Think only the uber-wealthy need estate and trust experts? Not necessarily …

Oh, it’s a common misconception. I hear it from clients, people I know and even strangers all the time. “I don’t have that kind of wealth. I’ve made my brother or my best friend of 40 years or my accountant my Executor. I know them, I trust them, they’re perfect. It’s fine.”

And if your estate is straight forward and requires little more than distributing funds to your beneficiaries, you could be right. But if you’re worth at least $1 million, and yourRead More »

It’s The Value You Get Beyond Returns That Deserves Your Attention

I’m always fascinated when I overhear people talking about investing. Most of the time they’re strictly focused on performance. Frankly, it’s short sighted, but the truth of the matter is that’s the way it used to be.

For decades, when so many of us were enjoying consistent double-digit returns, all we talked about was performance. Ads for investment advisory firms and mutual fund companies concentrated solely on the numbers. “Performance” was how we positioned ourselves, how we Read More »

Periods of Uncertainty Don’t Have to be Stressful

As I reflect back on the year just passed, with its turbulence, uncertainty and angst — and look ahead to 2017 and what it might bring — I can’t help but think of one of my favourite quotes, from John Kenneth Galbraith: “We have two classes of forecasters: Those who don’t know and those who don’t know they don’t know.”

2016 was one of those years that left a lot of us scratching our heads. It was a year that didn’t make sense. It started off rocky and investors were pessimistic and fearful. Yet Read More »

It Can Be More Challenging To Stay Wealthy, Than It Is To Become Wealthy

I read a very interesting blog post the other day. In it, there is a Warren Buffett quote that makes so much sense: “The most important quality to do well is temperament which would permit the control of fear and greed which have ruined many. Anyone who has become rich twice is dumb. Why would you risk what you need and have for what you don’t need?”

Excellent question.

Both the quote, and the blog post where I read it, made me think about the recent election in the U.S. and all the commotion it caused. The worrying, wondering and speculating over who would win and what the potential Read More »

Concentration is Key

In the investing world, the topic of diversification often arises. As money managers, we advise clients on their stocks, bonds, mutual funds, hedge funds and real estate funds, among others. The intellectual stimulation of this job is hard to beat. We do believe portfolios should be diversified across asset classes. But, when it comes to owning simple common stocks, concentration is the way to go.

My friend David Kaufman recently published an excellent article in the Financial Post on the merits of owning a concentrated portfolio of stocks. David writes for all readers, regardless of their familiarity with high-tone investment language, and his column is worth reading. You can find it here.

David makes a simple point. With the proliferation of exchange traded funds and, I will add, the number of smart people that have flooded into the investment business, it becomes difficult to outperform the stock market.
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Performance, performance, performance …

Recently I read an interesting article in the Globe & Mail by Rob Carrick. It was about robo-advisors and how to pick the right one. In it he said several things I’ve been telling my clients for years, long before there was such a thing as algorithm-based portfolio management.

Right off the top he wrote: “Robo-advisors are for people who want a sound, smart investing solution, not home runs.” Quite frankly, that should be every investor’s goal, because counting on “home runs” Read More »

Investing isn’t only about the numbers …

There’s no question that every investor, myself included, has the same goal: to make sure we have enough to fund our dream retirement, to see us through to the end of our days; and, also, to leave something behind for those we love.

Which is where Investment Advisors come in, to offer sound, objective advice based on knowledge, experience and skill — ours and the experts and specialists who are part of the extended team.

What’s interesting, though, is that when we consider our relationships with our Advisors, we tend to Read More »

Is Gold a Store of Value?

The U.S. dollar used to be backed by gold. Anyone could exchange their paper currency for a certain amount of gold (e.g. $35 per ounce). That changed on August 15, 1971 when President Nixon ended convertibility by “closing the gold window”.

Since 1971, the U.S. dollar has not been backed by gold and it has fallen to less than 17 cents in 1971 dollar terms. One dollar today will buy only 17 cents worth of “stuff” versus one dollar worth of “stuff” Read More »

You’re Not Warren Buffett

As Clint Eastwood said in Magnum Force, “A man’s got to know his limitations”. Warren Buffett is perhaps the wealthiest and most famous investor of all time. Therefore many have tried to emulate him – including professional money managers – without much success. The fact is, very few could ever duplicate the process and the success he and his partner, Charlie Munger, have achieved at Berkshire Hathaway.

First, Buffett has over 75 years of investing experience, having bought his first stock at age 11. As well, except for a few hands of bridge with Bill Gates, he spends all of his time evaluating investments. His wealth and ownership of Read More »