I want enough to retire, so what’s my “number?”

Your “number” or retirement savings threshold won’t come from a simple formula or Web-based calculator. The same “number” does not apply to everyone and may even change as life evolves. Your PWL Capital advisor takes a different tact.

Rather than worry about achieving a single number, your advisor takes a structured approach to figuring out what you need to be comfortable at various points in your life. Questions range from “How will I generate income in retirement?” to “How will inflation and taxes affect my lifestyle?”

To determine what you need to save now, your PWL Capital advisor will help create a customized plan to reduce your uncertainty and risk for the years to come. One recent study suggests most Canadians, if they want to retire at age 65 and replace 70% of their working income, must save 10%-21% of pre-tax earnings every year for 35 years. So, an RRSP or TFSA alone won’t do it. Smart savings and investment choices today are critical to ensuring access to a sufficient and secure post-retirement income.

We use conservative assumptions in planning for your retirement because we believe it is better to manage a surplus as your life progresses. We also help educate you on managing money after retirement. It is critically important, for example, to understand the impact of inflation and identify safe withdrawal rates that account for longer lifespans. As you age, we also help you avoid high risks, and keep investment costs and taxes low.

Like a pilot adjusting a flight plan via course corrections, PWL Capital will be there to identify when you’re off-course and get you back on track towards your final destination.

How does my advisor get paid? Is his or her compensation in line with my interests?

Many investors waste money paying high fees for “active management” (that is, commissions on trades) or have no idea how their advisor is paid. Many also don’t know the typical advisor is compensated not by clients, but through products they sell. Asking questions about how your advisor makes money is smart.

The recent financial turmoil in the U.S. and elsewhere has amply illustrated why conflicts of interest in financial firms can spell disaster for investors. Conflicts of interest develop all too easily in many financial institutions, mutual funds and investment firms. As an investor, you mitigate your risk by learning more not only about what you are investing in, but who is advising you to invest.

At PWL Capital, we are fearlessly independent and apply rigorous attention to eliminating any conflicts of interest. Our in-house research department, for example, provides accurate, impartial and objective information for decision-making.

We also believe an advisor should simply be paid a percentage-based fee on assets managed rather than sales commissions, since some other advisors may choose products with higher commissions or increase the number of your trades to make more commission.

An independent advisor free of commission-based influences, such as those at PWL Capital, will ultimately be more consistent in decision-making that leads to long-term growth of your wealth.

Why would an independent private firm be better for me?

You are wise to question closely the investment advice and motives of anyone who is considered to manage your money. Ask questions, such as: “Does the firm or institution, package or create what is being sold?”; “Does the firm trade in the same securities or funds you are buying?”; and “What fees are being charged?” Working with an independent advisor, such as PWL Capital, protects you from the conflicts of interest and commission-based selling common to many financial institutions, mutual funds and bank-related investment firms. A testament to our capabilities and trusted advice is that most of our clients are referred to us by existing clients or their lawyer, accountant or business advisor.

Perhaps, you’re thinking, “I can do it on my own”. Possibly, but common barriers to financial progress among most investors are a lack of time, lack of interest and a fear of losing everything. In fact, studies show most investors do not beat market benchmarks. They buy high and sell low. A PWL Capital advisor can get you on the right track and make sure you stick to it. He or she can also capture rebalancing and tax-loss selling opportunities that you may be too busy with everyday life to notice. Working with PWL Capital, your independent advisor can help you develop a customized plan that will become your own “financial GPS.”

PWL Capital advisors also add value on an ongoing basis by applying a variety of proven techniques for maintaining growth and capital preservation. Periodic and disciplined portfolio re-balancing at the asset class level, for example, reduces your portfolio volatility and increases returns. Asset allocation, not stock picking or market timing, also accounts for most of the performance in a diversified investment strategy. Our advisors also add value through regular tax-loss harvesting, researching new investments for your consideration, performance reporting, benchmarking, financial planning, and managing expectations and goals during periods of market volatility.

Can PWL Capital improve my current portfolio?

Unlike many financial advisory firms, PWL Capital avoids the quest for alpha returns (that is, outperforming the market). The vast majority of these “active managers” fail to consistently outperform the market over time, after fees. Instead, we strive to deliver steady capital market returns.

A PWL Capital portfolio is custom-tailored to each client, based on your personal goals and investment objectives. Our portfolios are extremely diversified, tax-efficient and low-cost. If you are unsure what is in your portfolio or how much risk you are carrying, you would be certain to benefit from speaking to one of our advisors.

At the very least, consider making an appointment with one of our advisors to get an independent, second opinion on your portfolio’s status and future prospects. It never hurts to hear new ideas for improving and growing your investment portfolio.

What is the “Science of Investing”? What does academia have to do with investing?

At PWL Capital, we follow an evidence-based approach to investing. Our investment philosophy is rigorously defined by scientific principles that have been developed and refined over time. News headlines and investing fads are “noise” until enough data is available to make an investment decision properly. We are an advocate of “risk management first, performance next.” Our robust portfolios embody this principle by leveraging diversification and lowering risk while achieving solid market returns.

For example, PWL Capital’s Research Department advises our portfolio managers and advisors on strategies by taking a scientific and empirical approach, including: focusing on asset class research; conducting financial analysis on approved securities; consolidating external research from respected sources; regularly reporting on capital markets; and writing topical articles, white papers and bulletins.

History teaches us important lessons. At PWL Capital, we believe in empirically-proven science, such as implementing an asset allocation strategy with low-cost and low-turnover passive funds; rebalancing a portfolio when it drifts away from its long-term asset mix, and staying away from active trading to remove emotion from the investment process and produce higher returns with less risk. These are academic findings that have proven successful over the 100-plus years of capital markets.

With science pointing our way, PWL Capital advisors follow investment principles that lay the foundation needed to create a sound financial plan that works throughout your lifetime. We focus on areas proven to provide the strongest expected returns while also diversifying your risk. We understand the benefits of asset class investing, and avoid stock or sector concentration, as well as market timing.

We also know the Canadian stock market is too limited and concentrated in a few sectors to protect you over the long-term, so we help you invest internationally. We rebalance your portfolio on a regular basis, taking profits on what has done well and buying the asset classes that have underperformed. At all times, we strive to keep your investment fees and taxes as low as possible. To enhance your peace-of-mind and future returns, we add additional value through periodic performance reviews, customized financial planning, and free access to all of PWL Capital’s research and education programs.

How should I structure my investments?

Each investor’s personal circumstance may vary, but asset allocation, not stock picking or market timing, drives most of the performance in a diversified investment strategy. For example, most investors don’t know what proportion of their portfolio is in bonds and stocks — a factor that can heavily influence your long-term returns. Other asset classes, such as REITs, can also strengthen your portfolio structure.

Capital markets are characterized by thousands of well-trained and well-informed individuals and institutions trading trillions of dollars in securities each day. By and large, this means the markets are generally efficient and prices tend to be fair. For this reason, PWL Capital also believes indexing is a highly efficient way to achieve low-cost and hyper-diversified portfolios.

We use investment vehicles that provide you with access to thousands of securities in nations around the world. Why diversify so much? Academic studies show that diversification reduces the impact of individual securities and enables investors to scientifically employ the risk factors that offer higher expected returns. According to our experience, indexing reduces the individual securities risk through diversification, which allows us to focus on managing Beta (market risk) as opposed to chasing Alpha (beating the benchmark).

A clear investment strategy and portfolio mix must be based on proven strategies and evidence — science, if you will, and not market myths, gut “instinct” or news headlines. Science shows having “value” and Small Cap stocks in your portfolio can also enhance returns beyond the general market yield. With a value approach, you don’t need day-to-day active management and its associated high costs.

At PWL, we help develop a disciplined and proactive strategy. We specialize in building customized, value-tilted, Small Cap tilted, low-fee, and globally-diversified portfolios for clients.

How can I have my portfolio managed as a pension fund?

The investment strategies of Canada’s largest and most successful pension fund managers rely heavily on the same investing techniques used by PWL Capital portfolio managers. The leading pension fund managers (and those at PWL Capital) are closely aligned with everyday market indices (that is, use indexing strategies), leverage asset allocation, use no or few hedge funds, believe in international diversification, hold real estate and infrastructure investments, and use currency hedging to offset risks.

PWL Capital’s portfolio strategy has been aligned with these characteristics for a decade and we will continue to implement best practices from the leading institutions in the future.

Can PWL work with all the members of my family?

Bringing family members and their portfolios along with you to PWL Capital often makes good financial sense. The personal planning process we go through frequently involves setting goals affecting family members, such as decisions regarding a cottage, business or charitable giving. Family members will receive the same independent and customized advice as you, while allowing your advisor to have a “big picture” that serves everyone’s best interests.

At PWL Capital, we have been privileged to advise two and even three generations of one family.

I need financial strategies? What can PWL do for me?

PWL Capital’s advisors have a wealth of experience dealing with investors who have a wide range of financial circumstances and long-term goals. For each individual, we create specific strategies customized to fit your goals. For example:

  • Donating Assets to Charity: Many of our clients want to make a difference in the world or improve the welfare of others, but are unsure how to best give their assets away. A PWL Capital advisor can help you develop a charitable or giving strategy within your personal financial plan. Cash, shares, insurance and many other assets can play an important role in a giving strategy and must be managed properly. Many clients, for example, are surprised to learn they can cost-effectively establish their own charitable foundation. A PWL Capital advisor can help you achieve your giving goals.

  • Sell Your Business: What’s your exit strategy? Whether you plan to sell, transfer or wind-up the business, advance planning can help you make smarter long-term decisions, increase how much money you'll take out, ease management transitions and expand your options. If it is a family-owned business, advance planning is even more critical to ensure potentially divisive strategic, legal and personal issues are handled. From the tax implications to getting the best price, your PWL Capital advisor can ensure you are surrounded by the right expertise throughout the planning process.

  • Selling or Giving Away the Family Cottage: As your PWL Capital advisor will explain, properly disposing of your interest in a vacation or cottage property can be rife with legal, tax and family issues. For many clients, a well-timed and executed disposition can benefit their portfolio and tax account. A variety of options exist to allow you to cost-effectively transfer, sell or give property away, but it is critical to have the right advice to match your financial position. A PWL Capital advisor can help get you started and bring aboard the right expertise.

  • Insurance Strategies: What happens to your family if you are suddenly unable to earn a living? What happens if you die? Is there enough money for your family to get back on its feet? A PWL Capital advisor can help you objectively review your options and financial position. Then, working closely with you, your advisor can create a plan that properly addresses issues ranging from insurance to wills to continuing powers of attorney. Together, we can help you create the safety net your family needs.

Why have I never heard of PWL Capital before?

PWL Capital and its advisors are well-known among many of the leading fund and investment managers in the industry, as well as some of Canada’s most discerning families and business owners. As a firm, PWL Capital has grown strategically since 1996, bringing only the most experienced and talented advisors aboard. Many of our clients have been referred to us by an existing client, or an accountant, notary or lawyer who understands the value we bring to the table. Our focus is not fame. It’s helping you achieve your life’s financial goals.

We also believe you should have an advisor who continuously adds value. At PWL, we help you stay focused. Managing emotions and our clients’ expectations leads to better investment decisions. In addition to offering accountability and regular performance reporting, PWL Capital advisors keep a long-term perspective and make portfolio changes based on changes in your life — critical to staying the course. We go above and beyond typical investment management by advising on your overall financial well-being — going beyond your portfolio to discuss goals for your family, cottage or other properties, business and charitable giving.

At PWL Capital, we also believe an educated client is a better client. We devote a significant amount of time and resources to informing our clients on how the markets really work. We host regular education events and seminars at each of our offices, often featuring well-known guest speakers. We also leverage the power of social media with a regular newsletter, advisor blogs and videos. And, our advisors are always available for one-on-one discussions to answer questions and keep you better informed.

The bottom line is not whether your advisor is well-known, but whether your advisor knows you well. You can generally judge a good advisor in three areas — experience, independence and relationship skills. Each is a key factor when entrusting your money with an advisor.

All of our PWL advisory teams have significant experience in the financial services and investment sectors. All have a strong record of success in areas of most importance to you — investment decisions, tax planning, financial planning and risk management. All of our advisors believe in developing a relationship with clients for the long-term and meeting regularly so that your customized financial plan meets your goals. In addition to vetting an advisor’s knowledge, skills and record, always look for independence. Unlike most advisors and investment firms in the marketplace, PWL Capital and its advisors are not compensated for selling specific financial products — our only concern is the growth of your wealth.