The recent stock market crash and plunging interest rates may have some investors scrambling for safe havens. Stocks fell by as much as 35 percent (before recovering about half of those losses), while the interest rate on GICs and savings accounts in particular have dropped in lock-step with the Bank of Canada’s emergency rate cuts.
Everyone’s situation is unique. First, we all need to be mindful of our personal finances to ensure we have enough cash flow to get through this crisis.
Investors still in the accumulation stage with several years or even decades to go before retirement can confidently stick to a risk-appropriate investing plan.
Those nearing retirement should consider building a safety buffer of cash and GICs to cover their spending needs in the first years of retirement.
Retirees have different goals, such as balancing current income needs with the need to continue growing their portfolio to cover future spending.
One caution for investors of any age is to avoid chasing yield. We’re in extraordinary times, when banks and energy companies have dividend yields in the 7-10 percent range.
As attractive as those yields look to income-hungry investors, it’s not hard to imagine any of these companies, even our treasured banks, suspending, cutting, or even eliminating dividends at some point in the future. There’s a long list of nearly 50 companies that have already done so since March of this year.
On the fixed income side, we know that cautious savers want their money to at least keep up with inflation. One reader asked whether market-linked GICs were worth a look:
“With the GIC rates dropping again, and not being interested in investing in the stock market at our age, what is your opinion on market-linked GICs? Your principal is safe and there’s good upside potential if markets perform well.”
To be blunt, I’m not a fan of market-linked GICs. In fact, you’re most likely better off with plain vanilla GIC.
Remember you cannot have reward without taking risk. The promise of “some market upside” with these products is often mis-sold to investors who think they can have their cake and eat it too.
Banks have pushed market-linked GICs for years as interest rates plunged to historic lows. With this clever marketing gimmick, investors are guaranteed to get back their principal if markets go down, but also get to participate in some of the stock market growth if things go well.
The actual interest rate is linked to stock market returns through a complex formula that requires an advanced degree in mathematics to figure out.
Here’s an example from a few years ago that still holds true today:
This Week’s Recap:
Here are my posts from the past two weeks.
Should you postpone retirement amid the coronavirus crisis?
Last weekend I opened up the money bag to answer reader questions about moving to Questrade, investing in energy stocks, and more.
On Wednesday I listed the top ETFs and model portfolios for Canadian investors.
Over on Young & Thrifty I looked at whether now is a good time to invest in stocks.
The market crash last month may give investors an opportunity to crystallize capital losses in their taxable investing accounts. I’m working on a new piece with Wealthsimple to show how the robo advisor handles tax loss harvesting for its clients. Stay tuned for that in the coming week or two.
Promo of the Week:
I’ve received a lot of feedback from readers who are interested in switching to a discount broker like Questrade or Wealthsimple Trade.
You might want to do so if you’re already a self-directed investor with one of the big bank brokerages and are tired of paying fees for every trade (that’s why I switched from TD Direct to Wealthsimple Trade earlier this year).
Another reason to switch is to simply take control of your finances. Many investors are still heavily invested in expensive actively managed mutual funds with a bank sales person or investment advisor, paying 2 percent or more each year on their investments.
By switching to a discount broker and investing in low cost ETFs, investors can slash their fees to the bone.
Nervous to take the plunge? Try investing in an asset allocation ETF like Vanguard’s VBAL or VGRO, or iShares’ XBAL or XGRO. These one-ticket solutions take the guesswork out of investing because they are automatically monitored and rebalanced behind the scenes so you can focus your time and energy on other activities besides your investment portfolio. Truly a set-it-and-forget-it option.
Wealthsimple Trade is Canada’s first and only zero-commission trading platform where investors can trade stocks and ETFs for free in an RRSP, TFSA, or non-registered account. Sign up for Wealthsimple Trade today.
For most robust investing needs, including for LIRAs, Margin, and Corporate accounts, Questrade is still the king of low-cost investing in Canada. You can purchase ETFs for free and trade stocks for as little as $4.95. Take your savings further with a registered account at Questrade.
Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz shares his thoughts on the current pandemic and laying a foundation for the road to recovery.
Rob Carrick is helping his readers through the pandemic with a weekly personal finance update. His latest explains why you should clean out your big bank savings account that’s paying next to nothing in interest.
My Own Advisor blogger Mark Seed explains how he’s preparing his finances for a global recession.
A stark reminder that home equity lines of credit are actually callable loans that can be taken away by your bank in times of trouble.
Carleton associate professor Jennifer Robson offers a great explanation to those of us asking why can’t the government just send everyone a stimulus cheque.
Preet Banerjee has done a great job keeping Canadians informed of federal government stimulus measures, including the most recent changes to the CERB:
Another Carleton professor, Frances Woolley, explains the behavioural economics of the Marie Kondo method. Marie Kondo is the guru behind the best-selling Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and Spark Joy.
Morgan Housel asks two big questions – one economic, one more social – that seem crucial to pay attention to as we think about recovery.
Here’s a brilliant thread on Twitter – a Q&A with Costco founder Jim Senegal:
for my marketing class this morning the founder of Costco(!!!) Jim Senegal is speaking & doing a Q&A. does anyone have any questions?
ps Jim is one of the sweetest and most humble people I’ve ever met.
— Paige Doherty (@paigefinnn) April 16, 2020
The latest Canadian Portfolio Manager podcast with PWL Capital’s Justin Bender sheds light on his “Light” model ETF portfolios that include the asset allocation ETFs offered by Vanguard and iShares.
Seniors who don’t need all of their RRIF money this year should consider this workaround.
Here’s Millionaire Teacher Andrew Hallam speaking to retired Canadian investors about what to do with the investments during the COVID-19 market crash:
Michael James on Money uses a personal example to explain how rebalancing does its job.
Finally, is it your dream to work from home full-time? Our friends at Credit Card Genius share 20 ways to work from home.
Have a great weekend, everyone!