WE BELIEVE IN THE VALUE OF SHARING FINANCIAL KNOWLEDGE.
As professionals in our industry, we understand the benefits and the risks associated with financial products and services, and work to keep you educated and informed so that you can feel confident in your financial strategy and future financial decisions.
Once you’ve started your career, start paying taxes, have goals to save and grow assets for retirement, have a home or want to own a home, get married, have children and so on, you’ll benefit from having a financial plan created by a qualified financial advisor. A Financial Advisor has the experience to guide you through these life stages, and ensure you are following a plan or taking on products that are best for your unique situation, while mitigating risk. You will have someone to be accountable to, someone to help you understand your investments and ensure you are prepared for all of life’s unexpected events.
Being an informed investor is one of your best defenses against investment fraud. Although most investment advisors are honest and work in your best interest, you still need to carefully choose who you deal with. Securities industry professionals are required to register with the securities regulator in each province or territory where they do business. Registration helps protect investors because securities regulators will only register firms and individuals if they are properly qualified. Use the National Registration Search to check if an individual or firm is registered.
Financial certifications signify expertise in the industry, and there are many different certifications available for professional Advisors today. While a financial planning professional or Financial Advisor can have any of several designations or certifications, at the very least you should make sure that he or she is licensed and in good standing with the licensing authority for your province. Below are some of the common designations in Canada:
Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is internationally-recognized designation is granted by the Financial Planning Standards Council and helps professionals demonstrate the knowledge and skills needed to work with clients to build a financial plan.
Chartered Investment Managers (CIM) work in the area of portfolio management for high-net-worth and institutional clients. CIMs are involved in advanced money management and investment strategies.
Registered Financial Planner (RFP) is for those who have been in the financial planning role for a while and illustrate an advanced commitment with ongoing education. Planners must have been in the industry for a minimum of three years to become an RFP and be actively practicing. There is also a requirement to adhere to the institute’s code of ethics and professional standards to maintain the designation.
A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) has competency and experience in all areas of financial planning. A CFP has completed courses of study in over 100 topics of financial management including equities, taxes, and retirement planning. He or she must also follow the Certified Financial Planner code of ethics. A Certified Financial Planner has a fiduciary responsibility to put your needs and interests above his or her own. While a CFP may profit from a product that is recommended to you, it is unethical for a CFP to recommend a product that is not in your best interest. Hiring a strictly fee-based (as opposed to commission-based) advisor is also a good choice if you're concerned about the advisor pushing products.
When you come in for your consultation, your advisor will often give you a list of helpful information to bring. Generally, you may be asked to bring your latest financial statements (banking, investments, employer provided retirement plans, etc.) and a current tax return. Your Advisor will review this information and discuss income sources, retirement contributions, financial or real estate assets, insurance coverage, mortgages, other debts, and estate planning documents that you may have. Prior to the appointment, you may be asked to complete an Information form that provides basic information about you and summarizes your current financial situation.
Estate Planning is the process of preparing for the transfer of your wealth to family, friends, charities, etc. after your death. Preparing to care for your loved ones after you are gone, or ensure the details of your assets are handled how you want involves preparation. It can also help to minimize the taxes paid on the transfer of assets upon death.
Estates are also set up to provide specific instructions on how one’s wealth is used to care for that person into old age when they might lose the ability to care for themselves. It is an excellent idea to begin estate planning early.
To help you organize your paperwork and know more timelines, there are different types of tax receipts and slips to prepare. To see a thorough list of these deadlines and documents, you can visit this helpful guide from our partners at Manulife Securities, by clicking here. ↗
Trust services are administered by a trust company. Trust companies offer services similar to banks along with the administration of trusts and estates. Trust companies may also act as trustee for a range of registered and tax-deferred savings products and plans.
A trust company can assist you with estate planning to minimize taxes and transfer your wealth, managing the administration of your trust or distributing your estate upon your death, among other things. Your advisor can provide you with the support and guidance you need to understand how a trust company could assist you.
Glossary of terms
What are annuities?
An annuity is a contract that pays a set monthly income for a set period of time. With annuities, you make a lump sum investment to an insurance company and create a stream of income for yourself in the form of monthly payments.
How do annuities work?
When you purchase an annuity you purchase a guaranteed income that allows you to:
- Receive a monthly stream of income following the purchase of the annuity, defer it for a set period of time or save it for your retirement
- Select the period of time you wish to receive the income for: a set period of time or for your lifetime
- Choose fixed or variable monthly payments, depending on your risk tolerance
The amount you receive monthly depends on how much you purchase and the interest rates. Your advisor can explain how interest rates affect your monthly payment and the different ways annuities are structured.
What are bonds?
A bond is an interest-paying investment. Companies and governments issue bonds to fund operations, innovate and grow.
How do bonds work?
When you purchase a bond you become a lender - loaning money to a corporation or government entity, that promises to pay you interest for a certain period of time. The frequency and amount of interest you are paid depends on the terms of the bond:
- Long-term bonds usually pay higher interest
- Interest payments are typically paid semi-annually, annually, quarterly or monthly
Your advisor can help you learn about the different types of bonds available and how they work
What is a GIC?
A GIC is an investment issued by a financial institution such as a bank or credit union. When you purchase a GIC, you are lending the financial institution money for a pre-determined period of time, and the financial institution is promising to pay you back that money plus interest at the end of the period. Financial institutions usually offer many different types of GICs, including GICs that pay a floating rate of interest, GICs that pay interest monthly, quarterly or annually (instead of at the end of the period), and even GICs that pay interest that is tied to the performance of a stock market index. In addition, while an investment in most GICs is locked in for the length of the investment period, some GICs are redeemable before maturity.
How do GICs work?
A GIC allows you to earn interest on your money for a pre-determined period of time – ranging from six months to 10 years. However, if a GIC is issued in Canadian dollars and has a term of 5 years or less it may be eligible for deposit insurance from the Canadian Deposit Insurance Corporation.
What is a high-interest savings account?
A high-interest savings account is a safe, accessible, short- or long-term vehicle where your money typically earns a higher rate of interest when compared to the interest rates offered in a traditional savings account.
How does a high-interest savings account work?
Having a high-interest savings account allows you to:
- Start saving with a minimum deposit: Depending on the bank, often $500 will allow you to open an account
- Earn interest monthly: Typically at a higher rate of interest than a traditional daily interest account offers – interest compounds daily and is credited to your account monthly
- Access your money at any time, conveniently through online banking services
- Consolidate your money with other investment purchases: Your money is ready to be invested when you are
A high-interest savings account can be held in a variety of investment vehicles including:
- High-interest chequing accounts
- Tax-free savings accounts (TFSA)
- RRSP accounts
- Investment savings accounts
- Business accounts
What is life insurance?
Life insurance is a policy between you and an insurer that allows you to protect your assets, survivors and dependents from the financial burden of your death.
How does life insurance work?
If you have a life insurance policy, upon your death, your beneficiaries will receive a guaranteed payment of the value of your policy - to help them cover your funeral costs, manage debts and assist with supplementing your loss of income. The type of benefit your beneficiaries receive depends on:
- Coverage - The amount of life insurance you purchase is the amount that your beneficiaries will receive, upon your death. Life insurance benefit payments are tax-free.
To help you determine how much coverage you need you should consider:
- Financial needs - Your standard of living, your assets and liabilities, and how much money will be required to ensure your beneficiaries live a comfortable life when you are gone.
- Premiums - A premium is the amount you pay, usually on a monthly basis, for your life insurance coverage. Your premium is determined by the value of the policy and the duration of coverage, e.g., one, five, ten, 20 years or life.
- Type - There are two main categories of life insurance: term insurance and permanent insurance (including whole life and universal life).
What are mutual funds?
Mutual funds are pools of money contributed by investors with similar investment goals and managed by investment professionals. Mutual funds invest in different securities depending on the investment objective of the fund. For instance, some mutual funds invest in bonds and some invest in stocks, while others invest in both bonds and stocks.
The period (or term) of the coverage can be either a fixed number of years or to a set age (e.g. age 65).
How do mutual funds work?
Mutual fund investing offers four main advantages over individual investing:
- Professional full-time investment management, to choose and monitor securities
- Diversification to reduce the risk of “putting all your eggs in one basket”
- Liquidity that allows you to buy and sell mutual funds at any time
Convenience due to the mutual fund manager keeping all records and providing regular reports on your investments and the appropriate tax forms
What is a Registered Retirement Savings Plan?
An RRSP is a retirement plan that is registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and that you or your spouse make contributions to. Because deductible contributions can be used to reduce your tax and because income or growth earned in the plan is usually exempt from tax while the funds remain in the plan, an RRSP acts like a tax shelter that provides you with a powerful incentive to save money for your retirement years.
How does a Registered Retirement Savings Plan work?
An RRSP is generally available to you if you have qualifying income. Once you contribute funds into an RRSP, any growth or income earned on the underlying investment will not be taxed until you withdraw that money. In addition, you can claim deductions for contributions you make to your RRSP.
You can contribute to an RRSP at any time. However, for contributions to be tax-deductible for any given year, they must be made on or before the 60th day of the next calendar year. This date typically falls on or about March 1.
Annual contributions to an RRSP are generally limited to your annual contribution limit. Unused deduction room from previous years can be carried forward. You can find your unused RRSP deduction room on your Notice of Assessment from the prior calendar year.
What is a Registered Retirement Income Fund?
A RRIF is a retirement income plan that is registered with the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and that receives cash and qualified investments from a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP). Income and growth on investments in a RRIF are tax free. However, a prescribed minimum amount must be withdrawn from a RRIF each year and all amounts withdrawn are taxable as income in the year of withdrawal.
How does a RRIF work?
You can continue to own and maintain the tax shelter on investments in an RRSP after the RRSP matures by transferring those assets to a RRIF. This must happen no later than the end of the year in which you turn 71.
A minimum amount prescribed by the government must be withdrawn from a RRIF each year. As you age, the minimum amount increases as a percentage of the value of the RRIF.
While there is a minimum withdrawal amount, there is no limit to the amount of the withdrawal up to the value of the RRIF. Withholding tax will be held back on certain withdrawals, but do count as tax payable in the year of withdrawal.
What are segregated funds?
A pool of investments held by the life insurance company and managed separately (i.e. segregated) from its other investments. If you buy a variable insurance contract, sometimes called a segregated fund policy, the value of your policy varies according to the market value of the assets in the segregated funds.
How do segregated funds work?
Unlike mutual funds, segregated funds are structured as an insurance product. Investing in segregated funds provides many insurance backed benefits such as:
- Maturity guarantee—upon maturity, 75% to 100% of your investment is guaranteed back to you.
- Guaranteed death benefit—your beneficiary is paid a guaranteed amount of money upon your death, even if the value of the asset, at the time of your death, is less than the guaranteed amount.
- Creditor protection—your investment may be protected from creditors.
What are stocks?
Stocks represent a share or partial ownership in a company. A company sells its stock, typically through the stock market, to help grow and improve its business operations.
How do stocks work?
When you purchase a company’s stock, you buy a share in the company and gain partial ownership of that company. As a shareholder you have a right to:
- Receive cash payments for any dividends the company pays on your stocks.
- Receive a portion of the proceeds if the company is bought by another company.
Your advisor can help you understand both the growth potential and risks associated with stocks.
What is a TFSA?
A Tax-Free Savings Account is a flexible, general-purpose savings vehicle that allows you to make contributions each year and to withdraw funds at any time in the future.
How does a TFSA work?
A TFSA provides you with a powerful incentive to save by allowing the investment growth to accumulate and be withdrawn tax free. However, unlike an RRSP, you cannot claim a tax deduction for contributions you make to a TFSA.
Starting in 2009, all Canadian residents who are 18 years of age or older can contribute a legislated dollar maximum per year a TFSA. If you do not contribute or do not contribute the full amount, the unused amount will carry forward indefinitely.
Also, if you withdraw money from your TFSA, the amount withdrawn will be added to your contribution room in the next calendar year.
What is term life insurance?
Whether you are looking to protect your family or your business, Term life insurance offers affordable and flexible protection you can customize to meet your temporary and growing needs.
The period (or term) of the coverage can be either a fixed number of years or to a set age (e.g. age 65).
How does term life insurance work?
Term life insurance generally offers:
- Short-term coverage for a fixed period of time, often one, five, ten or 20 years, or to age 60 or 65
- Structured premium options, based on the type of term life policy and the term
- Lower premiums than permanent life insurance policies, partly because term policies do not offer cash value or other forfeiting values
If you have a term life policy, and die during the term of your policy, your beneficiaries receive a:
- Death benefit - The proceeds of your coverage, in a lump sum payment, which are tax-free
What is universal life insurance?
Universal life insurance combines permanent life protection with tax-advantaged investment opportunities to help you increase your long term wealth. Suitable for personal or business needs, universal life insurance can help you:
- Leave proceeds to your beneficiary - tax-free
- Further your retirement and estate planning
- Build tax-deferred equity and accessible cash value over time (may be subject to taxation)
- Establish collateral for a bank loan
- Provide key person coverage for your business (business continuity)
- Insure multiple lives when you purchase the policy, or later (Term Insurance rider)
With a selection of product styles and optional coverage features (called riders), universal life is highly customizable to fit into your financial plan.
How does universal life insurance work?
Universal life insurance offers:
- Flexible terms and premiums that can be changed at any time
- Death benefit: varies depending on the premium paid
- Cash value: premiums contribute to the cash value of the policy, which can be accessed if needed
If you have a universal life insurance policy, upon your death your beneficiaries will receive the proceeds of your coverage, in a lump sum payment, tax-free.
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What is an ETF?
If you’ve overheard any conversations about investments or seen finance programs on television, you’ve likely heard the term "ETF".