Clients are asking …

Clients are beginning to pay attention! For years, our typical client would look at their portfolio, note that it had increased in value, and congratulate us on a ‘job well done’. Only a few clients would have difficult questions. Those were the days, my friend!

That has changed, as it always changes in a market correction. People are worried. This New Normal has come with inflation, stock index declines, and uncertainty. The demographic with the most concerns also has the most net worth. As our clients approach retirement age, they tend to have significant assets under management. They are also the clients with the most concerns about retirement. They are asking us to look into our crystal balls and accurately define the future. The volatility of recent months has made them less confident in our advice as financial advisors.    

These clients have questions; complex questions that can take hours and days to answer appropriately.  

How have the top performing financial advisors dealt with this situation?

They have adopted new and better tools to answer client concerns, address uncertainty, and restore confidence in their services. It is now possible to provide clients with optimized retirement decumulation plans. Optimization is essential because it can save clients hundreds of thousands and more in net worth. The best tools are easy to use. Reports can be generated within working minutes instead of working days. The reports answer a myriad of questions such as:

1. Will my assets last through my retirement, and will I be able to leave an estate of value?

2. Can I maintain this lifestyle? Alternately, what changes do I need to make to retain the significant and important parts of this lifestyle?

3. How much can I spend annually?

4. At what point does my spending outweigh my resources?

5. Can I go on that trip or afford that renovation, cottage, or boat without jeopardizing my long-term financial position?

6. How do I best safeguard these assets in these volatile times?

The only widely available software tool that does true optimization and easily answers all these questions (for the Canadian market) is Retirement-Optimizer (retirement-optimizer.ca). Utilized by top financial advisors and tax accountants, Retirement-Optimizer will make your job much easier. Retirement-Optimizer.ca 

Pension Splitting

Pension splitting can offer significant advantages to Canadians looking to save on taxes throughout their retirement. Planning around a pension split isn’t easy. You have to consider OAS clawbacks, Federal Age tax credits, and pension credits.   These factors can change instantaneously as clients adjust the age that they start taking OAS or modifying their withdrawal plans.

Retirement-Optimizer can handle these interconnected items to create the best possible retirement decumulation plan, including pension splitting and the optimal age to take CPP and OAS.

Retirement-Optimizer can work alongside your existing planning software and is offered on a per-use basis. No monthly fees are required.  If you want to see how much your clients can benefit from an optimized decumulation plan, go to Retirement-Optimizer.ca to learn more or call for more info to 866-383-6278.

How do clients know the value of financial advise?

How do clients know what they’re paying for?

These days, TV commercials feature people divesting themselves of their parents financial advisor. But what is the real value of this financial advise?

Professional retirement planning can add thousands to a persons net worth. Proper retirement planning using the latest optimization tools can add hundreds of thousands of dollars to a clients’ net worth, enabling them to stay retired longer, and giving them peace of mind that their future is secure.

But how does a client know how much they’re benefiting from your advice?

At Retirement-Optimizer.ca we’ve addressed this question by providing the financial advisor with interactive graphs that compare the optimized plan with Rules of Thumb solutions and classic withdrawal strategies. The additional thousands of dollars of net worth that the client enjoys become obvious.

Retirement Optimizer makes the impact of a proper plan clear. Interactive graphs, simple tables, and detailed reports explain the optimized plan.

Retirement-Optimizer can work alongside your existing planning software and is offered on a per-use basis. No monthly subscriptions are required. 

If you want to see how much your clients can benefit from an optimized decumulation plan, go to Retirement-Optimizer.ca

Business adviser analyzing financial figures denoting the progress in the work of the company

Complexity & Retirement Plans

When doing a retirement plan using the enterprise software, the onus is on the advisor to run trials to determine how to achieve his client’s financial targets. The enterprise software will suggest Rules of Thumb scenarios, but it remains up to the advisor to select the options and iterate hopefully towards the desired outcome. The enterprise software is finding a solution with guidance by the advisor and the pool of experts that the corporation has available.   

The solution is a solution, but not necessarily the best or optimal solution.  

This process can take hours; actually, it very often takes days to complete.

Very often, the client comes back with modified parameters that require rewrites. An analogy comes to mind: The tools that advisors currently have available are like the old manual typewriters that people used in the 1970s and the typing pool in the TV series; Mad Men. It is time for the equivalent of Word Processors to arrive.

And arrive they have! Just recently, true optimization software has become available: Retirement-Optimizer.ca. Compared to current enterprise software, this optimization software is very much like Microsoft Word compared to classic typewriters.   

Retirement-Optimizer.ca provides you with the best optimal solution, without requiring hours of an advisor’s time iterating towards it…. That, and the precise plans produced will save advisor hours and make for a much happier client.

The retirement plans include interactive graphs, simple tables, and detailed reports to explain the optimized strategy. Also available are comparisons to Rule of Thumb plans and classic withdrawal techniques. 

If you are ready to move into this new world in technology, please call us at 866-383-6278 or email inquiries@retirement-optimizer.ca.  

 We look forward to hearing from you.

Real Estate and Retirement Planning

The real estate boom of the past few years has had a major impact on Canadian’s net worth.  By some estimates, the average homeowner has as much as 50% of their total assets invested in real estate.  By downsizing in later years, hundreds of thousands of dollars could become available at a critical point in retirement.

How should withdrawals be structured early on, in light of this huge capital inflow?  Is it advantageous to sell a property, or continue to own it and potentially collect rental income? These complex questions require a sophisticated optimizing engine. For too long, the only tools available to financial planners and future retirees could not address this complexity. Now, leading edge software such as Retirement-Optimizer has become available. It allows you build a complete retirement plan and use a sophisticated computer solver to determine the best time to downsize, given all of your other parameters.

Don’t let 1-dimensional analysis prevent your retirement plan from maximum net worth.

Retirement and Inflation

Are your client’s retirement plans prepared for inflation?

After more than a decade in the low single digits, the potential for long-term higher inflation looms large. Inflation can affect a retirement plan in many ways: Will market returns consistently beat the consumer price index, or will the stagflation of the 1970s haunt the TSX? Will real estate serve as a store of value, or will higher interest rates hurt demand? Will your clients spending track the CPI, or will their personal “inflation” rate be wildly different? Above all, how do you best avoid excessive taxes on nominal returns?

If inflation concerns you, Retirement-Optimizer has you covered. Determine whether your accounts will have enough growth to cover inflated costs. Every financial account and non-financial asset can be assigned its own projected growth rate. In retirement, every major spending category can be assigned an inflation rate. Above all, a tax optimization algorithm will minimize the lifetime retirement taxes paid on a portfolio.

Retirement-Optimizer is a leading edge software tool which optimizes a decumulation retirement plan based on a myriad of factors, including tax considerations, cash inflows (sale of property or business), longevity, spousal factors, spending level changes and more. This complexity cannot be addressed with simple software tools currently on the market. Retirement-Optimizer can save a portfolio hundreds of thousands in net worth.

Do Rules of Thumb Really Work?

Do Rules of Thumb Really Work?

Even simple questions turn out not to have simple answers. For example, choosing the age to start CPP and OAS: What start-age lets me get the most out of these pensions?  The rule of thumb is this: delay taking both benefits as long as possible.

But is this rule of thumb correct for you?  The simplest way to answer this question is to look at the payouts: CPP and OAS Annual Benefits are inflation-indexed and increase by 8.9% for each year delayed beyond age 65.

Ever the sceptic, I calculated the payouts using some simple tools.  As it turns out, it takes until age 83 to break even based on 2% inflation (1% over the government index).  With inflation 2.5% over, by delaying, you don’t come out ahead until age 87.

Optimal age to start CPP, OAS based on 2.5% inflation over gov. index:

Even this is oversimplifying. We haven’t considered a broader financial picture: what assets are in our portfolio? What are their expected returns? How much is going to be spent each year? What if there aren’t enough liquid assets to delay taking CPP or OAS? What if chasing returns puts the entire portfolio at risk?

Real-life retirement scenarios are too complex to be built from rules of thumb or Microsoft Excel. Building a robust financial plan requires optimizing pension start-ages in the context of all other portfolio parameters.

For best results, use an optimization engine to calculate retirement financial status. Holistically consider all portfolio elements: the answer depends heavily on current assets, expected returns, and life expectancy. 

Retirement plans are complex: Many different approaches can be taken.  The best plan may involve tweaking spending plans over different phases of retirement; maybe it involves downsizing a house or selling a cottage partway through. Each of these approaches will have different tax implications.   The optimal plan from an asset standpoint, can only be calculated by a sophisticated optimizing engine.

The use of an optimizing engine, such as Retirement-Optimizer, lets you build a complete retirement plan and use a sophisticated computer solver to determine the best pension start-age given all of your other parameters. Don’t let 1-dimensional analysis cause your retirement plan to leave money on the table. Optimize your retirement! 

these analyses are simple to do with sophisticated tools such as retirement-optimizer.ca

Monitoring Your Performance

Why are you investing? What are your goals? Any person investing or looking into investing should have these goals in their minds. In order to maximize the performance of your portfolio, make sure to actively monitor your performance to ensure you’re staying on track. Investors should know their goals, their time horizon, and their risk tolerance.

ads-beverage-black-coffee-33972

Measuring and monitoring are essential to success.  

Every once in a while, a blind squirrel will stumble upon an acorn, but unfortunately, in life, this is a rare occurrence. Researching your options and actually executing your investments shouldn’t be the only one time you look at your portfolio. Measuring and monitoring allows your portfolio to align with your current goals.

Sit down and think about your investment goals.

Whether you’re saving up for a new house, or to live comfortably in retirement, make sure you have solid goals in place before attempting to invest. You’d want to build your wealth based on the goals you have in mind –whether it’s for growing your portfolio or for it to return income. This allows you to figure out a risk tolerance suitable for you.

Steps to monitoring.

If your portfolio is off track, take a step back and consider what you want out of your investments. Either work with a financial advisor or as an individual to get back on track to align with your goals. These 4 steps will help you constantly monitor your performance.

1. Assess your portfolio’s performance

Go and check your portfolio’s returns. Is it on target with the goals that you currently set? Make sure that it has performed as well based on that and its market benchmarks over the same period.

2. Evaluate your asset allocation strategy

Is your portfolio well diversified? Your portfolio management goals may have changed over time, so make sure that your portfolio is still right for you. It is a good idea to rebalance if it does not match your needs.

3. Review each of your individual funds

Make sure to review each individual fund to make sure it is performing as it should be. Doing this will allow you to keep aligned with your investment goals.

4. Review your future goals

Remember that you are investing for the future –make sure you have a clear idea of your goals and how your portfolio can take you there. Remember, your goals can change –which is why it’s crucial to constantly monitor your portfolio performance.

Monitoring your portfolio performance is a crucial part of any successful strategy. Become the sophisticated, expert investor you want to be and take control over your portfolio.

Benefits of a Financial Advisor

Most people have a hard time talking about money. A reason can include not having financial literacy. Hiring a financial advisor is not only for the rich. A financial advisor can help you get on track with your financial goals and give you peace of mind with your money situation.

Consider the following before deciding if a financial advisor can work for you/is right for you. Financial advice generally costs 0.5%-1% of your portfolio annually. An individual wants to ensure that the fee is worth the advisor’s advice and the growth of their investment portfolio outweighs the fees paid.

Depending on the scope of advice that you may need, you can hire a financial advisor for a one-time or full-time basis. Getting financial advice on a one-time/short-term basis means an advisor can help you build a plan or answer a specific issue or question. The other is hiring a financial advisor on an ongoing basis to ensure your financial situation is managed full-time.

Some examples on when a long-term financial advisor may be useful to you:
-You are young and not sure where to start
-No time to manage your money
-Nearing retirement (Are you ready to retire? What is the process of withdrawing retirement accounts?)
-Self-employed

One-time/Short-term examples:
-Come across a major life event such as marriage, having kids, or buying a new house (Any time there is a major life event that happens, there’s a financial impact)
-Budget is tight, but you still want to know what a planner can recommend in your financial situation
-Have a specific question/planning need; for example, what to do with an inheritance you received
-Ensure that you are on the right financial track and to review your current situation

It is crucial to assess your own comfort level of financial management and ask yourself what questions you want to be answered. This will help to figure out what you want out of a financial advisor and start from there. A financial planner can help you make better financial decisions and have a better understanding when it comes to your finances.

The Financial Planning Process

The financial planner is a professional who prepares financial plans for people to reach their long-term financial goals. Here are six key steps of a financial planning process.

  1. Establish a client-planner relationship
    You must have conversations with the client to determine their financial goals. Establish the terms as well as limitations. Understanding your client will ensure a successful relationship.

  2. Gather the client’s data
    Before any plan can be analyzed, a financial planner has to get the clients’ historical data. In this step, we gather the quantitative and qualitative data.

  3. Analyze their financial status
    Using their expertise, the financial planner will be able to review all of the client’s documents and understand it for analysis.

  4. Present recommendations
    Based on the data, it is important for the planner to go through different options to ensure the client’s financial success. It is the job of the financial planner to provide their recommendations based on the client’s financial goals.

  5. Implement recommendations
    Once the chosen plan is finalized, they would go ahead and implement the plan.

  6. Monitor the progress
    Keeping an eye on the progress will ensure that the client is moving towards the right direction of their financial goals. Monitoring will allow you to make any necessary changes and update the plan if goals are not being met.