Latest articles

Watching risk and interest rates

Guarding Wealth: There’s a gulf opening between the borrowing costs and what you can get on a GIC

Interest rates are rising in the U.S. and Canada. That brings opportunity to those putting money into savings accounts and guaranteed income certificates, but also pressure on those who borrow. Global politics, trade negotiations and the sheer risk of investing are separating returns on investments from the cost of borrowing. Trend setting government bond interest […] Read more

Farm Financial Planner: Life insurance backs succession plan

A widow uses insurance products to assist her son and plan a legacy for her daughter

A couple we’ll call Martha, 60, and Max, 61, farmed in south central Manitoba for four decades. They grew an original 640 acres into 2,400 acres they own personally and through their corporation, and then added another 4,000 acres, which they rent. A son, Ernest, in his mid-30s, has been part of the operation for […] Read more

Investing risk and skepticism

Guarding Wealth: Investing with skepticism, not a crystal ball, makes for healthy off-farm portfolios

Investing, in the broadest sense, is about predicting what will be valuable in future. A century and a half ago, railroads knit nations together. Then came airplanes. Along the way, the greatest empires of central Europe — Germany and Austria — perished, China sank and rose again to produce dollar billionaires faster than any other […] Read more

Farm Financial Planner: Purchasing the family farm

Three sons want to buy the family farm. Purchase costs could ruin the plan

A couple we’ll call Jack and Terri, both 63, have farmed in south central Manitoba for the last four decades. Their farm started with 320 acres; now it’s 600 acres of grain with modest profits. The problem? How Jack and Terri can migrate to retirement while accommodating their three sons’ wishes to follow Mom and […] Read more

Finding value in the stock market

Guarding Wealth: With soaring pot and cryptocurrency stocks, it can be hard to find value in the market

It has seldom been tougher to make off-farm investments. Markets for stocks have been combed for good values and apparent bargains snapped up. The best index of just how picked over is the S&P 500 CAPE ratio, short for the Cyclically Adjusted Price Earnings ratio. It is at 32 as I write this column, up […] Read more

Using annuities for an income stream

Guarding Wealth: They’re rock solid investments and eliminate market risk, but annuities are not cheap

Annuities are life insurance running in reverse. Rather than paying a premium for benefit at the death of the insured, an annuity stars with a lump sum and pays out income until the death of the person getting the money, the “annuitant” in annuity-speak. Payments will sometimes last longer than a lifetime, if there are […] Read more

stock market display

Analysts say bond markets may be foretelling bad news

Guarding Wealth: Economic trouble ahead if government bond long yields fall below shorts

From the back rooms of bond research departments comes the disheartening news that the yield curve for U.S. Treasury bonds is flattening and could invert next year, causing a kink where rates rise for a while and then drop. Somewhere between one day and 30 years, which is the usual span of the curve, the […] Read more

Farm Financial Planner: Time to decide what to do with the land

After years of renting out the land, this widow is ready to make her next financial choices

In southern Manitoba, a widow we’ll call Eleanor, 73, wants to decide what to do with 420 acres of farmland she inherited two decades ago when her husband died. She never farmed the land, just rented it to a neighbour. Each of her three sons has a successful off-farm career. The decision? What to do […] Read more

Choosing off-farm investments

Guarding Wealth: Stocks or bonds, the challenge is in finding value for your off-farm portfolio

Clint Eastwood captured the problem of finding value in stocks and bonds in his 1966 spaghetti western, The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. Three gunslingers go on a perilous trip to find a cache of Confederate gold left over from the American Civil War. There are bandits along the way. The gold is buried […] Read more

Index investing versus buying mutual funds

Guarding Wealth: To get diversification in your portfolio you have to pay for it, but not every mix works

There is an old saying that you can’t beat the market. Famed investor Warren Buffett has said, “Mr. Market always wins.” One school of investing agrees that, given you can’t beat the market, you might as well join it. That is the birth of index investing: the concept of buying index funds packed in exchange […] Read more