What Do You Want Your Money To Do For You In Retirement?


The answer to this fundamental question is what will allow you and your investment advisor to design the ideal portfolio for your retirement. While many financial institutions and advisors rely on ready-made portfolios based on risk tolerance, I believe there is a fundamental difference between an advisor asking you what you need versus telling you what they can offer. With my clients, I want to know what they are looking for and will always tailor a portfolio designed to achieve their specific financial objectives.

Here are a few key questions to address when designing a portfolio:

What Are You Trying To Achieve?

Do you need income? Is capital preservation or growth your top priority? Do you want to leave a legacy? In our industry, it’s accepted that the older you are, the more fixed income investments you should hold. For example, if you’re 80 years old, 80% of your portfolio should be in bonds, 20% in the market. I don’t subscribe to this approach. Age is certainly a consideration as is risk tolerance but your needs and objectives should dictate the assets held in your portfolio.

What’s Happening In The Market?

There is no ideal asset-class mix because the market is ever changing. You need an investment advisor who is keeping track of interest rates, can manage currency risk, is knowledgeable about global economies and has access to a wide range of financial products across all asset classes.

Is Your Advisor Accountable?

Predetermined portfolios are certainly efficient tools, but there is no accountability on the part of the advisor using them. I build each portfolio from scratch, which means I’m the guy you hug if everything goes well and the person you call out if there are problems. I think it’s important for an advisor to be able to explain the decisions they make and be accountable for them.

What’s Your Target?

You and your advisor should be setting targets for your investments and monitoring performance. When targets are reached, it’s time to re-evaluate and rebalance.

Call Me or Email Me

My retired clients continue to benefit from the diversified portfolios I create for them. Call me at 416-332-3863 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss how your portfolio can continue to grow during retirement.

Avoid These Top Mistakes Retirees Make When Investment Planning


Thinking About Retiring?  Making the right investment decisions as a retiree is critical because those investments will provide you with income during retirement. Try to avoid these top four common mistakes that expose retirees to the very risks they are trying to avoid.

Here in no particular order are the top mistakes and how to avoid them:

Assuming that the market is headed for a downturn/serious correction.

The reason for this thinking: because the market has been strong and done well for so long since coming out of the recent recession. While it’s true that what goes up must come down eventually, it is also true that this market can continue to grow for some time based on the strength of the fundamentals. That’s what you need to consider when deciding whether or not to invest. Since 2008, low interest rates coupled with central banks around the world injecting billions of dollars into their economies have been fueling the growth of capital markets. Nothing has changed on this front--at least for now.

Buying so-called “hot” investments.

By the time you read about an investment in the newspaper or learn about it on TV, you will likely be paying a much higher price than the person recommending it paid. In other words, you’ll be buying high and driving up the price further in the process. Consider the source of the information and the motive behind the recommendation. Talk to an advisor who can provide insights based on independent market knowledge.

Focusing solely on wealth preservation at the expense of growth.

This really comes down to not appreciating your time horizon for investing is longer than you may have anticipated. I often hear from retirees who say they can’t afford to be in the market because if there is a dip in the stock market they won’t have time to make up any losses. No one wants to lose money but unless you need all your funds in the short term, diversifying your portfolio by investing in equities (i.e. stocks or mutual funds) can actually protect you against some of the inherent risks that exist. The average life expectancy in Canada is 80 for men and 84 for women. If you retire at age 65, you’ll need your money to be working for you for at least another 15 to 20-plus years. That is a long-term time horizon. In my opinion, with today’s low interest rates, there is no alternative but to be in investments that will provide an income, keep pace with inflation and grow.

Playing it too safe.

Some retirees think the best way forward is to hold the majority of their wealth in fixed-income investments such as GICs and corporate and government bonds because of the perceived low risk of these types of investments. What they don’t realize is that in a low-interest-rate environment the risk to these types of investments is inflation. Inflation is greater than the yields these investments provide. The way to avoid this mistake is to ensure you have a diversified portfolio that includes equities as well as bonds and GICs. The fact is today’s market is considered fairly valued and not over-valued by many, thus investors should feel confident that it is not only possible to invest but necessary to ensure you continue to build wealth and to offset the risk posed by low interest rates.

Word to the wise...

Use short-term events, such as Greece’s recent debt default, as an opportunity to look closely for opportunities to buy low and sell high.

Call Me or Email Me

My retired clients continue to benefit from the diversified portfolios I create for them. Call me at 416-332-3863 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to discuss how your portfolio can continue to grow during retirement.

Protect Your Investment Assets


You’ve worked hard all your life to build up your investment portfolio in preparation for retirement. What’s the most important question now for many retirees – how do you not only protect your investments, but also pass them on to the next generation in the most efficient way?

While there are many places to gain knowledge and get educated on the answer to this question, there are four areas that are critical:

Diversify Your Portfolio

Per my previous articles in the Worry Free Retirement Series, diversifying your portfolio – balancing fixed income investments with stocks, international companies with domestic names – can lead to positive returns while still managing risk.

Understand Tax Implications Both When You Sell Investments & When You Withdraw

How money is taxed when it is withdrawn can vary significantly depending on the type of investment account [e.g., non-registered vs registered (such as RRSPs, TFSAs)] that held the funds. Create a plan that identifies which accounts should be accessed first and in what order to help you maximize income and minimize taxes during retirement. For example, it may be better to withdraw cash from your non-registered accounts first when creating a steady income stream. Making these decisions depends on the amount of income a person earns and whether that income will change over time. An investment advisor can assist you in making informed decisions.

Different investments provide different types of income. Some provide dividends, some interest and some will just provide investors with a gain or a loss when sold. The type of income an investment provides should be factored into how retirees receive their payments in order to protect their earnings and minimize taxation when it is withdrawn.

The goal is to maximize after-tax income for your entire retirement – rather than reduce the current year’s taxes.

Consider Insurance & Other Investment Strategies To Protect Your Assets

Many investors have used insurance products to protect their investments. Segregated Funds are one example. Segregated funds are purchased to not only protect the original capital invested, but also for the death benefit they provide. Even though segregated funds tend to have higher fees than traditional mutual funds and other investments, many investors have chosen to own these products.

However, with segregated funds, the assets must be held for a minimum of 10 years for the guarantee to apply. In my view, there have been very few 10-year periods in the history of the stock market where investors have lost money. As a result, the guarantee is used sparingly. Many investors, including myself, have chosen not to own segregated funds for this reason. Instead, investors can use strip coupon bonds to protect their original capital without the higher costs and mandatory holding periods.

Insurance can also be used to protect the value of a person's estate. When an investor passes away and their wealth is passed down to the next generation (their sons or daughters), much of the estate could be lost to taxes. By owning a life insurance policy to make up for the taxes that will be taken off before the estate gets paid out (life policy pays out without taxes taken off), there is no money lost to taxation.

Estate Planning

You have worked very hard to not only build an investment portfolio to provide an income in retirement, but also to leave a bit of a legacy behind for your beneficiaries. The most important thing investors should work towards is setting up their portfolios to avoid probate. By making sure there are named beneficiaries on all registered plans and by adding a joint owner on investment accounts, investors can successfully bypass the probate. Consult with other professionals, such as a lawyer, to figure out the best course of action to take to set up your will and your estate. Your investment advisor also should play a key role in the estate planning process.

By working with an investment advisor, you will be able to navigate through the post retirement decisions that you have to make to protect and grow your assets.

Call me at 416-332-3863 if you’d like a little help.


Did You Know That People Who Work With Financial Advisors Make More Money?


It’s no secret that market volatility has many investors concerned about how to best protect their wealth. According to research commissioned by the Investment Funds Institute of Canada (IFIC), it’s also true that investors working with trusted financial advisors are better equipped to weather those fluctuations and come out ahead, regardless of income levels. Not surprisingly, this same research reveals investors working with financial advisors are more confident that they will be able to afford the retirement they’ve worked so hard to achieve.

The Numbers Tell the Story

IFIC’s The Value of Advice study from 2010, which is based on Ipsos Reid’s longitudinal database tracking Canadian financial attitudes and behaviors, polled 1,030 households working with an advisor and 1,371 households without an advisor in the years 2005 and 2009. The findings were telling: those with an advisor generally had more investable assets than their counterparts with no advisor. This was true regardless of income.


What’s more, the study found that investors with an advisor felt twice as confident that they would have enough money to retire.


Investors working with an advisor were more confident about their overall financial situation.


How To Know You Have The Right Advisor For You

The number one quality of an investment advisor is that they put you first. They are not worried about how they will get paid but instead are concerned about how your goals and objectives will be met.

You want to work with an advisor that follows and understands the markets. You don’t want someone that passes off the responsibility of your account to someone else (i.e. mutual fund or third party manager). This goes well beyond having the right credentials and certifications, although that knowledge and education is important. Your advisor should understand what is happening on Bay Street and Wall Street and be able to explain why the market is behaving as it is.

When you have a question and need clarification, your advisor should be there to provide answers.

Call Me or Email Me

I welcome you to call me at 416-332-3863 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and let me help you become more confident with your financial planning!


Meet Allan Small

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