As one of Canada's youngest retirees at the age of 32, and after becoming mortgage-free at 29, Kornel interviews the top financial experts in Canada to help you optimize your investments, reduce your taxes, and help you accelerate your journey towards financial independence and early retirement. He also shares his own experiences and lessons learned in investing and as an early retiree and member of the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement to help you optimize your finances, specifically here in Canada.
Are You Holding the Right Bonds in Your Investment Portfolio?
When learning how to invest, we are consistently told to conduct our “due diligence” on the investments that we’re considering buying. Yet, almost all of us haven’t actually been trained on how to analyze the investments that we’re considering, so that we choose the ones that are right for our particular situation.
To help remedy this, I thought it would be good to give listeners a bit of a training on how to actually interpret the figures and terminology that we see used here in Canada, when we’re considering purchasing an investment.
Now this is obviously a very large topic as there are many types of investments, so I thought we could start with learning how to understand bonds (especially bond ETFs).
We’ve definitely seen some drops in the market recently and I suspect many investors are wondering about holding bonds, if they are holding the right types of bonds, and how to actually interpret the data that you see when you’re looking up information about a bond ETF.
Guest Bio: To help me with this, I have Danielle Neziol back on the show. Danielle and her team actually created and continue to manage the largest bond ETF in Canada (and in case you’re curious, that ETF is ZAG from BMO ETFs which now has over $5.8 billion in net assets).
Danielle is the Vice President over at BMO ETFs, and I thought it would be great for us to actually get some training from her on how to interpret the facts sheets that we all see when we look up any type of bond ETF, no matter who the provider is.
My goal is that this interview gives you the knowledge to be more confident in your investing, and hopefully helps relieve any anxiety that you may feel when it comes to choosing your own investments, or helping ensure that you are in the types of investments that are the best fit for you.
Resources Mentioned: Danielle and her team host free weekly webinars where you can learn more about ETFs, as well as ask them your ETF questions. I've been a guest there several times and it really is a great resource for Canadian DIY investors.
You can view past replays and sign up to attend the upcoming webinars for free here: etfmarketinsights.com
Also, be sure to subscribe to the ETF Market Insights YouTube Channel where you can also see past recordings.
Questions Covered: Investors place a lot of time deciding how much of their portfolio should go into bonds vs stocks. Yet, when it comes to bonds, there are several different types and they can each behave differently. Can you speak to the different types of bond ETFs out there, and what differences can we expect from them? Especially when it comes to changing interest rates and different economic climates?
When examining all these different types, I can see it being overwhelming for some investors when they do a search and see dozens of different bond ETFs out there from all the different providers. One may begin to wonder whether they should pick and choose individual bond ETFs, or whether they should just hold one large aggregate bond ETF like ZAG which holds all these different types of bonds in a diversified manner. For those struggling with this question, what advice can you give?
Does a rising interest rate environment like we are in now change how we should be thinking about bonds?
Often when I see a model portfolio from a professional in the industry, the bond portion of the portfolio includes a bond ETF that contains only Canadian bonds. ZAG if I’m not mistaken also holds exclusively different types of Canadian bonds. Why is that, when with equities on the other hand, we want international diversification?
One of Canada’s largest bond ETFs (ZAG) is designed to replicate the FTSE Canada Universe Bond Index. Is this index a standard that many other bond ETF providers are using as well? And for us index investors, how can we make sure that the ETF we choose is trying to replicate the correct index?
When evaluating which bond ETF(s) to use for ou
Andrew Hallam: How to Invest and Spend for Happiness, Health, and Wealth
Today I’m extremely excited to have Canadian best-selling author, Andrew Hallam back on the show. His first book, Millionaire Teacher continues to be the #1 best seller in the Investment and Portfolio Management category on Amazon.
He is one of the world’s most prolific financial wellness speakers and over the past 16 years, he has given hundreds of talks in over 30 different countries espousing research on financial wellness, sound investing and life satisfaction.
He has been investing in the stock market for 32 years, having built a million-dollar portfolio on a schoolteacher's salary when he was in his late 30s.
In today’s interview with Andrew, we cover the subject of how to achieve balance, and how to maximize your happiness, health, and wealth.
We also cover what to expect and how to maintain balance after having hit your financial independence number. Lots of early retirees in the FIRE movement and traditional retirees continue to do some sort of productive paid work. Why is that, and is it realistic to never work again after you retire?
As you can imagine, generating some minor income after retirement, doing something you love, can drastically decrease how much money you actually need to retire from your day job, potentially letting you leave that job you may dislike or be bored with many years earlier.
Since Andrew is already financially independent, we dissect how Andrew has found that balance in his life between taking on meaningful and fulfilling work, and balancing that with leisure, health, and happiness.
1. When a lot of people, myself included start their financial independence journey, the goal is to never work again and that becomes a major motivator to accumulate all those savings to be able to retire.
Yet from my own experience and after interviewing many other early retirees, I've noticed a pattern where most if not all still end up doing some sort of productive work or something that could be classified as “work” even though they don't have to, since they've already reached their financial independence number.
Did you have the same experience as you moved from the accumulation stage to the financial independence and retirement stage, and from your experience what have you found to be a good balance in your own life?
2. You've spoken with many other early retirees who I assume had a similar experience in terms of that progression from initially never wanting to work again and live a life of leisure permanently, versus eventually realizing that there needs to be a balance to achieve sustainable happiness. Have you noticed any patterns from those you've talked to in terms of how they were able to find sustainable happiness and what that balance was for them in order to achieve it?
3. After reading your book, it becomes very clear that health and longevity is something that is a high priority for you, and should be for all of us since what’s the point of accumulating all this wealth and retiring if you don’t live long enough to enjoy it.
From the research that you’ve done, what have you found to be the best practices to maximize our health and longevity?
Nutrition? Types of exercise and frequency? Cancer prevention? Stress control? Energy maximization? 4. In terms of maximizing happiness in retirement, is there a routine that you follow during any part of your day that works well for you? Or do you take a more fluid, go-with-the-flow approach, where things are more spontaneous?
5. Do you find that goal setting and trying to achieve growth and improvement in retirement adds to your happiness and fulfilment? Or do you take the approach of trying to just be happy with where you are, living in the moment, as opposed to continuously striving for more?
6. Please tell us again where we can learn more from you and get your latest book.
Guaranteed Income For Life: How to Use Annuities in Your Investment Portfolio
When it comes to the safe portion of our portfolio, we’ve talked about GICs and high-interest savings accounts before, but one option that we haven’t talked about yet, is one that gives you guaranteed income for life, no matter what the markets are doing, and those are called annuities.
So, I thought it would be good for you and me to get some annuities 101 knowledge under our belts, so that we can better understand what’s out there, what are the pros and cons of annuities, and so that we can better determine if they are something that we should look into further, based on each of our particular situations.
To learn more about this, I thought it would be good to get our information from two different sources. The first, would be fee-for-service financial planners who don’t actually create or sell annuities, but are responsible for potentially using annuities as part of a total financial plan.
With that in mind, I’m definitely going to be asking financial planners that I interview in the future about annuities, so that we can get a holistic view and multiple perspectives on the subject.
The other source of information that I thought would be good to interview, is an actual creator of annuities. This way we’re getting the information right from the source about how they actually work, their intent, the pros and cons, and how they can potentially fit as part of a financial plan.
To help me with this, I have Selene Soo on the show. She is the Director of Product Strategy and Development in the area of Wealth Management over at RBC. She has been there for over 17 years, and has been in the industry itself for over 2 decades, so she definitely has a wealth of experience and knowledge when it comes to annuities.
I thought I’d pick her brain so that we can get a solid foundation on annuities, and one question that I’ve been extremely curious to ask someone like her that’s actually in the industry, is for those of us who don’t have a defined benefit pension through our work (for example, those of us that are not government works, teachers, police officers etc.), is there a way that we can get the type of guaranteed income for life in retirement that the government workers get, by using annuities?
We definitely get into that question, plus a lot more. Thanks for tuning in, enjoy the learning, and now let’s get into the interview.
Rising Interest Rates, Variable vs Fixed Mortgages, and How to Take Equity Out of Your Home
In this episode, we cover the rising interest rate environment that we're currently in here in Canada, and how it can impact you financially.
We also cover how to decide whether you should go fixed or variable on your mortgage in the current interest rate environment.
Next, we cover the subject of how you can take out some of the equity that you’ve built up in your home, so that you can either use it to invest, or deploy it elsewhere (without having to actually sell your home).
We also discuss the Smith Manoeuvre, which is a technique that you can use here in Canada to make your mortgage interest tax-deductible (and be able to invest a bit easier when you pay down your mortgage).
All this and more on this month's episode.
For the first time in over 3 years, the Bank of Canada has started raising interest rates. What should we be considering if we have a variable rate mortgage or have debt that’s tied to the prime rate (like a home equity line of credit)? For Canadians that have their mortgage coming up for renewal in the near future, or those looking for a new mortgage, based on the current environment, what is the mortgage rate outlook for the coming year and how can those Canadians best decide whether they should go fixed or variable? From what you’re seeing, what is the real estate market outlook for this coming spring and the rest of the year? Is it likely to be a buyer's market or a seller's market? What kind of buying/selling environment should people be ready for if they are thinking of moving, buying/selling a house? Home prices have grown substantially over the years making many Canadians who already own a house pretty wealthy on paper, but much of that money or equity is tied up in the house, and I’m sure many of us would like to be able to use some of those gains either for investing, or other things. We’ve probably all heard of using a home equity line of credit (HELOC) to take some of that money out, but what are the other options available to us, and what are the pros and cons of using a HELOC vs these other options? On the flip side, with the rising cost of living (we’re hearing about inflation a lot), cash flow is becoming a challenge for some Canadians, making it even more difficult to find extra cash to invest for their retirement, while also paying down their mortgage and other expenses. However, there are strategies to pay down your mortgage and invest at the same time. Can you explain this strategy to listeners that are in this situation? And what are the pros and cons?
Your Guide to All-In-One ETFs and Socially Responsible Investing
On this month's episode, we're going to discuss some of the most frequently asked investing questions that I receive.
The first of these is helping you decide if you should just pick one ETF for your entire portfolio (these are referred to as asset-allocation ETFs), or if you should pick and choose multiple ETFs for your portfolio to fine-tune tune it based on your specific preferences.
We also talk about how to determine the asset allocation for your portfolio (the stock to bond mix), as well as how to determine how risky the ETFs that you're considering actually are.
It turns out that there is an actual standardized risk rating in Canada to help you determine this which I think you'll find really helpful.
Last but definitely not least, we cover socially responsible investing (also known as ESG investing) to help you decide whether ESG ETFs could be a good fit for your investment portfolio, and some things to be careful about and consider, when partaking in socially responsible investing by buying these types of ETFs.
To help me with this, I'm thrilled to have Danielle Neziol back on the show. Danielle and her team actually create some of the most popular ETFs that Canadians invest in.
She works for BMO ETFs which is the largest Canadian ETF provider in the country, so we're literally getting this information right from the source here which I'm always a big fan of.
Danielle and her ETF research team have put together a lot of free resources for Canadian DIY investors over the years, and because there are so many of them, I created a resources page where you can see them listed and access them easily.
They're all free, they're not affiliate links or anything like that, and you can check them out and start learning over at buildwealthcanada.ca/bmo
Enjoy, a big thanks to Danielle and the team for putting these together and making them available free of charge, and now let's get into the interview.
How to Use Factor ETFs to Fine-Tune Your Portfolio + Market Update
Many listeners of the show (myself included) are total market index investors, where we just buy ETFs that are meant to represent the entire market as a whole, worldwide (as opposed to stock picking, or trying to speculate what will go up or down and investing based on that).
After you’ve been index investing for a while though, it’s easy to begin to wonder whether you should customize your portfolio a bit further so that it’s more aligned with your particular situation, or so that it holds more of the types of companies that you want in your portfolio.
When you start looking into this, you’ll quickly come across what is known as factor investing, which can be used to tweak your portfolio so that it holds more companies that contain specific attributes that you like.
In this interview, we talk about the benefits of doing this so that you can better decide for yourself whether it’s worth the added complexity in your portfolio.
We also discuss the risks that you need to be aware of if you partake in modifying your investment portfolio in this way, and we cover how you can analyze factor ETFs to find out which (if any) are the right fit for you.
Of course, we also cover some of the different types of factor ETFs out there and what they mean, so that you can better decide about potentially incorporating them into your portfolio.
Questions: A lot of the listeners of the show are total market index investors, where we just buy the market as a whole using the same core ETFs. What is the advantage of now also adding factor ETFs into our portfolio?
What are the risks of incorporating factor ETFs into our portfolio vs just sticking with a total market indexing strategy?
There are a lot of factor ETFs out there. How do we begin to analyze them as a DIY investors to find out which (if any) are the right fit for us? Are there any educational resources you can recommend?
Would you consider factor investing to be “active” investing?
When I spoke with your team in the past, it was mentioned that BMO believes that it is most optimum to have both passive and active investments within our portfolio. Interestingly, when I interviewed Vanguard in the past, they also had the same viewpoint (I wonder if that’s a common viewpoint among all the major ETF providers).
Can you share why you think our investment portfolio should have an active component as opposed to just being 100% passive through total market index ETFs?
When factor ETFs get launched, they don’t have a long history where we can, for example, stress test them by seeing how they performed during the 2008 financial crisis or the tech crash in the 2000s.
If we want to see/simulate how that ETF would have performed in adverse market conditions, how would we go about doing that?
I suppose we can use this approach for most new ETFs that get launched and that we want to evaluate?
How is using factor ETFs different from just using active ETFs or mutual funds?
Would it be fair to say that we can start with a broad, total market ETF approach, but then we can use factors to fine tune our portfolio for our specific needs?
(i.e. To either increase potential returns at the cost of risk/volatility, or to reduce volatility/risk at the expense of lower expected returns?).
Are there things that we should consider other than just looking at returns and volatility?
In one of the BMO white papers I read, it was mentioned how one strategy is to go into and out of factors depending on the economic climate. For example, if we’re seeing slowing vs rising growth, or increasing vs decreasing inflation. However, most listeners of the show (myself included), I think prefer the set-it-and-forget-it approach where we don’t have to follow the economy, the different economic markers, or the markets.
Instead, we would rather just have the same ETFs to buy every month with a piece of every paycheque, and just hold those ETFs long te
Good personal finance info
I previously had a negative review regarding the show’s amount of promotional material but the host has put out some much more information dense episodes later so I’ve increased the rating
Good messages but…
The shown usually has good messages but please slow down and stop interrupting! I try slowing the podcast down as I thought I accidentally sped it up, however slow makes you sound drunk and faster isn’t an option I’m interested in.
If I could turn back the clock and start all over I definitely would have done things differently. What an education I am getting with these podcasts. As they say, better late than never! Thank you so much for all the great gems tucked into each of these podcasts. Keep them coming!