Investment Insights Presentation
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | October 10, 2014
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | October 10, 2014
"As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words,
but to live by them.”
– John F. Kennedy
Thanksgiving is one of my favourite times of the year because there are no presents, no late night parties and no deadlines for getting it all done. It is a special time of gratitude to share the day with those who mean the most to you. From our family here at Odlum Brown to yours, we wish you the very best of the holiday weekend ahead.
Photo by Jean-Pol Grandmont.
Don't be Spooked
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | October 7, 2014
Be sure to check out “Don’t be Spooked by October,” a recent blog post from the Odlum Brown Research Department.
Did you know that one in three Canadians knows someone with Alzheimer’s?
Together with the Alzheimer Society of B.C., we invite you to attend an educational session on dementia. This session will cover topics such as:
- Recognizing the symptoms of dementia,
- Learning how dementia differs from normal aging,
- Identifying steps you might take to reduce the risk for developing this devastating disease,
- Reviewing the state of current research on finding the causes and cures, and
- Learning how Alzheimer Society of B.C. supports those with dementia and their caregivers.
Click here to register for this information session by October 3 or call Julianna at 604-844-5427 for more details.
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | September 2, 2014
Recently, I have come across many colleagues expressing their thanks for the amazing things in their lives. This made me ask whether I was paying enough attention to the incredible things around me. Sure there are lots of things for which we are grateful such as clean water, air, food and the beautiful outdoors. But what about the gifts of science or art and the human actions that inspire us each and every day?
I am grateful today for the opportunity to work with so many fascinating people and to experience the incredible wonder of the stock market these past few months.
In particular, I’d like to commend the great work of the Odlum Brown Research team, each of whom provides valuable insight on the markets. Kudos to the team for launching their own blog, Different Makes a Difference. Be sure to sign up to receive their updates. It will enrich, educate and entertain!
Happy end of the summer!
GPS – Are you where you want to be?
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | August 22, 2014
Ahh the good ol’ GPS. It’s pretty incredible how far maps have come from the 300-fold paper versions. Now, you simply plug in the address of where you want to go, abide by the directions and voilà – in 400 metres turn right, your destination is ahead.
Now, if only life were that simple! Remember the financial plan you started at the beginning of the year? Are your personal goals on track? Did the first eight months bring all that was expected for your income or is it time to “make a U-turn where possible?” Knowing what we want to do is the first step, planning our route is the next. Throughout your journey, it is essential to evaluate how you are doing.
Consider a family meeting to discuss household priorities, upcoming spending and the status of this year’s goals – both investments and expenditures. Discretionary spending is an area that can make a huge difference in your wealth creation and preservation – make sure that you have your spending in check.
If you would like some agenda topics for your family meeting, give me a call. Think of me as a GPS for your finances. I am happy to help you get to where you want to be.
All-in-the Family Cottage
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | August 6, 2014
The sun is shining and the warm summer breeze is upon us. The so-called lazy days of summer muster up memories of swimming at the lake, cherry-picking in the orchard and the good times shared with family and friends at the summer cottage.
For many, the idea of owning a family cottage includes passing it along to heirs so that future generations will have the opportunity to create such memories as well. But don’t let all of the nostalgia cloud the financial and family-dynamic implications of how you pass it on. Here are a few factors to consider:
- Should you pass your cottage on during your lifetime or upon death?
- What are the tax implications? For example, will you incur capital gains? Is it your primary residence? Will you gift it?
- Should it be held in-trust?
- Should all heirs receive an equal portion of the property, or only those who use it?
- Should those who are interested in the cottage have an opportunity to purchase it?
- If the property is shared, who is responsible for its upkeep and maintenance?
Keeping the family cottage, all-in-the family, takes thoughtful preparation and consideration. Without adequate planning, financial burdens and family disagreements could erode future cottage enjoyment. Be sure to consult with your team of professional advisors to create a plan that addresses your current and future objectives.
We work with a great network of professionals, so feel free to contact us if you require a referral to get the process started.
Until then, create some summer memories!
Strengthening Our Community
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | July 21, 2014
It’s always exciting when we work together to better our community. We take great pride in participating and supporting many great community organizations across the Lower Mainland. Here are a few of the recent events in which we have participated:
- Lion’s Bay Art & Garden Festival
- Me-to-We Jewelry Trunk Show with Spencer West
- Signal Hill Spring Tea
- Soup Sisters – Vancouver & Surrey
- BC Sports Hall of Fame – Tournament of Champions
- Cloverdale Spurs AAA Tier 2 Team
- PBP Business Fair
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | July 11, 2014
Sweet Spot (Def): a combination of factors resulting in a maximum response for a given amount of effort.
At a backyard BBQ on Canada Day, everyone was busy talking about how well their portfolios were performing. Most of us have been pleasantly surprised that returns keep climbing. Many of our clients have 50% of their portfolios invested in U.S. stocks. Yet, the average person at the BBQ would say that the U.S. economy is lousy and he or she didn’t understand why the market was doing so well. In actual fact, since March 2009, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up approximately 185%. The U.S. economy is expected to grow 3-5%, car sales are increasing, employment numbers are growing, the housing market has bounced and the leading indicator of the economy, the stock market, has been peaking for months. Interest rates appear to be constant for the moment and the U.S. national debt ratings have been upgraded. When will it end?
We are in a sweet spot. No one knows when the run will end, but many investors might be wondering when to lock-in profits. Depending on your situation, taking a profit on a strong return is a good idea when it allows you to re-diversify your portfolio into new and growth-worthy positions.
Regardless of what the other partygoers are saying, be sure you are working with wealth managers who are proactively monitoring the markets and making changes to your portfolio when needed. In the meantime, sit back and enjoy the sweet spots of the summer while they last.
School’s out. Accreditation achieved.
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | June 30, 2014
The topic of education seems to be on everyone’s mind these days! So, I thought I would share some personal, education-related news too. I have just completed my designation as a Chartered Financial Divorce Specialist.
While I have helped a number of individuals through the financial complexities of their divorce, I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of the issues at hand. Having completed an in-depth (not to mention intense!) program, I am now officially certified as a Chartered Financial Divorce Specialist. I work closely with lawyers and/or mediators to design settlement proposals that explore the many options people face during this difficult time. My role is to provide insight into pension planning, investment options and future financial projections. Working closely with accountants, we can approximate how tax solutions may alter post-divorce investments.
It’s simply one more way to help our clients through their financial journey.
Happy Father's Day!
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | June 15, 2014
Income Tax Submitted – Now What?
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | June 12, 2014
Every year after Canada Revenue Agency has received your income tax return, they send you a Notice of Assessment (NOA). The Notice of Assessment contains some important information including whether any changes have been made to your filing as well as your tax refund or amount owing. Now, before filing your NOA away for next year, there are a couple of details listed that will be helpful with your wealth planning for the year.
First, your RRSP deduction limited is listed. This limit represents the maximum that you can contribute to your RRSP less any unused RRSP contributions you may have accumulated. In addition, it also shows your TFSA contributions, withdrawals and unused contribution room (up to December 31 of the previous year). If you have participated in the Home Buyer’s Plan or Lifelong Learning Plan, you may also need to record the amount that needs to be repaid to your RRSP account. Respecting your limits is important as over-contributions can be complicated and cause Revenue Canada to penalize you!
Secondly, your NOA lists unused capital losses from previous years. This information will assist us in taking advantage of gains in your accounts without incurring further tax liability.
If you received a refund, let’s get those dollars working most effectively for you. This may mean paying down debt, perhaps your mortgage, or making a contribution to your RRSP or TFSA. Send us your NOA and we can get your game plan going!
Mama Gladys Post – Follow Up
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | May 29, 2014
Thank you for the fabulous response to the recent, “Mama Gladys” blog post – your support, comments and feedback were overwhelming. As mentioned in the post, we have arranged to have a jewelry trunk show showcasing some of the beautiful pieces made by the Mamas in the Mara.
We are also incredibly fortunate to have a special guest, Spencer West, a Me to We speaker, author, and Free the Children Ambassador attend the event as well. Spencer climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro on his hands and walked and wheeled from Edmonton to Calgary to raise funds for the Free the Children clean water projects. He is truly inspiring!
The event will take place in the early evening of Tuesday, June 10, 2014. If you are interested in joining us, please email me for complete details.
Risky Business? It doesn’t have to be.
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | May 13, 2014
Do you recall that famous Tom Cruise scene from “Risky Business”? When was the last time you celebrated a big win like that? The markets have been on quite a roll in the last few months and the valuations of the stocks are getting rich. Some clients are interested in taking profits and we are happy to do so, always.
However, now is the time to stay the course with your longer-term investment strategy. Don’t lose your pants chasing the latest trends and greatest stock tips as overconfidence in the market can sometimes lead to risky, or even bad, investment decisions. History has shown us that chasing trends can be as devastating to a stock portfolio as high risk investments don’t recover at the same speed as blue chips. When the inevitable stock market correction happens, and it will happen, you want to be invested in quality holdings.
Since we all work hard for our money, don’t take more risk than necessary. Stick with quality investments in your portfolio. That’s a big win you can celebrate.
Happy Mother's Day
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | May 9, 2014
“Let us be grateful to people who make us happy, they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.”
- Marcel Proust
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | April 17, 2014
Three weeks ago, my family and I embarked upon an incredible journey on a Me to We family trip. Me to We is a social enterprise and sister organization of Free the Children, which was started by Marc and Craig Kielburger. Our family flew halfway around the world to the Maasai Mara region of Kenya, to spend eight incredible days learning about a different culture and seeing how education has become a paramount value in the Maasai culture. During our visit, we were fortunate to meet Mama Gladys, who under a green acacia tree, taught us how to bead and showed us some of the items the Mamas craft. The Mamas sell the products to make money which they then use to send their children to school, purchase animals for the family and provide clean water to drink.
Mama Gladys is a leader in an alternative income group, affectionately known as a merry-go-round. This group of women meets once a week and each bring a few shillings to the meeting. They pool their funds until the group has enough funds to realize the goals of every individual Mama in the group. The money is recorded, saved and eventually loaned out to the members in order to fund future projects. The Mamas have learned record keeping, accounting and banking skills through a basic meeting that began with one group of 12 women. There are currently over 800 women participating in the merry-go-round programs within the community. Not only have they kept their daughters in school and encouraged them to move on to university, the Mamas have recently purchased land to develop a dairy farm for their community, which will provide milk and milk products to enrich their current diet. These women have accomplished this amazing feat in just five short years. You can read about the Mamas in the soon-to-be released May edition of Canadian Living magazine.
I wanted to share this story with you because I was in awe of how these resourceful women make their dreams a reality with a plan and the fortitude to carry it out. We have all heard the saying, “money makes the world go round,” but I truly believe that it is what you do with it that makes the real difference.
P.S. Inspired by the Mamas? If you are interested in coming to a trunk show featuring this amazing fair trade jewelry and products, please email me and I will send you an invite to our upcoming event. This is my little way of saying thanks to Mama Gladys and her merry-go-round for welcoming us into her home and showing us her beautiful hand-made jewelry.
Photo Credit: Free the Children
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | April 2, 2014
Nairobi, Kenya is 9,000 miles from Vancouver. In the Mara, there is no cell phone reception and only generator power from 6pm - 9pm, if you are really lucky. During my recent expedition to Africa, I left my Blackberry at home and what a feeling it was! At first, the withdrawal set in and I panicked when my phone wasn’t in my bag. Then I remembered that I had left it at home on purpose. Glory be! I didn’t have e-mail, texts or BBM notifications every minute, and I could relax and enjoy conversations with my family and fellow travelers. We actually listened to one another and shared experiences in real-time. Wonder how I felt to be out of touch for 10 whole days? Well, knowing that my clients were well looked-after back at the office – I can truly say – Wonderful!
Did you know that there are companies in the U.K. that actually promote areas without cell phone reception for the folks who really want to get away? Do we really need to be connected 24/7? Do we really need to know that the Kardashians’ Reality TV show was cancelled?
My lesson from Spring Break was this – put down the technology, listen with your full attention and really connect with the world we live in. Now if you will excuse me, I have around 912 more emails to answer before my day can continue.
How much do I need to retire comfortably?
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | March 10, 2014
When you think about saving for retirement, all too often, the elusive question comes up: How much money is enough to fund my retirement?
The answer starts with “It depends.” There are many factors that need to be considered. For example, people are living longer so the funds will need to last longer. More importantly, one person might be okay to live on $300,000 while someone else might feel as though $3 million dollars is not enough. It really depends on your retirement lifestyle choices. You need to ask yourself:
- What expenses do you expect to incur in the future?
- What does your retirement look like? Does it involve travel?
- How expensive are your hobbies?
- Do you plan on volunteering or funding philanthropic endeavours?
- Will you downsize your home? Will you move to a senior’s facility?
- Would you like to help your family and leave a legacy?
A comprehensive plan that is thoughtfully created will address your concerns in a logical and prudent way.
As investment advisors, our role is akin to that of a professional coach. I help my clients set up a “game plan” for their financial future, and finesse it for their needs such as tax efficiency, estate considerations, business succession and overall risk management. I also coach them through the real-time investment decisions that can lead them to victory in the long run.
If you feel that your retirement goals are eluding you, consider getting back to the drawing board with your advisor. It is never too late to get your head around your finances.
Because everyone’s concept of “enough” is different, having a plan is the most important tool to help you reach your retirement goals.
Up to My Eyeballs in Receipts!
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | March 3, 2014
In hopes of avoiding the last minute stress of tax time, consider getting started on gathering the required receipts for tax time. Whether you work with a professional accountant or do your own taxes, having these items ready will ease the tax pain.
Most common receipts to get ready:
- Last year’s Tax Return, Notice of Assessment, and any tax installments – great to have on hand for reference.
- All T Slips - T4 (employment income), T5, T3 (many of these are available online at odlumbrown.com in the Client Centre if you have selected electronic delivery of your tax documents.)
- Medical Expenses
- Charitable/Political Donations
- RRSP Contributions Slips (including any unused from previous years)
- Capital Loss Carry-forwards
- Any deductions for commission related expenses.
- Childcare Expenses
Other considerations that may need to be noted on your return could include: a change in your marital status, any dependent children you may have, or the death of a spouse.
Do you have investment property or run your own business? You will need to gather these materials in order to claim the tax deductions. Recently, I found a great little tool (only 1lb!) that scans in all of my receipts and the software identifies and extracts key information and organizes them into categories.
While you may be temporarily up to your eyeballs in receipts, being prepared for tax time should help reduce the last minute stress, save time, and maybe even reduce your overall tax preparation bill.
If you would like more information, give me a call!
Success Comes to Those Who Prepare for It
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | February 24, 2014
Coming off the exhilarating Olympics in Vancouver 2010, coupled with raising two competitively-spirited children, the 2014 Olympic fever was alive and well at our home.
The amount of practice, dedication and focus all of the athletes put in were incredible. What an inspiring example for our children (in fact all of us too)! It was the culmination of their everyday efforts that prepared them for the world stage.
So what lesson can we take away? What if we applied the same discipline to our investing habits? Consider consistent contributions to your RRSP, TFSA, or investment account. What will the culmination of your investing efforts look like in four years when the next Winter Olympics are in South Korea?
Remember – mistakes happen, success is made.
P.S. To push the easy button, set up a pre-authorized deposit to your account(s). Ask us how!
Made Just For You
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | February 11, 2014
Sometimes, our team needs an extra cup of java to keep us alert and going. One of us will head over to the local Tim’s with orders for a medium coffee with one cream and one sugar; one plain medium coffee; one medium coffee – half French Vanilla, half coffee; and we can’t forget the large steeped tea. Then, off to Starbucks for a grande dark; a tall Americano misto; and a tall, extra hot, mocha with whip. Phew! The coffees are carefully balanced on two trays to traverse through doors and elevators to get them safely back to their delighted consumers.
Of the seven beverages, no two were alike. I couldn’t help but notice the parallel between our coffee orders and our approach in creating investment portfolios that cater to our clients. It’s all about taking the time to learn about your personal needs and objectives and then creating a plan made just for you.
Let’s get started, perhaps over a cup of coffee.
Wolf on Howe Street?
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | February 4, 2014
I felt compelled to comment after receiving a funny email from a client telling me that they had recently seen the movie, The Wolf of Wall Street, and thought our jobs were extremely interesting.
For starters, the movie doesn’t emulate real life here at Odlum Brown. We don’t party like rock stars or steal everyone’s hard earned money – as the movie suggests. Admittedly, there have been some unscrupulous industry scandals in the news (think Bernie Madoff and pals); fortunately at Odlum Brown, our approach is about putting your money in good quality investments and working with you to accomplish your financial goals.
While so-called “dull” and “boring” investments do not produce returns that “hit it out of the park” every time, we have a long-term focus and look for investments that produce steady gains and income that keep your best interests in mind. We are actively managing portfolios, but unlike the Wolf, we are patient investors who believe that slow and steady wins the race. As the saying goes, “early to bed and early to rise, makes [us] healthy, wealthy and wise.” That’s how I would define “living the dream.”
Gung Hay Fat Choy – the Year of the Horse
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | January 28, 2014
The Chinese New Year of 2014 brings in the Year of the Horse. Like a workhorse, let’s hope that the markets too are energetic, bright, intelligent and able to bring us good fortune in the coming year. Similar to the markets, the horse can be stubborn, impatient, hot-blooded and independent. I am hopeful that the economics of the market prove to overcome the lingering obstacles of oil prices, inflation, interest rates and Canadian dollar weakness. Although weakness in the Canadian dollar isn’t great for our cross-border shopping habits, it is beneficial to Canada’s manufacturing sector and overall economic health.
May you and your family have great health and good fortune in the coming year.
Team Roster Announced
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | January 13, 2014
The Olympic spirit is catching on here at Odlum Brown! Today, I am happy to announce that alongside the Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team, we have our own announcement to make (… and no, we are not adding any more children to the group at this time). We have recently added a new Investment Advisor, Caroline Fuchs, to our star-studded team. Prior to joining Odlum Brown, Caroline worked in the technology sector for 10 years before transitioning her career over to the financial services sector. Growing up and residing in the South Surrey area, she will be focused on expanding our business in this fast growing community. Caroline is active in the community with her two boys who play football, baseball and hockey. She is Vice-Chair of the Parish Education Committee for Precious Blood Parish and is a Society Delegate for Catholic Independent Schools of the Vancouver Archdiocese representing Cloverdale Catholic School. We are excited to welcome a new team member who will be building her business alongside Tannis, Mary and me.
The veteran team members Tannis Pratt and Mary MacDonald continue to build their wealth management business and bring forth years of education, skills and expertise to assist our clients every day. We are fortunate have the most amazing support from Julianna Zumpano, Sahar Sharafzadeh and Lisa Flett, who bring their adept skills to our office each and every day. Their hard work and dedication are what make us a great team with excellent support services for our clients.
Odlum Brown Limited is a full-service investment firm providing disciplined investment advice and objective research with a singular focus on our clients. Our principal advantage is our independence. We don’t act as underwriters and we don’t trade for our own account. At Odlum Brown, we are committed to providing value-based recommendations on a wide-range of investment products, all with the goal of creating investment portfolios that are tailored to each individual’s needs.
So if your New Year’s resolution includes reviewing your finances, give us a call and we can get you started with our winning team.
The ABC's of 2013
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | January 6, 2014
What a remarkable year it has been! Reflecting back on 2013, here were some noteworthy events:
A is for Apple Inc., a company that continued to be rich with cash and innovative with new and inspiring products. Through acquisitions, it also widened its technology moat.
Birthdays: Odlum Brown Limited celebrated its 90th Birthday in 2013.
China’s economy showed signs of slowing growth.
DOW Jones Industrial Average index hit a record level of 16,576 in December – the bull gained speed.
Eurozone not only survived, but obtained a new member, Latvia, which joined on January 1, 2014, to become the 18th member of the Eurozone.
Flooding in Alberta caused catastrophic disaster, the worst in the province’s history.
Green power became a real option as Walmart stores installed solar energy panels in 38 U.S. states.
Housing starts in the U.S. showed renewed optimism, as October and November 2013 marked the two strongest months for sales since 2008.
IPO – Twitter tweeted its own IPO announcement on September 12, 2013. Our world changes as we speak, so are we in the midst of a Social Media Revolution?
Justin Trudeau was voted leader of the Liberal Party of Canada.
Kiewit Corporation finished the Port Mann/Highway 1 improvement project – the Port Mann Bridge is now the world’s widest. Commute is reduced!
Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead – a book was published by Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg, as women everywhere made impressive economic and political gains.
Mandela. Who could not mention the passing of one of the most important visionaries of our time?
New pipeline deals still to come. This will perhaps make the list again in 2014.
Obamacare was launched – health care for everyone!
Peace in Washington, a truce between the Democrats and the Republicans was reached.
Quebec train derailment caused devastation in the town of Lac-Mégantic.
Racing upwards, the S&P 500 Index posted its biggest gain in two months, ending the year off at a gain of 32.38%.
Selfie! A new word added to the Oxford Dictionary that describes photos of yourself, taken by yourself, likely on your phone.
Taper talk, Ben Bernanke’s Federal Reserve announced that they will not cut back on bond purchases in 2013, and would keep trying to get the economy back to full speed.
Underperformer. The natural gas market continued to underperform. (They won’t really give it to us for free, will they?)
Vatican’s new leader, Pope Francis, dressed down and distributed food and clothing to the poor and suffering in the streets of Rome.
Washington. Despite the tea parties and shenanigans, the stock market did not care!
Xchange rate – The U.S. dollar exchange rate started to pinch a bit at the end of December at $0.9406 USD/CAD. Adding 6% to all cross-border purchases may curb our shopping practices but Canadian manufacturers are jumping up and down with anticipation, as this can only help them going forward.
Y – Why did it take Toronto so long to stop the run-away train wreck of Mayor Ford?
Zzz. We wish a happy and healthy 2014 to all!