Nancy Graham CPA, CA, CIM, CFP, TEP

Portfolio Manager
  • T613.237.5544 x 303
  • 1.800.230.5544
  • F613.237.5949
  • 265 Carling Avenue,
    8th Floor,
  • Ottawa, Ontario K1S 2E1

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.

So what does good financial advice look like – the kind that’s actually worth paying extra for? For starters, on the investment management front, look for evidence-based investment advice that gives you the best odds for capturing expected market returns (instead of chasing them), while managing the risks and related costs.


But again, hopefully, you’re also receiving way more than that for the added fees. How much more? Find out in today’s “No Dumb Questions” video.

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Is Your Advisor a Little Too Close for Comfort?

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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.

That said, many of my clients are good friends. As our relationship unfolds, we often end up enjoying one another’s company. So how do you know if you’ve crossed a line? Here’s a test for you to use: Are you comfortable asking your advisor the following two questions? Is your advisor, in turn, comfortable providing clear and candid answers to the same?

  1. What am I paying (including fund manager and fund management costs)? Thanks to the new annual CRM2 disclosures, fund manager fees are now more transparent. But they can still require some math, plus the costs of the underlying investments are still reported separately, often in the fine print. Your advisor should be willing to help you sort it out.
  2. How are my investments performing (compared to my financial goals and appropriate market benchmarks)? Is your advisor helping you understand and accurately assess your financial progress? You may be enjoying the personal relationship, but are you sacrificing returns you should be earning, given your goals and risk tolerances?

If you’re uncomfortable asking these two basic questions – or your advisor is dismissive when answering them – watch out. You may be either too close or too far apart for comfort. Think of it this way: Is the friendship worth postponing your retirement over?

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How Much Are Your Investments Really Costing You … Indirectly?

When you go shopping for goods or services, sometimes you may be willing to pay a premium for higher quality. Other times, the cheapest choice will serve you just fine.

To make these sorts of calls, it helps to figure in both the direct, “sticker price” of the items being compared, as well as some of the indirect costs and benefits to you.

In investing, there are at least two indirect costs worth keeping an eye on: taxes and your funds’ internal trading costs.


By looking out for these and similar indirect costs, you can help prevent the returns you earn from being overly eroded by costs that may be out of sight, but that still end up out-of-pocket. That’s what’s on the docket for today’s “No Dumb Questions” video.  I’m happy to talk about other investment-cost questions you may have on your mind as well. Let me know!

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You, Your Retirement, and Your Best Friend

Source: Cheezburger -


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. Today, let’s talk about your own conflicts of interest. That’s right. You’ve got them too, and if you let them run your financial plans, they can place a drag on your returns, and delay or diminish your retirement goals.

Among the biggest such conflicts hiring an advisor to whom you also owe a “friend or family debt.” When everything is going well, it can be fun to take care of your finances while also chewing the fat about Aunt Mary or last week’s ball game. But what if you’ve got an issue your advisor should know about, but might compromise a personal relationship with that same individual?

Ugh, talking about a conflict. One way or another, you’re going to lose out. This is why I refer my own family members to other colleagues. It’s in both of our best interests!

In short, it’s good to be close to your advisor … but maybe not too close if you want your best shot at a comfortable retirement. Where should you draw that line? In my next post, I’ll offer some ideas for that.

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Introduction of Kristine van der Pas-Norenius, Next3rd - Certified Retirement Transition Coach

Introducing Kristine van der Pas-Norenius as Guest Blogger at PWL Capital!

Is retirement on your horizon? Unsure of how you will manage the transition from fully employed to a fulfilling retirement? Let me introduce you to Kristine van der Pas-Norenius, BSc, MSM, a certified retirement transition coach who can help you navigate one of life’s biggest changes, retirement.

After selling her business, Kris wasn’t quite ready for the change that confronted her with the seemingly loss of identity, daily structure, social circles and sense of utility. To help others avoid the pitfalls of an unhappy retirement, she became a certified retirement coach and launched, a place to inspire and inform those approaching their third act of life.

Retirement can be the longest phase of your life. Kris can help you discover the right retirement path for you and how to make the next3rd of your life, your best. She shares research-based insights, uses leading-edge assessment tools and applies goal-setting best practices garnered from her decades of business experience. You’ll love her positive energy, sharp focus and analytical insights.

Discover more about her services, read her blog at Next3rd or contact her at

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