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Monthly Archives: October 2011

 
When a financial services professional moves from professional product sales to professional financial advice the financial advisory role becomes that of a fiduciary.

As a fiduciary, a track record of professional competence which includes character, integrity of purpose, ethical choice in every facet of financial decision making, unbiased client advice and a framework of practice management within an client centric focus is the de facto standard of professional practice. This standard is essential in ‘Raising The Bar’ from a transactional to a fiduciary level of practice..In Great Britain, Australia and the US the financial services regulatory bodies are at various stages of implementing the legislation which will make a professional financial advisor’s fiduciary role a professionally legal responsibility.

Canada will follow.It will have a profound impact on the delivery of professional financial services to the Canadian public.

When we seek advice on highly personal matters such as health, the law and finance the advisor/client relationship is one of mutual trust. It is values based. Trust is earned – not sold.

Whether a client wishes to acquire products or advice or both is a personal decision – for each client to make.

The financial services professional must be professionally prepared to deliver what each client needs, wants and expects.

14,000,000 boomers who are going through various stages of retirement for the next 18 years will need and expect nothing less than full confidence in the trust relationship they develop with their professional financial advisors.

Canadian financial professionals are quite capable of delivering.

Dan Zwicker
Toronto, Canada

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Money is about freedom.
 
The criteria for freedom are:
  • Lifetime sustainable Health
  • Lifetime sustainable income

 

Everthing else is negotiable.

Beyond Risk is about people and their views on money….borne of over 30 years of front line experience and engagement in the arena of exponential corporate growth through financial practice building under ‘fire’ in a lifetime passion……the assuring of the financial value of our time…..to allow for the completion of our personal and business financial objectives. It is about character, integrity, people and their often complex and conflicting attitudes towards money…..its accumulation…..its preservation and its utility. It is about the leadership of high performance professionals who are committed to managing the capital risk and the lifetime financial well being of their families, business associates and clients. It is about coaching ‘Olympian’ class high performance empowerment. Above all it is about ethical choice in every facet of decision making and execution. It is remarkable that of all the basic life skill related subjects that we include in our children’s early curriculum financial literacy is not one of them…….given that we live in a money economy.

It is said that we each have a “Money Personality”.

Nothing could be more accurate and more life defining.

Dan Zwicker
Toronto

 
 

As a lifelong admirer of American culture and institutions, I find it painful to follow the 2012 political cycle. What malign convergence of forces has left the Republican Party with the pathetic array of would-be leaders now seeking the presidential nomination? Lined up in a row of seven or eight on a stage in somewhere like Ames, Iowa, or Orlando, Florida, they make an appalling spectacle — though they are not the worst problem facing America at this moment.

These hopefuls are a solemn, unimaginative lot. They apparently have little on their minds but themselves, their enemy in the White House and their hope of tricking one of their competitors into making an embarrassing gaffe or confession.

Two leading candidates, Governor Rick Perry of Texas and House Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, both express wildly optimistic ideas about what they could do in White House. They’ll cut taxes, cut the public sector and have the country prospering in no time.

Perry and Bachmann, proud Christians, have followers belonging to cults that might generously be described as eccentric. For instance, C. Peter Wagner, a Colorado evangelist who took part in Perry’s prayer meeting (“for a Nation in Crisis”) at Reliant Stadium in Houston, advocates Christian control of government; he also wants to burn the statues of Catholic saints. Perry doesn’t necessarily agree with people like Wagner but he says he’s glad to have their support and he certainly won’t say a word against them.

Mitt Romney, who is now sometimes mentioned as the inevitable nominee, lost the nomination to John McCain in 2008 and has been running this time for a year. But after all that strenuous effort he’s not impressed most of his fellow Republicans. About a fifth of them support him, the same proportion he had on his side a year ago.

He’s bland, almost as if determined to be ordinary. He remains widely unloved. A Washington Post story expressed this in extreme understatement: He “has stirred only limited passion.” Anyone with a TV set knows why. He’s smug and priggish, annoyingly condescending. He knows he’s the smartest man in the room and finds it impossible to keep that opinion to himself.

Reluctantly, the Republicans seem to be accepting him, as their not-too-bad candidate. David Brooks, whose New York Times column often projects a lively and original view of the future, considers Romney the man for the moment. He’s a technocratic manager, an effective executive, an Organization Man. He’s sophisticated enough to work the system and put through the policies the current crisis calls for.

It’s sad t see Brooks settling, 13 months before the election, for the minimum candidate. Apparently he believes the U.S. has had enough excitement and too many failures. He’ll be satisfied with a politician who can deliver what Canadians traditionally expect, what the British North America Act calls “Peace, order and good government.”

Most Republicans expect they can beat Barack Obama and he’s done little to demonstrate that they are wrong. Even among Democrats, only 58% think Obama will be re-elected. About six out of 10 Americans disapprove of the way he’s handling the economy and seven out of 10 say the country is on the wrong track.

Confidence Men, Ron Suskind’s recent book about economic arguments in the White House, depicts Obama as a novice manager unable to deal with serious trouble. Suskind quotes Lawrence Summers, the senior economic advisor: “We’re home alone. There’s no adult in charge.” He’s denied he said it but those words not only sound like Summers, they sound like the truth. The Democrats are led by a man who knows little about management and apparently has no interest in learning.

Still, political leadership isn’t America’s core problem. The paralysis now afflicting the U.S. is the result of many Americans believing that they can spend more money they have and defer repayment indefinitely — a governing principle that operates as much in government as in private households.

Most of the West (including Canada) makes the same mistake, sometimes with dire consequences. But in America everything happens on a grander scale, with gargantuan results. And any serious failure affects much of the world.

The American fiscal tragedy is American made, the result of chronic long-term thoughtlessness. Do the Americans know this yet? Apparently not. Leaders brave enough to break the news to them might be able to lead the country toward better days but no such leaders are on the horizon. A close study of those now offering themselves provides, in this melancholy year, no clear basis for hope.

Robert Fulford
National Post
Oct 8, 2011

Failing in love and getting married is arguably one of the most exciting times of your life. The dating years seem to prepare us well for selecting a mate. By the time you find the person of your dreams, you’ve likely gone through enough heartbreak and mistakes to know who your ideal emotional companion is. But the cold, hard – often unspoken – truth is that in a marriage, emotional compatibility is only half the equation. Anyone who’s been married for any length of time knows this all too well: financial compatibility is just as important, maybe more so. Love does not conquer all, and financial misalignment can destroy a union.

The bottom line really is that you need to ensure you’re financially aligned before you get married. This means full financial disclosure on both sides and honest conversations about your life goals and how you’re going to get there – together. It’s that simple, but it’s hard for people to do. As open as we’ve become as a society – just think about how much we’re willing to share on Facebook and Twitter – we are simply not comfortable talking about our finances, not even with the single most important person in our lives. It’s shocking. But consider this: If you do bite the bullet and have those tough conversations, hash it out, come to a consensus, map out a life plan and stick to it, then, wow, do you ever have something to be excited about.

 So, where should new couples start to figure it out? First, by coming clean on their personal balance sheets – what they own and what they owe, including student loans and all credit card debt. This doesn’t mean you suddenly need all of your money in joint accounts; however full disclosure at the outset and throughout the relationship is critical. Cash flow is another conversation – is your soulmate spending more than he earns, what is he spending it on? If you are planning a wedding and discover that you’re both in debt, does it really make sense to buy a big engagement ring, throw an elaborate celebration and sink further into debt? The answer may be a smaller, more low-key celebration, or fewer guests. According to Weddingbells’ Annual Reader Survey the average expected cost of a wedding in 2011 was $23,330. That’s a lot of money that can be put towards building your future or paying down debt. Another option some people consider is living together before marriage – and holding off on the wedding until you are in better financial shape. While I recognize that it’s not an option for some people given their personal beliefs, I think it’s a relatively low-risk way to really determine if you and your partner are financially aligned. Living together, whether married or not, puts theory into practice and makes you fully accountable to your partner. And, it may uncover fundamental differences. I would argue that you’re better off knowing that ahead of time than finding out when you’re already married.

Whether you choose to live together or get married, once you’ve come clean on your financial situation, it’s time to talk about the future. What are your life goals? Do you want one kid, two kids, no kids? Do you want to vacation every year? Where do you want to live? The answers to those questions come with a budget number attached. And you need to make sure that you’re grounded in reality when you’re budget planning and setting goals. You may even want to consider a marriage contract. Michael Cochrane, a prominent family lawyer, is an advocate of marriage contracts as a way to provide clarity and focus.

 “A marriage contract at the outset of a marriage or even to restore financial balance after one spouse has had problems can be a tool for strengthening a marriage by creating a clear realignment of the partners’ goals”

It’s tough. There’s nothing romantic about money. It’s not why you fell in love and wanted to get married. But getting it right can help ensure you stay married, and happily so.

Patricia Lovett – Reid

Financial Post

October 8, 2011

Patricia Lovett-Reid, senior vice-president, TD Waterhouse, is one of Canada’s leading and respected authorities on personal finance