Help The Basics

What is the portfolio selection process and how is my adviser involved?

Using a goal-based approach to portfolio construction, we build customized portfolios using statistical analysis including optimization, simulation and 5 years of back testing to create the optimal asset allocation (stocks vs bonds) that maximizes the probability of meeting your financial objective. After we determine an asset allocation policy, our registered portfolio manager analyzed 1,979 ETFs available to match the allocation policy to fit you best. 

Why should I invest?

A few reasons.

Inflation – That $1 candy bar will cost more in 5 years. Investing will enable you to afford that candy without working more
Retirement – Few people can afford to retire today with just the funds in their account. Putting money away and allowing it to grow will put you on the path to a more secure retirement.
Goals – Interested in sending your kids to college? Buying a house? Or planning a world tour? Putting sums of money away is the best way to help attain your goal/dream.

What is an ETF?

ETF is an acronym for Exchange Traded Fund. Just like a mutual fund, it can hold a bunch of securities in it i.e. stocks and/or bonds. Professionals agree ETF’s are vastly superior for the following reasons below

  1. Costs. Mutual funds can cost between 1% - 3%. ETF’s can be as low as 0.04% or as high as 0.75%
  2. Taxation. Buying a Mutual Fund makes you liable for your fellow Mutual Fund holder’s taxable transactions. For example, you plan to hold the Mutual Fund for 20 years but another Mutual Fund holder sells units today, the fund and you become liable for that transaction if it generates a tax liability. With an ETF, you are only liable for taxes if you sell.
  3. Trading. You can only buy a mutual fund once a day, specifically at 4pm. With an ETF you have the open to buy anytime the market is open.

Think of it as a mutual fund 2.0.

What are Stocks and Bonds?

Stocks – Also called Equity. They are usually broken down into miniscule amounts called shares (a company is generally composed of hundreds of millions of shares) that represents actual ownership of the company. Since they are owners of the company, they are only entitled to the profits once all other types of claimants are satisfied such as the bond holders. This feature makes them more risky than other securities but it can also yield a higher return which makes them attractive as a long-term investment.

As stocks gain in value, they are only taxed once sold at a lower rate of 0% to 20% (depending on your tax bracket) and a higher rate (taxed as ordinary income) if the stocks are sold within a year.

There are also different classes of stocks such as Class A or Class B. Typically, Class B has more voting rights over Class A.

The estimated current market value of all US equities is approximately $26.5 trillion.

Bonds – Also called Fixed Income because the owners are only entitled to the stated interest rate. For example, you buy a $1,000 bond at a 5% interest rate, you are entitled no less and no more than $50/ year, hence the name fixed income. Bondholders are usually entitled to be paid before anyone else making a claim on the company assets. Since the payment is a fixed amount, bonds are usually less risky than equities which makes them suitable for shorter term investments.

Since bonds, pay out a fixed amount per year, the tax rate on the interest payments would be taxed as ordinary income. Some bonds such as municipal bonds are exempt from federal taxes.

The estimated current market value of all US bonds is approximately $40 trillion.

What is compound interest?

Ever borrowed money from a payday lender or left a balance on your credit card? Notice how the debt just grows and the balance becomes impossible to pay off. This is due to the compound interest effect.

This also works for investing!

Consider two individuals; Pam and Sam are 25 years old.

Pam invested $25,000 at an interest rate of 5.0% compounded annually. By the time Pam reaches 65, she will have $176,000 ($25,000 x [1.05^40]) in her Helium Investments account. Sam also invested $25,000 at the same interest rate of 5.0% without being compounded annually. By the time Sam reaches age 65, he will have $ 75,000 ($25,000 + ($25,000 x .05 x 40)) in his Helium Investments account. Pam has $101,000 ($176,000 - $ 75,000) more in her savings account than Sam, even though he invested the same amount of money. The following chart shows Pam and Sam's earnings: 

You can see that both investments start to grow slowly and then accelerate, as reflected in the increase in the curves' steepness. Pam's line becomes steeper as she nears her 50s not simply because she has accumulated more interest, but because this accumulated interest is itself accruing more interest.