Justin Bender

CFA, CFP, B.Comm., Portfolio Manager

With more than a decade of experience managing portfolios, Justin is focused on keeping costs and taxes low for his clients. His skills as an analyst and researcher have made him widely respected in the ETF industry.
With more than a decade of experience managing portfolios, Justin is focused on keeping costs and taxes low for his clients. His skills as an analyst and researcher have made him widely respected in the ETF industry.
DIY Investing
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Understanding US Equity ETFs

In the first installment in my “Understanding ETFs” series, we toured the Canadian equity ETF landscape, covering solutions you can use for your investment portfolio’s domestic stock allocation. Today, I want to switch gears and head south of the border, to explore some of the U.S. equity ETFs you can add in, to diversify your Canadian-heavy portfolio.

DIY Investing
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Understanding Canadian Equity ETFs

Hello everyone. Are you ready for a crash course in understanding exchange-traded funds (ETFs)? Today, we’ll kick things off by popping the hoods on a sporty collection of Canadian equity ETF solutions for your portfolio’s domestic stock allocation.

DIY Investing
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Breaking News, Familiar Ground: iShares Asset Allocation ETFs

If there’s an overnight success story to be savored from 2018, it would be Vanguard’s Asset Allocation ETFs. Since their launch earlier this year, their combined assets under management have already exceeded $800 million. What’s not to like about gaining access to a low-cost, self-rebalancing globally diversified portfolio with the click of a mouse?

DIY Investing
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Asset Location in a Post-Tax World: RRSPs vs. Taxable Accounts

One of the most common questions I receive from investors is whether it’s more tax-friendly to hold equities in their RRSP or taxable accounts first. In this comparison, I’m about to demonstrate that your post-tax asset allocation and asset location both determine your post-tax portfolio value in approximately equal measure – unlike in our TFSA vs. RRSP scenarios.

DIY Investing
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How to Calculate Your Rate of Return at Questrade

Now that you’ve completed all your inputs, the calculator provides you with your accurate return over the timeframe you’ve specified. That’s nice. But how does it compare to the “suitable benchmark” I mentioned at the outset? Please feel free to download the model portfolios from my blog before getting started.

Market Research
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Vanguard’s Hip New Asset Allocation ETFs

While many ETF providers have been frantically fooling around trying to launch the next hot bitcoin or marijuana fund, Vanguard Canada has been playing it oh, so cool. Instead of chasing after the crowd, they’ve recently released a hip new set of game-changers in the form of three asset allocation ETFs.

Market Research
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The Most Boring Battle Ever: Bond ETFs or GICs?

If ever there were a contest held for “Canada’s Most Boring Investment Ever,” I’ll bet that bond ETFs and guaranteed investment certificates (GICs) would duke it out in the final round. We buy them to offset our more glamorous (and more risky) stock funds with some sensible dependability.

Advanced Investing
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Corporate Taxation: Tax Integration of Active Business Income

Big picture, here’s the end goal: Once a corporation’s after-tax business income is distributed to its shareholders and personal taxes are paid on the proceeds, each taxpayer’s combined corporate and personal taxes should come out about the same as if he or she were a “regular” taxpayer. Admittedly, the results ain’t always perfect, but they usually come pretty close.

DIY Investing
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Easier than ACB

The white paper, As Easy as ACB, provided investors with step-by-step instructions on how to track the book value of their ETFs, using the free online resource, Adjusted Cost Base.ca. We were the first to admit that the title of our paper was misleading – tracking your ACB is about as easy as reciting the alphabet backwards.

Market Research
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New Multifactor ETFs from Manulife

As more and more ETF providers jump on the smart-beta bandwagon, Manulife had an even better idea – why not team up with the pioneers of factor-based investing, Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA)? And they did just that. For years, investors could only gain entry to the exclusive Dimensional party if they hooked up with a DFA-approved advisor.

DIY Investing
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Norbert’s Gambit at TD Direct Investing

Savvy DIY investors have long used a technique called “Norbert’s gambit” to sidestep these steep currency conversion costs. The simplest way to do Norbert’s gambit is with the Horizons US Dollar Currency ETF. This ETF – which is equivalent to holding US cash – is available in two versions.

DIY Investing
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How to Build an ETF Portfolio at Questrade

Investing in ETFs through a big bank discount brokerage is one of the cheapest ways to build a diversified portfolio – that is, until you factor in the cost of their trading commissions. Although Questrade does not charge traditional trading commissions, they do charge something called “ECN fees”

ETF Commissions Are History

When I first heard that National Bank Direct Brokerage (NBDB) was now offering commission-free trades on all Canadian ETFs, I was impressed. Questrade has been […]

How to Build an ETF Portfolio at Scotia iTRADE

In the fifth installment of my beginner DIY investing series, we’ll learn how to implement an ETF portfolio at Scotia iTRADE. Scotia iTRADE is a relatively high-cost brokerage for a newbie investor with modest assets, so please carefully review the fees below before making your choice.

Advanced Investing
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New Multifactor ETFs from iShares

iShares has created three multifactor equity ETFs (Canada, US and International), which follow the MSCI Diversified Multi-Factor Indexes. Instead of tilting towards a single factor, these indices combine four well-researched factors: value, momentum, size and quality.

Taxation of Foreign Income in a Corporate Account

The taxation of foreign income is often lumped into the “interest income” category, but this is not entirely accurate.  Foreign interest income (the kind that is generally not subject to foreign withholding taxes) is taxed in a similar manner to Canadian interest income in a corporation.

Advanced Investing
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New Tax Loss Selling Pairs for 2016

Throughout the white paper, we showed investors how to implement a disciplined tax loss selling strategy, using Canadian-listed ETFs.  Near the end of the paper, we even provided suggested ‘tax loss selling pairs’ (which consist of a primary ETF and a secondary ETF that is very similar to the initial holding).

Advanced Investing
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BXF tears a strip off competitors

Last year, I calculated the after-tax performance of ten short-term bond ETFs in an attempt to find the most tax-efficient of the bunch. The results were not even close – the First Asset 1-5 Year Laddered Government Strip Bond Index ETF (BXF) beat all other funds by a landslide.

Advanced Investing
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Don’t discount ZDB just yet

In February 2014, BMO released a more tax-efficient version of their flagship BMO Aggregate Bond Index ETF (ZAG). They called their new fund the BMO Discount Bond Index ETF (ZDB). The fund’s strategy was to buy Canadian government and corporate bonds that were trading at par or at a discount to their par value.

Market Research
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Book Value Blunders

The report is filled with plenty of disclaimers, indemnifying RBC of any errors or omissions contained within. Fair enough – in some cases, RBC would not have all of the information necessary to accurately track their clients’ book values.

Personal Wealth
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PWL 2014 Tax Slip Checklist

The 2014 tax year is an especially daunting one for our clients: PWL’s transition from TD Waterhouse Institutional Services to National Bank Correspondent Network means clients may receive two T3 or T5 slips (one from each brokerage) for a number of securities, which is sure to add to the complexity. 

Advanced Investing
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HBB vs. GICs

This blog post is not meant to downplay the tax-efficiency of HBB’s structure. HBB would still be expected to have a higher after-tax return than a traditional broad market bond ETF (such as XBB), which is arguably a more fair comparison.

Advanced Investing
Financial Advisor

Active Funds Exposed

Rob Carrick wrote an article late last year that suggested four actively managed mutual funds which may be worth a look by open-minded DIY investors. All four funds had beaten the S&P/TSX Composite Index’s 8% return over the last 10 years (as of October 31, 2014). 

Advanced Investing
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The DRIP Myth

Dividend reinvestment plans (or DRIPs for short), allow investors to use their dividends to automatically purchase additional shares in the same ETF. The question is, are DRIPs really necessary or could you just occasionally invest the accumulated cash?

Advanced Investing
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Norbert’s Gambit at NBCN

It’s been over two years since I first wrote about using Norbert’s gambit in client accounts to cheaply convert Canadian dollars to US dollars (and vice-versa). Various white papers followed, showing DIYers how to get around the big banks’ high currency conversion costs.

Advanced Investing
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Tax Loss Selling Results

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade. That’s how our team in Toronto has been reacting to the recent market volatility. In the context of this common phrase, the lemons are the stock market losses and the lemonade is the deferred capital gains taxes.

Advanced Investing
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Vanguard Lowers Their Fees…Again

The race to the bottom continues as Vanguard Canada recently lowered the fees on 11 of their ETFs. The cost that investors will pay to construct a balanced portfolio of Vanguard ETFs is now just 0.13% (the same cost as a similar portfolio from iShares, and slightly cheaper than one from BMO).