Canadians, like many nationalities, have a home bias when it comes to investing. The majority, if not all of their investments, such as RRSPs, real estate, mutual funds and businesses, are in Canada and are tied to its future economic growth.
These Canadian investments could see reduced returns in the future, however, due to a growing shift in the balance of economic power towards China and the East and away from the U.S. and Western countries.
Sometimes during social events or other gatherings a person will approach someone in the financial services business with an opening question: “I hear you do investments. What kind of returns can I expect?” .
Quantitative Easing, otherwise referred to in the media as 'QE', refers to governments printing money out of thin air in order to stimulate economic growth. The US ended their program of QE in late 2014. The impression this left with many people was that the need for economic stimulus ended.
This also goes hand in hand with the media theme that U.S. consumers have been deleveraging by paying down household debt such as mortgages, credit cards, car loans etc. since the 2008 credit crises. The reality is much different than what is being portrayed in the mainstream media.
Human nature includes the desire to predict and or anticipate both the immediate and longer term future. The reason for doing so is often to eliminate or reduce the fear or anxiety about the unknown. Human beings detest uncertainty and will do almost anything to reduce this uncertainty.
In ancient times people made special offers to local gods. In modern times, people watch news broadcasts and try to interpret how current events will impact their investments.
During a recent client call, the topics discussed included how the media influence people's investment behaviors. This client woke up one day with an 'epiphany' thinking that a market correction was just around the corner. They did admit after a discussion that they had been reading something to that effect in the newspapers during the weekend.
One Saturday, famed investment manager Peter Lynch was working at the office when he decided to answer the phone. The caller was a holder of his mutual fund who was calling to cash in the investment. Peter explained how he was excited about the growth prospects for the economy and his fund and asked him why. As Peter tells the story the caller said: 'Because I am breaking even!'
There are many definitions and meanings for the term 'wealth'. It is often said that it is easier to build wealth over time than it is to keep it! Some confuse high incomes with wealth while others point to assets owned as an indicator of wealth. And, many people use the terms 'assets' and 'wealth' interchangeably assuming they mean the same thing.
The distinction between these two concepts may have an impact on your actions and strategies as you work to build your pot of money or savings during your lifetime.
While we can talk about concepts such as inflation and purchasing power the struggle for many people today is earning enough income on their savings to meet their lifestyle needs. Interest rates and the earnings from capital through dividends, bonds and real estate rental income have dropped dramatically in the past few years.
The Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) was introduced in 2009 as a new way for Canadians to build assets and wealth on a tax-advantaged basis. Any capital gains, dividends or interest income are tax-free upon redemption from the account. The initial contribution amount was $5,000 with annual increases of $5,000. This has been increased to $5,500 in 2013 to offset inflation. This brings the maximum contribution amount for a new subscriber, in 2013, to $25,500.