Nancy Graham

CPA, CA, CFP®, CIM, TEP, Portfolio Manager

Building on her passion to help people gain financial control of their lives, Nancy joined PWL Capital’s Ottawa office in 2000. She became a Portfolio Manager in 2006. Since ‘analysis’ alone didn’t always answer client’s questions, she launched the “No Dumb Questions” video series in 2016.
Building on her passion to help people gain financial control of their lives, Nancy joined PWL Capital’s Ottawa office in 2000. She became a Portfolio Manager in 2006. Since ‘analysis’ alone didn’t always answer client’s questions, she launched the “No Dumb Questions” video series in 2016.
Living in Retirement

You and Your Pension: Can You Take It Abroad?

If you’ve lived and worked in Canada all your life, and you stop working the day you retire, your pension calculations should be relatively straight-forward. But what if you don’t fit the mould? Many of us don’t. For example, how might spending some years abroad, or continuing to earn income in retirement impact your pension?

Advanced Investing
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Asset Allocation in Plain English

Have you ever noticed? What’s clear to an “insider” isn’t always so obvious to everyone else. Doctors, lawyers, engineers … investment advisors. I’m afraid we’ve all been guilty of tossing around too many technical terms without defining them first.

Personal Wealth
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Congratulations, You’re Ready To Retire! Now What???

At its highest level, retirement planning isn’t rocket science. The sooner and more aggressively you fuel up your retirement assets, the sooner you’ll be launching into your ideal retirement – whether that means selling your business, quitting your day job, or simply shifting the balance between your personal and professional activities that you enjoy the most.

Personal Wealth
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Holy Smokes, Another Hot Stock?

Toothpaste? Vitamins? Check. Birthday card for your mom? Got it. Cannabis?  Aisle 4, next to the chocolate bars. Uhh, okay, let’s get real. This scenario for distributing recreational marijuana does not – and almost certainly will not – exist … whatever may come on the legislation front.

Personal Wealth
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What Are Stock Options (and How Do They Work)?

From the prize inside the cereal box when you were a kid, to those “buy one, get one free” shopping deals, who doesn’t love getting a little extra something for nothing? So if you’ve been crushing it at work, and your employer offers you some stock options in return, that’s a prize worth smiling about too.

Personal Wealth
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Recovering After Down Markets

Everyone knows: Around the world, gravity dictates that what goes up, must come down. Except, that is, in our topsy-turvy capital markets. Then, after markets go down, they are expected to eventually come back up, and to continue to ascend from there. At least they have to date.

Personal Wealth
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Should I Buy Cryptocurrency?

Are you hip to cryptocurrency? As I introduced in my last “No Dumb Questions,” unless you’re a cutting-edge computer kid, the technical details get pretty complicated, pretty fast. That said, you don’t need a financial economics degree to successfully invest in stocks and bonds. Can the same be said for cryptocurrency?

Personal Wealth
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What Is Cryptocurrency?

Cryptocurrency? Bitcoin? Blockchains? Admit it: Not long ago, you were blissfully ignorant of all these terms. Technically, cryptocurrency has been around since 2009, but it’s only recently kicked into overdrive. Suddenly, the trendiest people can’t seem to get enough of it.

Personal Wealth
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My Mortgage Is Paid Off. Now What?

If you’re like most Canadians, one of the happiest days in your financial life is when you finally pay off your mortgage. At long last, your house is officially yours. So are all those delicious dollars you used to have to sacrifice every month, for what seems like forever.

Personal Wealth
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Breaking Up With Your Advisor

In my past few “No Dumb Questions,” I’ve been covering the kinds of questions you may be uncomfortable asking your current financial advisor. Here’s one of the trickiest of all: “How do I break up with my advisor?” Awkward, right?

Personal Wealth
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“How Safe Is My Money?” (Part 2)

In my last “No Dumb Questions,” I took on a question that most investors want to know more about, but may hesitate to ask their advisor. It goes something like this: Advisor, how safe is my money? The rest of the unstated question may often be … “How safe is it … with you?”

Personal Wealth
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“How Safe Is My Money?” (Part 1)

“Are you taking good care of my investment accounts?” This can be another awkward question to ask your advisor. After all, what are the odds they’re going to say no??? Even Bernie Madoff probably said something like, “Ahhhh … don’t worry about it.”

Personal Wealth
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Nine “Hole in One” Questions To Ask Your Financial Advisor (Part 1)

In my last “No Dumb Questions,” I took a swing at some of those tricky questions that can be awkward to ask your existing advisor. Like: Whether there’s better financial advice out there than what you’re currently receiving. And how an independent advisor can be the equivalent of a personal Chief Financial Officer for your family wealth.

Personal Wealth
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Demystifying Dividend-Paying Stocks

It’s common to mentally account for dividend payouts as if they’re found money that leaves your principal untouched. That’s why I see many investors turning to them to create an income stream. “I’ll buy a bunch,” or so the logic goes, “and live off the ‘extra’ dividends.”

Personal Wealth
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A Cautionary Tale on Your Best Interests

As a savvy consumer, you probably already know: It’s not just how much you’re paying for an item, it’s also knowing what you’re getting. In fact, an unfolding CBC News exposé of the Canadian banking system has revealed how often you may think you’re being offered solid financial advice, when you’re actually receiving a hard sales pitch.

Personal Wealth
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Are Your Investment Management Costs Earning Their Keep?

How much are YOU paying for financial advice? Are you getting your money’s worth, or is your advisor charging multiple percentage points to serve up little more than a basic investment portfolio?
I’m not saying there isn’t wonderful financial advice out there, but you don’t want to be paying white tablecloth, filet mignon prices for the equivalent of a fast-food burger.

Personal Wealth
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Is Your Advisor a Little Too Close for Comfort?

In my last post, You, Your Retirement, and Your Best Friend, I introduced a conflict you can bring to your own best interests if you hire a friend or family member as your financial advisor. It just doesn’t seem worth exposing either of you (or your entire family) to the problems that can arise when the dual roles clash.

Personal Wealth
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You, Your Retirement, and Your Best Friend

Is your financial advisor also your college buddy, relative, or similar close connection? My next two posts are for you – although you may not love what I have to say.
In past posts like this one, my PWL colleagues and I have talked about advisors who come to the table with conflicts of interest that can taint their advice.

Personal Wealth
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How Much Are Your Investments Really Costing You … Directly?

Whether you’re buying groceries, hiring a plumber or investing your money in the stock market, it’s only natural that you want to know what you’re paying for, and whether you’re getting your money’s worth out of it.
Unfortunately, unlike the sticker price in store, it’s not always easy to examine all the costs involved in investing, especially if you want to compare one all-in strategy to another.

Personal Wealth
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Putting the Stock Market to Work for You

To stay one step ahead of inflation, just as you put in a day’s work to earn a decent living, you also must put some of your savings to work by investing in the stock market. That said, when you “employ” your money in this manner, you want your investments to work smarter, not harder than they need to.

Personal Wealth
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What’s the Scoop on Bond Values?

Next, I want to take a closer look at bond values, and how the risks inherent to investing in bonds can affect those values. Specifically, let’s consider this frequently asked question: “If bonds are supposed to be so ‘safe,’ why do my bonds or bond funds sometimes decline in value?”

Personal Wealth
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What’s the Scoop on Bonds?

Stocks and bonds. You don’t have to be an investor for long before somebody suggests that you should have some of both. Bonds are supposed to be your financial safety net, while stocks are where you hope to earn your higher-flying returns … or so you’ve heard.

Business Owners and Their RRSPs: Are You “Willing, Able and Ready” To Save?

If you’re like most business owners, you wear many hats in your life, each competing for financial attention. Beyond the basics of funding your Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP), business owners face specialized questions like: When and how should you direct business profits into an RRSP account … or should you? And how do you balance funding your retirement and reinvesting in your thriving enterprise?

What’s the Verdict: ETF or Mutual Fund?

When I get questions about ETFs (which I often do these days), I find there’s often a “question behind the question.” What people are often really asking is whether ETFs – a fast-growing and increasingly popular choice – are an inherently better choice than those “old-fashioned” mutual funds. Some investors are so enamored by ETFs that they reach this verdict without ever weighing the preponderance of the evidence.

Some Ins and Outs on ETFs

Exchange Traded Funds, or ETFs, are relatively new stars in the investment universe, having been launched in 1993. Despite their novelty – or maybe in part because of it – they are shining brightly at the moment, with new and allegedly improved ETF products launched almost daily (with splashy press releases to go with).

Hope You Live To Be 100 … But Can You Afford It?

In my last post, we started talking about a financial planning subject that’s on almost every grown-up’s mind: “Nancy, how much do I need to retire?”
Given the significance of the subject, I have dedicated a couple of videos to this decidedly “No Dumb Question.” In the first installment, I covered some of the big-picture considerations, like setting your retirement goals and coming up with a rough idea of how you’re doing so far.

Why Invest in Stocks to Begin With?

Whether it’s about piling into the next big win or fleeing a trend turned sour, hot stock tips seem to never end. It’s no wonder that one of the “No Dumb Questions” I often hear goes something like this:
“Nancy, why should I buy stocks to begin with? Aren’t they too risky for me?”

Is a “Basic” Index Fund Too Basic for You?

Today, let’s tackle another question I often hear: “Nancy, why would I buy an index fund?”
I hear this question from successful professionals who have had to work hard for their wealth. I hear it from affluent families who worry they should be doing something more elaborate with their portfolio. I hear it from investors of modest means, who figure there must be better ways to stretch for the higher returns they want or need to earn.

Welcome to Nancy Graham’s “No Dumb Questions” About your Finances

Do you have favorite family memories from when you were growing up? Many of mine come from the time we spent around the dinner table.
My parents were hardworking Manitoban farmers. When we took breaks from actual farming, we’d usually talk about everything related to farming: business, finance, weather, commodity prices, and so on. No subject was taboo and, even when I was quite young, I was encouraged to join in.

Nancy’s Eye-Witness Overview of the Pre-Budget Lock-Up: Actions and Inactions

I had the privilege of spending Tuesday afternoon in the pre-budget lock-up for the 2016 Federal Budget. By now you know that the budget was marked by significant spending initiatives – and a deficit projected to be about $30 billion. It also represented a drive by the current administration to help the middle- and low-income earners in our country.

Predictable Problems with Random Patterns

At PWL Capital, we embrace a practical approach to investing – making use of the significant body of academic research that supports ‘market return based’ or ‘evidence-based’ investing. In other words, forget about gut feeling. What does the data tell us about investing?

Personal Survival in the Financial Jungle

Welcome to our next installment in Nancy Graham’s “Minding Your Money Matters,” thoughtful financial advocacy vignettes that you can readily apply. In this installment, we’ll turn the focus on the most important contributing factor of all: the personal challenges you face as a long-term investor.

World Views Generate Nothing New for Investors

According to Dimensional Fund Advisors’ 2014 Review, two developed countries (in the MSCI Index) experienced 2014 annual returns of +22.77% and –22.04% in seesaw fashion. Can you guess which two these might be? Since there are so many to choose from, let’s narrow it down. Those highest and lowest returns came out of Israel and Norway. Now, which was which?

Personal Wealth

Two Mindful Money Steps Toward a Happier Holiday Season

Welcome to our next installment in Nancy Graham’s “Minding Your Money Matters,” thoughtful financial advocacy vignettes that you can readily apply. In this installment, we’ll talk about what “Smartest” series author Dan Solin refers to as “the sad state of happiness,” and how “it’s not ‘all about the money, all the time.’”

Identifying an Advisor Advocate

Welcome to our next installment in Nancy Graham’s “Minding Your Money Matters,” thoughtful financial advocacy vignettes that you can readily apply. In our last post, we discussed the differences between financial vendors and financial advocates, and how we’d like to see far more of the latter in our industry. In this installment, we’ll take a closer look at what qualities to seek in a financial advocate who has your best interests at heart.

Conflicting Incentives

Welcome to our next installment in Nancy Graham’s “Minding Your Money Matters,” thoughtful financial advocacy vignettes that you can readily apply. In our last post, we discussed the personal challenges we face as rational investors trying to survive in the financial jungle. In this installment, we’ll explore some of the predators that lay in wait for us in the form of conflicting incentives.

Practical Investing

If you’re like most people, you have better things to do with your time than pore over daily market news, wondering how or if it applies to you. Instead, we recommend applying market-based strategy to guide your investment habits. By investing according to identified market efficiencies (instead of fighting against them, as most investors do), you are freed to focus on decisions you can expect to understand and control, and to ignore the market’s daily distractions.

Predictive vs. Market-Based

Welcome to our next installment in Nancy Graham’s “Minding Your Money Matters,” thoughtful financial advocacy vignettes that you can readily apply to your life. Today we’ll cover why serious investors are best served by approaching the market with a disciplined plan for managing market risks, rather than the more common “winner takes all” mindset. We call this market-based versus predictive investing.

Challenge yourself: How Global are you, Really?

How do you go about achieving your financial goals in an ever-changing world? How do stock markets work? Why own bonds? These days, it’s not enough to mind your money. You want to mind your money so it matters: to you and to your family, on your own terms and, most importantly, in your best financial interests. To help with that, we bring you Nancy Graham’s “Minding Your Money Matters,” thoughtful financial advocacy that you can readily apply to your financial life.