FINANCIAL FACELIFT: Can Russ, 55, and Vicky, 47, retire early and live comfortably without exhausting their life savings


Below you will find a real life case study of a couple who is looking for financial advice on how best to arrange their financial affairs. Their names and details have been changed to protect their identity. The Globe and Mail often seeks the advice of our VP, Wealth Advisor & Portfolio Manager, Matthew Ardrey, to review and analyze the situation and then provide his solutions to the participants.

Written by:
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published October 21, 2022

When Russ’s employer offered him a buyout package a few months ago, it was an offer he was keen to accept. He was earning $87,000 a year working in manufacturing.

Russ’s plan is to work part time for a few years. His wife, Vicky, plans to retire at age 55. Vicky earns $42,000 a year working in health care. Both have defined benefit pension plans but only Vicky’s is indexed to inflation. Russ is age 52, Vicky 47.

They have two children, one still at home and going to university. Among their short-term goals is doing some work on their Southern Ontario house.

Naturally, they wonder whether their pensions and savings will allow them to live comfortably for the rest of their lives. They also ask, what is a reasonable replacement ratio for employment income in the current high inflation environment – in short, how much will they need to maintain their lifestyle? Their tentative retirement spending goal is $68,000 a year after tax.

We asked Matthew Ardrey, a financial planner and portfolio manager at TriDelta Financial in Toronto, to look at Russ and Vicky’s situation. Mr. Ardrey holds the certified financial planner (CFP), the advanced registered financial planner (RFP) and the certified investment manager (CIM) designations.

What the expert says

Russ and Vicky want to make sure that they can make their retirement plan work given the early retirement age they have planned, Mr. Ardrey says.

Upon accepting his retirement package, Russ will receive a retiring allowance of $60,000, of which he can transfer $46,000 to a registered retirement savings plan – $6,000 via the eligible retiring allowance provision in the Income Tax Act and $40,000 from his available RRSP room, the planner says. The rest will be taxable to him. Additionally, he will get a $20,000 gross car allowance with a $6,000 withholding tax on it.

Russ plans to continue to work for the next five to 10 years part-time, earning $35,000 to $40,000 a year. In preparing his forecast, Mr. Ardrey assumed Russ works another seven years earning $37,500 a year. Additionally, he will have a non-indexed pension of $24,900 a year plus a bridge to age 65 of $17,300 a year.

When Vicky retires at age 55, they will begin drawing on their savings. She will have an indexed pension of $19,100 a year, plus a bridge to age 65 of $9,700 a year. Inflation is assumed to be 3 per cent.

Because they are retiring early, the planner assumes 75 per cent of maximum Canada Pension Plan benefits for Russ and 50 per cent for Vicky, starting at their age 65, along with maximum Old Age Security benefits at age 65.

Their current investment asset mix is 53 per cent stocks, 20 per cent bonds and 27 per cent cash, mostly in guaranteed investment certificates. The stocks are 40 per cent Canadian, 40 per cent U.S. and 20 per cent international. This asset mix has a future projected return of 4.11 per cent (net of 0.25 per cent in fees for exchange-traded funds).

Next, the planner looks at how much the couple will need to maintain their lifestyle. Russ and Vicky save $6,000 a year each to their tax-free savings accounts, plus another $1,000 a month combined to their non-registered bank accounts. “This, when added to their reported spending, shows a leakage in spending of an additional $10,000 per year over their reported spending of $68,000, which includes the TFSA savings,” Mr. Ardrey says. “Thus, we used a projected expense amount of $78,000 per year instead of the $68,000 indicated to achieve a more accurate projection.”

In 2023, Vicky and Russ plan to have home repairs of $22,500 completed. These could be funded by the savings in their bank account, the planner says.

Based on the above assumptions, Russ and Vicky likely are able to achieve their retirement spending goal of $78,000 a year, Mr. Ardrey says. “That being said, it is always important to stress-test their retirement projections, as investment returns are not earned in a straight line and will vary from year to year,” he says.

The planner stress-tests the forecast using a Monte Carlo simulation, which introduces randomness to a number of factors, including returns. For a plan to be considered likely to succeed by the program, it must have at least a 90 per cent success rate. If it is below 70 per cent, then it is considered unlikely to succeed. Results in between are considered somewhat likely to succeed.

“Unfortunately, Russ and Vicky’s base case plan fails the stress test, with only a 64 per cent probability of success,” Mr. Ardrey says. What causes the concern is the other 36 per cent of the time when it does not work, he says.

“To increase the probability of success, they could certainly do things like work longer, spend less, save more or the ever-unpopular die earlier,” the planner says. Or they could try to improve their investment returns.

A portfolio that is essentially 50 per cent stocks, 20 per cent fixed income and 30 per cent cash equivalents is not the best positioned for today’s investing and inflation environment, the planner says. Instead, they should look to minimize cash holdings, increase their fixed income allocation and include an allocation to more non-traditional asset classes such as private real estate funds, he adds. Historically, these investments have offered attractive returns with little to no correlation to the equity and fixed income markets. The biggest risk would be the lack of liquidity in these investments.

For example, private real estate investment trusts that invest in a large, diversified residential portfolio or perhaps specific areas such as wireless network infrastructure are preferable to ones that have a large exposure to retail.

By diversifying their portfolio and reducing cash investments, Mr. Ardrey estimates they could achieve at least a 5.25 per cent return net of fees and significantly reduce the volatility risk of the portfolio. “Additionally, many private real estate investments are tax efficient, having distributions that are part or all return of capital,” he notes.

With this adjustment, the change in the Monte Carlo simulation is material, moving up to a 90 per cent probability of success. Though this is at the low end of the likely-to-succeed range, they still have their house to fall back on in the unlikely case they do not achieve their goals.

Additionally, they should pay attention to which type of asset class is in each account. “I would not recommend cash in a TFSA, as the goal would be to maximize the tax-free withdrawals.” Instead, the couple should hold more growth assets in their TFSAs so they will increase in value. This way, when they make withdrawals, they will have a larger capital base from which to draw.

Client situation

The people: Russ, 52, Vicky, 47, and their two children.

The problem: Now that Russ has taken a package, can they afford to live comfortably for the rest of their lives without exhausting their savings?

The plan: Review their expenses to better understand their budget and stick to it. Improve their investment strategy to improve their long-term investment returns, which will remove the risk of running out of money before they run out of life.

The payoff: Easy street.

Monthly net income (past year): $7,500.

Assets: Cash $16,500; his TFSA $75,000; her TFSA $75,000; her RRSP $60,000; his RRSP $360,000; estimated present value of his DB pension $650,000; estimated PV of her DB pension $202,000; registered education savings plan $75,000; residence $750,000. Total: $2.26-million.

Monthly outlays: Property tax $360; water, sewer, garbage $80; home insurance $80; electricity, heat $230; maintenance $500; garden $55; transportation $750; groceries $1,125; clothing $120; gifts, charity $85; vacation, travel $300; dining, drinks, entertainment $175; personal care $15; club membership $10; sports, hobbies, golf $20; subscriptions $30; health care $65; health insurance $40; life insurance $140; communications $250; TFSAs $1,000; pension plan contributions $345; unallocated spending $725. Total: $6,500

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 & Portfolio Manager
(416) 733-3292 x230

TriDelta Insight Q3 Commentary


Market Overview

Coming off a difficult June, markets were optimistic heading into the early stages of the third quarter. By mid-August markets in Canada and the U.S. were strongly positive on several good news stories. Recession fears eased on the back of improving economic data and inflation showing early signs of having peaked, and company earnings from the second quarter were not nearly as bad as many expected.  Some believed we had found our bottom in June amid several indications the market had grown too pessimistic.

As quickly as the market had seemingly reached a turning point, markets reversed course. The bounce off the June lows ran out of steam due to persistent inflation and indications the central banks of the world were going to continue aggressively raising interest rates. This was coupled with further escalations in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, an ensuing energy crisis forcing European countries to begin rationing ahead of what is likely to be a very difficult winter, and a struggling consumer in China.

Central banks raising interest rates is worth further attention as it’s one of the primary drivers impacting markets today. It’s important to note that never in all recorded history have central banks all raised rates at the same time. While all central banks will act independently of each other, the U.S. Fed is ultimately the driver behind a slowing global economy and will not stop until its goal of bringing inflation down shows signs of life.

September, in particular, was a very difficult market for stocks which put the TSX and S&P 500 back down to their June lows. Bloomberg has coined this the “Everything Selloff” which is in direct contrast to the Covid rebound in 2020 termed the “Everything Rally”. With inflation at 7% in Canada, interest rates meaningfully higher, and major stock and bond markets negative, it’s true there have been very few places to hide this year. The question we need to ask ourselves; is it really all bad?

In this quarterly review, we will look at why there is opportunity in the face of extreme negativity and what we are seeing in the market today and moving forward.

Year to Date Market Returns

Global markets are meaningfully lower and while each offer an interesting reference point, a traditional balanced portfolio has fared just as poorly. To the end of September, a passively managed 60% stock, 40% bond portfolio is down 15.1%. This has provided further evidence to the value of active management as our portfolios continue to outperform and protect on the downside.

Finding Optimism in a Bear Market

“In the real word, things generally fluctuate between “pretty good” and “not so hot”. But in the world of investing, perception often swings from “flawless” to “hopeless” – Howard Marks

There is no valuation metric or sentiment score that marks the bottom of a bear market. The end of such a market is always identified in retrospect and the reasons are not always clear. That said, there are indications we can use to help identify long term opportunity despite the near-term uncertainty.

Sentiment (investor attitudes) has reached extreme negativity, which can be a positive indication markets have become oversold. The latest AAII Sentiment Survey showed bears (those seeing stocks lower in six months) topping 60%. This poll has been around since 1987 in which the last time we saw these extreme levels we were nearing the bottom of March 2009 during the Great Financial Crisis.

Readings at these levels tend to imply a strong market advance during the following 12 months.

Valuations offer another point of optimism for investors. While it’s true whether the S&P 500 or TSX is trading at a 15x or 20x price-to-earnings ratio will never, by itself, mark a bottom, as prices fall and valuations improve, the downside risk declines as upside potential rises. For example, we look to include high quality companies whom we have long term confidence in their ability to outperform the market. If we believe the appropriate price for a company is $100/share and it falls to $80/share, it may continue to fall but $80 still represents a better opportunity for a long-term investor. After all, we are not trying to catch a falling knife, we are investing in companies we believe will have a positive impact on client portfolios.

We tend to caution against drawing comparisons to past bear markets because no two are the same. The financial world is in much better shape than 2020 and even 2008/09. It’s easy to forget that during the late 2000’s there was very real concern the entire financial system would collapse. Major institutions either failed outright or required government assistance. Insurance companies were at risk of not being able to pay out policies and houses were being abandoned because speculators couldn’t afford payments on third houses they never should have bought. Today is not without its challenges, but we are increasingly seeing higher wages, companies continue to hire albeit at a slower pace with unemployment still at record lows, and banks and large institutions have had the eyes of regulators on them for over a decade to ensure the stability of the financial system.

No two bear markets are the same and although the future remains uncertain, it is uncertain regardless of whether the market has fallen 20% or has risen 20%. What’s most important is to take emotion out of the decision-making process and maintain a long-term perspective despite short term negativity.

The worst thing you can do in a time like today is turn temporary declines into permanent losses.

Yields on Investments Now Versus One Year Ago

The surge in bond yields and rise in interest rates are giving investors options they haven’t had for some time.

This is not to say that stocks don’t present an attractive long-term opportunity, but that our options for how we construct portfolios and make allocation decisions for individuals has increased. In fact, today is a great time to review why it pays to remain invested in difficult times. The following chart demonstrates what a $100,000 investment in 1990 until the end of September 2022 would look like if: you had remained invested for the whole time, had missed just the best 5 days of the market, and had missed the best 10 days of the market.

Clearly, patience pays off in the long run.

What we are doing and why


The factors weighing on markets during the first half of the year persisted into the third quarter and are expected to continue for the remainder of 2022. We reiterate from earlier in the year that markets are not likely to sustain a prolonged uptrend until we have greater clarity around the path of interest rates, and we remain highly active in our decisions to take advantage of near-term opportunities.

Moving forward, we foresee equities trading in response to what is happening elsewhere in the markets. Rising bond yields have had the dual effect of making bonds and cash an attractive alternative for income investors seeking stability and decreasing the valuations of public companies.

Here in North America, Canadian markets have continued to outperform much of our global peers. Canada’s reliance on commodities have benefited from a stronger USD and the supply disruptions happening abroad. Historically Canada has been more sensitive to global recession fears rather than inflation which is why the TSX was one of the best markets earlier in the year, before fears started migrating from inflation to recession.

The U.S. have continued to see strong employment numbers and wage gains. The markets have been especially hit hard due to their higher exposure to growth companies in relation to Canada and are expected to remain volatile with a highly polarized midterm election taking place in November.

Abroad, Europe has struggled in response to the conflict and associated sanctions on Russian energy. Europe’s energy infrastructure has failed in entirely foreseeable ways as policymakers have increasingly made short-sighted decisions and failed to adequately diversify their energy needs towards renewables.

In Asia, China has struggled amid slowing growth and a troubled real estate sector. Covid restrictions in the country also remain, with as many as 20 cities facing some form of lockdown in the past three months. This has hurt consumer confidence and economic activity.

Into the last three months of 2022, the TriDelta Funds continue to be highly active to take advantage of attractive opportunities.

  • Bond yields declining in the months ahead should have a positive impact on equities and an indicator we continue to watch closely.
  • We expect Canada to continue to perform well in comparison to markets globally and predict a potential recession in Canada would be mild as the Bank of Canada reaches a peak interest rate before the U.S.
  • Global equities have felt the brunt of poor policy decisions and the ongoing conflict but pose an increasingly attractive long-term opportunity for investors willing to tolerate near term volatility.
  • We have added to the cash positions in the funds as a defensive measure and to take advantage of near-term price swings.
  • Future company earnings releases will be of key concern as the market gets a closer look into how today’s challenges are impacting companies bottom lines.

The TriDelta Pension and Growth Funds have performed well in the quarter and year-to-date relative to the broader markets. For the year ending September 2022, the Pension and Growth funds were down 9.00% and 16.01%, respectively. Presently, the yield on both funds is greater than 5% which marks the highest since the funds inception and poses an attractive opportunity for income investors.

Preferred shares

Preferred shares continue to see much of the volatility being experienced in the stock and bond markets as the yields have not yet increased enough to attract sufficient activity in the space.

Our preference is still towards rate-reset preferred shares but see the market trading in line with broader stock markets into 2023, limiting their ability to act as a diversifier in a portfolio despite the added income.

Limited Recourse Capital Notes (LRCNs)

We have recently shown interest in the market for Limited Recourse Capital Notes (LRCNs) for use in client portfolios. This is a relatively lesser-known investment that shares characteristics of both preferred shares and bonds.

There is now over $18 billion worth of these bank notes in Canada, but only recently have the banks come out with LRCNs paying 7+%. These bonds are technically higher risk given that they are secured by preferred shares in the issuing bank and are typically much longer term than we would include in portfolios.

An example of one of these notes technically is not due until November 2082, but it includes a rate reset feature based on the 5-year Government of Canada bond rate plus 4.10%. This will reset in 5 years, and we believe it is very likely that the note will be redeemed at $100 in 5 years.

We see these bonds as relatively low risk and offering an attractive yield for income seeking investors while also providing daily liquidity and the opportunity to gain in value if/when interest rates come down in the next 5 years.


Typically, one would expect with stock markets lower, bonds would at least be holding their own but that has not been the case this year. Instead, bond markets have experienced their own bear market when the Bloomberg Global Aggregate Total Return Index of government and investment-grade corporate bonds fell 20% in August from last year. In fact, bonds are having their worst year since 1949 and instead of acting as a diversifier, bonds have been a driver of lower returns.

  • Central banks, most notably the U.S. Fed and Bank of Canada, have recommitted to raising rates to bring inflation under control and the market is finally starting to take them at their word as economic activity slows and likelihood of a formal recession grows.
  • Inflation is still of key concern, and we don’t believe it’s a matter of if inflation comes down but when. Inflation will recede but likely not quick enough to avoid policy rates in the mid 4 to low 5 percent range into early 2023.
    • Presently, inflation in Canada and the U.S. sits at 7.00% and 8.26%, respectively.
  • We continue to watch the inverted yield curve as an indication the market believes the inflation fight can be won. Our hope would be to see a more sharply inverted yield curve in the near term.
  • Our focus heading into this year towards short term and high-quality investment grade bonds to provide insulation from interest rate increases have helped to insulate portfolios from the losses seen in long-term, low-grade bonds.

We remain selective with bonds we choose to include in client portfolios and have actively sought out attractive opportunities. As prices have fallen, we increasingly see the value in including bonds in client portfolios as a source of income and future return.

A Note on Currency

Fueled by rising global uncertainty, the U.S. dollar (USD) has been a notable outperformer in 2022. This has rewarded Canadian investors with bigger dividends and an offsetting boost for their investments held in U.S. dollars or simply through owning companies which derive profits from the U.S. consumer.

An example of this can be seen in the last three months alone where an investment in U.S. dollar assets have helped returns for Canadian investors.

While large swings in the dollar — in either direction — adds to uncertainty in the market, a strong U.S. Dollar is predicted to help many countries boost growth as their exports become more attractive. It may also be a positive for the U.S. to bring down inflation as cheaper imported goods cause disinflation. U.S. companies may also find it harder to compete with global companies whose prices are in other, cheaper, currencies. This isn’t great for the companies in question but is a positive for bringing down inflation in the near term.


Alternative investments, those not publicly traded, have offered support for portfolios. To the end of September, the TriDelta Alternative Performance Fund is +3.22%.

Our real estate partners have benefited on multiple fronts.

  • Rising interest rates have made home ownership less affordable for many. This has added further demand for rentals which continue to see increases in average rents by 10-20%.
  • Canada is not on pace to achieve affordable housing for Canadians. In Ontario, the CMHC estimates 1 in 3 people will be forced to rent in the next 10 years. An already tight supply for rentals represents a significant opportunity for investors as demand continues to rise across North America.
  • Many of our partners refinanced in 2021 at the low rates previously available. Many are locked into those fixed rates until the mid-2020’s.

Our private credit partners have also seen positives.

  • Rising interest rates have translated into higher returns on the loans they provide to small and medium sized businesses in Canada and the U.S. We have seen yields rise this year as the loans tend to be structured with variable rates and/or short term in nature.
  • As rates have risen it has been difficult for these small and medium sized businesses to receive traditional bank financing due to the strict stress testing enforced by regulators. Our partners are seeing a greater pool of opportunity because of this.
  • Our partner funds use little to no leverage as part of their fund’s strategy. This has put them in a good position to act opportunistically as their indebted peers may be less nimble to take advantage of attractive loans.

Alternatives have proven a valuable source of income and diversification in the face of volatile markets elsewhere. Our clients have benefited from this allocation as we continue to do further due diligence on several funds for inclusion in client portfolios.

In Conclusion

Market behavior this year has thrown a wrench in the traditional 60/40 strategy — the idea that if stocks are down, then bond performance will offset the losses, and vice versa. This traditional 60% stock and 40% bond portfolio is down over 15% to the end of September.

We believe strongly in the value of active management and have seen firsthand our ability to protect portfolios on the downside. Our portfolios have outperformed the traditional 60/40 portfolio and broader markets because of this active management and allocation to Alternative investments which have served investors well as a source of income and diversification in the face of volatility elsewhere.

The final quarter of 2022 is likely to continue to see heightened volatility. Seasonality, midterm elections, inflation, slowing economic growth, negative earnings revisions, and higher interest rates are all factors we will have to face.

Ultimately, we are confident that markets will recover regardless of near-term volatility and what the upcoming interest rate decisions may be. Central banks are not raising rates and reversing stimulus because they don’t like investors or are trying to wreck your home’s value – it is in response to inflation.

When, (not if) inflation comes back down, we think both stocks and bond markets will rally. This, on its own, may very well mark the end of the bear market, even if a recession or earnings recession looms on the horizon. After all, stock market bottoms rarely coincide with the bottom in economic activity as the markets are always forward looking.

As always, we are here to help. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact your Wealth Advisor.



Financial Post / Rechtshaffen: Mo’ money, mo’ problems: Even the wealthy are worrying about their financial future


There’s a list of problems that are only created with more money

They say the best time to plan for the future is when things are going well.

Of course, that’s in a perfect world. In today’s world, people are nervous and concerned about their finances, and so we are seeing an increased demand for financial planning. In some ways, this makes perfect sense. If someone’s financial future looks good when things are bad, they can be fairly confident they will be OK under most circumstances.

The increasing demand at our firm is from what most would consider wealthy Canadians, generally those with a net worth of $3 million to $30 million. Now, I can see some eye-rolling and groaning right about now. “What do these rich people have to worry about?” Well, there is an old saying (and a newer song): Mo’ Money, Mo’ Problems.

Some issues and concerns are similar across the wealth spectrum, while others are unique to those with a lot of money. Let’s take a look at one area that would affect the wealthy differently than most, but may be of particular concern at the moment: gifting to children or grandchildren.

Gifting to family is simply not on the agenda for many Canadians. Just like the instructions on the airplane tell you to put safety gear on yourself before helping a child, your financial plan should look after yourself first before seeing if you can help others. But if you are in the position to easily help others, then this is likely a consideration, especially when it comes to real estate.

To look at a fictional example, if you have three middle-aged children and nine grandchildren, ranging in age from five to 25, things can get worrying if gifting to them was part of your planning.

What sometimes happens is that the oldest child is looking to buy a home, and the parents may decide to contribute $200,000 to the down payment. However, the question isn’t how much they can afford to contribute to the oldest child; it is how much they can afford to equally contribute to all three children.

If they can’t afford to gift $600,000 ($200,000 to each child), then they can’t afford to gift $200,000 to the first child. Not all parents will contribute equally to their children, but many will plan to.

Often, the gift to the oldest child will take place several years before the gift to the youngest child. What happens if there is a lot of inflation over that time? Do you gift more than $200,000 to the youngest, given the $200,000 is now worth much less than it was maybe eight years earlier? What if you simply don’t feel you can afford to give that much money today to the youngest? Is there a way to give less?

It can be even harder when it comes to grandchildren. There are nine of them in our example, and a gift of $50,000 can easily be perceived as a $450,000 commitment. Given the 20-year age gap, how will that be managed effectively? What if the first four grandchildren receive this gift and the last five don’t?

Yes, these are first-world problems of the wealthy, but they are real issues. Families can split up over favouritism from parents, and these types of gifting issues can sometimes be the cause of it.

To help manage this process, we encourage families to work out a financial plan that will provide greater insight into their financial future on an annual basis. With this information, they can better plan out potential gifts and see what they truly can or can’t afford. They can also determine which types of accounts or holdings are best used to fund these gifts.

Maybe the result of this planning is to be a little more cautious at the beginning to help ensure an ability to fund gifts in good and bad times. As we say, you can always choose to gift more in the future, but it is tough to get a gift back if you gave too much.

My firm has put together a free report on the 10 key financial planning questions of high-net-worth Canadians, along with some thoughts on how to best answer those questions. Some people will look at these questions and directly relate to them. Others will be in a different place and say they wish they had those problems.

But there are some universal concerns regardless of wealth. These relate to making sure you and a partner will be OK, trying to make the most of what you have and how you can best help the larger family.

That core is the same, but there’s definitely a list of problems that are only created with more money, and there needs to be some good planning to deal with them, especially in this environment.

Reproduced from Financial Post, October 5, 2022 .

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

FINANCIAL FACELIFT: Bob, 62, was laid off last year. Can he and Roberta afford to retire with the income they want?


Below you will find a real life case study of a couple who is looking for financial advice on how best to arrange their financial affairs. Their names and details have been changed to protect their identity. The Globe and Mail often seeks the advice of our VP, Wealth Advisor & Portfolio Manager, Matthew Ardrey, to review and analyze the situation and then provide his solutions to the participants.

Written by:
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published August 19, 2022

Bob had been planning to retire from his sales job this spring, but he was “packaged” – laid off with a severance package – early last year. His wife, Roberta, is planning to work until February, 2023. Bob is age 62, Roberta 59.

“With this unexpected transition, and change in income, we thought it was time for a financial checkup as we begin the next chapter of our lives,” Bob writes in an e-mail. Since he was laid off, Bob has been working part-time, which he enjoys.

Because the couple married late in life, they have had a number of major expenses over the past few years – buying their Alberta house for cash and spending a substantial sum renovating it, joining a country club and buying new vehicles. To pay for it all, they both made large withdrawals from their investment portfolios and “cleaned out” their tax-free savings accounts.

Bob, in addition to his defined benefit pension of $20,580 a year, is drawing Canada Pension Plan benefits of $12,000 a year, for a total of $32,580. Their retirement spending goal is $120,000 a year after tax.

“Can we retire as planned with our income target and not have any financial concerns?” Bob asks. How can they keep income taxes to a minimum?

We asked Matthew Ardrey, a financial planner and portfolio manager at TriDelta Financial in Toronto, to look at Bob and Roberta’s situation. Mr. Ardrey holds the certified financial planner (CFP), advanced registered financial planner (RFP) and chartered investment manager (CIM) designations.

What the expert says

“Looking at their situation, the first thing that jumps out is the significant amount of company stock Roberta owns,” the planner says. The shares in Roberta’s employer represents about 34 per cent of their total investable assets.

“Though the stock has been quite profitable for them, it represents a significant concentration risk in their investment portfolio,” the planner says. If something happened to Roberta’s company, it would have “major ramifications” on their ability to retire.

Including Roberta’s company shares in their investment asset mix, Roberta and Bob have about 79 per cent of their portfolio in stocks, 9 per cent in bonds, 8 per cent in equity alternative investments and 4 per cent in cash. “As they move into retirement, they will need to reduce their volatility risk and increase their focus on income,” the planner says.

Roberta is contributing the maximum to her RRSP and TSFA, which she has built up again. She is making no other savings. Bob is collecting his pension and has just started his CPP benefits.

To rebuild Bob’s TFSA, they asked whether a spousal loan from Roberta might make sense. Instead, the planner recommends an RRSP meltdown strategy in which Bob takes $20,000 a year from his RRSP from now to age 69. That would put him just over the lowest Alberta income tax bracket, which changes from 25 per cent to 30.5 per cent at $50,197 a year of income.

If Bob wanted to withdraw even more, he could do so at 30.5 per cent up to a limit of $100,392, at which point the tax rate would increase to 36 per cent. The planner’s forecast assumes Bob withdraws $20,000 a year and deposits it in his TFSA. Doing this for the next five years would enable him to catch up on his TFSA room, the planner says. Once he had contributed as much as possible, Bob could continue to contribute the annual maximum thereafter.

In 2023, when Roberta retires, she will have an additional $65,000 of income from her stock options and employee stock plan (based on the current stock price). “Thus, she would not start her RRSP meltdown until 2024,” the planner says.

“In 2024, I assume a $25,000 RRSP withdrawal for Roberta and a redemption of company shares of $50,000,” the planner says. Roberta will sell the company stock over 10 years to mitigate capital gains taxes and diversify the portfolio, he says.

Bob and Roberta assume they will live to age 95. Because of that and the meltdown strategies, the planner recommends Roberta wait until age 70 to take her CPP. This will increase Roberta’s CPP benefit by 42 per cent from age 65 and Old Age Security benefits for both of them by 36 per cent.

“This is an important consideration given their expected longevity and inflation,” which the planner estimates will average 3 per cent a year. The forecast rate of return on a balanced portfolio is 5.25 per cent before retirement, and 4.5 per cent after.

The annual fees on their investments average 1.22 per cent, excluding Roberta’s company shares. “They are being charged an account fee of 0.80 per cent, included in the 1.22 per cent,” the planner says. This 0.80 per cent fee is assumed to be on the company shares.

“I would suggest Bob and Roberta request that the fees on the Roberta’s company stock be waived,” the planner says. “I have clients in similar situations and do not charge for holding their company shares. It is a material expense – about $8,000 per year.”

Based on the above assumptions, Bob and Roberta likely can meet their retirement goal of spending $120,000 per year, the planner says. To be sure, he stress tests the projection using a Monte Carlo simulation, which introduces randomness to a number of factors, including returns.

For a plan to be considered likely to succeed, it must have at least a 90-per-cent success rate. If the rate is below 70 per cent, success is considered unlikely. Bob and Roberta’s simulation indicates a probability of success of 76 per cent.

They could benefit by further diversifying their portfolio, and potentially increasing their returns, by adding exposure to non-traditional asset classes such as income-producing, privately owned real estate funds, the planner says. These investments tend not to move up and down with the stock market. As well, they can be expected to offer higher returns than fixed-income securities such as bonds.

“Real estate investment trusts that invest in a large, diversified residential portfolio, or perhaps in specific areas like wireless network infrastructure, are preferable to REITs that have a large exposure to retail,” the planner says.

“By diversifying their portfolio, we estimate could achieve at least 5 per cent return net of fees (post-retirement) and significantly reduce the volatility risk of the portfolio.”

Many private real estate investments are tax efficient because their distributions are part or all return of capital, the planner says. “With this adjustment, the change in the Monte Carlo simulation would be material, moving up to a 97 per cent probability of success.”

Client situation

The people: Bob, 62, and Roberta, 59.

The problem: Can they still achieve their retirement goals even though Bob was laid off?

The plan: Bob begins to melt down his RRSP now. When Roberta retires, she does the same. She also begins to sell off her company stock. They take steps to improve their rate of return.

The payoff: All their goals achieved.

Monthly net income: $14,265.

Monthly outlays: Property tax $525; water, sewer $165; home and car insurance $375; electricity $170; heating $195; maintenance, security $120; garden $100; transportation $250; groceries $1,000; clothing $310; bank fees $75; gifts, charity $210; vacation, travel $3,000; dining, drinks, entertainment $1,050; personal care $300; club memberships $1,000; golf $400; hobbies $105; subscriptions $80; health care $200; health, dental insurance $300; communications $360. Total: $10,290. Surplus goes to RRSPs, TFSAs, health care and other unallocated expenses.

Assets: Her bank account $49,000; his bank account $40,000; her registered stock plan $36,000; her non-registered company stock $95,000; her non-registered investment portfolio $1,107,120; his portfolio $6,600; her TFSA $121,315; her RRSP $1,381,995; his RRSP $571,000; residence $850,000. Total: $4.25-million.

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

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

FINANCIAL FACELIFT: Should Leo and Linda reboot their retirement spending plan to buy a bigger townhouse?


Below you will find a real life case study of a couple who is looking for financial advice on how best to arrange their financial affairs. Their names and details have been changed to protect their identity. The Globe and Mail often seeks the advice of our VP, Wealth Advisor & Portfolio Manager, Matthew Ardrey, to review and analyze the situation and then provide his solutions to the participants.

Written by:
Special to The Globe and Mail
Published July 10, 2022

In their early 50s, with well-paying executive jobs, Leo and Linda want to sell their two-bedroom Toronto townhouse and buy a larger one, which would mean taking on substantial new mortgage debt.

They have no children “and are in the sweet spot of our respective careers,” Leo writes in an e-mail. He grosses $200,000 a year while she makes $125,000. Their existing townhouse is valued at $800,000 with a mortgage outstanding of $180,000 that they plan to pay off in four years. They have some savings but no work pensions.

“Can we afford to upsize our house and still hit our retirement goals?” Leo asks. “Is it advisable to carry mortgage debt into retirement?”

Leo plans to retire from work at age 67, Linda at 65. They plan to travel extensively for the first few years. Their retirement spending goal is $120,000 a year. “This covers our typical living and spending patterns and would provide a sleep-at-night factor,” Leo writes.

We asked Matthew Ardrey, a vice-president and portfolio manager at TriDelta Financial in Toronto, to look at Leo and Linda’s situation. Mr. Ardrey holds the certified financial planner (CFP), advanced registered financial planner (RFP) and chartered investment manager (CIM) designations.

What the expert says

“First, we looked at a base case scenario where they did not buy a larger home,” Mr. Ardrey says. Each month, they save $2,000 to Leo’s RRSP and $1,400 to Linda’s. They save another $1,000 a month to Leo’s tax-free savings account. Each year, they have a surplus that also goes to savings. They spend about $9,500 a month on their lifestyle, plus another $3,400 on accelerated mortgage payments.

“In this scenario, we first assume from their surplus that they maximize their RRSPs,” the planner says. “Being in high tax brackets, this makes sense for their retirement.” The remaining surplus is assumed to be split between each of their TFSAs.

By 2026, Leo’s TFSA is maximized and by 2028, so is Linda’s, Mr. Ardrey says. They continue to make maximum annual TFSA contributions and any additional surplus is saved in a joint non-registered investment account.

Leo and Linda both spent part of their lives working abroad so they will have a slight reduction in their Old Age Security and Canada Pension Plan entitlements. Some of the CPP benefits may be offset by other social security agreements.

Leo and Linda went into the recent tumble in financial markets fully invested in stocks. They have since pared their holdings to 60 per cent with the balance in cash. They intend to rebuild their stock portfolio in time. They’ve asked the planner to assume they are 100 per cent in stocks going forward while they are working.

“Though I did use their assumption, I do have concerns with them liquidating a substantial part of their portfolio during a downturn,” he says. “I feel that their asset mix may not have been appropriate for their risk tolerance.” Indeed, “history has shown us that one of the worst things you can do for your returns is to exit when the market goes down. Not only do you crystalize your losses, but you also often miss out on a good part of the market recovery.”

In preparing his forecast, Mr. Ardrey assumes Leo and Linda shift from 100 per cent in equities to a balanced portfolio of 60 per cent stocks and 40 per cent bonds when they retire. He assumes they live to age 95 and the inflation rate averages 3 per cent. They earn 6.01 per cent on their investment while they are working and 4.74 per cent after they have retired. Total assets at Leo’s age 65 are estimated to be $3.1-million in future dollars.

“Under these assumptions, they do not meet their spending goal,” the planner says. Leo runs into a shortfall at age 92. “When we run the Monte Carlo simulation, the result is only a 38-per-cent probability of success.” (A Monte Carlo simulation is a computer program that tests a forecast against a number of random factors.) For a plan to be considered likely to succeed, it must have at least a 90-per-cent success rate.

Leo and Linda could benefit by further diversifying their portfolio, and potentially increasing their returns, by adding exposure to non-traditional asset classes such as private real estate funds that are not correlated to the stock market, Mr. Ardrey says. As well, many private real estate investments are tax efficient because they have distributions that are part or all return of capital, he adds.

Real estate investment trusts that invest in a large, diversified residential portfolio, or perhaps specific areas such as wireless network infrastructure, are preferable to ones that have a large exposure to retail, the planner says.

For Linda and Leo to reach the likely to succeed range, they will need to not only improve their investment returns, but also reduce their spending in retirement to 90 per cent of their target; that is, from $10,000 a month to $9,000, “which is not unrealistic.”

In the second scenario, the planner looks at what would happen if Leo and Linda sell their current home and buy a larger one for $1.5-million. They would need to take on a mortgage of about $870,000.

“It’s not surprising that the larger home purchase further impairs their ability to retire as planned.” They face their first shortfall at Leo’s age 81. The Monte Carlo simulation shows only a 6-per-cent probability of success.

To reach the likely area in the Monte Carlo simulation, they would need to improve their investment returns and also reduce their retirement spending to 60 per cent of their target, the planner says. This would be a material change in their lifestyle. “Linda and Leo must decide what is more important to them, a larger home or a larger lifestyle.”

Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet when it comes to retirement planning, Mr. Ardrey says. “If the plan is not working, we have to look to higher returns, an increase in the amount and duration of savings or a reduction in spending.”

With the increasing cost of housing in Canada’s major cities, the decision facing Leo and Linda is the one facing many Canadians, the planner says: their house or their lifestyle.

Client situation

The people: Leo, 55, and Linda, 52

The problem: Can they afford to buy a bigger house without jeopardizing their retirement spending goal?

The plan: Give up the idea of upsizing and taking on debt. Take steps to improve investment returns and lower expectations for retirement spending from $10,000 a month to $9,000.

The payoff: Understanding their financial limitations, which will help them feel more satisfied with what they have.

Monthly net income: $19,870

Assets: Bank account $30,000; his TFSA $13,000; her TFSA $1,000; his RRSP $225,000; her RRSP $300,000; residence $800,000. Total: $1.37-million

Monthly outlays: Mortgage $3,400; property tax $250; home insurance $50; electricity, heat $250; maintenance $1,050; transportation $600; groceries $1,300; clothing $300; car loan $700; vacation, travel $1,200; dining out $1,000; entertainment $1,000; other personal $1,000; health care $225; health, disability insurance $250; communications $350; RRSPs $3,400; RESP for niece and nephew $350; TFSAs $1,000. Total: $17,675

Liabilities: Mortgage $180,000 at 3.17 per cent; car loan zero per cent $9,000. Total: $189,000

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 & Portfolio Manager
(416) 733-3292 x230

Financial Post / Rechtshaffen: Interest rates are still rising, but investors should start preparing for when they come back down


Variable rates will likely be a benefit once again in the midterm

The Bank of Canada over the past 30 years has had six periods of interest-rate hikes, ranging from 1.25 to 3.2 percentage points, before this most recent set in 2022.

The one thing they all had in common was that it didn’t take long for each of them to be followed by a period of declining interest rates, ranging from 1.25 to 5.125 percentage points.

One logical reason for this is that rate rises are meant to slow down the economy, and rate declines are meant to boost the economy. There is a general view that the increases typically start too late, and so rates are still rising after the economy is already slowing. Once they really start to take effect, the impact can be too much, and the central bank has to do a quick about-face.

Let’s do a quick review of the six rises and falls since 1994.

In October 1994, the Bank of Canada’s overnight rate was 4.94 per cent. Over the next four months, it rose significantly to 8.125 per cent — a rise of 3.2 percentage points. Over the following nine months, it declined to 5.94 per cent, and one year later it was sitting at three per cent. This was a large rise and fall historically, but it outlines how quickly rates can rise and how steep the ultimate decline can be.

The next period of rate adjustments saw the overnight rate rise to 5.75 per cent from three per cent over a 15-month period in 1997 and 1998. The subsequent decline wasn’t as steep, but it did drop over the following nine months to 4.5 per cent in May 1999.

In October 1999, the rate was still 4.5 per cent, but then rose to 5.75 per cent by May 2000. One year later, it was back to 4.5 per cent and it was all the way down to two per cent by January 2002.

Over a 25-month period from March 2002 to April 2004, the rate went from two per cent to 3.25 per cent and back to two per cent.

During a relatively prosperous time, the rate rose to 4.5 per cent in July 2007 from 2.5 per cent in August 2005. But the financial crisis of 2008 started to rear its head, and rates fell first to three per cent by April 2008 and all the way to 0.25 per cent a year later.

More recently, the rate in June 2017 was at 0.5 per cent, rose to 1.75 per cent by October 2018, and then dropped to 0.25 per cent by March 2020 when COVID-19 began.

What does this mean for today? So far, we are 1.25 percentage points into an interest-rate-hiking cycle. Some think there are another one or two more points in front of us. Others think it will be less than that. What if the overnight rate goes from 0.25 per cent (where it was in February 2022) to 2.75 per cent? For many of us, that would be a bad thing because our borrowing costs would be meaningfully higher. However, if we were somewhat confident that rates would soon be heading down from there, would that ease our concerns?

History suggests this will happen. The six hiking cycles averaged 13 months in length. The current one is four months in. The six declining cycles began on average 5.7 months after the hikes stopped, but it happened within three months in three of the six scenarios. The average interest rate hike was 1.95 percentage points and the average decline was 2.85 percentage points.

History can be a guide, but certainly not a clear roadmap. If all we did was simply look at the averages here, it would suggest that we have another 0.7 percentage points of rate hikes, which would take another nine months to reach. Interest rates would then start to decline by September 2023 and eventually drop all the way back to 0.25 per cent (or more if it was possible).

Of course, each scenario is different, so things won’t simply follow these averages. The causes are different and the starting point on interest rates is different. That said, this cycle has been very repetitive over the past 30 years.

If I had to guess, I would expect the rate-hiking timeline will be shorter than 13 months, but that rates will move up by more than just 0.7 percentage points. I believe the start of the rate declines might happen sooner than September 2023. The implied policy curve for Canada currently suggests that rate hikes will peak in six months and then start to decline with the following year. This doesn’t mean that this is a fact, but it shows that even today, the implied policy rate is giving some indication of the same cycle we have seen several times before.

Another clue as to why the next cycle might look like the past is that even the Bank of Canada has said one of the reasons for increasing rates is so it will have some greater tools and leverage to help the economy by lowering rates if we go into a recession or something similar.

If that is the future, what does that mean for investors and borrowers?

Variable-rate borrowers will feel more pain in the near future, but it isn’t a one-way road. Variable rates will likely be a benefit once again in the midterm.

If you are looking at buying guaranteed investment certificates, annuities or bonds, it may still be a little early to lock in or invest, but there will likely be a sweet spot to do so later this year or in the first half of next year.

High inflation and higher interest rates seem like the obvious situation today, but this may shift in the not-too-distant future, so don’t go overboard with this investing thesis as it can turn on you. You want to be nimble.

The key message here is that we should not panic about runaway rate hikes. They will continue to rise, but it is also very likely that we will see rates fall shortly after the hikes stop. Maybe this rollover will happen by the end of this year or at some point in 2023, but being prepared for this scenario will allow for some investment opportunities and debt opportunities to be maximized.

Reproduced from Financial Post, July 12, 2022 .

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