All posts by Jonathan Chevreau

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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Weekly Wrap: Census; Estate planning; Trump’s succession plan; Mutual Funds embrace ETFs

Based on the widespread media coverage of the 2016 Canadian census this week, Canada’s baby boomers are going to be just as much of a demographic force as ever once they enter their golden years. For the first time, our seniors now outnumber our kids, the CBC reported.

Not all seniors are baby boomers, of course, but sadly the reverse will soon be true: most if not all baby boomers will be seniors. For this generation retirement (or semi-retirement) is a huge looming event, as a quick browse of this site will establish. Hey, just this week I got a package from Service Canada advising me that I will be able to draw Old Age Security (OAS) when I turn 65 next April. And I intend to take it then too, as I wrote in MoneySense last August: Why I’m taking OAS right at 65.

Boomers need to face up to their own mortality

All of which suggests it’s time for Canadian boomers to start looking more seriously at their own mortality and the admittedly dreary topic of estate planning. I covered this Thursday in my latest MoneySense Retired Money column: Retirees need to start thinking ahead.

In my Financial Post article that ran on Wednesday, I looked at estate planning from a different perspective: how the original “Wealthy Boomer” —  Donald Trump —  is tapping his family members for senior roles in his administration and possibly for his business succession planning. Click on Donald Trump is upping the ante in the Wealth Transfer game.

Ian Campbell

One of the sources for the FP piece was business transition and valuation expert Ian Campbell, pictured. (He himself admits to his strong resemblance to investing legend Warren Buffett!). By coincidence I reached out to Ian about the Trump piece just as he had published a blog on that very topic. It ran on the Hub Wednesday under the headline Generational Business Transaction: The Apprentice. Check the links to his site for his free newsletter.

The Truth about Working in Retirement

Our best-selling (G&M, Amazon among others) book, Victory Lap Retirement, continues to get some positive reviews. Earlier this week Ellen Roseman of Toronto Star fame wrote the following review on Golden Girl Finance: The Truth about Working in Retirement. As Ellen recounts, she herself has retired from her full-time newspaper gig but continues to be fairly busy in the semi-retirement described in our book.

Mutual fund companies Excel Funds, Franklin Templeton enter ETF business

Finally, some big news in the asset management industry, where it was announced that two Canadian mutual fund companies — Excel Funds Management and Franklin Templeton Investments — are entering the ETF business. The Globe & Mail’s Clare O’Hara reported this on May 2nd. Click on Franklin Templeton, Excel Funds to enter Canadian ETF market.

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Retired Money: The “Glide Path” to semi- retirement

My latest MoneySense Retired Money column looks at a concept called “The Glidepath” approach to semi-retirement. Click on the highlighted text for the full version, which is headlined How to Transition Into Retirement.

The “Glide Path” is a term used by veteran and now semi-retired financial advisor Warren Baldwin. At 66, Baldwin still works part-time as a senior vice president T.E. Wealth, working out of Oakville, Ont.

When used in the context of airplanes and flight, glide path is a familiar image that Baldwin’s clients easily understand. His own “glide path” to semi-retirement began three and a half years ago. “Maybe it takes five years because it takes two years to plan and get your mind around it. For me, it was coming up three years ago, when I was 63. The timing was right.”

The “Work Optional” stage of life

Another way to describe this is the “Work Optional” stage of life, a term popularized by Emeritus Retirement Solutions’ Doug Dahmer, who is a frequent contributor to the Hub’s “Decumulation” pages. See for example, this post.

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