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If the term robo-adviser conjures up images of C-3PO controlling your money, relax: we’re not robots. So, why are Canadians making the switch to a robo-adviser? We leverage technology to create a modern online experience for the benefit of our clients.

“Robo-adviser” is a recent term, used to describe a variety of new and innovative online financial institutions. These firms offer lower-cost investment management and advice but being online doesn’t mean humans aren’t involved, or that you can’t talk to one. For example, at WealthBar clients receive personalized financial advice from a real financial adviser.

This includes tax-optimization, retirement planning, insurance and more. The term “robo-adviser” may be a bit of a misnomer but it does capture how these firms leverage technology to create a leaner, more efficient business, while also improving the client’s experience. This allows firms like WealthBar to advise clients online and at a distance, without the need for fancy offices and inconvenient face-to-face meetings. Investing with a robo-adviser doesn’t mean sacrificing quality, service or trust, it means more convenience, faster service and, most importantly, lower costs.

Much like online banking, “robo-advisers” represent an evolution of financial planning and investing. If you’re not sure if online advice is right for you, here are five key benefits to consider:

Lower Fees

Online advisers cost substantially less compared to traditional advisers. If you invest through a bank, you probably pay for advice through a commission embedded in the management fees on your investments. For a balanced fund, the total fees may be around 2.5%. If instead, your investments are managed by an independent adviser, you may have a fee-based arrangement with them. Fee-based advisers typically charge between 1% – 2% for advice, plus the cost of investments, which add up to 1% more. In either case – whether through a bank or a fee-based adviser – you are likely paying more than double what you would working with an online adviser. Online firms like WealthBar have management fees that range from 0.35 – 0.6% and investment MERs as low as 0.18%.

If that seems too low, don’t worry, with an online adviser you’ll actually get more than what you pay for. Online firms can charge less because they’re much more efficient. Technology automates mundane back-office processes and frees up advisers to focus on client service. This also reduces overhead costs for things like office space. Of course, your online adviser probably won’t take you out for dinner or play golf with you, but they will keep more of your money where it belongs, in your investments.

Convenience

Go ahead, stay in your pajamas, have a glass of wine, spend some quality time with your cat. Your online adviser doesn’t mind. Part of the draw of online advisers is that clients don’t need to arrange to meet in person. This saves you time, is more convenient, and may alleviate some of the anxiety that comes with meeting with a financial adviser for the first time.

Low Minimums

Remember when investment advisers only wanted to talk to you if you had loads of money? Robo-advisers’ investment advice is available to everyone, regardless of income or net worth. Whether you’re making your first $5,000 TFSA investment or you’ve built up a sizeable nest-egg already, online advisers will provide advice and investment strategies that are appropriate to the stage you are at.

Better service

The online model suits the modern investor. Whether it’s via Skype, email, or even a phone call, investors get the service they want on their terms. You don’t have to juggle your schedule and make a trip just to fit in that quarterly meeting with your adviser. An innovative online experience means you can keep you up to date on how your investments are performing, get financial planning and analysis, and work with your adviser whenever you want.

Your money is safe with this robo-adviser

We often think that big, known institutions are the safest place for our money, but that is simply not true. The CIPF (Canadian Investor Protection Fund) protects investment accounts up to $1,000,000 against the insolvency of any IIROC institution and most of those big, known institutions have the same level of protection as the upstarts. Your accounts with WealthBar have the same protections as any other registered brokerage with a bank or another financial institution. You can read more about how your money is protected here.

Of course, online advice may not be right for everyone. Some clients may still want to be able to sit down in front of their adviser and they don’t mind paying for that privilege. But for many clients who, don’t meet the minimums, currently receive little or low-quality advice, and who are tired of paying high fees, robo-advisers offer a truly modern alternative.

Robo-advisers are modernizing investment advice and making it more affordable, more accessible, and more convenient for everyone. If you think a robo-adviser might be right for you, give WealthBar a try. You can start off with a free financial planning session with one of our real financial advisers.

The post 5 Reasons to Switch to a Robo-Adviser appeared first on WealthBar Blog.

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July equity markets have started with a bang. On the eve of the US Independence Day, the Fourth of July holiday, all major US market indices closed at new record highs, including the Dow, the S&P 500 and the NASDAQ.

The high follows hot on a tremendous global equity rally in June. After a down May, the US, Canadian, and global equity markets (as measured by the MSCI World Index) completely reversed course. 

Stalled China-US trade talks finally restarted at the end of June following the G20 meeting between President Trump and President Xi, fuelling investor optimism that we could see a trade deal before the end of the year.

Here’s what else you need to know:

  • All WealthBar portfolios closed out the month of June higher as global equity markets rallied from their May 31, 2019 bottoms.
  • There is bullish optimism for stocks on the expectation that the US Federal Reserve could cut interest rates one to two times before the end of 2019. 
  • On July 2, 2019 European Union policymakers nominated Christine Lagarde to head up the European Central Bank as president. She is currently the managing director of the International Monetary Fund and many expect she would favour low interest rates when it comes to monetary policy. European equity markets reacted very positively to her nomination.  
  • At the recent G20 meeting, both President Trump and President Xi called for a truce to the US-China trade dispute and the US agreed not to implement additional new tariffs, though the existing ones remain in place for now. In a move that could be interpreted as a goodwill gesture, President Trump also agreed to lift a ban that barred US companies from selling to Chinese-owned Huawei if there was no threat to national security.
  • Asian equity markets (Japan and China) and emerging markets were also top performers in June, and are trading at, or near their April 2019 highs.   

See how these events impacted your investments below.

ETF Portfolios

ETF Safety Portfolio was up 0.84% in June and up 3.44% in the past year. The portfolio’s gains came from its equity allocation while its almost 70% fixed income allocation return was more modest for June.

ETF Conservative Portfolio was up 1.42% in June and up 4.11% in the past year. The portfolio’s gains came from its exposure to US equities, US high yield corporate bonds and international markets. The portfolio’s fixed-income holdings contributions were modest but all positive.

ETF Balanced Portfolio was up 1.90% in June and up 5.02% in the past year. A meaningful allocation to US equities (24%) and exposure to international and Canadian equities served the Balanced portfolio well during the month.         

ETF Growth Portfolio was up 2.23% in June and up 5.25% in the past year. A 60% allocation to US equities, international equities and US high-yield corporate bonds were the key contributors to the portfolio’s performance for June.

ETF Aggressive Portfolio was up 2.39% in June and up 5.92% in the past year. With the largest exposure to US, Canadian and international equities, the Aggressive Portfolio was the best performing WealthBar portfolio in June.

Private Investment Portfolios 

Safety Private Portfolio was up 0.65% in June and up 4.53% in the past year. With a lower allocation to the equity asset class and exposure mainly to fixed income, real estate and mortgage asset classes, the portfolio’s returns were consistent with its mandate.

Balanced Private Portfolio was up 1.04% in June and up 4.91% in the past year. With a lower allocation to equities and a higher exposure to bonds, mortgages, real estate, private equity and private debt, the portfolio’s returns were less correlated to equities. 

Aggressive Private Portfolio was up 0.92% in June and up 4.86% in the past year. A negative return from one of the real estate funds offset strong gains from the portfolio’s Nicola US Tactical High-Income holdings.   

The post Market Update. US equity markets light up to record highs before the 4th of July appeared first on WealthBar Blog.

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At WealthBar, we’re committed to making your investments easy to understand. That’s why, when we recently enhanced our performance chart to show contributions as well as market value, we took a slightly unconventional approach.

Specifically, the contribution line on our charts always begins at the opening market value of the period shown. This more clearly illustrates investment performance in the period shown.

How is this different?

Most other investment accounts position contributions relative to the opening value of the account (zero), rather than relative to the opening value of the period shown.

Why does it matter?

Over time, the market value of a portfolio typically grows relative to contributions and the gap between contributions and market value will grow too. While this is great news for investments overall, it makes it harder to interpret recent account performance, such as when viewing the last month.

This is especially true when viewing statements. A more recent statement would typically show a larger gap between contributions and market value than an older statement. By starting our contribution line from the opening market value, we avoid this issue and ensure that your WealthBar statements will show an apples-to-apples comparison.

A new take for greater accuracy

Our enhanced chart is designed to give investors a more accurate understanding of their account’s performance within specific time periods. By showing total value, as well as contributions from opening market value, investors can better visualize the gains and losses for that period.

Enhanced charts are now available to WealthBar investors through the mobile app (iPhone, Android) and on your WealthBar statements.

We hope this enhancement makes it even easier for you to understand the performance of your investments. Stay tuned for more exciting features coming soon!

The post Get a better understanding of account performance with newly enhanced charts appeared first on WealthBar Blog.

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Your thirties may just be the best decade of your life. Baby boomers and those who live past 100 alike are most nostalgic for these years

It’s easy to see why. This is typically the decade when people become more financially secure and their career sacrifices begin to pay off. 

And while people in their thirties may take on new obligations like mortgages and childcare costs, they also may have started to accumulate some wealth with their best earning years still ahead.

With retirement still decades out, people in their thirties are in a good position to take smart investment risks with the promise of greater long-term returns.

Remember that not all risks are created equal. I certainly don’t suggest gambling all your savings on the latest investment fad, but here are some risks worth taking in your thirties:

1. Invest in change

Every so often, you’ll get the opportunity to invest in an industry in transition – one that could reshape elements of the economy or impact our society.

Blockchain, cleantech, and cannabis are recent examples that straddle both of these lines. 

While still early in its early years, blockchain is already being used for meaningful applications like keeping citizen data safe in Estonia and helping Somalian refugees access to digital identification. Cleantech is helping countries around the world transition away from fossil fuels, and cannabis can offer relief for those suffering with PTSD or chronic pain.

But transitioning industries like these can also be prone to show-stopping fluctuations. In 2017, the top five cannabis stocks saw a 400% growth in market cap in less than a year, but that same year the price of Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency that’s built on blockchain, peaked and subsequently burst, causing the price of each coin to plummet by 82% within a year.

Investing in change can be a meaningful way to support causes that you believe in, but just because something captures your heart, doesn’t mean it’s the best thing for your wallet. 

Consider how much you’d be willing to lose and invest only that portion of your portfolio accordingly. To minimize risk, make sure that the bulk of your portfolio is diversified across other industries.

2. Invest in your career growth

There’s never been a better time to upgrade your education. As our lifespans increase, we can expect to have longer careers. At the same time, artificial intelligence and automation could force a major economic transition over the next two decades with many roles disappearing.

Pursuing additional training can be a great way to accelerate and future-proof your career, but it can come at a cost. You’ll need to pay tuition and may lose part or all of your income while you study.
 
Still, people with higher levels of education tend to earn more money, making this a smart investment in the long run.

If going back to school wasn’t in your original plans, you may be wondering where the money will come from. The good news is, you have options. Start by looking at grants and scholarships, which many students tend to overlook. If you don’t want to rely on student debt, it’s also possible to borrow from your RRSP to cover the cost of education, but you’ll need to repay that amount to your account within ten years.

3. Invest in volatility

If you don’t expect to withdraw from an investment account (such as an RRSP) in the next ten years and you’re comfortable weathering the storm should the stock market dip, then your thirties are an ideal time to choose a growth-oriented or even an aggressive investing portfolio.

These are portfolios with a higher composition of volatile assets such as equity. While they’re more susceptible to market swings, these higher risk portfolios also tend to see higher returns over time.

4. Invest in living with less

Growing your money isn’t just about earning more: it’s about spending less. Take a lesson from the FIRE (Financial Independence, Retire Early) movement – stash away money today so that later in life you have the power to decide how you spend your time.  

This may mean sticking with the cheap and cheerful apartment rather than the luxury condo, buying vintage instead of new, and skipping the $25 spin classes.

The risk is that making these lifestyle sacrifices now may leave you feeling like you’re missing out. The reward? Every dollar invested today can grow into a bigger payout down the road. That’s why it’s worthwhile. 

At the end of the day, your thirties can be a decade marked by personal growth and change. Why not use these happy golden days to take some calculated financial risks that could put you ahead for life?

If you want to learn what kind of risk is best for you, speak to one of the advisers at WealthBar who can help you build a personal plan based on your goals and financial circumstance.

The post 4 Investment Risks Worth Taking in Your 30s appeared first on WealthBar Blog.

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After rising for four straight months, Canadian, U.S. and international equity markets took a pause with a down month in May, as investor sentiment turned negative. Change in sentiment resulted from a lack of confidence in the U.S. and China trade deal materializing. That sentiment was proven valid later in the month as trade talks deteriorated.

Investor sentiment changed back to bullish with a strong rally in early June due to the U.S. Federal Reserve (the Fed). Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell signalled that the Fed was willing to act appropriately to sustain the U.S. economy from any potential risks resulting from trade disputes between the U.S. and its largest trading partner, China.  

  • All WealthBar portfolios outperformed the broader market indices in May. The U.S. S&P 500 Index and MSCI World Index were both down about 6.0%. The S&P/TSX Composite Index was down about 3.0%. 
  • There is an expectation that the U.S. Federal Reserve could cut interest rates one to two times before the end of 2019. 
  • The European Central Bank announced that it would keep rates unchanged until the first half of 2020. 
  • The Canadian economy added more jobs in May at 27,700 compared to the consensus estimate of 5,000.
  • U.S., Canadian and global equity markets were technically oversold at the end of May. 
  • President Trump and President Xi could be meeting later this month at the G-20 meeting in Japan to possibly restart trade talks.
  • Oil prices have recently declined 30% from their recent 2019 highs to US$52.00 a barrel, which reduces overall household expenses for the consumer.  

See how these events impacted your investments below.

ETF Portfolios

ETF Safety Portfolio was down -0.80% in May and up 2.91% in the past year. The ETF Safety Portfolio was able to minimize its losses from equities with its higher exposure to fixed income and Canadian real estate asset classes.

ETF Conservative Portfolio was down -1.70% in May and up 3.06% in the past year. Lower exposure to Canadian, U.S. and international equities contributed to the portfolio’s lower losses during the month. The portfolio’s fixed income holdings and Canadian REITs contributed to gains.
 
ETF Balanced Portfolio was down -2.39% in May and up 3.67% in the past year. Investors in the Balanced Portfolio outperformed the broader equity market indices in May due to its allocation and gains from fixed income and income-generating investments.

ETF Growth Portfolio was down -2.95% in May and up 3.72% in the past year. Due to allocations to fixed and Canadian REITs which had gains, the portfolio posted better results than the U.S., Canadian and international equity markets.

ETF Aggressive Portfolio was down -3.23% in May and up 4.38% in the past year. As an equity-centric investment, the Aggressive portfolio was still able to provide good downside protection with its small allocation to fixed income and income strategies.

Private Investment Portfolios

Safety Private Portfolio was down -0.31% in May and up 4.59% in the past year. With meaningful allocation to fixed income, real estate and mortgage asset classes, the Safety Portfolio delivered on its mandate to preserve capital on down equity markets. 

Balanced Private Portfolio was down -1.01% in May and up 4.96% in the past year. Diversified with bonds, mortgages, real estate, private equity and private debt, the Balanced portfolio showcased lower correlation and drawdown to the broader market indices. 

Aggressive Private Portfolio was down -1.67% in May and up 5.21% in the past year. The Aggressive Portfolio’s Nicola U.S. Tactical High Income holding which is focused on higher yield and lower volatility resulted in lower losses during May versus the U.S. markets.

The post Market Update. Negative Trade News In May Followed By Positive U.S. Federal Reserve News In Early June appeared first on WealthBar Blog.

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So, you’ve maxed out your registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) and tax-free savings account (TFSA). Maybe you’re a diligent saver. Or you’ve just sold a home or a business. Maybe you’ve inherited wealth. Whatever the reason, you’ve got additional money to invest. And if you were thinking about putting it into a high-interest savings account (HISA) or GIC, think again. There are better ways to grow your money.

Earn more with Non-Registered Investments

Any investment that generates positive returns will bring you closer to your financial goals. And while GICs and HISAs do generate small but guaranteed returns, historically you’re much better off generating growth in an investment than letting it sit in a slow-to-grow savings account.

The chart below compares the growth and performance of a non-registered investment, GIC and HISA overtime. While HISAs and GICs promise consistent returns, you can see that the non-registered investment account comes out significantly ahead. 

Above is an illustration of hypothetical performance of a non-registered investment, GIC and HISA over 30 years with constant 6%, 3% and 2% annual growth, respectively. It does not take into account any fees that may be charged. You should always consider, in any investment decision, your investment objectives, needs, circumstances, restrictions, tolerance for risk, financial goals and investment time frame.
How are Non-Registered Investments, HISAs & GICs taxed?

The most common types of investment income include: dividends, interest and capital gains. And while the income earned from investments is always subject to tax, not all forms of investment income is taxed the same way. Some investment income attracts less tax. 

Investment income from HISAs and GICs is considered interest and the taxes owed are based on your marginal tax rate (which varies by income and province). This is noteworthy because this type of tax is the most expensive. 

Non-registered investments have a unique advantage in that they can earn a blend of different types of income as a result of what’s held within the account (the most common includes dividend income and capital gains). This is an advantage because the gains earned are taxed at different rates, opening up an opportunity to reduce the taxes paid on the income earned.
 
Example: Pete invests $10,000 for 1 year
Pete has maxed out both his TFSA and RRSP accounts and is looking to invest more. He is considering investing in either a non-registered investment, GIC or high interest savings account. Before he makes a decision, Pete needs to know which investment option will be worth more after tax. 

Because he lives in Ontario with an annual income of $65,000, the taxes on the investment income Pete earns on dividends, interest and capital gains breakdown as follows:

Type of Investment IncomeTax Rate**
Dividends7.56%
Interest29.65%
Capital gains14.83%

Here’s what happens when Pete invests $10,000 into a non-registered investment, HISA and GIC. 


Non-registered investmentHigh interest savings accountGIC
Amount invested$10,000$10,000$10,000
Return 4% from dividends = $4002% from capital gains = $2002% from interest = $200

3% from interest = $300

Principal plus return$10,600$10,200$10,300
Taxes owing(based on tax rate above)$59.90 from dividends and capital gains
$59.30 from interest
$88.95 from interest
Investment total, after tax$10,540.10$10,140.70$10,211.05

In this example, a non-registered account provides the best after tax return.

When do HISAs or GICs make sense?

Good question. HISAs and GICs should be considered when capital preservation is of the utmost importance. 

While nobody ever wants to lose money, the reality is that when you invest, there is no such thing as a guaranteed return. If markets dip while you’re invested, you might want to wait out volatility to recoup losses.  

By contrast, however, the return on a GIC is guaranteed. And while HISA returns are ‘subject to change without notice’, they aren’t subject to market volatility investments are and therefore remain pretty consistent.

These kinds of low risk, low return solutions could be considered in the following instances:

1. HISAs: When you need the money in the very short term.

This is often the case for those looking to purchase a home in the coming weeks or months.

2. HISAs & GICs: When you want a steady return.

For those that find themselves in this camp, a word of caution: while GIC returns are guaranteed and HISA returns are generally consistent, oftentimes they are not on par with the rate of inflation. So, over time, investors may see the purchasing power of their money decline (along with the foregone opportunity of higher earnings). 

To avoid this, many financial advisers will recommend a conservative investment portfolio instead. That way, investors can reduce their risk while enjoying the potential for higher returns.

Experts in financial planning

Any time you’re using non-registered investments as part of your retirement strategy, it’s always a good idea to work with an adviser. 

Our team of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professionals can work with you to optimize your investments. We’ll show you your options and guide you toward choices that make sense, given your stage of life and financial goals.

Disclaimer: This blog post may make financial planning assumptions such as rate of return, inflation, and/or tax rates to illustrate a concept. It is provided for informational purposes only and is not to be considered as investment advice. Investment returns are not guaranteed. The value of your investment may go down as well as up. There may be significant differences between the investments that are not discussed here, including different investment objectives and risk factors. 

**Calculations based on applicable marginal tax rates in Ontario for 2019 assuming $65,000 gross annual income. 

The post Maxed out your RRSP and TFSA? What’s next? Non-registered investments vs. HISAs or GICs appeared first on WealthBar Blog.

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Did you make an RRSP contribution this year? If so, you may have been like the majority of Canadians (60%) who waited until the last two weeks before the deadline to contribute*.

The last-minute scramble is stressful and risky. Missing the deadline could cost you a potential tax refund — plus the growth that reinvested refund could have earned.

There’s a stress-reducing, money-making solution — set up a pre-authorized contribution (PAC) and pay yourself first.

Setting up a pre-authorized contribution has several benefits:

  • You’ll make saving a regular and rewarding habit without lifting a finger 
  • Never worry about another RRSP deadline or taking advantage of new contribution room as it becomes available
  • By investing more of their money sooner, those who contribute regularly can earn more
Set up a Pre-Authorized Contribution (PAC) and enjoy compound growth all year round

Stay ahead of the game with a PAC — and you can gobble up more compounding growth in your investment account the whole year through.

Here’s an example. Let’s say you budgeted to invest $12,000 into an RRSP. You may have considered two options: 

  • Option A: Invest $1,000 each month in 2019 for 12 months, earning a 6% annual return.
  • Option B: Invest $12,000 on February 29, 2020 (the RRSP contribution deadline for the 2019 tax year). 

With Option A you’d be $335.56 richer on March 1st. That means, instead of making a $12,000 RRSP contribution for the 2019 tax year, you’ve got $12,335.56 to invest. 

Apply this strategy over the decades and that compounding effect can make the additional returns more meaningful. 

But what if I need that money throughout the year? The TFSA to RRSP solution

You may want to or need to keep your investment funds available for spending. You might not have regular income (think gig economy) or you may have a potential spending need such as a trip or new car or property.
 
You don’t have to commit to an RRSP right away. Use a TFSA account for the regular contributions. The flexibility of a TFSA allows you to make withdrawals without tax consequences at any time. So you can dip into those funds should you need them throughout the year. Then, as you approach the March 1st RRSP contribution deadline, transfer the money from your TFSA into an RRSP account. 

That way you get the flexibility of a TFSA with the tax advantages and refund potential of an RRSP. That’s called the proverbial win-win!

Have your cake, and eat it too! 

Paying yourself first each month instead of waiting until the end of the year is a smart way to reach your financial goals sooner. Couple that with the flexibility of the TFSA to RRSP strategy mentioned above, and you get compounding growth and peace of mind in knowing those funds can be accessed throughout the year in case of an emergency.

Setting up a PAC is fast and easy! You decide how much or how little you’d like to contribute and how often you’d like to make a deposit.

WealthBar clients can set up recurring deposits in minutes from our mobile app or desktop site. 

Is your money living up to its potential? 

Speak with a WealthBar financial adviser to find out. It’s free, even if you’re not a client.

*Source: RRSPs: The last minute is here 

Disclaimer: 
This blog post may make financial planning assumptions such as rate of return, inflation, and/or tax rates to illustrate a concept. It is provided for informational purposes only and is not to be considered as investment advice. Investment returns are not guaranteed. The value of your investment may go down as well as up. There may be significant differences between the investments that are not discussed here, including different investment objectives and risk factors. 

The post Pay yourself first this RRSP season. A get rich slowly method that really pays off appeared first on WealthBar Blog.

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Canadian and U.S. equity markets hit new all-time highs in April, while international equity markets continued to make overall gains. As we entered the second week of May, the question making the global equity markets nervous was “U.S. and China — trade deal, or no deal?”

U.S. economic data and first quarter earnings drove another month of gains in April, for four straight months of unprecedented gains. Global equity markets came along for the party with positive sentiment from the U.S. and China, helping ease concerns of a global slowdown.

  • U.S. first quarter economic growth and April job numbers were much better than expected
  • U.S. first quarter earnings in mid-April came in better than expected
  • China’s first quarter economic growth was better than expected and March industrial production was strong
  • The U.S. and China trade talks are hitting rough waters in May 
  • The Canadian S&P/TSX Composite Index hit a new record high in April
  • Oil prices could be impacted by some percolating geopolitical events 

See how these events impacted your investments below.

ETF Portfolios

ETF Safety Portfolio was up 0.80% in April and 4.30% in the past year.

The ETF Safety Portfolio made gains from equity holdings with key gains from U.S., Canadian and international equities holdings.     

ETF Conservative Portfolio was up 1.34% in April and 5.65% in the past year.

Canadian, U.S. and international equities contributed to the portfolio’s gains during the month. The portfolio’s fixed income holdings also contributed, but at a much more modest level.

ETF Balanced Portfolio was up 1.81% in April and 7.32% in the past year.

Investors in the Balanced Portfolio are having a good first four months of the year. The model continues to benefit from its equity holdings (U.S., Canadian and international) for the month, while at a lower level of risk than the Growth Portfolio.

ETF Growth Portfolio was up 2.17% in April and 8.16% in the past year.

Due to a higher allocation to U.S. equities (which outperformed the domestic Canadian and international equity holdings), the portfolio posted another solid month of gains. 

ETF Aggressive Portfolio was up 2.39% in April and 9.44% in the past year.

With the highest U.S. exposure and the lowest fixed income exposure, the Aggressive Portfolio delivered on its mandate of another stellar month for global equities. 

Private Investment Portfolios

Safety Private Portfolio was up 0.97% in April and 5.52% in the past year.

Anchored by fixed income, real estate and mortgage asset classes, the Safety Portfolio delivered another month of stable returns.

Balanced Private Portfolio was up 1.58% in April and 7.02% in the past year.

Equity and U.S. exposure gains were complemented by real estate and fixed income asset classes. 

Aggressive Private Portfolio was up 1.62% in April and 8.23% in the past year.

The Aggressive Portfolio benefited from a higher allocation to U.S. asset classes through one of its fund holdings. 

The post Market Update. “U.S. and China — trade deal, or no deal?” appeared first on WealthBar Blog.

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Canadian, U.S. and global equity markets were flat in early March as strong gains in January and February needed some digesting. New developments have provided more “food for thought” as optimism appears to have resumed late in the month.

What are the new developments that have resumed the optimism? 

  • The U.S. Federal Reserve has completely halted interest rate hikes for 2019.
  • President Trump is cleared of any collusion in the 2016 election. 
  • U.S. policy makers continue to hint that the U.S. and China are moving closer to a trade deal.
  • Technology stocks from the 1980s and 1990s powered the NASDAQ higher on new products, services and earnings. 
  • China’s March factory activity grows for the first time in four months. 
  • The Eurozone continues to show weakness as the Brexit saga drags on.

See our performance and additional observations below.

ETF Portfolios

ETF Safety Portfolio was up 0.90% in March and 3.57% in the past year. The ETF Safety Portfolio made gains from both its equity and fixed income holdings. Key gains came from short-term bonds and equities holdings overall as well as from the real estate investment trust ETF.
  
ETF Conservative Portfolio was up 1.09% in March and 4.48% in the past year. The Canadian and U.S. fixed income holdings delivered solid gains, while the U.S., Canadian, international, and real estate ETFs added higher gains but at a lower allocation.
  
ETF Balanced Portfolio was up 1.47% in March and 5.80% in the past year. With less allocation to fixed income, the portfolio was able to participate in higher gains from its equity exposure to the U.S. and international equity markets and as well as the real estate sector.

ETF Growth Portfolio was up 1.71% in March and 6.30% in the past year. Due to a higher allocation to U.S. and international equities, which did better than the domestic Canadian equity market, the portfolio posted another solid month of returns. 

ETF Aggressive Portfolio was up 1.98% in March and 7.39% in the past year. As global equity markets continued to rally for the month, the aggressive model (with the lowest fixed income and highest U.S. exposure) was able to fully participate. 

Private Investment Portfolios

Safety Private Portfolio was up 0.98% in March and 4.74% in the past year. Fixed income, real estate and mortgage asset classes helped deliver stable returns. 

Balanced Private Portfolio was up 1.33% in March and 5.68% in the past year. Equity, real estate and fixed income asset classes helped deliver stable returns. 

Aggressive Private Portfolio was up 1.68% in March and 7.22% in the past year. The diversified portfolio benefited from a higher allocation to U.S. asset classes. 

Improving your investments

To better optimize your investments, we’ve made the following changes to some of our ETF portfolios:

Swapped out similar funds to enhance tax-efficiency and performance tracking, while reducing fees and maintaining the same sector exposures

  • ZRE (BMO Equal Weight REITs Index ETF) was replaced with HCRE (Horizons Equal Weight Canada REIT Index ETF)
  • ZPR (BMO Laddered Preferred Share Index ETF) was replaced with HLPR (Horizons Laddered Canadian Preferred Share Index ETF)

Changed the U.S. equities exposure to reduce risk and fees, while maintaining returns 

  • ZWA (BMO Covered Call Dow Jones Industrial Average Hedged to CAD ETF) was replaced with 60% HXS (Horizons S&P 500® Index ETF) and 40% ZSU (BMO Short-Term US IG Corporate Bond Hedged to CAD Index ETF)

If your portfolio held any of the funds mentioned above, you should see these changes reflected in your account(s) now. 

As always, please let us know if you have any questions. 

Market movers, at a glance

Now, let’s get into the details of what’s affecting your returns. 

Global equity markets were up as the U.S. Federal Reserve implements preemptive measures

The U.S. Federal Reserve (the Fed) has completely done a 180 regarding its interest rate policy for 2019. Originally, it was on autopilot to raise the overnight lending rate 3 to 4 times in 2019, which was not positive for the U.S. and global economies heading into the beginning of the year. This was evident as global stock markets experienced a violent sell-off during the fourth quarter of 2018.  

The Fed took immediate action in January and said it would pause and be patient on its interest rate policy. In addition, under President Donald Trump’s administration the Director of the National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, said he wants the Fed to cut its overnight lending rate (which currently stands at 2.50%) by 50 basis points (0.50%) immediately. This could be the Fed’s next course of action. As the Fed takes the lead on rates, other world central banks could follow. The U.S., Canadian, and global equity markets regained most of their losses in the fourth quarter of 2018 by early April.

Optimism on China and U.S. Trade talks and better China factory activity sparked a strong rally in early April

The rumours of a trade deal between the U.S. and China, which was a key contributor for the continued global equity rally in February, reached another level of optimism as Trump promised an ‘epic’ trade deal with China.

China’s March factory activity grows for the first time in four months

There has been talk and concerns regarding the weakness in China’s manufacturing sector for several months. In March it was reported that China’s factory orders grew for the first time in four months. This was taken as positive news that recent stimulus measures by the Chinese government were having a positive effect.

U.S. stocks higher on positive jobs report and technology names

In the first week of April it was reported by the Labour Department that the U.S. economy added 196,000 jobs, beating the consensus estimate of 175,000. The unemployment rate came in at a multi-decade low of 3.8%. The equity markets reacted positively to the jobs data with a strong open and rally.

While the S&P 500 and Dow Jones Industrial Average have made back most of their losses from the fourth quarter of 2018, the NASDAQ Composite Index is nearing its all-time high of around 8,000. 

The NASDAQ has outperformed in the past few weeks on the strength of old school technology names from the 1980s and 1990s such as Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Apple, Advanced Micro Devices, Nvidia, and Micron Technology. This group of companies have been reporting positive financial results, announcing new products and services, which investors have reacted very positively to. 

President Trump is cleared of any collusion in the 2016 election

Finally, the negative sentiment regarding President Donald Trump colluding with the Russian government to influence the 2016 Presidential Elections has been put to rest. President Trump was cleared of all allegations by Attorney General William Barr after a lengthy investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. 

We believe the clearing of President Trump’s name should result in increased confidence in his presidency and administration. President Trump could earn additional support and popularity from the American electorate to “Make America Great Again”, which should be positive for the U.S economy and U.S. stocks. 

Canadian economy shows some improvement

Statistics Canada reported that the Canadian economy grew 0.3% in January, which was ahead of the consensus estimate of a 0.1% gain. This improvement came after two previous consecutive months of gross domestic product contraction. The construction sector saw its biggest gains in more than 5-years, which maybe a turning point for the housing market.

Economic data points from Europe continue to remain weak and have been acknowledged by the U.S. Federal Reserve

Germany’s February industrial orders declined 4.2% (the highest rate in more than two years), due to weakness in foreign demand. The data was far weaker than the consensus estimate of a 0.3% increase. As a key global exporter, the weakness could be presenting evidence of a global economic slowdown. 

Italy, the Eurozone’s third largest economy, entered a recession in the fourth quarter of 2018. The outlook for 2019 is for its gross domestic product (GDP) to grow 0.1% which is up from the previous consensus estimate of 0.5%. 

The latest news on Brexit was an extension granting the U.K. permission to remain in the European Union until the end of October. Trade continues to be disrupted as the uncertainty around Brexit continues.

Emerging markets elections and higher crude oil prices should be closely watched in the coming months 

Key elections in Emerging Markets will take place in April. The outcome of these elections could create volatility in the currency and equities markets of these countries. 

After hitting a multi-month low of US$42.53 a barrel on December 25, 2018, West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude oil has risen unabated for almost 4-months to US$64.58 a barrel, for a gain of 51.8%. Higher oil prices mean higher prices for consumers at the pumps on a global scale. Higher oil prices also create inflation in the global economy and taps into consumer discretionary spending. If higher energy costs continue to rise, this could mean a headwind for the balance of the year.

Conclusion

With global equity markets entering first quarter earnings season, there could be some volatility if results do not meet expectations. Plus, given May to June are generally seasonally weaker for stock gains, gains are likely to soften. And while optimism over the US-China trade deal is helping to prop up sentiment, in our view, the wind can only catch the sail for so many times. 

We believe in taking a long-term perspective when it comes to investing. Our portfolios are professionally managed and diversified to take full advantage of growth and manages risk.

The post Market Update. March came in like a lamb and out like a lion appeared first on WealthBar Blog.

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We’re proud to announce that two of our senior leaders have been selected as finalists for the 5th annual Wealth Professional Awards being held in Toronto on May 30, 2019. This is one of the most prestigious investment award shows in Canada, and the distinction came in a year in which there were a record number of nominations. 

All finalists were announced yesterday. We couldn’t be more honoured to have representation amongst such a talented group of individuals who demonstrate excellence in leadership and innovation in Canada’s wealth sector. 

WealthBar finalists include:

We’re extremely proud of Tea and Neville for this accomplishment and for their unwavering commitment to doing what’s right for Canadian investors, and the Canadian wealth management industry. 

The post WealthBar leaders lead the way at the 2019 Wealth Professional Awards appeared first on WealthBar Blog.

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