As I write this article, it is April 29 in The Year That Spring Forgot. It is only 6 degrees outside, no lawnmowers can be heard and the Blue Jays are still playing with the roof closed (after an earlier game was cancelled because of ice falling through the roof). One thing we can all agree on: we are looking forward to summer more than any year in recent memory.
Some of the activities and pastimes we look forward to in the summertime can relate to certain aspects of a properly organized financial plan. I provide a few examples below.
In the summer we are driving more than other times of the year. Do you drive only by looking through the rearview mirror? The answer, of course, is no. While checking the rearview mirror is an integral part of safe driving, we are looking more through the front windshield to see where we are going. So too with your portfolio: the investments that were appropriate in the past may or may not be appropriate for where we are headed. Periodic reviews and re-balancing of your portfolio ensure that it is focused looking forward having regard for the past.
You may have seen in the financial press the comparison of the current bull market in stocks to a baseball game. Specifically, the comment is often made that we are in the “late innings” of the game. Typically, the team ahead at this point will bring in its relief pitcher in order to protect the lead. If your portfolio has grown during the bull market, how are you protecting it against a potential future decline? It could be through adding GICs to provide guaranteed returns, reducing equity exposure if your current weight exceeds your target, or by considering segregated funds to provide a guaranteed death benefit. No one strategy will be applicable to everyone: we can help structure the solution best for you.
Pop quiz: how much time did you spend planning your summer vacation this year? Now, a second question: did you spend as much or more time planning for your retirement? By working with a financial planner to create the right plan, you can travel with peace of mind, since budgeting is essential to any financial plan.
The summertime is often the occasion for extended family gatherings. These can create memories that last a lifetime. Do you want those memories to last after you have passed away? An important aspect in making this a reality is to have a robust estate plan reflecting your wishes meanwhile taking family dynamics into consideration. When we think of a will, it can be easy to fall into the trap of only thinking about “the money”. It is equally important to also consider “the things”: the personal articles that may have more intrinsic value to your heirs than any amount of money. Do you have an estate plan and, if yes, when was the last time it was reviewed? You never know – someone may actually want those BBQ tongs!
No discussion involving the summertime would be complete without ice cream. And just as only one flavour of ice cream can be limiting, so too is only having exposure to Canadian equities within your portfolio. Canada represents only about 3% of global market capitalization and our stock market is heavily weighted towards financial and resource stocks – leaving out important areas such as health care. Having significant global exposure within your portfolio – in both the equity and fixed income components - addresses both risk and potential return.
Making time this summer to speak with your Scrivens advisor regarding your planning and portfolio needs could be the most valuable trip you make. Ice cream is available nearby.