DEC 23, 2016

99 reasons 2016 was a good year

BY KEITH THOMSON

It has been my practice to begin each year’s “Wealth with Wisdom” with a focus on the many positive things that are happening in the world today. As I become older and, hopefully, a bit wiser, I have come to the conclusion that how we perceive our universe is largely a matter of choice. If you so choose, you can  pay attention to organizations such as our publicly funded CBC with their “Think 2016 Was Bad? 2017 Will Be Worse” (Honestly, I can’t make this stuff up!) or decide that that, although the world is far, far from perfect there are many reasons for optimism:

To that end, check out the above video for some absolutely spectacular shots of British Columbia’s Great Bear Rainforest. Last February the B.C. government announced that it has now protected 85% of one of the world’s largest temperate rainforests. This happens to be the # 1 reason for the “99 Reasons 2016 Was A Good Year”.

Have a great 2017 and, if you are still feeling somewhat pessimistic after reading this, you may wish to remember what the Dali Lama once said, “Choose to be optimistic, it just feels better!”.

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The progress of human knowledge will be rapid, and discoveries made of which we have no conception. I begin to be almost sorry I was born so soon, since I cannot have the happiness of knowing what will be known 100 years hence.
Benjamin Franklin

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NOV 15, 2016

Top 5 regrets of the dying

BY KEITH THOMSON

If you are reading this, congratulations you likely have more money than 99% of your fellow Canadians! I believe that having secured financial freedom one is much better equipped to focus on those life goals that are truly meaningful. Think of this exercise as a version of Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs”.

Recently I have been introduced to Carl Gustav Jacob Jacobi , a German mathematician who lived in the 1800s. Jacobi once said “Man muss immer umkehren” or “Invert, always invert.” Jacobi believed that the solution for many difficult problems in mathematics could be found if the problems were expressed in the inverse.  I find Jacobi’s insight incredibly helpful when wrestling with many of life’s challenges, including perhaps the most important … what makes a life well lived?

In keeping with Jacobi’s philosophy of “invert, always invert” I would like to share with you the “Top 5 Regrets Of The Dying” which reflects the thoughts of an individual who worked in palliative care and whose patients had gone home to die.

 

As this wise writer summarizes at the end of her article, “Life is a choice. It is YOUR life. Choose consciously, choose wisely, choose honestly. Choose happiness.”

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Attempting to avoid the “number two regret of the dying” with my family on the boardwalk in Toronto two weekends ago!

These monthly blog posts are sent with my hope to provide context and content around “Wealth with Wisdom”.

 

NOV 9, 2016

President Trump... really?

BY KEITH THOMSON

I’m going to assume that you were a bit surprised when you woke up to the news that “The Donald” is now the leader of the free world. I sure as hell was! So the question is, now what? Well, in keeping with our investment philosophy that we can only control the control-ables, I know the answer is … absolutely nothing. With days like today, this is often extremely difficult to do, but assuming one has a beautifully diversified portfolio through different asset classes, countries, industries, and companies it is absolutely the correct course of inaction to take. 

As Josh Brown, an intelligent financial blogger whose investment conference I will be attending next week in New York City writes, “One thing to remember – 90% of the US economy is based on the fact that tomorrow you will need to make the lunches and put the kids on the school bus. You’ll drop off dry cleaning or catch a flight to visit relatives or go to Home Depot for a new set of garbage cans. You will go to work where your company makes things or provides services for other people’s companies … Your dog will still need to be fed and your family members will still need to be bought birthday presents.”

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The kicker here, is that it will take time for the markets to digest President Trump’s new policies assuming they even come to fruition. Markets don’t like uncertainty and Trump provides PLENTY of uncertainty. But given enough time I suspect that big macro trends will reinforce themselves and that uncertainty will wane. Probably not dissimilar to what happened this past summer during the surprising Brexit vote. Then again, as I write this, the U.S. markets are surprisingly calm.  If anything this reinforces the complete and utter waste of time it is to listen to short term financial forecasts.

The first thing I read this morning was James Osborne’s incredibly wise blog post. May I suggest you do the same. Oh yes, and don’t forget to feed the dog!

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The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.

Winston Churchill

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OCT 26, 2016

Smart-sounding temptations to sell as the market rose

BY KEITH THOMSON

I would classify the chart below as a classic, “a picture is worth a thousand words” illustration. Please click the image below to truly appreciate how far the U.S. market has come since 1950 or, since 1970 or, since 1990 or, since 2010.

As Peter Lynch once said, “The key to making money in the stock market, is not being scared out of it.”

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Smart-Sounding Temptations To Sell As the Market Rose

Click the image to make larger.
Source: The Motley Fool

These monthly blog posts are sent with my hope to provide context and content around “Wealth with Wisdom”.

 

SEP 28, 2016

Moments in time part II

BY KEITH THOMSON

In this month’s blog my topic has very little to do with “money” and everything to do with “life”.

Last year in a blog I write for nonprofits, their board members, and those individuals I feel may be interested in new ideas and concepts around philanthropy I recounted an incredible experience I shared with my daughter. Specifically, watching the sun come up on Cape Spear, Newfoundland, the most easterly point of Canada. Last month I thought why not continue our daddy/daughter bonding time and drive to the southernmost tip of mainland Canada, Point Pelee National Park. Interestingly, 27 U.S. states lie north of this location as well as the city of Rome!

These monthly blog posts are sent with my hope to provide context and content around “Wealth with Wisdom”.

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Kiera and I hang’n out at Point Pelee, the southernmost tip of mainland Canada. (Middle Island is actually the Southernmost point in Canada.)

The point I’m trying to make (yes, there actually is one!) is exactly what I wrote last year, i.e., personal resources (time and money) directed towards experiences as against “stuff” are the keys to both short and long term happiness. This is one of the reasons we feel so good when we are engaged in acts of giving through its many different levels – not just money, but also time, friendship and, most important … love.

 

AUG 30, 2016

Saving you from yourself

BY KEITH THOMSON

In last month’s edition of Wealth with Wisdom during the “crisis” that was Brexit I shared with you the value of doing absolutely nothing.  If anything, Brexit was a textbook example of how, at the drop of a hat, our financial media will interpret any period of uncertainty as a full blown crisis or as Shakespeare once wrote, ” … it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”. To ignore this unfortunate reality is to imperil your long-term financial success. For more on this critically important topic I encourage you to click through to to the wisdom of Nick Murray’s Brexit and the Apocalypse du jour

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These monthly blog posts are sent with my hope to provide context and content around “Wealth with Wisdom”.

 

JUL 13, 2016

Brexit... the value of doing absolutely nothing

BY KEITH THOMSON

Not too long ago the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union. On Friday, June 24th the day after the vote was tallied, markets around the word reacted dramatically by plunging downwards. Coincidentally that very same day Tanja, Kiera, and I were enjoying a short trip to New York City.

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Kiera and I in Grand Central Station … not worrying about Brexit.

That same weekend a friend emailed me asking, “Hope you are well and managing the fallout from Brexit”. I must confess I was initially perplexed by the comment. But then I realized that her question merely echoed the “disaster de jour” reporting so often propagated by our media. Ultimately, it took all of nine trading days for the markets to fully recover their temporary losses experienced from Brexit.

One of my favorite financial commentators, Morgan Housel, wrote a wonderful piece about “Brexit: What We Are (And Aren’t) Doing” which perfectly sums up what you should be doing (and not doing) as a result of the events of the last couple of weeks.

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When Anglo-Saxons said that a single central bank and a single currency without a single state would be inherently unstable, they had a point.
Jacque Delors,

a co-founder of the euro, in an interview with the London Daily Telegraph, December 2011

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JUN 22, 2016

You are the enemy

BY KEITH THOMSON

The person staring back at you from the bathroom mirror every day is potentially your investment enemy. Why? Because most Canadian investors fail miserably at investing simply because they insist on buying high and selling low.

As you have heard me say (or write) many times before, from my observations after 31 years in the financial services industry over 90% of one’s long-term success in the financial markets comes down to successful behavior modification. As important as they may be, appropriate asset allocation, stock selection, taxes, and fees, account for perhaps 10% of your long-term gains. They say a picture is worth a thousand words. Hopefully the examples below are worth 500 each!

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P.S. Still not convinced? I encourage you to click through to this article The Proof That Most Investors Are Their Own Worst Enemy.

These monthly blog posts are sent with my hope to provide context and content around “Wealth with Wisdom”.

 

MAY 11, 2016

Smart, happy, and useful

BY KEITH THOMSON

As you are reading this feel free to congratulate yourself for possessing what 99% of the world’s population would consider as having significant wealth. Having said that, the challenge for many of us is figuring out a “life plan” that is implemented in such a way as to put this wealth to good use!

In this month’s blog I again draw on the wisdom of Derek Sivers, author of the best book on entrepreneurship I have read over the last couple of years  –  “Anything You Want: 40 Lessons for a New Kind of Entrepreneur“.  He details three simple things to consider when making any life-size decisions. I believe Sivers’ insights could help many of us better manage our Wealth with Wisdom … I know they did for me.

To access the Derek’s full blog please click here.

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Source: Derek Sivers Blog site; https://sivers.org/hsu

These monthly blog posts are sent with my hope to provide context and content around “Wealth with Wisdom”.

 

MAR 3, 2016

Why bear markets are so painful

BY KEITH THOMSON

Over the last few years I’ve paid much closer attention to the burgeoning field of behavior economics. After 30 years in the wealth advisory business it is gratifying to witness the ivory towers of academia finally come to terms with the fact that most individuals make investment decisions based primarily on their emotions.  For those of us who operate in the real world I would call this a blinding glimpse into the obvious! 

As we all experienced the stock market’s most recent, and to be fully expected, volatility on the downside, one of my favourite financial bloggers, Ben Carson, has a few words of wisdom on this topic. To read his blog, “Why Bear Markets Are So Painful” please click here.

These monthly blog posts are sent with my hope to provide context and content around “Wealth with Wisdom”.

 

FEB 11, 2016

Time to feed the goose

BY KEITH THOMSON

As I have now begun to receive a flurry of tax “T-Statements” I realize, once again , it is that time of year when we all prepare to feed the goose. Given this fact, I thought you might appreciate our 2015 Personal Income Tax Organizer and The Personal Tax Calendar for 2016.

The 2015 Personal Income Tax Organizer provides you with a checklist to help you compile the information you need to complete your personal tax returns, whether you do it yourself or engage the services of a professional tax preparer.

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The Personal Tax Calendar for 2016 gives you a list of important dates for personal tax filing and planning for this year.

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Taxes are our way of feeding the goose that lays the golden eggs of freedom, democracy and enterprise. Someone says, ‘Well, the goose eats too much!’ That’s probably true.  But better a fat goose than no goose at all
Jim Rohn

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JAN 27, 2016

All about gratitude

BY KEITH THOMSON

As we start the New Year perhaps the most important resolution should be to make gratitude a priority. Easy to say but hard to make a habit of doing.  Once again I draw on the wisdom of Hugh McLeod to expand on the subject.

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Here’s a question: when in business, when should you *feel* successful? When do you start thinking of yourself *as* successful?

When you make a million dollars? When your company makes its first billion? When you get your corner office? When your payroll exceeds a hundred people? A thousand people?

How about… when you start feeling truly grateful to have the people around your office, in your life?

How about, instead of measuring success by numbers, you measure it by the amount of *gratitude* you have for being there?

Gratitude is not just a nice virtue they teach you at Sunday School. It’s a very powerful sign that you’re doing something right.

These monthly blog posts are sent with my hope to provide context and content around “Wealth with Wisdom”.

 

JAN 6, 2016

The hierarchy of investor needs

BY KEITH THOMSON

We’ve all heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs but are you familiar withThe Hierarchy of  Investor Needs?  Without trying to come across as being melodramatic, if you truly appreciate what Morgan Housel is saying in the blog below, you cannot help but meet with incredible success as a long term investor.

The Hierarchy of Investor Needs

By: Morgan Housel

One step at a time.

One summer in college I interned at an investment bank. It was the worst job I ever had.

A co-worker and I survived our days by bonding over a mutual interest in the stock market.

My co-worker was brilliant. Scary brilliant. The kind of guy you feel bad hanging out with because he makes you realize how dumb you are. He could dissect a company’s balance sheet and analyze business strategies like no one else I knew or have known since. He was the smartest investor I ever met. 

He went to an Ivy League school, and after college he landed a high-paying gig at an investment firm. He went on to produce some of the worst investment results you can imagine, with an uncanny ability to pile into whatever asset was about to lose half its value.  

This guy is a genius on paper. But he didn’t have the disposition to be a successful investor. He had a gambling mentality and couldn’t grasp that his book intelligence didn’t translate into investing intelligence, which made him wildly overconfident. His textbook investing brilliance didn’t matter. His emotional faults led him to be a terrible investor.

He’s a great example of a powerful investing truth: You can be brilliant on one hand but still fail miserably because of what you lack on the other.

There is a hierarchy of investor needs, in other words. Some investing skills have to be mastered before any other skills matter at all. 

Here’s a pyramid I made to show what I mean. The most important investing topic is at the bottom. Each topic has to be mastered before the one above it matters: 

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Every one of these topics is incredibly important. None should be belittled.

But you can be the best stock-picker in the world, yet if you buy high and sell low – the epitome of bad investing behavior – none of it will matter. You will fail as an investor.

You can be a great stock-picker, but if you only have 20% of your assets in stocks – a poor asset allocation for most investors – you’re not going to move the needle.

You can be a super-tax-efficient investor. But if your stock selection is poor, you’re not going to have many capital gains to pay taxes on in the first place. And if you’re paying too much for advice, tax savings can be irrelevant. 

A common problem for any investor to stumble on is the temptation to solve one problem without first mastering a more fundamental one. It can drive you crazy, because if you’ve gotten the hang of an advanced topic, you might think that you’re on the road to success, but something more basic like investor behavior or asset allocation could still put you on a road to ruin. Just like my old co-worker.

These monthly blog posts are sent with my hope to provide context and content around “Wealth with Wisdom”.