What is a Locked-in Retirement Account (LIRA)?



LIRAs are registered accounts that are funded with assets from a pension plan. These types of accounts are very similar to the RRSP but with some significant restrictions.

Recently I was quoted in an article written by Jon Chevreau for the National Post. about LIRAs. As I am finding that more and more of my clients are holding LIRAs, I thought this would be a good opportunity to explain what they are and how they work.

Before I get into the details of the account itself, I think it would be useful to gain some understanding of why these accounts are becoming so prevalent in today’s workforce. The world of pensions and employees has changed significantly in the past 10 years or so. It used to be that there were many more employers in the private sector that offered their employees defined benefit (DB) pension plans. These days, to find a private sector employer with a DB pension plan is increasingly rare. If a company does offer a pension today, it is more likely to be a defined contribution (DC) pension plan.

In addition to there being less DB pension plans, employees are less likely to remain at their current employer their entire careers than they were in the past. If these employees leave and have a pension, the balance of the DC pension plan or as an option, the commuted value of the DB pension plan, will be transferred out to a LIRA.

Finally, those who did decide to commute (or take the cash value) of their DB pension mention reasons for their decision like wanting control over the investment strategy and having more flexibility over the withdrawals in retirement versus the traditional pension payout. This is due to changing attitudes about investing and personal finance.

What is a LIRA and how does it work?

As I mentioned above it works almost exactly like an RRSP but with additional restrictions. The first of these is you cannot access the funds in the account except under very specific circumstances I will discuss below. As these funds are from a pension plan, the government wants to ensure that they are used for retirement. Contributions are also restricted, as the LIRA can only be funded with pension assets.

Once you have made the decision to transfer your assets out of the pension plan, you would open a LIRA at your financial institution and transfer the assets there using form T2151. If you already have an existing LIRA you can combine them if they are under the same pension jurisdiction. After the transfer is complete, you can invest these assets in the same manner that you would invest your RRSP assets.

How can I get the money out of a LIRA?

Even when you reach the point where you are ready to retire and draw on your LIRA, your ability to draw on these assets are still limited. First they can be converted into an annuity, where a future stream of payments are made based on the value of the LIRA and other factors such as estimated mortality.

If you choose not to go the route of the annuity, then your LIRA will be transferred into a Life Income Fund (LIF) no later than the year in which you turn 71, much like the RRSP becomes a RRIF. As with the RRIF, each year you will be required to take a minimum payment from your LIF. Where it differs is the LIF also has a maximum payment each year which cannot be exceeded.

With the increase in the amount of LIRAs the government has made a major change to increase the flexibility for those who rely on these accounts for their retirement income. They now allow for a one-time unlocking of up to 50% of your LIRA into another tax-deferred vehicle, such as an RRSP or a RRIF, once you have reached the calendar year in which you turn 55. With half of the balance unlocked, this portion will no longer be subject to the maximum withdrawal limits allowing greater financial flexibility for Canadians. This provision is now also available in some provinces. Check with your province if your LIRA is provincially regulated.

Are there ways to unlock the account before retirement?

There are situations under which a LIRA may be unlocked. Again I am going to go over the federal rules. These may vary by province.

If you are 55 or older and have only a small balance in the LIRA, you may unlock it. A small balance is defined as less than 50% of the current Year’s Maximum Pensionable Earnings (YMPE), $27,450 for 2016. If the balance in the LIRA is less than this figure, it may be unlocked and moved to an RRSP.

Next is becoming a non-resident. If you are a non-resident of Canada for two consecutive years, you can unlock your LIRA.

Third is for health reasons. If you have been diagnosed and certified by a doctor to have a shortened life span, you may unlock your LIRA.

If you are experiencing financial hardship you may unlock up to 50% of the current YMPE. To reach the maximum you must have no income. If you have some income, but it is still low, there is a formula to calculate how much you can unlock. Once your income reaches 75% of the current YMPE, the amount you may unlock reaches zero.

As the LIRA becomes more commonplace, understanding how it works will be more common knowledge like how the RRSP works. Until that time you may have questions about it. If you do, please send me a note at or give me a call at (416) 733-3292 X230 and I would be happy to discuss your situation with you.

Matthew Ardrey
Written By:
Matthew Ardrey
VP, Wealth Advisor
(416) 733-3292 x230

TriDelta innovates with new optional fee structure



Introducing TriDelta Partnership Fees – No Gain, No Pain

At TriDelta we pride ourselves on proactively responding to market trends and also client feedback. We have had a few clients say; “I lost money, how come you made money?” when market performance was poor in bad market years.  To date, this is just the way investment management fees are charged. TriDelta Financial has now decided to deal with this concern head on.

TriDelta Financial ( and its Investment Counselling arm, TriDelta Investment Counsel ( will offer all clients with $500,000 or more of investment assets and a risk profile ranging from Balanced to Growth (minimum of 50% Equity and/or Alternative Investment asset mix to qualify), two options for fees.  One is traditional while the other is a new innovation in the Canadian market.

The Partnership Fee is effectively – if you lose money over a year, your investment management fees will be returned to your account.  Even if you have low returns (from 0% to under 3%) TriDelta will provide a partial refund of your management fee.  On the other hand if you have strong returns, starting at 7%, you will pay a performance bonus.

The message is clear.  If you do well, we do well.  If your returns are low, we do not do well either.  It aligns the interests of TriDelta Financial with our clients in a way that has simply not been found in the Canadian investment world.

Basics of our Partnership Fee program:

Based on Rate of Return on a Household Portfolio over a year, after traditional fees are charged:

  • If return is less than 0%, there is a refund of all traditional fees.
  • If return is between 0.00% and 2.99%, there is a refund of 0.5%.
  • If return is between 3.00% and 6.99%, the traditional fee applies.
  • If return is between 7.00% and 10.99%, there would be a 1% partnership fee.
  • If return is between 11.00% and 14.99%, there would be a 2% partnership fee.
  • If return is 15%+, there would be a 3% partnership fee.

The launch date on this TriDelta initiative is scheduled for Jan 1st 2017.

To participate in the Partnership Fee program, there is a 0.2% annual administrative fee charged.  This fee covers the administrative costs of the program, and is not considered part of ‘traditional fees’.

As you will appreciate this fee structure will only appeal to certain investors, but the important point is that we will offer this alternative subject to certain restrictions.

If you’re interested in exploring this further, please contact your financial advisor or if you’re not currently a client send a request to and we will have a Wealth Advisor contact you to schedule a meeting.

Ted Rechtshaffen
Written By:
Ted Rechtshaffen, MBA, CFP
President and CEO
(416) 733-3292 x 221

What you need to know about the new mortgage rules



On October 3rd , the federal government announced new mortgage requirements, which are designed to dampen the housing price euphoria.

Getting a mortgage approved at a great rate or maximizing the value of your real estate could both be impacted by these changes.  At TriDelta, we are able to help you or your children with getting the best mortgage, and also help those with their planning around whether to buy, hold or sell real estate.  Feel free to ask us for help in either of these areas.

These new requirements follow four rounds of changes made previously to tighten eligibility rules.  For new insurable loans between 2008 and 2012, the changes included:

  • the minimum down payment was increased to five per cent from zero
  • the maximum amortization period was reduced in stages to 25 years from 40 years and the maximum insurable house price was limited to below $1 million.
  • Buyers with a down payment of at least 5% of the purchase price, but less than 20% must be backed by mortgage insurance. This protects the lender in the event that the home buyer defaults. These loans are known as “high loan-to-value” or “high ratio” mortgages.

New rules include:

Applying a Mortgage Rate Stress Test to All Insured Mortgages.

Effective October 17, 2016, a stress test used for approving high-ratio mortgages will be applied to all new insured mortgages. This includes those where the buyer has more than 20 per cent for a down payment. This new stress test is designed to build in some wiggle room so new buyers can manage an interest rate rise. The home buyer would need to qualify for a loan at both their contract mortgage rate (currently +-2.5%) and the Bank of Canada’s conventional five-year fixed posted rate, which is currently 4.64%.

The stress test also requires that the home buyer spends no more than 39% (previously 32%) of income on home-carrying costs like mortgage payments, heat and taxes. The buyers also have to ensure their Total Debt Service (TDS) ratio, which includes all other debt payments does not exceed 44% (previously 40%). This shows the government easing up on previous limits as they allow home owners to allocate more of their income for housing and debt payments.

This new provision ensuring home owners have an ability-to-repay will put pressure on self-employed borrowers who will have to make sure they can document at least two years’ worth of sufficient income to get a mortgage.

Down payment requirements have also been boosted:

Under the changes Canadians can still put down five per cent on the first $500,000 of a home purchase, at least 10 per cent down on the portion of a home that costs more than $500,000 and for homes that cost more than $1 million will still require a 20 per cent down payment.

For those purchasing with less than 20% down, the affordability table below illustrates the impact of the new mortgage rules, indicating  the maximum house price before and after the October 17th changes.

Changes to Low-Ratio Mortgage Insurance Eligibility Requirements  –  Effective November 30, 2016, mortgage loans that lenders insure using portfolio insurance and other discretionary low loan-to-value mortgage insurance must meet the eligibility criteria that previously only applied to high-ratio insured mortgages.

Impact of Changes: Based on year-to-date 2016 data, it is estimated that a little over one third of insured mortgages, mainly for first time home buyers, would have difficulty meeting the required debt service ratios and home buyers would need to consider buying a lower priced property or increase the size of their down payment. Additionally, approximately 50% to 55% of new insurance requests, would no longer be eligible for mortgage insurance under the new Low Ratio mortgage insurance requirements.

This will affect all home buyers who are seeking a mortgage that may stretch them too thin if interest rates were to rise.The government is responding to concerns that sharp rises in house prices in cities like Toronto and Vancouver could increase the risk of defaults in the future should mortgage rates rise.

An additional change that may come as a surprise to many, is the new reporting rule for the primary residence capital gains exemption. As you know, any financial gain from selling your primary residence is tax-free and does not have to be reported as income. As of this tax year, the capital gains tax is still waived, however the sale of the primary residence must be reported at tax time to the Canada Revenue Agency. Everyone who sells their primary residence will have a new obligation to report the sale to the CRA. The change is aimed at preventing foreign buyers who buy and sell homes from claiming a primary residence tax exemption for which they are not entitled. However this will catch many off guard.

These new rules will definitely have an impact on new and upgrading homebuyers, but also come into effect at a time when many who are thinking of retiring, may not be able to sell their homes as quickly or for as much as they originally hoped to fund their retirement plans.

To review how these changes may impact your home purchase or retirement plans, please contact us for a no obligation review of your situation.

Lorne Zeiler
Written By:
Heather Holjevac
Senior Wealth Advisor

New Liberal tax implications for each of us



As we sit here in the last quarter of 2016, the new tax brackets ushered in by the Federal Liberals are about to become reality as people begin preparing their tax returns early next year.

The Liberal web site states:

  • When middle class Canadians have more money in their pockets to save, invest, and grow the economy, we all benefit.
  • We will cut the middle income tax bracket to 20.5 percent from 22 percent – a seven percent reduction. Canadians with taxable annual income between $44,700 and $89,401 will see their income tax rate fall.
  • This tax relief is worth up to $670 per person, per year – or $1,340 for a two-income household.
  • To pay for this tax cut, we will ask the wealthiest one percent of Canadians to give a little more. We will introduce a new tax bracket of 33 percent for individuals earning more than $200,000 each year.

For Ontarians the new tax brackets generally mean that those earning an income between $45 – 90k will be paying less tax than last year, and those earning $200k and up will be paying more.

While income tax reduction strategies like RSP contributions can be done early next year for the 2016 tax year, other’s need to be done before year end in order to be applied to 2016.  Some examples include:  tax loss selling, sharing capital losses with a spouse, or strategic withdrawals from RIF / RRSP accounts.

Our Income Tax calculator is a great starting point to assist in some year-end tax planning.  It can quickly provide an estimate of taxes owing, your marginal tax rate on various forms of income, and your annual net take-home amount. 

For high income individuals earning $200k+, our rather unique tax strategy may be able to provide some significant annual tax savings.  Take note of these potential tax savings highlighted in the bottom section of our calculator*.

*Time is running out to participate in this strategy for 2016.  Contact a TriDelta advisor soon to see if it can work for you.

Lorne Zeiler
Written By:
Brad Mol, CFP, CIWM, FMA
VP, Wealth Advisor

TriDelta Investment Counsel Q3 Report – Time to Visit the U.S. Markets

Executive Summary

18011768_sWhen looking at interest rates, currencies, real estate risk, Oil and the overall economy, the Canadian market is looking weaker than the U.S. market.

We believe, in particular, that real estate risks are much higher in Canada than the U.S., and it is playing an important factor in our investment philosophy.

As a result, we have lower Canadian stock weightings than we have ever had, but remain quite positive about other investments – including U.S. stocks – where we feel we will benefit from currency gains and some post election strength assuming a Clinton victory.

How did TriDelta do in Q3?

The third quarter was a pretty solid period, with most TriDelta clients up between 2% and 3.5% on the quarter. 

The TSX was up 5.5% and the S&P 500 (U.S. Market) was up 4.7% in Canadian Dollars.

The Canadian Universe Bond Index was up 1.2%.

Highlights for TriDelta clients included the TriDelta High Income Balanced Fund which was up 5.8% and our Preferred Share portfolio which was up 6.5% and meaningfully outperformed the index.  Our overweight positions in corporate bonds with long terms to maturity led to some solid outperformance on our bond portfolios as well.

Of interest, in such a strong quarter, even solid Alternative Investments that have delivered 8% annual returns, would have ‘hurt’ performance by returning about 2%, but helped reduce portfolio volatility.

Our more conservative clients have continued to have a stronger performance this year overall than our growth oriented clients.  There will, of course, be a time when this reverses itself, but the trend has continued.

For TriDelta, we aim for lower volatility in all markets, and as a result, the highs may not be as high in good markets, and the lows should not be as low in bad ones.  Q3 is a good example of this.

Where we see things headed

Real Estate

We have some heightened concerns on Canadian real estate – in particular in Vancouver.  The impact of a decline in Vancouver real estate prices could be reasonably contained to BC, or could spread to impact real estate across many markets in Canada.  The reason for this concern is a combination of events.  The foreign buyers tax in BC has slowed sales dramatically and will hit the higher end market.  The tightening of mortgage rules will likely dampen increases in the lower end.  At the same time we are seeing all the signs of a traditional market bubble (an outsized run up in prices while there are many empty houses and condos – owned by investors).

Either with a local Vancouver or broader Canadian decline, the impact won’t be great for the overall economy.  It has put a damper on our view of the Canadian stock markets. 


While a rally in oil was driven off of hopes of increased cooperation from OPEC, there are still many factors keeping a lid on prices.  One of the biggest issues is that even with a glimmer of co-operation, OPEC is not able to truly work together in an environment where key players Saudi Arabia and Iran are at such odds.

Other factors include:

*Global economic growth isn’t sufficient to pull demand higher, and

*U.S. oil supply is standing at the ready to increase if prices move high enough.

As a result, we don’t see strong improvements in Oil, certainly not to the degree that would help Canada see higher growth.

Interest Rates

With slow growth from Oil, concern on real estate price declines, and a general lack of growth in Canada, Bank of Canada Governor Stephen Poloz announced that they were much closer to lowering rates than raising them.  This is a very clear indicator that Canadian interest rates are not at risk of going up any time soon, and have some chance of declining in the near term.

The investment impact of this is that higher income investments will continue to be in favour and remain overvalued from a historical perspective for the foreseeable future.

In the United States, it is likely that they will finally raise rates in December post election, after having raised them once in 2015.  Having said that, there does not seem to be much momentum behind sizable rate hikes.  This could be another ‘one and done’ rate hike, which will keep the U.S. in a very low interest rate environment.

Canadian Dollar

Lower real estate, range bound Oil prices, widening interest rate gap between Canada and the U.S., all suggest that the Canadian dollar will see declines in the coming months – possibly back to the low 70s.

If you are in need of U.S. dollars for winter holidays, we would suggest buying now.

From an investment perspective, it encourages us to be more exposed to U.S. dollars.

U.S. Presidential Election

We believe that this will largely be a positive in the markets. It looks increasingly likely that there will be a new President Clinton in the White House, and that there will be fewer surprises ahead than the uncertainty that a Trump Presidency would bring.  Markets will appreciate a little more political calm than it has seen for much of this year.

Overall Impact on our investment portfolios

The above views lead us to a few investment actions.

  • Our Canadian equity weighting is now at our lowest level – in the 30% range. As a Canadian firm, we recognize that there is a natural bias to owning Canadian stocks.  There is no currency risk or costs.  There is a tax advantage with Canadian dividends.  We are all familiar with the investment names and nuances of the Country.  For those reasons we will always have Canadian exposure, but after a period where the Canadian market was among the best performers in the world for much of 2016, we believe there are some better opportunities outside of Canada at the moment. 
  • We do believe that there are better options in stock markets in the U.S, and feel that the currency will be at our back to support overall returns. We will maintain high U.S. equity exposure.
  • We are maintaining bond and preferred share weightings as we can see a long period of low rates ahead. While this isn’t great for yields, low or declining interest rates are generally good for bond prices.  It is a useful reminder that the Canadian bond universe has averaged almost 6% returns over the past 3 years.  High yield bonds should outperform in this environment, and we are keeping a higher than normal weighting in this area.  We also have a little more exposure to US$ bonds than we have had in the past to take advantage of currency moves.
  • We continue to like Alternative income investments in a low interest rate environment, and will seek to opportunistically add to clients positions.

Dividend Growth Check

As we do every quarter, we check on dividend growth among our holdings.  This quarter saw 8 dividend increases with no declines.  The largest 4 were all U.S. companies and the fifth was Restaurant Brands International – which is Tim Horton’s and Burger King.

Intuit +13.3%
Mondelez +11.8%
Yum Brands +10.9%
Altria Group +13.3%
Restaurant Brands +6.7%
Bank of Nova Scotia +2.8%
RBC +2.5%
Verizon +2.2%

There seems to be a feeling of doom and gloom in some areas, and we believe that this may be overstated.  Having said that, we believe that the U.S. will be a better place than Canada for near term investment, in part as the Canadian dollar is prone for some declines.

Other points of optimism, in the U.S. markets the 3 month period from November 1 to January 31 is the best performing 90 days of the year.

One last positive thought.  Based on Ned Davis research of the Dow Jones Industrial Average from 1900 to 2008, you can see that if the incumbent party wins, the Dow Jones average has returned an average of 15.1% in the year following the election.  You can ignore the bottom two lines if you want to remain positive.

Time Period – 12 Months Following

Average Return for the DJIA

President Election Years Overall


Incumbent Party Wins


Incumbent Party Loses


If Democrat Wins


If Republican Wins


May the beautiful colours of the Fall give hope to us all.


TriDelta Investment Management Committee


Cameron Winser

VP, Equities

Edward Jong

VP, Fixed Income

Ted Rechtshaffen

President and CEO

Anton Tucker

Exec VP and Portfolio Manager

Lorne Zeiler

VP, Portfolio Manager and
Wealth Advisor

FINANCIAL FACELIFT: Can travel plan blossom if she works part-time?


Below you will find a real life case study of a couple who are looking for financial advice on when they can retire and how best to arrange their financial affairs. The names and details of their personal lives have been changed to protect their identities. The Globe and Mail often seeks the advice of our VP, Wealth Advisor, Matthew Ardrey, to review and analyze the situation and then provide his solutions to the participants.

Written by: DIANNE MALEY
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Oct. 14, 2016

At age 39, Barbara and John are mortgage-free with money in the bank, good professional jobs, a young child and a strong desire to see the world.

John earns about $97,000 a year, while Barbara brings in $39,120, on average, working part-time. They wonder whether she can continue to work part-time until John semi-retires at age 55, and then spend the next 15 years travelling the world together and working part-time.

“We think the world is going to change and travel will become an extreme luxury item,” Barbara writes in an e-mail, adding, “international travel will not be a valid option after 70.”

fotolia_119537068_xs2The Ontario couple have already given in to their wanderlust, travelling extensively over the past two years, but they realize they have to pare back a bit. They need to do some work on their house and save for their daughter’s postsecondary education.

“Are we okay if Barbara works part-time from now until full retirement at age 70?”

We asked Matthew Ardrey, a vice-president and financial planner at TriDelta Financial in Toronto, to look at Barbara and John’s situation. Mr. Ardrey holds the certified financial planner (CFP) designation.

What the expert says

First, Mr. Ardrey looked at the couple’s short-term financial goals. They want to spend $18,000 in 2017, $6,000 in 2018 and $6,000 in 2019 on travel, plus $10,000 for new floors in 2018 and $10,000 for a new furnace and air conditioning unit in 2019. They show a surplus of $20,700 a year, more than enough to cover these expenses. “So there is no need for Barbara to work more hours to cover their short-term spending needs.”

When they semi-retire at age 55, they plan to spend $60,000 a year after tax in today’s dollars, close to what they are spending today after savings are removed, Mr. Ardrey says, plus an additional $20,000 a year in today’s dollars on travel.

John is saving 4 per cent of his income, plus a 4-per-cent matching contribution from his employer, to his defined-contribution pension plan, adding $2,400 a year to his tax-free savings account and $7,200 a year to his registered retirement savings plan. Barbara is contributing $6,000 to her TFSA and $1,200 to her RRSP. The planner assumes all savings end when they semi-retire.

They will both receive Old Age Security at age 65 and Canada Pension Plan benefits at age 70. John will get full CPP, but the planner assumes Barbara will get 70 per cent of the maximum. He further assumes a rate of return on their investments of 5 per cent, an inflation rate of 2 per cent and that they will both live until the age of 95.

Based on these assumptions, the couple will be able to meet their retirement goals, Mr. Ardrey says. They would leave an estate of about $800,000 on top of their real estate and personal effects.

But a couple of items need to be addressed, the planner says. The first is budgeting and saving. After the large expenses are addressed in the next few years, they will have a budget surplus of $30,000 a year.

“They should take a good look at their budget to ensure this surplus is really there because their ability to make large expenditures without taking on additional debt depends upon it,” Mr. Ardrey says.

If they do have a big surplus, “it would be good to save at least half of it to their TFSAs and RRSPs.”

The second item concerns the investment costs they’re paying. For their assets outside of John’s defined-contribution plan, they are investing in mutual funds, which can come with high fees. “Depending on the level of service and planning this couple is receiving, those costs may or may not be justified,” Mr. Ardrey says.

To illustrate how these suggestions could make a big difference, the planner ran a second retirement plan. In it, John and Barbara increased their savings by $15,000 a year until they semi-retired and lowered their cost of investing by half a percentage point a year. It could make a big difference. “Their estate, excluding real estate, would more than double to about $1.98-million.”

Meanwhile, to fully cover their daughter’s postsecondary education costs, assumed to be $20,000 a year in today’s dollars, John and Barbara will need to increase their education savings by $175 a month from now until their daughter is 18. As it is, they will only cover about 70 per cent of this cost. Finally, he suggests they both take out disability insurance.


The people: Barbara and John, both 39, and their daughter, 6.

The problem: Can Barbara continue to work part-time without jeopardizing their long-term travel plans?

The plan: Once short-term expenses are paid, review spending to get a firm handle on surplus. Consider saving half of it to RRSPs and TFSAs. Review investment fees.

The payoff: A clear road map to their financial destination.

Monthly net income: $8,445

Assets: Cash $7,160; her TFSA $5,090; his TFSA $31,440; her RRSP $154,185; his RRSP $107,440; his DC pension plan $51,220; RESP $22,960; residence $350,000. Total: $729,495.

Monthly disbursements:
Property tax $310; utilities $180; home insurance $70; maintenance, garden $190; transportation $485; groceries $750; child care $250; clothing $360; gifts $220; charitable $130; vacation, travel $325; other discretionary $500; dining, drinks, entertainment $365; grooming $50; pet $100; sports, hobbies $250; doctors, dentists $150; life insurance $45; cellphone $17; Internet $60. RRSPs $700; RESP $210; TFSAs $700; his pension plan contributions $300. Total: $6,717. Monthly surplus: $1,728.

Liabilities: None.

Want a free financial facelift? E-mail

Some details may be changed to protect the privacy of the persons profiled.

Matthew Ardrey
Presented By:
Matthew Ardrey
VP, Wealth Advisor
(416) 733-3292 x230