of taxable income down the road), so he is an advocate of drawing down RRSPs during the low-taxed years that many semi-retirees may experience somewhere between corporate life (typically early 60s) until it’s RRIF time in your early 70s. Continue Reading…

A cure for the Retirement Blues

Whaaaat? Is it possible that this whole retirement thing can be a letdown once you finally get there — that some people may experience the Retirement Blues?

My latest MoneySense Retired Money column looks at the problem of having too much free time in your golden post-employment years, which you can find by clicking this highlighted headline: Retiring frees up 2,000 extra hours a year.

In the piece, I describe at least one senior who felt in retrospect that he retired too early: he had a great pension so money wasn’t a problem but he soon realized he had started to miss the many benefits of work. In short, he had a mild — or not so mild — case of the Retirement Blues.

As you’ll see, the column references an RBC program called Your Future by Design (See

The 2,000 hours is the result of a simple calculation: 50 weeks multiplied by 40 hours a week equals the amount of “found” leisure time freed up by no longer working full-time. The 2,000 hours figure was referenced in a survey by the Royal Bank last year. Those with long commutes can add a few more hundred hours a year of “found” time.

Keep in mind that if you don’t work at all in retirement you’ll have a lot more than just those 2,000 hours a year to fill. Subtracting 3,000 hours for sleep, you’ll have a total of 5,840 waking hours every year. So if you live 30 more years after retiring, that’s 175,000 waking hours to be occupied.

Little wonder that 73% surveyed by RBC aren’t sure what they’ll do with all that time. We spend more time planning vacations (29%) or weddings (19%) than on retirement!

5 top retirement activities, plus a sixth that should be considered

RBC finds the top five activities for replacing work are health & fitness, travel, hobbies, volunteering and relaxing at home,  but I suggest in the column that many recent retirees may discover they want a sixth activity: work, if only on a part-time basis.

Imagine that: doing a little more of what you may have done too much of during your primary career, but enjoying it for its own sake, its networking properties and social stimulation. And, incidentally, adding a little to your retirement nest egg while you’re at it.

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Business owners need to step up Wealth transfer plans for next generation

Here’s my latest High Net Worth blog for the Financial Post, titled Only 40% of new business owners have transition in place, says new report.

The latest in a series of global surveys by RBC Wealth Management and Scorpio Partnership finds that while more than a third of business owners in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom  have a full formal plan in place to pass their wealth on to their heirs, one in five have not even started to plan.

RBC surveyed 384 high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals in the three countries, with average investible wealth of US$6.4 million. While 51% of business owners have a will in place, a startling 22% have not yet started any sort of wealth transfer preparations; which means “the majority of business owners are relatively unprepared to pass on their financial legacy,” the report says.

One of the experts I consulted was business transition and valuation expert Ian R. Campbell, who  recently wrote a Hub blog about Donald Trump’s business transition plans for his high-profile family members. It was also the basis for an earlier Financial Post column by me headlined Donald Trump is upping the ante in the Wealth Transfer game.

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