Canadian ETF growth continues in 2017 but still early innings

Source: Strategic Insight data as of December 31 of each year. As of April 30th for 2017.

By Atul Tiwari 

Special to the Financial Independence Hub

With summer in full swing, along with warmer weather and blooming gardens, it got me thinking about cycles in investing. In particular ETFs, which have been taking root in Canada over the past few years.

When Vanguard entered the Canadian market in December 2011, we were one of only eight ETF providers. Our own evolution illustrates how much has changed in just over five years: We started with six index-based ETFs and currently offer a lineup of 33 ETFs, including four actively managed equity factor-based ETFs launched in June 2016.

Industry-wide more than 500 ETFs now vie for the attention of investors and advisors. And it’s not just products that have proliferated; new ETF providers enter the industry every month. More than $130 billion in Canada-domiciled ETF assets is now divided among 24 ETF providers. And there’s room to grow. ETFs make up only 8% of Canadian investable assets while capturing 25% of industry flows for the first quarter.1

Investors have clearly grown more comfortable adding ETFs to their portfolios. While I’m not one to make predictions about whether the pace of expansion will continue, I do see three trends that tend to favour it.

1.)  Greater fee transparency

Thanks to the second phase of Canada’s Client Relationship Model reforms (CRM2), investors are starting to see — in dollar terms on their account statements — what they’re paying their advisory firms. Canadian regulators are also considering a potential ban on embedded trailing commissions. This will surely generate discussion and shine an even brighter light on investment fees.

No less an expert than billionaire investor Warren Buffett extolled the long-term benefits of low-cost investing in his 2016 letter to Berkshire Hathaway shareholders. Cost plays a critical role in total investment return. The less investors pay in fees, the more of the potential returns they can keep. This is true whether you are investing in an ETF, mutual fund or any other investment vehicle.

2.)  Fee-based advisors are on the rise

Driven partly by regulatory changes and heightened awareness of investment fees, many financial advisors are moving to fee-based business practices. We favour this transition as we believe it better aligns advisors with the needs of investors and creates full transparency. Continue Reading…

4 books to prepare for Your Victory Lap

Image result for retire wild happy and freeImage result for the essential retirement guideImage result for your retirement income blueprintImage result for it's your time by donna mccaw

A question that frequently comes up is what books we would recommend people read to help prepare themselves for a successful VL (Victory Lap). I think this happens because many of our talks are held at libraries and people there are accustomed to doing their own research. There are a lot of good books out there, including Victory Lap Retirement, but the following four will do the job getting you both mentally and financially prepared to launch your own VL.

1)   How To Retire Happy, Wild, and Free, by Ernie Zelinski.

This is the book that helped convince me it was ok to leave my stressful banking job. If you are in a similar position, you know it is hard to leave a well-paying job late in your career. However it is just as hard staying in a job that makes you miserable just to save some extra money for a retirement that you have no idea what it will look like. When you are in a job you hate, something has to give and I hope it’s not your health. If you lose your health,  does it really matter how much money you have? You might want to think about that one a little before it’s too late.

We give out a copy of Ernie’s book at our presentations, as there is usually at least one person in attendance who is willing to admit they are struggling with the “should I stay or should I go?”  decision.

Having been there myself I feel for them and know Ernie’s book will help them, just like it helped me.

2)    The Essential Retirement Guide, by Frederick Vettese

I like to sleep at night and after reading this book I was able to sleep a lot better. Most of us are stressed out about the possibility of running out of money in retirement. I can’t speak for any of you but I worried about money, making the mortgage payment, getting the kids through school for most of my life and I’ll be damned if I’m going to waste any more of my life worrying about money during my Victory Lap. Life is too short for that and I have better things to do with my time.

Continue Reading…

Retired Money: Sticker shock on Healthcare costs for Seniors

Senior with her caregiver at home

Have you factored rising Healthcare costs into your retirement planning? Here’s my latest MoneySense Retired Money column, which you can access by clicking on the highlighted headline: One huge cost to factor into retirement plans.

That huge cost is of course unexpected medical expenses, which tend to escalate the further along you go in your golden years. Typically, the early years of Retirement (say, in your 60s) are dubbed “Go-Go” years, which are the healthy ones during which you can travel, and medical costs tend to be minimal.

Costs rise as you go from Slow-go to No-go years

But as time goes on, often between the late 60s and early 70s, you can expect a few medical problems to emerge for at least one member of a senior couple, if not both. That’s why they some dub the middle period the “Slow-go” years.

And of course, the last few years is where costs can really mount up: the so-called “No-go” years, especially if you no longer “stay in place” in your home, or require extensive in-home care, or are forced out of the family home altogether to go to a retirement home or nursing home.

Continue Reading…

Two free lunches: Diversification and Rebalancing

“Excellence is not a skill. It is an attitude.” — Ralph Marston

Diversification and Rebalancing strategies are two essential, time-tested portfolio tools. They improve your chances of achieving better consistency of long-term returns. Tasty free lunches are still being served in your investing patch.

Diversification spreads your risks among a variety of investments. Rebalancing makes periodic adjustments to bring allocations back in line with targets set within your road map. I assume that your road map is in place.

Experience shows that asset mix decisions have the greatest impact on your portfolio returns than any other factor. The foundation of investing your nest egg requires patience, discipline and clear investment policies.

Diversification is one necessary safeguard. You don’t want problems arising in any asset class to ruin your well designed portfolio. Diversification increases the odds of you being right more often. If some selections are suffering, others can help cushion the rest.

Initial allocations and weights of your portfolio selections will drift over time as markets rise and retreat. When drift becomes significant, it affects your investment profile and typically requires some re-balancing.

Periodic rebalancing strategies sell some assets and buy others within your asset mix. My preferred time to rebalance is when you inject new money into the portfolio or withdraw some. Use rebalancing techniques as portfolio tweaks, not for wholesale changes.

Possible ways

I highlight 10 ways to achieve portfolio changes: Continue Reading…

Is Life Insurance the ultimate in financial #adulting?

By Mark Hardy, TD Insurance

Millennials have plenty on their plate when it comes to financial #adulting. From paying off student debt and managing day-to-day expenses to buying a house and starting a family, the new financial responsibilities can seem daunting.

A recent survey by TD revealed another gap in millennials’ financial picture: life insurance. The survey found more than half (55%) of millennials don’t have any life insurance, but more than a third have thought about it, especially when it comes to protecting their loved ones.

When prioritizing their financial “to-do” lists, things like paying down debt (25%) or saving for a home (21%) were most important, while life insurance came in dead last. For people starting a family – or those who already have young families or dependents – who don’t yet have life insurance, it’s important to bump it up the priority list because this is the time when financial obligations really start to increase.

The survey also found most millennials assume life insurance is best to cover one-time costs, like funeral expenses (68%), but many don’t realize it can assist with so much more. For instance, day-to-day living expenses like mortgage payments or student loans are areas where life insurance can help protect loved ones from financial pressures in the event of the unexpected. Bottom line, it’s an important part of a comprehensive financial plan.

Cost is a cup of coffee a day

Another survey finding cited cost (55%) as a top barrier to purchasing life insurance. In fact, the younger one is when buying life insurance, the less coverage will cost. And many may find it surprising that on average, the cost of life insurance breaks down to less than a cup of coffee a day over a 10-year period.

Finally, it’s important that first-time purchasers have a strong understanding of their options. To do that they’ll need to start with a complete list of financial obligations – like mortgages, debt, and whether theirs is a single or multiple-income household. With that information in pocket, they can check out online assessment resources, like the Right Fit Coverage Assessment tool, which will help calculate the type of coverage best fitted to their unique needs. And, they can also speak to an insurance advisor if they have more questions or need additional advice.

Remember, life insurance is a vital piece of the overall financial picture and will offer some peace of mind to loved ones.

Mark Hardy, Senior Manager of Direct Life & Health, TD Insurance is an insurance professional with more than 15 years of experience in the industry in a wide range of roles including Technology, Data, Strategy and Product Management. As Senior Manager of Direct Life & Health at TD Insurance, he is responsible for bringing life & health insurance solutions directly to Canadians. Mark has an MBA from the Rotman School of Business.