School is Back In Session


Just like that, it’s back-to-school season. Tell me, where did the summer go?

As kids of all ages go back to school, with all of the apprehension and excitement that may bring in these turbulent times, it’s also a great reminder that in life, summer ends but the learning never does. We are always presented with challenges and opportunities to expand our knowledge and grow.

It appears, though, that Americans are slipping in that regard. According to recent Forbes survey, the U.S. is experiencing a steep decline in financial literacy in recent years – especially when dealing with more complex topics like inflation, financial risk, and mortgage rates.

How is your financial IQ? Are there some topics you could use some brushing up on?

The easiest way to fix any gap in knowledge is to ask a question. I can be a great resource for you, and we can discuss how your strategy is positioned to face these complex times. The market brief below gives current insight as well. Feel free to connect with me and keep the financial literacy conversation going to ensure your circle has the same potential for wealth and wellness.

Last Week

U.S. equities posted mixed results as volatility plummeted towards the lowest levels of the year. The Dow and S&P 500 indexes managed modest gains to once again close at record highs, while the Nasdaq Composite fell slightly. Fed officials commented that while the labor market still has room for improvement, inflation is already at levels that would justify interest rate hikes. U.S. job openings surged in June to a record 10.1 million, but businesses are still struggling to find qualified labor for the rebounding economy. Jobless claims fell to 375,000 and continuing claims dropped to a pandemic-era low of 2.8 million.

U.S. productivity grew less than expected at 2.3% for Q2, igniting stagflation fears. Sentiment numbers also disappointed, as small business optimism reversed in July to 99.7 from 102.5. The University of Michigan Consumer Sentiment also fell to 70.2 in early August, a 10-year low. Americans are more concerned about the economy, inflation, and the delta variant. Crude oil gained as the Biden administration pressured OPEC to increase output. For the week, the Dow finished up 0.94%, S&P up 0.75%, and Nasdaq down 0.07%.

This Week

Despite concerns about sentiment, market breadth, and seasonal weakness, stocks continue to climb the wall of worry. Many pundits are calling for a correction, but there seems to be lack of a legitimate catalyst to create that scenario. This week the economic calendar is rather light. Given recent economic data and a policy committee that is growing impatient on tapering, Fed Chair Powell’s town hall event today will be scrutinized along with the July FOMC meeting minutes on Wednesday.

The July U.S. Retail Sales report this morning showed a contraction based on slumping services spending. Where is all the school spending? Regional manufacturing updates came with the Empire State Index declining on Monday followed by the Philly Fed Index on Thursday. The U.S. calendar rounds out with industrial production numbers today and housing starts on Wednesday. Year-to-date index performance; Dow up 16.04%, S&P up 18.96%, and Nasdaq up 15.01% through the close on Friday.

Happy back-to-school week!

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Preparing for retirement emotionally

retirement emotionally

Retirement paves the way to a new and exciting chapter of our lives, emotionally too. This is the moment of relief when, for the first time ever, we now have ample time to travel the world, take up new hobbies, and scratch whatever itch we’ve been ignoring.

Yes, retirement should be exciting. But for many of us, the thought of leaving our jobs forever can be daunting. After all, our careers play an important role in shaping our identity. And to suddenly cut the cord means we have to find something else to fill the void.

This isn’t helped by the fact that the word ‘retirement’ can be quite limiting – when it’s anything but. All too often, people associate it with old age and the ‘pipe and slippers’ part of life. This is why the financial conversation is often limited to how much you might have to retire on. And that’s that.

But it’s not as simple as that anymore. Today’s typical 60 somethings are nothing like those of a generation ago.

A lot of this comes down to the fact that life expectancy in North America has been on the rise for some time now. A generation ago, men could expect to live up to their late sixties, and for women their mid-seventies. Since then, life expectancy has improved incrementally. The current life expectancy for North American men is 76 and women 85.

This means that for many retirees these days, retirement isn’t a wind-down phase, but a whole new beginning. This means that financially speaking, you might need to consider how to manage your retirement fund more strategically.

But how do you prepare for such a massive transition emotionally?

According to gerontologist Ken Dychtwald, it’s all about mindset. He advises people approaching retirement to do so as they would a career: His advice is to set goals, to visualize a ladder to climb, and to use these targets as motivation to move closer towards your next destination.

Unfortunately, the statistics show how detrimental it can be to find yourself without purpose and meaning at retirement: depression is prevalent in 22% of men and 28% of women at the age of 65 and over.

If you’re unsure of how to even begin to plan for retirement, then following some of the principles from Professor Dychtwald’s five phases of retirement could help you map out your journey.

Imagination (15 before retirement)

Being at least fifteen years away from finishing work for good, retirement might not seem like a priority. At this point, you’re more likely to be making sure that career aspirations are met, bills are paid, and your children are able to get through university.

But it’s important to think about your pension at this stage as it can help to ensure you have the financial stability to live life on our terms, post-retirement. This is where you can start to dream big and imagine the retirement you really want to have.

Anticipation (3 years from retirement)

Now you’re planning to turn retirement it into reality… this is where preparing emotionally is just as vital as preparing financially.

A great way to do this is by trying to develop a network of retirees whom you can trust for advice so they can share their experience of how they coped with the process.

Make a note of the goals you want to accomplish and what measures need to be put in place in order to achieve them.

Preparing (1 year before retirement)

The new beginning is near! Now’s the time to start developing concrete steps. Ask yourself what you’re going to do during the first week of retirement and what you plan on doing on a day-to-day basis.

Make a plan of what you want to achieve in the first six months and talk it through with your partner or loved ones. Visualizing the practicalities of this new phase will make it seem less daunting when it eventually arrives.

The liberation phase (first year of retirement)

Your working life is finally over! This is the stage when you’re likely to feel the most excited, relieved, and liberated. You can finally begin to explore new opportunities, travels, and hobbies.

Unfortunately, this honeymoon period will eventually fade, but remember, this is natural.

Dychtwald states the importance of staying physically active and maintaining strong social ties with people at this stage.

Reorientation (3 years into retirement)

This is the part where creating a legacy for the next generation can be top of mind. Whether that’s by sharing your knowledge and wisdom with others, or by thinking more carefully about the financial gifts you’re leaving children and grandchildren, this is an opportunity for you to decide what impact you want to leave on the world.

Hopefully, this is helpful in terms of thinking about retirement and a brand new beginning. Retirement isn’t the end of the road; dream big and don’t be afraid to chase after your deepest desires.

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

Transfer Your Values Alongside Your Wealth

wealth and values

There’s this lingering myth of “old money families” where wealth is easily passed from generation to generation. But studies have shown wealth attrition to be more common, as bad investment decisions, mismanagement and dilution of assets between heirs eats into the family fortune.

Overcoming the challenges that plague wealth stewardship comes down to two core elements – strong communication with your next generation and putting a proper wealth transfer plan in place. We’re here to guide you.

The Family Roundtable

One of the most common barriers in wealth transfer is a lack of transparency between generations. In higher net worth families, often the older generations will shield the scope of wealth from other generations to prevent them from abusing their inheritance. But early communication with your adult children about family wealth is key.

Having us as an independent voice to shepherd the conversation can help you and your heirs talk about transfer of wealth on equal footing. It gives you a chance to discuss your financial strategies, your plan for specific family assets including the family business, and any philanthropic goals or values you would like the next generation to steward.

It also provides a forum for the next generation to discuss their own aspirations, to share any fears, and, most importantly, to feel like they play a role not just as an inheritor of the family wealth but also as an active player in the preservation of that wealth.

We can act as an independent voice for the family roundtable, someone who can guide the conversation and ensure all questions are asked and answered. We can also pinpoint challenges and help both you and your heirs come up with strategies to navigate those challenges.

Formalizing the plan

In addition to guiding the conversation, we can also play a critical role in structuring your wealth transfer plan.

We can walk you through the different vessels for protecting wealth in the transfer, advise you on the different structures for trusts, identify assets to include in your will, outline the pros and cons of transferring wealth during your lifetime versus after death, and help you balance personal preferences with tax efficient strategies.

Estate plans are far from static; the wealth transfer process is an evolving discussion, one that we can help you navigate as life events like marriages and remarriages, births of children and grandchildren, significant health issues and death, change your family and your needs.

Amidst the change, it’s good to have a constant – who better to play that role than your financial advisor?

Contact me to learn more about transferring wealth.

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.

How to Tame Market Volatility through Diversification


It’s that time of the year again. Whether it’s in person or virtually, the holidays are an opportunity for more conversations with loved ones. This year, let’s strive to put some positivity into our conversations. There is a lot to gripe about, but there’s more to look forward to.  And the more we talk, the better we plan, prepare, and progress. Discussing your financial strategies with loved ones can help reinforce them or pivot according to new circumstances. And I’m ready to hear you! Knowing what may have changed this year will help us become more successful in pursuing your financial goals.

One topic that is front of mind is how to diversify your portfolio. One way to help investors reach long-term financial goals is through an investment technique known as diversification. Diversification basically means spreading out your invested money across different investments types, industries, countries, etc. Diversification can smooth out volatility of your portfolio and potentially lead to stronger returns over the long term. Helping you take advantage of the benefits of diversification is a central part of my job as your advisor.

One guiding factor behind diversification is that not all investment categories perform well at the same time. As some are increasing in value, others may be decreasing. Market volatility is the movement of investment categories going up and down.

Maintaining a well-balanced portfolio

As your advisor, I help maximize returns and reduce the risks associated with market volatility. Essentially, your portfolio represents a collection of different investments that work in harmony to help you reach your goals. One way you can achieve portfolio diversification is to divide your investments among the major asset classes. Such classes include equities, fixed income and cash.

Asset classes – A range of risks and rewards

Each asset class comes with varying degrees of risk and return characteristics. Typically, each class performs differently in certain market environments. Here’s a quick summary of each.

  • Equities (e.g., stocks)
    Equities refer to buying stocks or shares of a business, making you a part owner. This means the investor is subject to stock appreciation when the company outperforms. But also subject to the risks of declining stock value if companies underperform.
  • Fixed income (e.g., bonds, Treasury bills)
    Fixed income investors lend capital in exchange for interest. Considered as creditors, bondholders often have a priority claim in case of company bankruptcy. This makes the investments less risky. Fixed income typically provides income at regular intervals.
  • Cash (e.g., money market funds, bank accounts)
    Cash investments provide low returns versus other asset classes, in the form of interest payments. These investments typically come with very low levels of risk.

Investment funds – One-stop diversification

I can also help achieve diversification through the use of investment funds; namely, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). These investment vehicles represent convenient and affordable ways to access a wide range of investments.

  • Mutual funds – These are made up of a pool of assets from many investors. Mutual funds are managed by a portfolio manager. The portfolio manager actively seeks to produce greater returns than a specific market benchmark, such as the S&P 500 Index. With the large scale of a mutual fund, you benefit from professional management and can get strong diversification by gaining access to investments that would normally be inaccessible or too expensive for most individuals.
  • ETFs – These are funds that track and seek to replicate the performance of select market indexes. ETFs represent a basket of securities based on the underlying index. This allows investors to gain broad diversification across entire markets, industries, regions or asset classes. ETFs are known to incur fewer administrative costs, therefore charging lower fees to investors.

Please feel free to contact me if you have questions on the terms discussed in this article, or on how your investment portfolio is diversified.

Click here if you would like to learn more about your options and if we can assist you with your wealth management, investment, and retirement planning.

This website is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be specific advice or recommendations. For specific advice or recommendations you would need to meet directly with one of our advisers.