How to have a better retirement

I find it very rewarding to help people overcome the obstacles they encounter on the road to retirement. My clients have written, documented retirement plans that have been built with me – but not by me. My clients are the authors of their own destinies. They possess a confidence and clarity about the future that very few of their peers have because they know their retirement plans are both achievable and sustainable. They know, as I do, that you can have a better retirement, if you plan for it.

What do I focus on?

Minimizing taxes for the balance of life rather than simply
focusing on the current year

As unfair as it seems, even in retirement, income tax will likely represent your #1 expense. The good news is that because of the many sources of funds you will rely on during your drawdown years, you have far more flexibility and opportunity to take advantage of strategic tax planning. When the decisions of where, when and how you draw down your cash flow are being made with the advantage of sophisticated tax planning, it is possible to significantly reduce the taxes you’ll pay over the balance of your life.

For those not yet retired, this tax planning will help you identify when to stop contributing to RRSPs and how the addition of other types of investment portfolios can increase the impact of proper tax planning. For those already retired, this tax planning will translate into a carefully constructed customized drawdown strategy that will allow you to profit from the marginal tax rate system and steer you clear of the many tax traps that exist during the drawdown years.

Maximize the value of your government benefits

Nobody in the government will tell you exactly when the best time is to access your Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security. The conventional wisdom has always been to take them as early as possible. That may have worked in the past, but not today. When the rules changed in 2013, conventional wisdom went out the window. Worse still, making the wrong choice about when to start collecting your Canada Pension Plan could cost you $100,000+ over the balance of your life.

Why leave your choice to chance? Let technology do the work for you with our CPP Optimizer. This tool looks at each of the 121 different start date choices available to help you identify which one will provide you with the optimal outcome.

Optimizing the timing and value of your withdrawals from savings

A properly constructed Retirement Income Plan looks at all your sources of recurring income streams and asset pools. It may include RSPs, Tax Free Savings, Open accounts, Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, Annuities, Defined Benefit Pension Plans, Personal Pension Plans and Disability Allowances, among others. Many of these streams and pools have complex rules surrounding them and have a significant financial upside when their access is optimized.

Where, when and how you draw on your various asset pools, optimize options and even when you start using them can make an enormous difference to your lifetime cash flow. With your plan, you will be able to match your retirement life plan with the maximum sustainable retirement income from all sources. When you have been crafting people’s income streams for as long as I have, you know exactly what to look for. Finding opportunities to optimize income streams and minimizing taxation come easily.

Integrating your life plan with your investment plan

Unfortunately, most people approaching retirement follow the same investment approach that served them well during their saving years.

In reality, it’s crucial to recognize that many of these approaches – like buy and hold – turn and work to your disadvantage during the drawdown years. Equity market volatility, that may have helped you build assets when you were younger, now poses an enormous risk.

In these drawdown years, it is essential that you create a direct link between the timing and amount of cash flow required to fund your retirement life plan and your overall investment strategy. This critical connection will enable your money managers to strategically determine when – and how much – of your investment portfolio must be moved closer to the security of a cash position. These portfolio adjustments are made well in advance of the date funds are actually required.

By clearly distinguishing between money that will be withdrawn from the portfolio in the short-term from the funds that are invested to provide long-term growth, you are protected from the costly damage that can be caused by the ravages of volatility.

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