Rules I Follow Religiously

  1. I invest first and foremost for total return over my lifetime as opposed to tax-advantages in the short term.  In other words, I let my overall investment strategy set my course.  Once I set my strategy, I do aim for tax benefits, but it never drives my decisions.  I see too many clients investing for short term tax advantages, to the detriment of their long-term wealth building.  For example, many of my Canadian clients have upwards of 90-100% of their equities in the Canadian market, due to the tax benefits of Canadian dividends.  Yet they are missing out on significant gains (and diversification) by ignoring the U.S. and global markets.
  2. The portion of my assets that are in equities are ALWAYS 100% invested in the market.  See the chart on this page for an explanation why.
  3. I never have more than 5% of my investible assets in any one stock or bond.
  4. I normally buy equal amounts of all holdings except for my "speculative" stocks, which are very small amounts.
  5. My speculative stocks, if any, make up less than 2% of my liquid assets. I currently hold some shares in a private, alternative energy company.
  6. My bonds are high-grade provincial, municipal, and corporate bonds.  I never chase yield, in that the reason I hold bonds is for safety and preservation of capital.  I have never had a bond holding default.
  7. I keep my fees low.  I use a discount broker and simply pay $9.99/trade.  For managed accounts, I try to keep my clients' cost well under 1% of total assets under management, and closer to 0.50% is preferred. In a low interest environment like we have been in for years, you simply cannot afford either direct or hidden fees of 2% or more as you are likely to end up losing money after taxes and inflation.