That’s a Wrap!cutboard
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | December 29, 2015

Wow, it has been a tumultuous year in the markets! What happened to the predicted slow growth in an adverse environment? Since January 1, 2015, the oversupply in oil has forced the price per barrel down to a $37.71 USD/bbl low, and the Canadian dollar has lost over 20%. These factors, combined with a change in federal government, are dramatic changes to Canada’s economic climate.

We’ve put together a highlight reel of some story lines and reoccurring themes from the year:

Be in the know – In volatile markets, you want to know what you own so you can feel confident in holding the position during difficult times. Make sure you know what you own, why you own it and how much it costs to do so!

Interest rates are at a historical low – This means that while returns on GICs and bonds are low, investors must accept the lower returns in order to keep their money safe in the short term. We do our best to select the best rates for returns, but the fact remains that the cost of borrowing money is still quite low.

Invest in what you use – It’s hard to argue with buying stock in Alphabet (Google), consumer staples and mobile phone companies. These companies are on everyone’s radar and in everyone’s hands, every single day of the year.

The market is not logical – Stock markets are driven by emotion, not logic. Greed is often the biggest driver of making unintelligent investment decisions. Stop the madness, buy good quality companies and forget about the big gambles (see next point).

What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas – You work hard for your money, so don’t waste it on the big bet that you heard about at the office water cooler. Invest your money like you would invest your time: wisely (that’s why you have professional help!).

Going forward, what is our investment strategy for 2016? No, under the mattress is not the safest place for your money. While we are not sure how next year will unfold for the markets, we do know that now is the best time of year to evaluate what you are doing with your money and establish some guidelines, if you don’t already have them, for your investment accounts.

For 2016, we can expect many opportunities for quality investments! Thank you for having the confidence and trust in our team. We look forward to the coming year and sharing successes. Best wishes to you and your family for a wonderful new year.

Holiday Card

Presents from Our New Federal Government: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly santa
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | December 8, 2015

On December 7, 2015, the federal government announced personal tax rate changes. We anticipate these changes will take effect January 1, 2016, when they are incorporated into a bill in Parliament.

The Good: What You Really Wanted

  • Is your income between $45,286 and $90,563? Your federal marginal tax rate on income between $45,286 and $90,563 will be reduced to 20.5% (from 22%).

The Bad: What You Can Expect

  • Is your income over $200,000? You can expect an increase of 4% in your federal tax rate to 33% (from 29%) on the portion of your income above the threshold.
  • Tax-Free Savings Accounts – the contribution limit has been reduced back to $5,500 per year (from $10,000 per year in 2015). This change will begin in 2016.

tax table

If no contributions have been made to date and you are 24 or older in 2015, you can contribute a total of $41,000 before the end of 2015.1 Remember, you can carry forward unused contribution room indefinitely.

The Ugly (No, it won’t be a tacky sweater.)

As a result of the increase in the top federal tax rate to 33%, consequential changes were made to the tax rate for inter-vivos trusts, as well as the refundable tax on Canadian controlled private corporations’ investment income, among other things.

For more information, read KPMG’s TaxNewsFlash on “Personal Tax Rate Changes Confirmed for 2016.”

1 The accumulation of contribution room for a TFSA will start at age 18.  However, the age of majority is 19 for residents of British Columbia which may delay the opening of a TFSA.

Give Without Spoiling
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | December 3, 2015


The Christmas shopping season is now upon us, and many of us are wondering what to buy for the special people in our lives. People I meet often ask me how they can ignite the spark within their children to start investing early. Earlier this week, a unique idea came across my desk, to give your children the gift of money sense. Although there are many ways to accomplish this, I have listed a few of the ideas below for your perusal.

Give memories, not stuff – Give your children an amazing photo of you and them together in a special frame. Remind them of the great time you had when you were together.  Another idea is to send them an invitation for a future date with you. Consider time away from friends and family where you get to spend quality time together one-on-one.

Give patience – I like to give gift cards and/or money to the kids in my circle. However, the money comes with rules. The items they purchase must be on sale or bought with a coupon. NEVER buy anything full price! If the gift is cash, remind them that spending all of it may not be the only option. Deciding in advance on a portion to be saved for a rainy day is also a good idea.

Give generously – Remind your children that there are people out there who are in need of a special hand up. Encourage younger children to visit the toy store with you and pick a gift to wrap up for a toy drive donation. Our children get funds for which they can choose which charity the funds will go to. It is important for them to understand that where to give the money is just as important as the funds themselves. When they become part of the decision-making process, the life-long learning process becomes fortified by their experiences.

If you have a great idea to share with regard to giving without spoiling, send me an email and we can pass it along.

Happy Shopping,

by Shelly Appleton-Benko | November 23, 2015

visaWith the holidays soon approaching, the malls are already bustling and e-commerce websites are getting their own workout.  Every time the VISA card is used, an average toll of seven cents is earned by the company, in addition to a small percentage of the transaction size.

The company is one of the world’s most valuable brands and is in the process of acquiring Visa Europe. This expansion will increase the company’s growing toll-like revenue stream on global consumer spending. The business model screams efficiency with high profit margins and limited capital intensity.  Its rapid growth and fair valuation make it a great company. This makes us excited to own the largest electronic payment network in the world, VISA, within our highly-regarded Odlum Brown Model Portfolio.

If you are interested in learning more about how we can help customize your investment portfolio, feel free to contact me today.


What a WE-ek!
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | October 28, 2015

wedayAh-mazing pretty much sums up my past week of adventures. Imagine a day of inspiring talks by heroes, artists and celebrities together with 20,000 young leaders who have made a difference in their communities.

The stories shared by the young people who embody the ME to WE philosophy were truly moving and their energy was unstoppable!  For the second year, we had the opportunity to contribute to a cause dear to our family’s heart, 2015 WE Day, as a Patron Family.  We also participated in a new event this year where we spoke at Getting to WE – an initiative to mobilize families as change-makers. 

For more inspiration, I encourage you to learn more about We Day from their website.


Happy Thanksgiving!
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | October 9, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving

" Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings."

– William Arthur Ward

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’s 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.

What could change the outcome of the upcoming election?
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | October 8, 2015

voteWhat can possibly be different this time than the previous 41 elections in the history of Canadian politics?  Earlier this week, I heard Rick Mercer interviewed on CBC radio and he pointed out that the outcome of the election could be different than anyone expects – that is, if the youngest group of voters (age 18 -24) show up and place their ballot.  According to Elections Canada, in 2011 only 38.8% of eligible voters in this age group placed a ballot. 

The one group that all parties have basically ignored could be the deciding factor on who will run this country in two weeks.  That is an incredible statistic! Canadians in general seem to have lost their passion to vote, a democratic right for which hundreds of thousands have died and are still dying to obtain.  However, I am an optimist and believe that if reminded, all Canadians will respect this amazing country that we live in and do their patriotic duty to elect a responsible government.   

On October 19, make your vote count.  Politics plays a crucial role in the health of our economy and direction of our nation’s monetary policy. Who knows? It might even make the stock market go up; and if it doesn’t, at least we will be able to say that we played our part in history.


Change is in the Air
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | September 25, 2015
I love the change in seasons, especially when we can look forward to exciting things. It seemed as if the long hot summer was never going to end, but just as all the “experts” predicted, the wet weather has returned. The markets have also brought about a change.

August provided us with the correction that we were expecting, but not exactly grateful to experience. Oil prices have continued to spark volatility and the Canadian dollar has declined dramatically. What does this mean for your portfolio? Where are we heading in the next few months and how are we changing our strategy? Well instead of predicting the future, we will pay close attention to another major anticipated shift, as our federal election is just around the corner on October 19.

We haven’t had this close of a race in Canadian politics in several years! The outcome of this event could change our investment strategy as we are watching the overall health of the economy and interest rates closely. We have generated some cash in client portfolios to take advantage of quality securities that are beginning to look attractively-priced. The election will not change our conviction to invest in good quality companies for the long term, but it may create opportunities for new investments in the coming months. These are exciting times for sure.


Next Chapter: Retirement
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | September 15, 2015
We are always happy to celebrate alongside our clients as they reach life’s milestones – be it a marriage, birth announcement, special birthday or the purchase of their first home. But when one of our clients retires, it is extra special because so much of what we do is to prepare them for that big day – and of course, funding those retirement years ahead. We have had clients who retired early because they reached “their number” or “their age,” and those who are just ready.

Recently, after years of investing and planning, one of our clients sold their family business; the final piece to starting a new chapter in their retirement. It’s gratifying to know that we have been part of their financial journey thus far, and we look forward to the many years ahead.

Our congratulations go out to them and to ALL of our retirees! 

Meet Our Team’s Newest Talent: Riley!
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | September 2, 2015

RileyWe are proud to announce and welcome the newest member of our team, Riley Newport.  Riley will be working closely with Lisa Flett, our resident expert on account documentation and administration.

Riley has a keen interest in the investment industry and a proven team player attitude. Riley brings several years of administrative and organizational experience from his roles at His eye for detail and commitment to providing elite client care will be an excellent fit with our team.

Riley is a Dean’s Honors graduate from the University of California, Davis, attending on an Athletic Scholarship for Soccer.  He received his Bachelor of Arts in Communication and History.

Riley can be reached directly at 604-844-5491 and

Please join us in offering a warm welcome to Riley.

Career Uncertain

Keeping Up With Kiley: Job Insecurity
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | August 18, 2015

The company Kiley works for is facing mounting economic pressure and an internal rumor that a possible restructuring is pending.  While Kiley is a great employee, there is a chance that she could be laid off.  Always spending what she earns, Kiley is starting to worry about her future and how she will be able to cover her expenses.

Having seen many of these situations over the years, we recommend that Kiley spend some time reviewing her finances to assess her current situation. By establishing a present state of affairs and how long she could sustain her current lifestyle should she be off work, she will get a better idea of where she is at now. Establishing an emergency fund, perhaps in a Tax-Free Savings Account and reviewing her budget immediately is prudent. We also like to remind clients that carrying debt while saving money in a Tax-Free Savings Account is not always the best solution. Identifying where interest is being paid and reducing these amounts will ultimately bring a client’s net worth up over time, as they will have more funds to allocate for investing if costly interest payments and/or debt are eliminated.

Currently, the reality is that some people are losing their jobs, and of course, there are other issues to worry about in addition to paying the bills. There are pension transfer and insurance options upon employment change that need to be considered. Remember that they all come with expiry deadlines, so don’t delay in seeking professional advice on which option might be best for you, should your employment situation change.  

The Gift of a Lifetime
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | August 4, 2015

I was recently quoted in a special BCBusiness magazine feature, titled "The Gift of a Lifetime." The article discusses considerations for significant donations as part of your legacy planning. For many of my clients, it's ensuring that these gifts have a lasting impact for the many causes they support. Read More

Baby Bonus is Back!
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | July 23, 2015


Do you have children under 18? If so, you may have noticed a little extra money in your bank account or mailbox this week.  The expanded Universal Child Care Benefit (UCCB) payments were issued on July 20, 2015.

The Universal Child Care Benefit program issues taxable monthly payments to help families cover the cost of child care.  Last fall, the federal government announced increased payments for children under six and the addition of payments for children aged six through 17. Payments under the expanded UCCB program are $160 for each child under the age of six and $60 for each child aged six through 17.

The enhanced payments are retroactive to January 1, 2015, so the first one you receive could be a good-sized amount. For example, a family with one child over six years old could receive up to $420 – with two children, double that.

You may consider socking these funds away into your child’s Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) and, if applicable, taking advantage of the Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG).  The basic Canada Education Savings Grant will give you 20% on every dollar of the first $2,500 you save in your child’s RESP each year!

For additional information and eligibility requirements, visit the Canada Revenue Agency website here.  

Keeping up with Kiley: Are you covered?
Mortgage vs. Life Insurance
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | July 16, 2015


Buying a home can be exciting and stressful all at the same time.  While it’s not exactly their “forever” home, our fictional character Kiley and her husband did their homework* and decided on a small fixer-upper in their preferred neighborhood.  They know that they will be comfortable with their mortgage payments and just need to decide on mortgage insurance.

Often times, when you are approved for a mortgage, your lender will offer to sell you mortgage life insurance as well.  This type of insurance simply covers the outstanding balance if you die.

Before you purchase it, consider your options.  Is it better to have mortgage life insurance or individually-owned life insurance?  To determine the best type of coverage, it may be beneficial to look at your overall life insurance needs.  A licensed insurance agent (not me, but I can put you in touch with a great one!) can help you get the right amount of coverage for your overall unique needs. 

Here is a quick snapshot of some of the differences:  

Typical Term Life Insurance Most Mortgage Life Insurance
You choose the beneficiary. Yes No
When you die, the benefit goes directly to your beneficiary. Yes No
You choose the amount you want. Yes No
Rates don’t change if/when you refinance your mortgage. Yes No
Better rate for those who maintain their health and non-smokers. Yes No

Simply put, there are other options available that may offer better value, more flexibility and often at a lower cost!   So don’t feel pressured to buy mortgage insurance directly from your lender.  Do your homework and know your options.


*For additional pre-home buying consideration, view the slide deck: “So you want to be a Homeowner

Keeping up with Kiley:
Love and Money – Wedding season has arrived!
by Shelly Appleton-Benko | June 29, 2015

Kiley CoupleKiley has met her life partner and is ready for the next big step. More than where, when and what Kiley will wear, we are concerned that she has yet to be fully open about her finances with her new life partner. One piece of advice that all newly engaged couples should consider is to share all of your financial information before the big day.

Communication is the key to any successful relationship and getting serious means that you need to address the elephant in the room. Do a reality check on debt, cash flow, spending habits and more importantly, your wish list for your financial future. The biggest source of tension for most couples is how they communicate about financial decisions. Typically, disagreements occur because of a difference in opinion with savers and spenders.

A great piece of advice is to allow a certain dollar amount for spenders to have free reign with each month and at the same time predetermine what the savings will be. A good rule of thumb is that larger purchases over a predetermined amount (e.g. $100) require a discussion prior to the purchase.

Often, the silent relationship killer is the debt that each partner brings to the marriage. Leaving the debt to be handled individually takes more time. It tends to be more efficient for the pay-down plan to be created and executed as a couple. Money arguments are common at any stage of a marriage but if you focus on the cause of the anxiety and set up a plan for future goals, the disputes should occur less often.

So, if you know someone starting out into wedded bliss, do them a favour and forward them a copy of this blog piece. It could be the most valuable present you give.

So You Want to be a Homeowner

by Shelly Appleton-Benko | June 8, 2015

“Buy land, they're not making it anymore.”
                                                      – Mark Twain

It seems like every day there is another newsfeed telling us about the hot real estate market in Vancouver and folks who are getting more than their asking price for their homes. For example, in the month of April in the Fraser Valley, the Multiple Listing Services recorded the lowest inventory of homes listed in eight years! However, the number of properties sold increased by 37%.

Perhaps one of your family members is beginning to think about home ownership. Do they know what they need to consider when purchasing real estate? Our latest segment of “Keeping up with Kiley” goes through some of the financial and market considerations before making the next big move.

Click here to find out more.

Gift of Advice for Graduates of 2015

by Shelly Appleton-Benko | May 28, 2015

Don’t you wish that your smartphone had an app that would magically make your financial decisions on your behalf?

The app would always top up your RRSP, maximize your tax-free savings account (TFSA), save 20% of your income and never pay interest on a credit card balance. Your investments would always be appropriately balanced and when you retire you would have what you need to live comfortably, with a little extra to do all that you love. You would have insurance coverage at a reasonable price and preferably, a down payment on your first home when you graduate from university.

If you could offer one piece of advice to your graduating family members and friends, it should be to obtain a financial advisor. Sit down and discuss what their goals are and set the boundaries now. It could make all the difference in their lives, no matter where they end up.

Oh the places you'll go!

by Shelly Appleton-Benko | May 26, 2015

SS"You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes,
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You’re on your own and you know what you know.
And you are the one who’ll decide where to go.

                                                               ~ Dr. Seuss

We have some team news to share with you. After careful consideration, our Investment Associate, Sahar Sharafzadeh, has decided to spread her wings and take on a new position in the mining industry as a pension & risk management analyst, starting June 1, 2015.

We are very proud of how much she has grown personally and professionally since joining our team full-time in 2011. Her contributions have been a great benefit to our team and to our clients. While we are excited to see her extend her career boundaries, she will undeniably will be missed. We wish Sahar the best of luck and the greatest of success in all her future endeavors.

We will be looking to fill her role over the coming months; but they are big shoes to fill and we need just the right fit! We will keep you apprised on any new contact information. In the meantime, please feel free to contact any of us directly with your inquiries.


by Shelly Appleton-Benko | May 7, 2015

A few companies we hold positions in recently announced stock splits. We thought it might be helpful to provide some background as to why stock splits happen.

Stock splits increase the number of outstanding shares of a company’s stock, in turn, lowering the market price of its stock, proportionately. More shares are issued to current shareholders.  

Let’s look at a very basic example. You own 100 shares of XYZ Inc. that is trading at $10 per share. XYZ reports a 2-for-1 stock split. For every share you own, you will now own two. The price of XYZ Inc. stock also splits in half, and will trade at $5 per share immediately after the split. In theory, the overall value of your holdings in XYZ Inc. does not change as the total value of your position remains $1,000.

Why do companies split their stock?

Primarily, stock splits occur when a company’s share price has risen to a level that is high, either in absolute terms or relative to other companies in the same industry.  Investor psychology plays a role and the company’s motive is to make their shares seem more affordable to small investors. Liquidity purposes within the market are also a factor.

A share split often sends a positive signal to the market that the company has confidence that the price will continue to grow in the future. This is often why a split may result in a lift in demand for the shares as well as the stock price. In theory, the split should have no effect on stock price, but given investor psychology, it can have a positive impact due to renewed investor interest.

Keeping up with Kiley

by Shelly Appleton-Benko | April 14, 2015

Wow! I have had a great response from those who viewed my video on RRSPs, titled “Contribute to Your RRSP - Pay Less Tax.”   

Given the enthusiastic response, I will continue to share examples from our fictional character Kiley’s financial journey in a new blog segment called, Keeping Up with Kiley.

Kylie's Financial Journey

Stay tuned for the next segment where Kiley is considering buying her first home. We will explore the impact and some of the challenges of this monumental event on her finances.

Do you own property in the U.S., or are you looking to buy?

Learn about key estate considerations and tax implications from a well-regarded tax and estate lawyer, and a U.S. tax advisor who specializes in U.S./Canada cross-border tax planning.

We are pleased to host an informative presentation with guest speakers:

  • Stephanie Daniels – Partner, Farris
  • Justin Remaklus – Senior Manager, VSH Certified Public Accountants

5 Steps to Total Financial Fitness

by Shelly Appleton-Benko | March 25, 2015

How are those New Year’s resolutions coming? Here are a few quick reminders for those whose resolution is to be financially fit in 2015.

Determine what shape are you really in
• Calculate your net worth statement, listing all of your assets and liabilities.
• Are you where you want to be right now?

Determine what motivates you

• Paying off the mortgage?
• Saving for your children’s education?
• Tax savings or estate planning?

Work on your Core Positions
• Does your current portfolio reflect your investment needs?
• Can you meet your financial planning goals with your current mix of investments?

Build up the Muscle and Trim the Fat
• Are you comfortable with the quality of the investments in your portfolio?
• Is it time to let go of the trendy stock tip that never quite worked out?

Change up the Routine
• Trying something new can sometimes bring a breath of fresh air and opportunity to a portfolio. Over the course of a significant bull market or market gains, re-alignment can provide a new opportunity to invest in positions with different potential.

There you have it, a few quick tips to keep you on track. If you need a little more nudging to get started, give us a call, we are here to help.


Contribute to Your RRSP – Pay Less Tax!

by Shelly Appleton-Benko | February 25, 2015

Send Cash Now

by Shelly Appleton-Benko | February 11, 2015

Recently, some of our clients had their personal emails compromised and impersonators tried to persuade us to send funds electronically.  As email is not a secure medium, we would never do that unless we spoke with our clients.  Nonetheless, this is a great reminder to keep us on our toes.

Be sure to change your passwords often, using a variety of characters and numbers that are unique and hard to guess. Never disclose account numbers or personal details over email to anyone.

securityOdlum Brown has a series of safeguards and checks in place to prevent unauthorized access and use to your accounts. Incredibly, we still receive “urgent” requests from hackers. While our due diligence may seem inconvenient at times, please remember that your personal information is far too important to put at risk.

Related Links: Protecting Your Online Identity

100. What a Milestone!

by Shelly Appleton-Benko | January 20, 2015

We help generations of clients – from investing for the newest little members of a family, saving for their education or investing for their first home, to building a retirement nest egg to fund their post-retirement needs – we are here to help along the way.

JeanWe would like to send out special birthday wishes and congratulations to our client, Jean, on being 100 years young this weekend. You are a true gem!

We are here to help with every step of your investment journey and continue to build relationships that will endure for generations. Let us know if your family can benefit from our wealth management services too.


Invitation to Odlum Brown's 21st Annual Address

by Shelly Appleton-Benko | January 15, 2015

We are pleased to invite you and your guests to the 21st Annual Address, Odlum Brown’s signature speaker series, which features presentations from:

Annual Address Speakers

Ms. Hewson will provide an overview of Odlum Brown’s successful approach to investing. Mr. Leith and his team will explain how to be a better investor, identify great companies and compound wealth in a slow-growth world.

Tuesday, February 24, 2 PM

Wednesday, February 25, 7 PM
Thursday, February 26, 2 PM
Monday, March 2, 2 PM
Tuesday, March 3, 7 PM - FULL
New afternoon session added:
3:30 PM

Wednesday, March 4, 2 PM
Thursday, March 5, 2 PM
Reserve seating early as space is limited.