All posts by Financial Independence Hub

Timeless Financial Tip #8: Six Enduring Insights for Fixed-Income Investing

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By Steve Lowrie, CFA

Special to Financial Independence Hub

When’s the last time someone tried to talk you into chasing a “hot” Treasury bond run — NOW, before it’s too late!

Probably never, right?

Most of us recognize that’s not what fixed-income investing is for. Bonds create stability; stocks and alternatives are where the excitement is at.

And yet, I often see people forgetting this timeless truth, or at least investing as if they have. Plus, to further complicate things, not all bonds are created equal. This can trick you into thinking you’re playing it safe …  just before a big blow-out takes you by surprise.

Following are 6 best practices for fixed-income investing across all kinds of markets, whether rates are rising, falling, or in a holding pattern.

1.) Let your Plans Lead the Way

Our first point is the same “play it again” tip we want you to apply across all your investments — from the safest GIC, to the edgiest emerging markets. Even though we’ve said it before, such as in my past post, The Timely and Timeless Roles of Fixed Income Investing, it bears repeating:

“If there’s one principle that drives all the rest, it’s the importance of having your own detailed investment plan … In the absence of a plan, undisciplined investors instead struggle to predict how, when, and if it’s time to react to unknowable events over which they have little control. While there is no guarantee that your plan will deliver the outcomes for which it’s been designed, we believe that it represents your best interests and your best odds for achieving your personal goals.”

2.) Don’t be Distracted by “This Time, It’s Different”

Instead of letting the shifting tides overtake decades of empirical evidence, repeat after me:

Stocks: Stocks have long been a most effective tool for pursuing new wealth over time and preserving your purchasing power by outpacing inflation. However, along with their higher expected long-term returns, they’ve also delivered a much bumpier ride, which increases the uncertainty that you may not ultimately achieve your particular goals.

Bonds: Bonds have been a good tool for dampening stocks’ volatility, giving you a better chance of remaining on track. They can also contribute modestly to your total returns, but that shouldn’t be their primary role.

The trick is, while stocks have outperformed bonds over the long run, that doesn’t mean they’re always outperforming. There have been times, such as in 2022, when stocks and bonds declined in unison. The markets have gone topsy-turvy, and bonds have outperformed stocks for longer periods of time.

We’ll undoubtedly see times again, along with the inevitable proclamations that we’re (yet again) in a new financial order, and that (once again) the old rules no longer apply.

At least to date, such pronouncements have been wrong every time. That’s likely due at least in part to our next bedrock assumption, which has ultimately crushed them so far.

3.) Benefit from Bond Pricing Basics

One reason bonds tend to be more stable than stocks is their inherently different pricing processes:

Stock Pricing: Stock prices are cobbled together from the market’s collective and ever-shifting guesstimates. Such pricing is relatively efficient over the long run, but often a hot mess in real time.

Bond Pricing: Bond pricing is different. When a bond is issued, or if it is trading in the open market, you know the price you can pay today, the price you will receive when it matures, and the interest payments you’ll receive along the way. Putting all of that together means you can neatly calculate a bond’s return if you hold it to maturity. In bond speak, this is called “yield to maturity” (YTM). Computers can also calculate the YTM for entire pooled bond investments like bond funds or ETFs.

A bond’s YTM won’t change. What will change is how much it’s worth if traded prior to maturity in secondary markets. There, an existing bond’s resale value will rise and fall relative to rising and falling yields in the marketplace.

The future remains uncertain for stocks and bonds alike. But since upcoming returns are already baked into a bond’s yields, the increased — if still imperfect — pricing knowledge translates into a smoother ride, along with a reduced risk premium.

In other words, breaking news may alter prices, but not the pricing process. In addition, bond holders are creditors, whereas stock holders are owners. In the event of a company failure, creditors are more likely than owners to recover their capital.

Understanding these distinctions, it’s easier to accept the timeless role bonds play in your portfolio.

4.) Understand what Central Banks can (and cannot) Do for Us

Perhaps the most frothy bond market news comes from the rivers of rate changes continuously flowing out of the world’s central banks, especially the U.S. Federal Reserve. Each adjustment is accompanied by a rush of coverage on yields, spreads, curves, short- and long-term rates, and so on. It all sounds important. But is it?

Central bank rate changes are useful data points for understanding how global bond markets operate over time. But they should not be a major influence on your immediate investment activities. A recent Dimensional Fund Advisors paper, “Considering Central Bank Influence on Yields,” helps us understand why this is so. Analyzing the relationship between U.S. Federal Reserve policies on short-term interest rates versus wider, long-term bond market rates, the authors found: Continue Reading…

9 Business Leaders share best Opportunities for Wealth Accumulation

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To shed light on effective wealth-building strategies, we’ve gathered insights from nine experts in the field, including investment specialists, financial advisors, and more.

From the importance of diversifying your portfolio and investing in yourself to the consistent investment in stock indices, these professionals share their top investment opportunities and asset classes that have proven particularly effective in securing financial independence.


  • Diversify Your Portfolio and Invest in Yourself
  • Prioritize Exchange Traded Funds (EFTs)
  • Look into Home Ownership and 401(k) Investments
  • Make Systematic Progress Across Asset Classes
  • Generate Passive Income with a Niche Website
  • Build Wealth through Real Estate
  • Focus on Healthcare and Nutraceuticals
  • Seek Rental Property Investments
  • Be Consistent with Investment in Stock Indices

Diversify your Portfolio and Invest in Yourself

One investment opportunity that has proven particularly effective in building and securing financial independence is a diversified portfolio that includes a mix of equity, bonds, and alternative assets. 

This strategy allows for exposure to different asset classes, mitigating risk while aiming for growth. Equities provide the potential for high returns, bonds offer stability and income, and alternative assets such as real estate, commodities, or private equity can add further diversification and potentially enhance returns. 

However, it’s essential to emphasize that investing in oneself has been the best investment of all. Personal and professional development, education, and acquiring new skills have consistently yielded substantial returns over time. These investments enhance earning potential, open up new opportunities, and empower individuals to adapt to changing circumstances. Ahmed Henane, Investment Specialist and Financial Advisor, Ameriprise Financial

Prioritize Exchange Traded Funds (EFTs)

The equity market is the single greatest wealth creator for investors. If someone has 10 years or more as their time horizon for investing, then an equity growth mutual fund or ETF (Exchange Traded Fund) is highly recommended to build wealth. 

ETFs are very similar to mutual funds. ETFs typically represent a basket of securities known as pooled investment vehicles and trade on a stock exchange like individual stocks. A growth ETF is a diversified portfolio of stocks that has capital appreciation as its primary goal, with little or no dividends. 

One such investment would be the Vanguard Growth ETF (VUG/NYSE Area). This ETF is linked to the MSCI US Prime Market Growth Index, which offers exposure to large-cap companies within the growth sector of the U.S. equity market. Investors with a longer-term horizon ought to consider the importance of growth stocks and the diversification benefits they can add to any well-balanced portfolio. Scott Krase, Wealth Manager, Connor & Gallagher OneSource

Look into Home Ownership and 401(k) Investments

There isn’t any one asset class or investment opportunity I’d recommend over the other for the general populace. Those types of financial decisions are circumstantial and based on the needs of the client. 

Nonetheless, the two ways to “Build Wealth for Dummies” would be to purchase your home and invest in your 401(k). From a behavioral-finance perspective, the automatic contributions to these two vehicles have, more often than not, created better outcomes for clients. Rush Imhotep, Financial Advisor, Northwestern Mutual Goodwin, Wright

Make Systematic Progress across Asset Classes

A systematic progression across multiple asset classes has been successful in developing wealth and financial freedom. A cash-generating firm provides a stable financial basis for future projects. 

Real estate investing offers passive income and property appreciation, boosting financial security. Diversifying the portfolio with equities and other assets follows, harnessing the potential for exponential growth and mitigating risk through a well-balanced mix. However, amidst this multifaceted approach, it is crucial not to overlook the most pivotal investment: oneself. 

As Warren Buffett wisely advised, “Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy only when others are fearful.” Investing in self-improvement, education, and personal development enhances decision-making acumen and emotional resilience, providing the intellectual foundation to navigate the ever-evolving landscape of wealth accumulation.  Galib A. Galib, Principal Investment Analyst

Generate Passive Income with a Niche Website

A few years back, an affiliate website was launched in the personal finance niche. The payoff? Consistent ad revenue and affiliate commissions with minimal oversight, essentially becoming a self-sustaining income stream.

Running a website is not as time-consuming as commonly believed. After the initial setup and content, it just needs occasional updates. Soon enough, it turned into a low-maintenance income source. Continue Reading…

5 financial tips for Back-to-School season

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By Aaron Hector, Private Wealth Advisor, CWB Wealth

Special to Financial Independence Hub

Back-to-school season can raise tough conversations about financial responsibility. For many, it causes students and families to re-evaluate both short and long-term goals in the pursuit of a post-secondary education.

The good news is that creating a plan to manage school expenses doesn’t have to be difficult:  it just requires students and families to look ahead and be realistic with budget, goals and expectations. In other words, this isn’t a process to “wing it.” Using a scenario in which you have a student enrolled or planning to enrol in a post-secondary program, here are five tips that will can help keep your finances on track this year.

Work smarter, not harder: Develop your school savings plan

It’s never too early to start saving for your child’s education. If you are a first-time education saver and starting to put money away, be sure to learn about opportunities that fit your needs and goals: whether that is saving smaller amounts over longer periods of time or leveraging options like a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) or a Registered education savings plan (RESP).

For example, all new parents should start a RESP, which is a tax-sheltered investment vehicle that provides access to government grants which provide a 20% match on your contributions (up to certain limits). The first step is to speak to your advisor to learn about your options. The options are vast and more flexible than most people assume!

Leverage your resources: find out how your bank and school can help you save

To ease the burden of pricey tuition, it pays to do a bit of research on the programs, grants, or scholarships you or your child might be eligible for through your financial and post-secondary institution. The resources are out there, but it can be tough to know all that exists or how to apply for them. A good advisor can help with this part – in fact, you should be able to count on their help and resourcefulness for your entire financial journey.

Do your homework: Build a budget

Between school supplies, courses, commuting and school fees, a back-to-school shopping list can feel daunting, endless and expensive. Find savings by teaming up with your kids to identify which costs are needs versus luxuries, and then prioritize or cut as need be. Use what you’ve spent in previous years as a baseline to create a budget for the current year, adjusting for any new or increased costs you expect to come up. Because budgets can be quickly impacted for unexpected costs, consider a back-up fund. Tracking your spending, spreading out purchases, buying in bulk, reusing items and investing in supplies that are quality (not just trendy) will help you properly manage that budget for years to come.

It’s your (financial) responsibility: Manage your money with the proper mindset 

For many, there are at least two life pivotal transitions that take place after graduating high school: entering the world of post-secondary education, and (more importantly) taking on a more mature financial mindset. This is a great time to encourage kids to open their own TFSA, or even a First Home Savings Account (FHSA). While the TFSA can be used for shorter term financial goals, the FHSA should really only be used for money that is being set aside for a housing purchase within the next 15 years. Encouraging your children to form good financial habits today will prove to be very powerful over the long term.

Knock. Knock: Don’t forget to check in

You’re already likely to keep tabs on your children throughout the year to make sure they are staying on top of their laundry and homework, but some parents might forget to check-in with their own financial advisor. Meeting regularly with your advisor helps to:

  • Manage budget changes in real-time as your family’s expenses and priorities shift
  • Keep your finances on track by reviewing whether you are staying on target you’re your financial goals

The cost to attend a post-secondary institution can be massive, and the price tag can become even harder to cover without the right plan. So start early. Save for the long-term. And lean on the advice and tools that only a good financial advisor can provide. You – and your future student – will be thankful for being proactive.

To learn more about setting you and your kids up for financial success visit

Aaron Hector is a Private Wealth Advisor with CWB Wealth where he has been for the past 16 years. In his position he works with clients in a financial planning capacity. The majority of his clients are of an ongoing long-term nature, but he also prepares financial plans on a fee for service basis for those who are more interested in a one-time financial planning engagement. He is the Symposium Chair and board member for the Institute of Advanced Financial Planners (IAFP) and a member of the Financial Planning Association of Canada (FPAC).


What to consider when Selecting a Mortgage Broker


By Matt Guenther

For Financial Independence Hub

Your long-term financial security and quality of life may significantly affect your mortgage choice, which is a crucial financial decision. The mortgage broker is a significant factor in this process. You may negotiate the complicated world of home loans with mortgage brokers, who act as an intermediary between borrowers and lenders. They can be beneficial, but not all mortgage brokers are alike. To make the best decision possible for your needs, you must consider a number of crucial aspects. This extensive guide covers everything you should consider when choosing a mortgage broker, from identifying your mortgage needs to assessing the broker’s qualifications and working methods.

Understanding your Mortgage Needs

Understanding your mortgage needs is the foundational step in the home loan journey. It entails clarifying your specific requirements and financial situation, which are instrumental in choosing the right mortgage product. First and foremost, consider the type of property you intend to purchase, as this will dictate the kind of loan you should seek. Each has unique financing options, whether it’s a single-family home, condo, or multifamily property.

Next, assess your budget and affordability. By comprehensively examining your income, expenses, and outstanding debts, you can determine the maximum monthly payment you can comfortably afford. This budgetary framework will guide your choice between fixed-rate and adjustable-rate mortgages, with fixed-rate mortgages offering stability and predictable costs. In contrast, adjustable-rate mortgages might provide lower initial rates but have the potential for future fluctuations. Moreover, the duration of your loan, the down payment amount, and your anticipated length of stay in the home should be carefully considered, as these factors play a significant role in shaping your mortgage needs and goals.

Things to Consider when Selecting a Mortgage Broker

When you’re in the market for a mortgage broker, there are several key considerations to remember. You can use these elements to determine which broker best suits your financial needs and home-buying objectives.

a) Do they have Past Reviews?

One of the best ways to assess a mortgage broker’s competence and reliability is by checking their past reviews and testimonials. Online platforms, like Yelp and Google, often feature customer reviews. Reading these reviews can provide insight into the broker’s track record. Look for brokers with consistently positive feedback and satisfied clients.

b) How many Lenders do they have Relationships with?

Mortgage brokers work as intermediaries, connecting borrowers with lenders. The more lenders a broker has relationships with, the greater your chances of finding the most favorable terms and rates. Brokers with extensive lender networks can help you access more loan options.

The number of lenders a mortgage broker has relationships with can significantly impact your loan options and terms. Here’s why it matters:

Diverse Loan Options: Brokers with a vast network of lenders can present you with a broader range of loan options. This increases the likelihood of finding a mortgage that aligns with your specific needs and financial situation.

Competitive Rates: A broker with access to multiple lenders can help you secure more competitive interest rates and terms. They can negotiate on your behalf, potentially saving you money over the life of your loan.

Specialized Lenders: If you have unique financial circumstances or require a technical loan product, a broker with connections to niche or specialized lenders is invaluable.

When discussing a broker’s lender network, please inquire about the types of lenders they work with and whether they have access to both traditional and alternative financing sources. A diverse network can provide more flexibility in finding the right loan for you.

c) Comparing Mortgage Broker Offers

Shopping around and comparing offers from various mortgage brokers is crucial. Ask for estimates from many brokers and thoroughly read the details, such as interest rates, closing expenses, and any other fees. Using this procedure, you can find a broker to give you the best overall bargain.

Request Quotes: Contact multiple mortgage brokers and request detailed quotes. Ensure the quotes include essential information such as interest rates, loan terms, closing costs, and any additional fees.

Apples-to-Apples Comparison: When comparing offers, ensure you’re comparing similar loan products. For example, compare fixed-rate offers to fixed-rate offers and adjustable-rate offers to adjustable-rate offers. Continue Reading…

Dividend-Payers: The Volvo of Equities

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By Noah Solomon

Special to Financial Independence Hub

Crazy People is a 1990 American comedy starring Dudley Moore and Daryl Hannah. Moore plays advertising executive Emory Leeson. Leeson experiences a nervous breakdown, which causes him to design a series of “truthful” advertisements that are blunt and bawdy.

By mistake, his ads get printed and turn out to be a tremendous success. One of Leeson’s more memorable campaigns is for Volvos, which includes the tagline “Volvo — they’re boxy but they’re good.”

Dividend-paying stocks are like the Volvos of the investing world. They are not fancy or exciting, nor do they produce windfall profits over the short term. However, they have a lot going for them when you take a deeper look under the hood.

This month, I explore the historical performance of dividend-paying stocks, including the conditions under which they have tended to outperform their non-dividend-paying counterparts. Relatedly I will also discuss whether the current market environment is supportive of future outperformance.

A Caveat to the Volvo Analogy: Having your Cake and Eating it Too

The “Volvo — they’re boxy but they’re good” tagline implies a clear tradeoff: the suggestion being that one needs to sacrifice performance for reliability. However, the historical data imply that this has not been the case with dividend-paying stocks. Not only have they exhibited greater stability than their non-dividend-paying counterparts, but they have also produced higher returns, thereby providing investors with a “have your cake and eat it too” proposition.

S&P 500 Index vs. S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index (1990 – Present)

Since the beginning of 1990, the S&P 500 Index Dividend Aristocrats Index has produced an annualized total return of 11.7% vs. 10.1% for the S&P 500 Index. This difference in annualized performance has amounted to a tremendous difference in cumulative long-term returns, with the S&P 500 Dividend Aristocrats Index producing a cumulative return of 4,083% vs. a far less impressive 2,459% for the S&P 500 Index. In dollar terms, a $10 million investment in the S&P Dividend Aristocrats Index would have produced $408,334,999 in returns, which is 1.66 times more than the corresponding figure of $245,915,810 for the S&P 500 Index.

TSX Composite Index vs. TSX Dividend Aristocrats Index (2002 – Present)

The numbers for Canada tell a similar story, albeit over a shorter period due to historical data limitations for the TSX Dividend Aristocrats Index. Since 2002, the TSX Dividend Aristocrats Index has produced an annualized total return of 9.7% vs. 7.5% for the TSX Composite Index. In terms of cumulative performance, the TSX Dividend Aristocrats has produced a total return of 647.9% vs. 376.4% for the TSX Composite Index. In dollar terms, a $10 million investment in the TSX Dividend Aristocrats Index would have produced $64,790,379 in returns, which is 1.72 times more than the corresponding figure of $37,636,301 for the TSX Composite Index.

As an aside, the tremendous difference from 1990 to the present in the 2,459% cumulative return for the S&P 500 Index and that of 1,120% for the TSX Composite Index is largely attributable to the former’s far larger weighting in technology stocks. Between 1990 and 2010, the two markets were neck and neck, with the S&P 500 delivering a total return of 457% vs. 453% for the TSX. Since then, the S&P 500 went on to crush its northern neighbour, with a total return of 359% vs. 120%. During the same period, the mega-cap tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 knocked the lights out, returning 675%.

Tech stocks, and in particular mega-caps, have experienced tremendous earnings growth and trade at premium valuations. Whether their rates of growth continue, or premium multiples will persist, is beyond the scope of this commentary. That being said, there is no guarantee that these trends will persist, and relatedly whether the U.S. stocks will continue to outperform their Canadian counterparts.

Nice to Have in Strong Markets and Essential in Others

Dividends have historically been an integral part of equity market returns. Going back to 1990, a full 52.2% of the total return of the S&P 500 Index since 1990 can be attributed to the power of compounding reinvested dividends. On a relative basis, Canadian dividends have been even more prominent than U.S. ones, with reinvested dividends responsible for an astounding 63.3% of the total returns of the TSX Composite index.

Although dividends’ contributions to total market returns have been substantial over the past several decades, this contribution has tended to vary substantially over shorter sub-periods. As the table below demonstrates, dividends tend to play a smaller role in times of strong price appreciation. By contrast, during periods when capital gains have been muted, dividends play a far more substantial role in overall returns.

Contribution of Dividends to Total Returns: Rolling 12-Month Periods (1990 – Present)

Taking all 12-month rolling periods since 1990 in which the S&P 500 experienced price appreciation, dividends on average accounted for 18.8% of total returns. However, in periods where prices rose by 7% or more, dividends were responsible for only 13.6% of the total return pie vs. 38.9% when prices rose between 0% and 7%.

In Canada, the relative importance of dividends has also varied with capital gains. In all rolling 12-month periods since 1990 in which the TSX Composite Index experienced price appreciation, dividends were on average responsible for 25% of total returns. In those periods where prices rose by more than 7%, dividends’ share of total returns was only 15.6% as compared to 52.1% when prices rose between 0% and 7%. Continue Reading…