What is advice-only financial planning exactly? What does advice-only financial planning entail?
Also known as fee-for-service financial planning, advice-only financial planning involves no products, no commissions, just advice.
With traditional forms of financial advice, there is always the nagging doubt about whether the advice is truly unbiased or if is it just to sell a product and receive a commission? There is always that lingering question, is this advice really in your best interest or is it in the best interest of the advisor?
Advice-only financial planning eliminates this conflict of interest. An advice-only financial planner is compensated directly by the client and only the client. There are no products, no commissions, just pure advice.
An advice-only financial planner works for the client to provide the best advice possible and good financial advice can be extremely helpful. It can reduce stress, provide peace of mind, capture unseen opportunities, avoid unnecessary risks etc. etc.
There are many different ways to receive financial advice, but one of the most unbiased and trustworthy is advice-only financial planning.
Let’s go deeper into exactly what advice-only financial planning is and why, in today’s world of low-cost self-directed investing, it makes more sense than ever to get an advice-only financial plan…
There are a large number of benefits available to low and moderate income households. Some of these benefits are government benefits, they provide direct income support. But some of these benefits are a combination of government & private benefits, and they help offset specific expenses.
Many government benefits are automatic based on annual tax filing. As long as an income tax return is filed on time each year, these benefits are automaticity calculated and paid based on adjusted family net income (aka. AFNI… this is essentially line 23600 of your tax return).
But there are other benefits that are available to low and moderate income households and these benefits must be applied for individually, and are not automatic based on annual tax filing, but they can still provide a significant benefit for low and moderate income households.
Most of these non-automatic benefits are delivered with help of private companies and they help offset specific types of expenses. These benefits are a combination of government/private and must be applied for every 1-2 years.
The global pandemic has impacted all of us differently, our personal finances have gone through many changes and some have “weathered the storm” better than others.
FP Canada, the board that governs the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation in Canada, recently came out with a survey called “The Tale Of Two Pandemics” and it highlights both the positive and the negative impact that the pandemic has had on our personal finances (more details on the survey results at the end of this post).
There are some troubling stats within the survey, for example 14% of those in Ontario have been forced out of the labor market, 21% have seen an increase in expenses, and 14% have seen a reduction in work hours/income.
But the survey also highlights the opposite side of the pandemic, many people have not experienced a job loss, or a reduction in income, or an increase in expenses over the course of the pandemic.
In fact, looking at the statistics, it looks like there is a large group of people that have not been affected by the pandemic at all, and another group of people who have actually benefited financially from the pandemic.
This is consistent with the conversations we’re having with clients.
For those who have been fortunate enough to remain gainfully employed, for those who own a home or recently purchased a home, for those with a mortgage or other debt like student loans or HELOCs, and for those who are investing on a regular basis, the pandemic has actually improved their personal finances in a number of ways.
The pandemic has impacted us all differently, but for many people there have been one, two, three or more positive changes that may have actually improved their personal finances. As it turns out, this is especially true for those who had a financial plan already in place.
Here are some ways that a person’s personal finances may have improved during the pandemic…
RRSP contributions can be a great tool to help manage your income taxes before and after retirement. They can also be a great tool to help manage your government benefits in a similar way. RRSP contributions affect government benefits like the Canada Child Benefit (CCB), Ontario Child Benefit (OCB), Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), GST/HST Credit, Ontario Sales Tax Credit etc etc.
What many people may not realize is that most government benefits have a “claw back” rate that acts like a tax rate. If you earn more income the “clawback” rate will reduce your government benefits. But the opposite also happens, if you make an RRSP contribution and your income goes down, then this “clawback” rate will work in reverse and it will increase your government benefits!
There are a couple situations where RRSP contributions can have a BIG effect on government benefits. Let’s take a look at two real life examples.
One example is a senior who is receiving GIS benefits. We’re going to plan some strategic RRSP contributions to help them maximize their GIS benefits. This is counter-intuitive, we’re always told that TFSAs are best for low-income individuals, but in this case we can use RRSP contributions strategically to maximize GIS.
The second example is a young family with three children. They’re receiving the Canada Child Benefit and the Ontario Child Benefit and we’re going to plan some strategic RRSP contributions to help them maximize their family benefits.
What is joint first-to-die life insurance and why would you choose it over two regular life insurance policies?
Life insurance is meant to protect against an unexpected death. It’s meant to provide financial protection for those who may be dependent on the insured. This is very common for families with young children and also for households with dual incomes (especially when one income is larger than the other).
There are many types of life insurance but one of the most common types for the average Canadian family is called term life insurance.
Term life insurance covers the insured person for a specific length of time (the term). It’s typically less expensive than other types of life insurance because it only lasts for 10, 15, 20, 25 years. The cost of term life insurance is very low when purchased early. A young family in their late 20’s or early 30’s will pay very little for term life insurance because the probability of an unexpected death is very low.
Joint first-to-die is one form of term life insurance that is available to couples. A joint first-to-die insurance policy pays out when the first person in a couple passes away. Instead of having two term life insurance policies for $500,000 each, a couple could purchase a joint first-to-die policy that covers both for $500,000. A joint first-to-die term life insurance policy is typically less expensive than two similar but separate policies, so it can be attractive in certain situations. But what are the downsides of a joint first-to-die life insurance policy? And when might you choose a joint first-to-die policy over two separate policies?
When to convert RRSP to RRIF? What is the right time to convert? What are the advantages of converting?
Converting an RRSP to a RRIF is mandatory by the end of the year you turn age 71. This triggers mandatory minimum withdrawals the following year and each year after that. The minimum withdrawal is based on the ending balance the previous year and the account holder’s age.
There is a common misconception that you should wait until the last possible moment to convert an RRSP to a RRIF. Maybe this is because it’s a “forced” conversion? Something that’s forced couldn’t be good right? Perhaps it’s because RRSPs grow tax free? Why not delay withdrawals as long as possible, why voluntarily make withdrawals by converting to a RRIF early?
Despite the misconceptions above, in many cases, converting an RRSP to a RRIF should be done much earlier than age 71.
There are many reasons for a retiree to convert an RRSP to a RRIF well before the mandatory age of 71. In this post we’ll highlight some of the considerations when deciding when to convert RRSP to RRIF.