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A weekly reality check on sensible investing and financial decision-making for Canadians. Hosted by Benjamin Felix and Cameron Passmore of PWL Capital.

The Rational Reminder Podcast Benjamin Felix & Cameron Passmore

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A weekly reality check on sensible investing and financial decision-making for Canadians. Hosted by Benjamin Felix and Cameron Passmore of PWL Capital.

    Sustainable Investing, Retiring on Index Funds, and Fee Location (EP.82)

    Sustainable Investing, Retiring on Index Funds, and Fee Location (EP.82)

    Welcome to this week’s episode of the Rational Reminder! Today, we get stuck into a commonly asked about investment topic – socially responsible or sustainable investing. The show kicks off with Cameron sharing some fantastic insights he gained from a book he recently finished, The Undoing Project. We then delve into the CalPERS story that was in the spotlight at the end of 2019. After that, we move the planning portion of our show, where we tackle the topic of sustainable investing. Many prominent Canadian pension funds have said that sustainability will be a core part of their investing going forward. We explore why sustainable investing has to mean lower returns, how this kind of investing effects social change, and what the amount you need to give up to feel good about your investments is. We also look at the subjectivity of ESG ratings and how this relates to your values. Ultimately, sustainable investing is about balancing the continuum of views and values, how closely they can be matched, and how you can do that in a diversified way. The sustainable label may not meet your expectations of sustainability which is why finding the balance can prove to be challenging. We round off the show by sharing our thoughts on how to restructure your portfolio when it comes time to live off of it. You don’t want to miss out on this interesting show, so tune in today!
     
    Key Points From This Episode:
    A book Cameron recently finished and how he applies these lessons to his work. [0:01:08.0] More about the CalPERS story that broke in December 2019. [0:05:50.0] Insights into active managers and actively managed funds. [0:07:40.0] Vanguard is the first asset manager to surpass the six trillion-dollar mark and other stats. [0:10:30.0] Portfolio topic: The growth of socially responsible investing in North America. [0:12:10.0] The main considerations to account for when looking at socially responsible investing. [0:14:09.0] Two main sustainable investing strategies: negative screening and ESG integration. [0:15:01.0] The relationship between ESG and expected returns when controlling for common risk factors. [0:17:13.0] The importance of ESG risk factor – where does the negative premium come from? [0:19:45.0] Differences between exclusion and investor tastes and their influence on expected returns. [0:21:40.0] Why the dispersion of preferences in the ESG industry is so important. [0:25:14.0] Does sustainable investing lead to positive social returns? [0:27:05.0] Two ways the lack of diversification of ESG investing hurts investors. [0:30:25.0] Understanding the trade-off between values: do all companies use the same ESG filters? [0:31:42.0] The two major problems of not having consistent ESG rating metrics. [0:33:54.0] Two things to consider when the time comes to live off of your portfolio. [0:36:47.0] Deciding how to change your asset allocation and figuring your safe spending rate. [0:39:05.0] Why selling shares rather than receiving dividends does not make you worse off. [0:42:23.0] Final thoughts on spending income and dividends. [0:45:06.0] ‘Bad advice of the week’. [0:46:03.0]

    • 51 min.
    Death and Marriage: The Legal Side of Financial Planning (in Ontario) with Kim Melanson (EP.81)

    Death and Marriage: The Legal Side of Financial Planning (in Ontario) with Kim Melanson (EP.81)

    On today's show, we are joined by Kim Melanson who is a local lawyer in Ottawa. The bulk of the conversation is spent on the particulars of drafting a will and the considerations that have to go into this process. Kim also reminds just how important it is to have an up to date will, something many of us have heard but many of us do not act on! She talks about good times to update your documents and the ins and outs of naming guardians and executors before discussing inheritances, donations, and probate. We then turn to a few different types of wills, namely mutual will, mirror wills, and dual wills. Kim weighs in on the topic of 'will kits' and services that make the writing of a will appear a little easier. We also talk about some common errors that are made in the realm of estate planning before turning our attention to family law. Kim answers our questions common-law relationships, domestic contracts, divisions of assets and more, so for all of this from a true expert on Ontario legal matters, be sure to listen in with us today on the Rational Reminder Podcast!
     
    Key Points From This Episode:
    An important legal disclaimer about today's show. [0:02:21.9] What happens if you die in Ontario without a will? [0:03:13.6] Reasons that every adult needs to have a will. [0:05:34.7] How often to update a will throughout the course a lifetime. [0:07:32.7] Best practices for the naming guardians and executors. [0:08:34.6] Kim's recommendations for allocation of inheritances, donations, and probate. [0:14:14.4] Understanding dual wills, how they work and when they make sense. [0:19:14.3] Considering the use of 'will kits' and where these services might fall short. [0:21:39.6] Mutual and mirror wills; managing and policing of these documents. [0:23:19.1] Common and important errors made in estate planning. [0:25:19.4] The definition of a common-law relationship in Ontario. [0:26:50.6] Approaching the conversation and weighing the utility of domestic contracts. [0:30:48.6] The Family Law Act ruling on the division of assets; exclusions and subtractions. [0:34:54.4] Kim's own definition of success and her hopes for a positive impact. [0:36:36.2]

    • 36 min.
    A Planning Checklist, Portfolio Concentration, and Leverage (EP.80)

    A Planning Checklist, Portfolio Concentration, and Leverage (EP.80)

    For our very first episode of 2020, we kick things off with some quick updates before sharing Cameron’s ten best financial planning strategies for the new year. After laying out some statistics about the great asset class returns that 2019 saw, we get into the wonderful listener questions we have been receiving over the break. Our first topic is about buying versus leasing cars, and Ben shares his thoughts on some of the reasons he recently converted to leasing. Our second question is about using credit to invest in a TFSA and acts as a great segue into our main topic for today’s show: implementing leverage in an investment portfolio. We discover some fascinating outputs given by a Monte Carlo simulation that compares the reliability of expected returns between diversified and concentrated investment portfolios. Surprisingly, the concentrated portfolio, while unpredictable, actually produces higher returns, even in its worst iterations. We start to think of concentrated portfolios as just another form of leveraging after comparing IUSV to VLUE ETFs, and then move on to the idea of time diversification as it relates to implementing leveraging in Lifecycle investing. As always, we end off with our bad advice of the week, with the 60/40 stocks and bonds model taking centre stage, so hop on and join us for the ride!
     
    Key Points From This Episode:
    Different corporate cultures and the value of instilling one in your workplace. [0:05:55.0] A top ten list of strategies for financial planning in 2020. [0:08:48.0] Asset class returns from 2019 which were very high across the board. [0:15:34.0] Market unpredictability and why to buy a second-hand car but lease a new one. [0:19:18.0] When to use your unsecured line of credit to invest in a tax-free savings account. [0:22:49.0] Three things that structure a belief: values, biases, and models. [0:24:51.0] Ben’s model and expected returns of diversified vs concentrated portfolios. [0:27:49.0] When concentrated portfolios work well: if high performing stocks are chosen. [0:34:01.0] Ways to achieve higher factor exposure with IUSV vs VLUE ETFs. [0:35:47.0] How unexplained portions of returns are the costs of leveraging via concentration. [0:40:40.0] Why investing using leverage creates ‘time diversification’ and higher yields. [0:42:47.0] Ways for young people to leverage their savings: concentration, derivatives, etc. [0:42:47.0] Time decay on leveraged ETFs and other reasons for leveraging not being a joke. [0:50:52.0] Why ditching a 60/40 portfolio denies market efficiency by increasing risk. [0:55:36.0] And much more!

    • 58 min.
    Financial Theory in Practice: Gaining Insight from Models with Marlena Lee (EP.79)

    Financial Theory in Practice: Gaining Insight from Models with Marlena Lee (EP.79)

    Today on the show we welcome the Head of Investment Solutions at Dimensional Fund Advisors, Marlena Lee. Marlena has a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago where she served as the TA to Eugene F. Fama. She has been at Dimensional for 11 years where a big part of her role is communicating what their research team is doing for the advisors and clients who are using their products. In this fascinating episode, we discuss and define models, factors, and the importance of understanding the risks involved with any investment decision. We talk about the many different reasons why stocks have different returns, and what the research says about underperformance and our expectation of positive premiums. Marlena has some interesting perspectives on whether risk or behavior drives higher returns, and shares some of her biggest lessons gained from working with Eugene Fama, and Dimensional Fund Advisors.
    Key Points from This Episode:
    The uses and limitations of models when making investment decisions. [0:02:30.0] Understanding the concept of ‘factors’ and why the word is evolving. [0:04:35.0] Why Dimensional doesn’t combine Price-to-Book with price sales and cashflows. [0:13:10.0] Marlena’s thoughts on whether risk or behavior drives higher returns. [0:15:15.0] The theoretical rationale for why we expect the value premium to be positive. [0:21:00.0] The role of company size in identifying differences in expected returns. [0:25:10.0] The split between dividend income and capital gains: What is the trade-off? [0:27:40.0] How to choose which Factor Model to use for your investing decisions. [0:31:15.0] The good arguments for owning bonds in your portfolio as a young investor. [0:35:00.0] Risk factors and equities when it comes to fixed-income and bonds versus stocks. [0:38:00.0] Questions investors should be asking about fees, risk, and portfolio worth. [0:41:48.0] Evidence that investors can use Yield Curve Inversions to time the market. [0:43:33.0] Marlena shares her most fascinating research topics and economic debates. [0:43:33.0] Marlena shares her biggest lessons gained from working with Eugene Fama. [0:48:13.0]

    • 51 min.
    2019 Retrospective: A Review and Discussion of the Year's Guest Episodes (EP.78)

    2019 Retrospective: A Review and Discussion of the Year's Guest Episodes (EP.78)

    As we see 2019 out and enter a new decade, we thought it only fitting to do a round-up of some of our shows this year. While we had 26 guests throughout the year, we chose 14 that best captured the sensible investing and education-focused spirit of our show. Some of the guests we have included on this special episode include Rob Carrick, from The Global Mail and leading authority on Canadian personal finance, Alexandra McQueen, a teacher at York University, who offers an explanation on the difference between financial economics and financial planning and Jonathan Clements, who explains why the hardest part of investing is keeping it simple. We also share clips about nipping overconfidence in the bud with Daniel Crosby and the next grand challenge of investing with Dave Nadig. This is just a snapshot of some of the incredibly generous people who have joined us this year. We hope that this show has contributed in some way to educating and helping investors make informed decisions and we are excited for what’s on the horizon. Happy New Year from all of us here at The Rational Reminder!
    Key Points From This Episode:
    Rob Carrick’s insights into whether Canadians have a good relationship with money. [0:04:02.0] Moira Somers’ tips on lifestyle changes to decrease financial stress. [0:07:51.3] Why ‘debunking the nonsense’ of financial advice is so important to Barry Ritholz. [0:10:23.0] The difference between financial economics and financial planning. [0:13:10.0] Discover the importance of having a clear belief system when it comes to investing. [0:16:51.0] Criteria other than performance to use to choose a quant fund according to Wes Gray. [0:19:47.0] Why the most difficult part of investing is trusting in simplicity. [0:23:14.0] Learn what has surprised David Butler the most about working with academics. [0:28:56.0] Ben explaining discount rates and factors to his mom. [0:31:58.0] All factors will underperform at some stage so embracing volatility is key. [0:40:14.0] What Jill Schlesinger has found the most common investment blind spots to be. [0:42:54.0] A look at what adverse selection means and how it applies to DIY investors. [0:44:40.0] Find out why Daniel Crosby calls overconfidence the ‘granddaddy’ of investment biases.[0:46:17.0] Even though investing is ‘solved,’ that does not mean people are good investors. [0:44:40.0]

    • 56 min.
    The Ins and Outs of Estate Planning: Making the Right Arrangements with the Blunt Bean Counter (EP.77)

    The Ins and Outs of Estate Planning: Making the Right Arrangements with the Blunt Bean Counter (EP.77)

    On today’s episode, we are joined by Mark Goodfield of The Blunt Bean Counter blog to talk about estate planning and wills. Mark is a partner at BDO Canada, a national accounting firm and has created a wealth of content on investing, tax and the relationship between the two.
    He provides full-service wealth management, but does not advise on nor manage investments. Estate planning is a difficult task because you are confronted with your mortality, but it is hugely important because without a clear-cut plan, those left behind will have to deal with many complications in the midst of grieving. Mark has seen these complications with some of his own clients and the negative effects it has had on them. Along with conventional estate planning, such as drawing up a will, Mark also strongly advises transparency about your finances both with your partner and your children. This will not only ensure that there are no surprises, but also allow them to gain a level of financial literacy to deal with money, if they currently do not have that responsibility. He believes that people are not open enough when talking about money, which has implications long after they are gone. While estate planning is largely to do with finances and assets, Mark does not believe that money automatically correlates with success. This is why it is equally important to consider the legacy you leave behind in other ways, such as strong relationships and giving time to good causes. For this and much more, join us today!
    Key Points From This Episode:
    What it entails being the executor of an estate. [0:02:47.0] The implications of dying intestate. [0:04:32.0] Why it is important to disclose assets liable to probate tax. [0:07:27.0] Ensure that both spouses are relatively financially literate. [0:08:40.0] Why you should involve your adult children in financial conversations. [0:11:07.0] The two ways of consolidating your investment holdings [0:12:23.0] The tax, legal and personal implications of giving up ownership. [0:17:03.0] The distinction between known and presumed inheritance. [0:20:11.0] How to deal with potential uneven distribution in an estate. [0:23:23.0] When it makes sense to hire a corporate executor [0:25:49.0] The five ways that success is not always linked to money [0:27:06.0] How Mark has defined his own personal success [0:29:55.0] And much more! https://rationalreminder.ca/podcast/77

    • 33 min.

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