How market volatility can work for the investor

What is market volatility? Volatility is when prices of stocks and equity funds increasingly shift in value up or down. When a low-volatility period is followed by increases in volatility, stock markets may begin to offer lower prices, which can effectually present lower priced fund units, both offering a buying opportunity for the investor.

The stock market can both gain value in a “bull market” and can have periods of slow down referred to as a “correction” or if more prolonged, a “bear market”.

Many investors have seen their investments increase dramatically since the 2008-9 financial crisis that affected all the world’s markets. Further, since 2020 during the pandemic, the market has experienced remarkable gains as investors moved into another big opportunity after an extreme correction based on fear in mid-March 2021 occurred. Many of these investors have also witnessed a remarkable bull market taking many stocks and equity funds much higher than their previous years’ valuation. Conversely, investors who unwisely sold their holdings out of fear lost money.

The ideal strategy exercised by most successful contrarian investors like Warren Buffet is to buy investments when others are fearful, and they are selling their holdings at lowering prices.

When buying opportunities abound The market can experience increased volatility due to fears such as various wars, debt crises of countries, economic slow-downs, or the potential of rising interest rates.

Nevertheless, during periods of higher volatility, wise investors think positively, relying on the professionals managing their investment portfolios.

Predesigned investment plans are important Though periods of volatility occur, it is important to exercise patience while maintaining a balanced and well-diversified portfolio according to a prescribed investment plan.

Plan with your advisor to establish a buying plan when others may be fearful. Market cycles of volatility are normal and expected.

 

Is a Life Insurance benefit taxable?

The advantages of life insurance are well known: It is foundational to a sound financial plan to ensure peace of mind for your family if anything were to happen to you.

A policy’s death benefit, payable to your estate or beneficiary when you die, maintains financial stability. The family can pay final expenses, any debt such as credit cards or business debts, and cover ongoing costs.

Is the death benefit taxable?

Most of the cash received from a life insurance contract is not subject to income tax. Your beneficiaries — spouse, children, grandchildren or other beneficiary allocated will not need to report life insurance benefit proceeds on their tax return as taxable income. However, if you have assigned your estate as the beneficiary, the death benefit could be subject to tax. Moreover, fiscal gifts or inheritances generally are not taxable. 

Beneficiaries or heirs do not owe estate inheritance tax or death tax. It is the estate of the deceased that pays any such tax due to the government. If the policy owner’s estate is the policy’s beneficiary, the death benefit may — in some cases be subject to tax. 2 

When could a taxable situation arise?

When you own a permanent life insurance policy, accumulating interest or equity investments made to a policy’s cash value, taxes will be payable on that growth gained above the cost base of money invested. 3 

Upon your beneficiaries receiving any investment earnings from the policy, along with a death benefit, the increase on investments, not the death benefit, would be taxable as income.

Likewise, you will pay taxes on any increase in cash value based on the investments in the policy fund — should you surrender the policy and receive its cash value in return. 

Tax Reporting Rules for Life Insurance Payouts

The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) makes receiving life insurance proceeds easy for beneficiaries relative to tax reporting. Unless the tax is due on the above-stated earnings, these amounts do not need reporting as taxable income on a tax return.

What if there is an increase in the cash value? 

These amounts don’t need reporting as taxable income on a tax return unless some tax is due on interest earnings. If there are interest earnings, it will be reported to the beneficiary by the insurance company on a T5 slip, reportable on line 121 of the beneficiary’s return (or of the policy owner when surrendering the cash value of the policy).

1 Canada.ca 

2 Turbo Tax

3 Turbo Tax

4 Canda.ca

 

Long-Term Care Insurance (LTCI) 

We face a rapidly ageing population.

Since the 1920s, the ratio of seniors over the age of 85 has more than doubled. This number increases into the 2050s will be over age 85.

Who will care for you in your old age? When our health is fine, it is hard to imagine that we may, as many will, lose the ability to manage basic daily activities such as bathing, toileting, walking, dressing, feeding, or moving from our bed to a chair. Many also lose mental faculties that we often take for granted, such as memory, logical or conceptual thinking or referencing dialogue with others. Without assistance, it is near-impossible to function without these capacities.

Long-Term Care Insurance is an insurance contract with an insurer designed to provide care for our chronic illness, disability, or an accident, all of which have a higher potential of occurring as we age.

Some families are incapable of caring for a senior LTCI protects our families from the financial strain of providing long-term care, just as important as life and disability insurance protects the income of younger families. The question is, who will financially support long-term care for you? LTCI is not just for seniors but for those who become similarly incapacitated at any age.

Without a plan, your choices may be limited. It is essential to plan for our long-term care independently because our government healthcare budgets and initiatives are limited. They generally place people in government-funded facilities that have beds available. As we witnessed in the pandemic, many long-term care facilities had difficulty coping with the virus spread.

Most people entirely overlook the enormous expense of paying for a private long-term care facility (some cost up to a quarter of a million dollars for five years). Why are they so expensive? They offer 24/7 high-level nursing care in a highly secure environment. Note: Anyone can call a few private long-term care companies and inquire about their care costs.

Ageing baby boomers retiring will increasingly depend on long-term care insurance, either paid for by themselves, their children or professional health care services.

The need for Long-Term Care Insurance is increasing as medical intervention and medications keep us living longer.

  • Every year, about 50,000 strokes occur in Canada. A stroke is the leading cause of a transfer from a hospital to a long-term care facility.
  • Nearly 10% (1 in 11) of Canadians over age 65 are affected by Alzheimer’s disease or related dementia.
  • An increasing demographic (7%) of Canadians age 65 and over are residing in healthcare institutions.
  • An additional 28% of Canadians age 65 and over receive care for a long-term health problem outside of a healthcare institution.

As the populace ages, more care for the elderly, such as respite care (additional home care services), will increasingly be needed to provide family members with the medical guidance and support they need to continue caring for their loved ones. With this in mind, are our families financially prepared to deal with peripheral costs associated with providing long-term care for loved ones?

  • A study authored by Dr Marcus Hollander and Neena Chappell of the University of Victoria found that approximately $25 billion worth of unpaid care is provided willingly by family members and friends in place of paid care.

What does Long-term Care Insurance (LTC) offer? Long-term care insurance provides money to pay for the care that you both desire and need. With LTC insurance, you have:

  • Broader choices about the quality and amount of care you receive.
  • An increase of options when determining where you receive care and by whom.

Source: Statistics Canada, pre-baby boomer info

Sources: Canadian Institute for Health Information, Alzheimer Society website, Statistics Canada

 

Group Benefits and Employee Addictions

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Ten percent of the Canadian population report symptoms consistent with substance dependency. In the USA, the ratio is similar.

Source: Statistics Canada

Employers may watch for:

  • regular absence patterns
  • late for work
  • poor focus affecting production
  • confused about directives
  • appearing tired or stressed, or lazy
  • not collaborating well with other employees
  • a short temper
  • increased mistakes or wrong interpretations of duties

Have a policy for your employees who may suffer from substance abuse. Employers may have to find ways to approach, address, manage and/or get counsel for an addicted employee. The policy can also advise that your company suggest accessing an organization’s employee assistance program (EAP).

For an employee who suffers from an addiction to be eligible for group benefits, a group benefits plan may require that the employee disabled by addiction be introduced to a treatment program.


 

Group Critical Illness Insurance

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Group Critical Illness Insurance 

News of a critical illness can be very upsetting to a plan member. When you can offer them financial support during a difficult time with a Group Critical Illness Insurance plan, the employee can manage with the extra resources better.

Group Critical Illness Insurance Allows the critically ill to focus on recovery rather than worry about finances. It pays a lump sum amount when a plan member is diagnosed with a covered life-threatening illness.  The insurance benefit payment can be used as the plan member chooses. It is available to plan members and dependants.

Once a claim is approved for someone diagnosed with a covered illness, he or she is paid a lump sum. The money may be used however the person chooses, such as private nursing or medical care, modifications to a home or childcare costs, allowing the person to focus on recovery and managing the illness.

You can offer Group Critical Illness Insurance to plan members and their dependants while giving them an option to purchase additional coverage for themselves and their spouse. Benefits can be structured as either a flat amount (i.e. $25,000 to $100,000) or a multiple of the plan member’s salary.

Covered illnesses

Most standard plans cover these common major illnesses:

  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Coronary artery bypass surgery
  • Cancer

Dependent on the plan, it may cover the illnesses above, plus:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Aortic surgery
  • Benign brain tumour
  • Blindness
  • Coma
  • Deafness
  • Heart valve replacement
  • Kidney failure
  • Loss of independent existence
  • Loss of limbs
  • Loss of speech
  • Major organ transplants
  • Motor neuron disease
  • Multiple Sclerosis
  • Occupational HIV
  • Paralysis
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Severe burns

Business employee retirement planning

Employee Retirement Plans incorporate the following:

• Analysis of available investment vehicles and associated yields
• Investment tracking and reinvestment alternatives
• Individual financial and investment consulting
• Establishment and management of individual registered and non-registered retirement savings plans such as:

• Self-directed RRSPs, group RRSPs, & RESPs with the following investment alternatives: investment funds, segregated funds, and labour-sponsored funds.

Group Retirement Options

When your employees retire or are approaching retirement, they will need help through this period of change. Professionals are available to educate your employees about all available retirement income vehicles.  We offer the expertise and services to ease the transition to retirement for your retirees:

• Retirement consulting
• Retirement income projections
• Establishment of retirement income vehicles such as RRSPs, RRIFs, LIRAs, LIFs, annuities

Individual Group Investment Products

Whether you are making investment contributions to save for future expenses or retirement, the Group Investment Program allows you to take control of your personal portfolio and achieve your financial goals with peace of mind.

• Lower investment management fees
• No front- or back-end sales charges
• No deferred sales charges
• No minimum investment
• Self-directed RRSPs
• No annual administration fees
• Consolidated statements

The Fundamentals of Financial Independence

Here are some essential strategies that will help you achieve financial independence. It is important to get solid advice to design a plan that incorporates planning values such as those noted herein.

Separate your savings from your investments. Before you begin to invest for a long-term financial goal, you’ll need to save for an emergency fund – up to six months worth of your salary. Then you are prepared for an unexpected expense such as an engine job on the car, a leaky roof or loss of employment. Otherwise, you may need to tap into your investments intended for retirement or some other purpose.

Budget based on your income, not on your desire. Plan to spend less than you earn and don’t take on debt that your future income cannot service. Budgeting is based on your income, not on your past spending habits. Total your monthly expenses such as housing, utilities, food, clothing, child-care, transportation and debt repayment. This sum should not exceed 75% of your after-tax income.

Invest by paying yourself first. You will only beat the habit of procrastination if you focus on paying yourself first. A rule of thumb: save 10% to 20% of every paycheck. You can achieve such investing by purchasing units in a potentially promising investment fund systematically, using an automatic payment program.

Use beneficial debt to build equity. Minimize and pay off consumer debts – monies borrowed to purchase cars, clothing, vacations, stereos and other gadgets that devalue over time. Whereas debt to help you achieve an education or mortgage a home and is acceptable debt.

Differentiate your risks. Inflation risk will compete with long-term investment risk. Equity investment funds or the stocks of many companies are not guaranteed, meaning there is a risk. Yet equities have a much better chance to outpace the adverse risk of inflation—or as some have humorously termed shrinkflation—when compared to a savings account over time. Inflation is the single most significant long-term risk. At 4% over 20 years, inflation will cut the value of today’s purchasing power by half.

Determine to diversify. A properly diversified portfolio will hold several types of funds, including a mix of equity funds. Equity funds should differ in terms of what sector of the economy they invest in, such as agriculture, technology, mining, or finance. Though each fund would hold many stocks, make sure they diversify among the various sectors. One sector may gain while another may lose some value, balancing out over time. Equity funds can also diversify by country (such as holding domestic, US and global funds); investment style (such as growth funds or value funds); or company size (such as small, mid, or large-cap). Consider adding bond funds to the mix to diversify even more.

Optimize your portfolio. If you can optimize your portfolio, you may minimize the risks to help your return on investment. To truly optimize, one needs in-depth knowledge only obtainable from a professional whose job is to study funds as a speciality. To diversify in a balanced manner, one needs to weigh many factors concerning economic sectors, managers’ styles, company size, and foreign economic conditions.

The Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) for Educational Planning

Facts about an RESP

A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is a savings plan registered with the government that can help you save for your child’s post-secondary education.

Money invested in an RESP grows tax-deferred. The government helps contribute to your savings with education grants.

Later in life, as your child enrolls at a qualifying post-secondary institution, you can withdraw the funds for educational purposes. The payments made from these funds are called Educational Assistance Payments (EAPs).

Invested income and government grants received when withdrawn from the RESP are taxable. You do not pay tax on the contributions you made using your own money. Then these amounts are taxed in the tax return of the student – usually with little or no tax payable as students generally will be in the lowest tax bracket.

How do RESPs help my money accumulate?

  • Starting to use an RESP for your child early, while they are young, gives you more time for your contributed funds to grow.
  • The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) will match 20% of annual contributions, up to $500 per year
  • These contributions can continue until you reach the lifetime limit of $7,200 per child
  • Investing your Canada Child Benefit can assist you while saving enough to qualify for the maximum CESG amount

Federal Government-funded education grants

The Government of Canada supports saving for a child’s education by offering grants to a child’s RESP – offering you additional funds to accumulate educational savings.

The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG)

The basic Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) increases your year by year contribution by 20%, up to $500 per beneficiary each year to a lifetime limit of $7,200 per beneficiary. Additional CESG grants may be available, depending on your income.

Please talk to us for more information about the RESP and the CESG grant as it applies to your province.

Source: CRA

Education’s effect on future income

How parents help shape the financial future of their children

In Canada, the government allows a welcome tax break when you save for your child’s education. As parents, we need to consider the effect that education will have on the future income and lifestyle of our children.

The Internet is bringing many changes quickly: Amazon is replacing many of our once-renowned retailers. Google sweepingly controls business success: who gets to view your website and consequently buy your services is based on paying for Google AdWords. The world has moved into one of the most profound eras of change in human history. Our children, for the most part, are just not prepared for this new reality. The gap to accessing a secure income, or obtaining a job with a substantial retirement pension is widening.

Parents who can see the chaos, the economic uncertainty, the stress and the complexity in the world, know intuitively that the new wave of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) call for an educational revolution. Our children must be able to get a post-secondary education while aiming for higher accreditation in a career known to provide substantial income that keeps up with inflation. Serious financial planning can provide significant funds to go to university or college. The Financial Comfort Zone Study found the following:

“Canadians who establish registered education savings plans (RESPs) for their children are setting their kids up for financial success later in life because there’s a direct correlation between having post-secondary education and wealth”.1

The study revealed the following:

• Among those holding a postgraduate degree (the highest level of education), 23% have investible assets of $500,000 or more, whereas approximately only 11% if the schooling is at the post-secondary level.

• Of those with only a high-school diploma, only 8% have investible assets of $500,000 or more, while 72% have investible assets of $100,000 or less.

Parents can influence the education of their children by fostering the right attitude toward the need for educational training for a financially sustainable future.

“Among parents who gave education a high rating of importance and who had one or more children living at home, 49% indicated they had established an RESP for their children. Similarly, 45% of parents who gave education a medium rating of importance and who had one or more children living at home indicated that they had established an RESP for their children. In contrast, only 15% of parents who gave education a low rating in terms of importance and who had one or more children living at home had established an RESP for their children.” 2

What ways can we plan for our Child’s education? Consider using both the traditional Registered Educational Savings Plan (RESP) and the Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) as an educational savings vehicle. A TFSA offers parents another tax-efficient method to provide for education planning.

1 Credo Consulting Inc. and Investment Executive

2 ibid