All posts by meylec2

    In June I asked, “Can you afford to get sick?”.  I encouraged you to look at your present situation and see how your family and you would be able to financially respond to a medical emergency.  That article also had a link to a video about Dr. Barnard and how he was inspired to create critical illness insurance after seeing firsthand the financial devastation that an illness can have on a family.

    As I was writing the article, I was thinking about how easy it is to be complacent when things are going well.  We do not want to think about unpleasant things like sickness or injury.  There are more interesting and less depressing things to do, especially when we are healthy.

    In that piece, I wrote about an emergency surgery that I had many years ago.  That event has made me grateful for my health and aware of how quickly things can change.  The reality of change hit me in the face (as it were) again in September.  I was reminded of our fragility when I had a retina detach in my right eye.  Again, I found myself in emergency surgery hours after the event.  The surgery was successful, and my vision is recovering.

    The point I would like to make here is that at any moment our lives can change.  Life does not care what we would rather be doing.  A car accident, illness, or relationship breakdown can happen at any time.  How would you respond?  Would you even have time to respond?

    I encourage everyone to review your wills, power of attorney.  Look at your life insurance coverage and look into critical illness and disability insurance.  Talk to your loved ones about your wishes.  Understand the wishes of those close to you.  Make sure that your important documents are secure but accessible.  If something were to happen, you may not be able to take care of any of these things.

    To help, here is an article about resilience as well as a financial log to keep track of important financial information and contacts.  Physical copies are available, just reach out and I would be happy to send you one.

    As always, I am available to talk and would like to help.

    Chris

    I frequently get asked about the difference between segregated funds and mutual funds.  In fact, some people have never heard of segregated funds.  One reason for that may be that there are significantly more mutual funds available in Canada than segregated funds.  They may also have a branding problem; they are known as segregated funds, segs, guaranteed investment funds, and GIFs.  GIFs seem to be the new standard, and that is what I will call them.

    So, what are GIFs?  Simply stated, they are mutual funds provided by an insurance company.  This may not seem important, but it gives GIFs significant features that mutual funds do not have because they are insurance contracts.  The benefits include:

    • Maturity guarantee
    • Death benefit guarantee
    • Ability to name a beneficiary on registered AND non-registered investments
    • Ability to bypass the estate (if a beneficiary is named)
    • Possible creditor protection (under certain circumstances)

     

    This short video illustrates the difference in under 2 minutes:

    The original video can be found here: Seg funds or mutual funds

    The downside to GIFs is that the benefits are not free.  You, as the investor, pay for them through higher fees than mutual funds.  That being said, GIFs can potentially save an estate a lot of money in probate and legal fees as they do not form part of the estate.  There is also a privacy benefit: the funds go directly to the beneficiary, bypassing the estate, which is in the public domain.  This means that your nosey sibling need never know where your money went.

    GIFs can make a lot of sense for many people and their families.  If you want more information, I am always happy to discuss them with you and see if they make sense for you.

    Enjoy your summer!

    Chris

    If I had to pick a couple of positive points that have come out of this pandemic, it would be that many people have a greater sense of what is important in life and how important good health is. The pandemic has shown many of us how fragile our health can be. We can be fine one day and have our health turn for the worse the next. I had this lesson taught to me a number of years ago when I had a lung collapse suddenly and without notice. It is called a spontaneous pneumothorax. I found myself in an emergency room with tubes being inserted into my chest. While I don’t think my life was in danger, I was in real danger of losing a lung. Fortunately, I had a successful surgery and only missed a few weeks of work. I don’t think I’ll ever forget how fast my health changed.

    More serious medical conditions like cancer and stroke can also happen very quickly with little warning, and they have the power to change your life. The survival rate from these conditions is better than ever. The road to recovery, however, can be long and can test your resolve, courage, and your finances. Yes, your finances.

    If you were unable to work for six months due to cancer, how would your finances hold up? Would you be able to pay the mortgage and the bills? Would you have to use your savings? What would that mean for the kid’s education? For your retirement? Once your savings are depleted, then what? Would you depend on your family? Would you ask strangers for help through something like GoFundMe?

    While it is great that services like GoFundMe exist, there is no guarantee that any help will be forthcoming. They are a last resort. You can help yourself, though. Critical Illness insurance works much the same as life insurance except it pays you if you get sick and survive rather than when you die. It can supplement your income and pay your family’s bills while you take the time you need to recover. You are also in control. You set the amount of coverage you need through a rational process. Many policies also have a return of premium feature that returns your premium after a certain number of years.

    I know what you’re thinking – it won’t happen to me. Perhaps, but the current cancer statistics show that 1 out 2 Canadians will have some sort of cancer in their lifetime. Check out this EMPIRE CI Info sheet. The statistics come from the Canadian Cancer Society. The numbers also show that 9 out 10 families with a cancer diagnosis have reported financial difficulty.

    You will also find a video below about Dr. Marius Barnard, the South African surgeon who developed critical illness insurance after seeing firsthand the financial problems his patients were experiencing while battling health problems.

    I encourage you to learn more about this safety net for your family. We have no problem insuring our death through life insurance, we should also insure our life with critical illness insurance. If you want more information, I will be happy to help.

    Chris

    The video can be originally found here: video

     

     

    In the past I have written about the impact of finances on our mental health. Our financial situation can often make a mental health issue worse. This is not entirely surprising as many financial challenges can coincide with difficult personal situations and major changes in our lives, some of which may be traumatic. The death of a close family member or a divorce come to mind, but financial pressures can also be one of many issues that can cause a tipping point.

    A financial advisor can help with many financial issues and help prepare for unexpected events that can improve a financial situation, and this can reduce stress. A financial advisor, however, is not equipped to provide help with mental health issues. That is why I am including a link to the Canadian Mental Health Association (www.cmha.ca). There are many great resources on the site that can provide insight and show how to get help. Here are some sobering facts from the CMHA website which shows that we cannot ignore mental health:
    • In any given year 1 in 5 Canadians will personally experience a mental health problem.
    • By age 40, 50% of Canadians will have had a mental illness.
    • Almost half of the people who feel that they have suffered from depression do not seek help.
    Remember that it is not just the individuals that are impacted, but family, friends, and coworkers as well.

    To help in a small way, I am participating in the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride on May 23, 2021. In cooperation with Movember, the purpose of the ride is to raise awareness and funds for mental health and prostrate cancer. If you are able to donate, your contribution will be greatly appreciated. Here is my link: https://gfolk.me/ChrisMeyler411165. You can also find more info about the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride here.

    Thank you for whatever support you can provide. If you are suffering, there is help and you are not alone. If you want to discuss your financial issues, please do not be afraid to reach out.

    Thanks. Be safe. Be healthy.

    Chris

    As an advisor, I find it very helpful to know what the people managing the mutual funds that I recommend think about the markets, the economy, and where they think they can make money. I think more investors should take the time to understand what the portfolio managers that are investing for them are thinking, as there is so much more to a mutual fund investment than the basic summary that most people look at.
    With that in mind, let me present a podcast given by David Fingold of Dynamic Funds. He discusses the markets, the economy, and where he thinks he can make money for his investors. I hope it gives you some insight. If you have questions about the funds that David manages or any investment that you own, please let me know, and I can try to get clarity and answers from the portfolio managers.

    David’s podcast:
    We Remain Optimistic on the Economy

    Thanks,
    Chris

    I wanted to share this article from Brian Levitt, an analyst with Invesco Canada. It provides an interesting picture of the markets during the last year and questions one of the “rules of investing” – buy low and sell high. He argues that it is unrealistic to buy investments when the markets are at their lows due to uncertainty and our own biases. I would tend to agree. As much as we would like to think that we make rational decisions, we often make decisions that are contrary to logic. We know markets go up and down, we know that markets go up over the long term, and we know that we should buy investments when the price is low; however, putting money into an investment when the price is low and continues to go lower with no end in sight is something that few people are able to bring themselves to do, even when they know that the price will be higher if they stay invested over the long term. Essentially, Brian is saying that today’s high will seem low with the passage of time.

    This is why I think advisors are so important. We can provide perspective and help people work through their biases and fears, which can lead to better financial decisions, whether it is to buy low or buy high, because if you are not invested over the long term, you will miss out.

    All the best,
    Chris

    Buy high, sell higher

    This month I thought I would share this recent podcast from Tye Bousada, a portfolio manager and founding partner of Edgepoint Wealth Management. I know that the vast majority of investors do not really pay attention to how their investments are managed by the men & women whose job it is to make investment decisions on the investors’ behalf. I understand; life is busy and talking about investing can be boring at the best of times. I think, however, that many investors are missing an opportunity to better understand what they are investing their money in and how the investment is run. To that end, this podcast from Tye is approachable, as he talks about what he saw in the markets in 2020 and how they continue to respond to the COVID pandemic. He also gives some excellent advice for any investor.
    I have invested with Tye and Edgepoint for a long time and I hope you take the time to listen. Of course, if you have any questions about Edgepoint or your own investment journey, please feel free to get in touch with me.

    Chris

    Not investing with the herd in 2020

    Much has changed for us in the last year, and when it comes to the markets, the pandemic has raised many questions. I am happy to offer this presentation in conjunction with Franklin Templeton that covers historical market shocks, human nature during volatile times, and three takeaway strategies to help get through it all.

    1. Gain perspective on the market.
    2. Manage your expectations. The importance of financial planning and preparation.
    3. Manage your emotions. Helping you get through a difficult time without making a critical behavioral mistake at the wrong time.

    Please join me for this complimentary presentation on January 28 at 4pm.
    https://franklintempleton.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_eNGGHtyqQFKie0Vt_GDXUw

    Let’s face it, we are living in a stressful time.  Most of us are dealing with issues that we never expected to have.  We are changing the way we behave and work, whether we want to or not.

    Part of the stress we are experiencing is financial.  Reduced hours or the possibility of job loss and he fluctuation of the markets has added to the pressure of paying bills, saving for education and retirement.  This financial stress follows us.  It is being brought to work – never mind that for many of us work and home are now the same place.  This stress is resulting in less productivity according to a recent poll conducted by Manulife.  It appears that 11% of us think about our finances during working hours every day, and 57% miss work due to personal financial stress.

    As a small business owner, a decline in productivity combined with the uncertain economic landscape that COVID continues to provide, is not a recipe for success or confidence.  The survey potentially brings more unpleasant news as it found that most employees feel that their employers should help them deal with their financial stress.  But how exactly can a small business owner help?

    Luckily, there are a couple of simple ways that that entrepreneurs can help the people that they employ.

    The first is by offering a group benefit and retirement package.  The second is sponsoring workplace financial wellness programs.

    Group benefits include services such as medical and dental coverage that protect employees from expenses that are not covered by the province or supplement coverage such as dental and disability insurance.  Group benefits can make expensive prescriptions more affordable, for example, and reduce the worry caused by large bills.

    Likewise, a group retirement plan sponsored by a business owner, can encourage people to save for their retirement.  Such programs can help them get started or supplement their own personal savings.  Again, this can reduce worry that thoughts of retirement can have, helping employees have better focus at work.

    Financial wellness programs can take many shapes but typically allow participants to learn about common financial concerns like retirement and investment concepts.  Such programs can answer questions and provide guidance, giving peace of mind.  The Manulife survey found that 86% of people polled feel that such a program would help them and be beneficial.

    Besides reducing financial stress, programs such as the ones described, offer other benefits to both employees and small business owners.  Employees are more likely to refer friends to job openings and the business is more likely to attract and retain qualified people.

    If you would like a copy of the Manulife 2020 financial stress survey, contact me and I would be happy to give you a copy.

    I also provide group benefits and retirement from some of the best carriers in Canada.  My Financial Wellness program is offered to all benefit clients and is also available on its own.  Reach out to me to see if I can help your business and employees.

    Thanks and remember that we can get through this together.

    Thanks.

    Chris Meyler, Financial Advisor & President

     

    Are you watching the news right now?  Are you following the US presidential election?  It is hard not to. It seems like it is being talked about all the time on all media.  As a financial advisor, I am getting a lot of questions about the election and its impact on investments and the markets.  This is understandable since a tweet can send the markets tumbling or soaring.  But when it comes right down to it, the election’s influence on the markets is essentially meaningless – unless your investment timeframe is November 1 to 5.  Everyday the markets go up or the markets go down.  The election will not and does not change that.  All the speculation and debate in the media does not matter.   It is noise.  Ignore it.

    One of the principles of the philosophy of Stoicism is that we cannot control external events.  We can only control our reactions to events.  In financial planning, in preparing for your retirement, we cannot control the markets or how the government will tax us.  What we can do is understand and create our investment objectives, including what to invest in, for how long, and how much to invest.  We can also outline how we should react to market performance, including downturns.  This is our financial plan.

    Our plan allows us to ignore the noise and evaluate the current conditions objectively because we have a bigger, longer term perspective.  Stoicism also teaches that things are not inherently good or bad.  It is our internal judgement that classifies things good or bad.  “For there is nothing good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” as Hamlet said.  The media usually portrays a market downturn as a bad thing, but if you planned for and expected one, it can be a good event because it can allow you to increase your wealth over time.

    As a species, we have a need to feel like we are in control.  This can lead us to make decisions that may not be in our own best interests.  We react because we want to take action and feel we must do something.  But sometimes doing nothing is the right thing to do.  Doing nothing is also an action.  Planning ahead and remembering our plan is the ultimate form of action and control.  Self control.

    “It is harder to manage yourself than it is to manage your money.” The Rules of Wealth – Richard Templar

    Here are some tips:

    • Remember your reasons for investing
    • Are any changes furthering or hindering your objectives?
    • What is your timeline?
    • Don’t make decisions based on the news cycle – it will change, give it a minute
    • Choose investments that are not dependent on governments
    • Get professional advice to help with your objectives and keep you on track

     

    Try not to get too caught up in the here and now.  Remember why you are investing and try to look at the bigger picture.  An advisor can help coach you and provide a larger perspective, helping to keep you on track.  Don’t be afraid seek out assistance.  I am here to help.

     

    All the best.

    Chris