The purpose of these web pages is to educate Canadian investors on the techniques necessary to manage their own investment portfolios wisely - and, hopefully, profitably. It is particularly aimed at retirees who want to "do-it-themselves" - perhaps as a new career, perhaps because they are unhappy with their current investment advisors, or even just for the fun of it. In the following web pages, I will show how the findings of Nobel prize-winning economists can be used to control risk and (with luck) enhance returns. I will discuss many financial instruments, including stocks, both as collective entities called "Exchange-Traded Funds" and individually; bonds; "unit trusts"; and options. I will show how to use dividends to fund future expenses, and, for those who wish to purchase individual stocks, I will show what characteristics a company's stock should possess.
Throughout these discussions, my philosophy will be one of managing the risk. I will not tell you how to get rich quick - but I hope to tell you how to keep from getting poor quick. I will not tell you to get a second mortgage on your house to fund your investments or to invest in the latest "craze"; in fact, I sincerely hope that you will find the former unnecessary and resist the latter. To use a baseball analogy, I try to obtain a long string of singles and doubles and a low strikeout percentage; the home runs I shall leave to others.
Before you start on the following pages, you must first put your financial house in order. This means paying off any credit card debt, establishing a savings program, building a financial reserve, contributing to your RRSP, making a will, and establishing and funding your insurance needs.
To do all those requires self-discipline: but, until you acquire that self-discipline, you would be better off with a financial advisor than trying do-it-yourself investing. Those without self-discipline will chase the latest investment fad, invariably buying high and selling low. I shall make money from you by doing the opposite.
I have been saving and investing for about 20 years, although my initial portfolio was concentrated in Canada Savings Bonds. During that time, I have made many investment mistakes, and have paid the price in dollars for doing so. In fact, my "Bay Street" education has probably had a higher dollar cost than did my ten years of university education. Traps for the unwary abound, particularly when the latest "hot tip" or "hot product" comes along. I have stumbled into several of these traps; when I insisted, my broker went along with it (after all, it's my money). Nevertheless, I - or my broker - made enough good decisions along the way that the magic of compounding did its work - and I was able to take early retirement from my job as a chemist. I now have the experience, and confidence, to act as my own investment advisor. My investment portfolio supplies most of my income, and does so in a way that has a risk level that is acceptable to me - and I am very risk-averse.
Let me repeat: I shall not tell you how to get rich quickly. But I hope to tell you how manage your own investments in a way that allows you to get a good return (commensurate with your risk level) under a variety of market conditions.