Here are six expert tips: By Louis Sapi
1. How much investment risk can you afford?
People in their 20s and 30s have time on their side. They can take on more risk with investments, with the possibility of higher returns. Plus, they’ve got years to rebuild during market corrections.
2. Write down you investment plan and set goals.
“Many people don’t know what their target rate of return is. They have not sat down and figured it out. They have no plan,” says Warren MacKenzie, a certified financial planner, chartered accountant and CEO of Weigh House Investor Services, a company that provides fee-based independent reviews of investment portfolios.
3. Know what percentage annual return your portfolio will need to make to achieve your investment plan.
Your first benchmark is called your absolute return. That’s the average rate of return you’ll need to make your financial goals.
You’ll need to figure out what you’re likely to be spending per year when you retire. And if you have a pension, you’ll be significantly better off than if you’ll be relying on just RRSPs.
Say, for example, after you do the math, you learn that you need an annual return of 7 per cent until you stop working, to live comfortably in retirement.
You then build your nest egg using investment vehicles — stocks, bonds, mutual funds and more — to give you that 7 per cent return.
4. Know how much fees are really costing you.
The second benchmark is one comparing returns you might get elsewhere. How well you are actually doing, compared to how well you could be doing if you bought something else?
If you buy exchange-traded funds or ETFs, are you paying lower fees than the management expense ratios or MERs you pay on mutual funds, or the commissions you’d pay on stocks.
In other words, how much money are you leaving on the table?
5. Learn about investment products.
Read the business sections of newspapers, visit personal-finance and investment websites, watch business TV channels and programs, and pick up some business magazines.
Also, all the big banks have robust websites that offer lots of great information, for free.
6. Get some professional advice.
There are various ways of paying for advice, many linked to the purchase of investments, but sometimes in the form of fees.
Other full-service stock brokers and capital management firms offer a wide range of advice on products, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs, and they are paid by fees and commissions that vary by product.
“The whole adult family should be aware of investment plans for retirement,” says Louis Sapi, a chartered accountant and managing partner of H&S Partners, an independent accounting firm in Mississauga. “It’s typical of many men of the older generation to control investments themselves, and they are reluctant to involve the rest of the family. It’s important that the spouse, along with the adult children, be aware of the investment plan.”