Weekend Reading – Base Finance Ponzi scheme, Canadian Financial Summit, financial independence for the middle-class and more!

Weekend Reading – Base Finance Ponzi schemes, Canadian Financial Summit, financial independence for the middle-class and more!

Hey Folks!

Welcome to my latest Weekend Reading edition where I share some of my favourite articles from the week that was across the personal finance and investing blogosphere.

You can find my last edition here where I discussed why stock splits don’t create any immediate value, the top considerations for millennials who are just getting started with investing, and how many DRIPs are enough to run within your portfolio.

Leading off Weekend Reading, another sad fraud story out of Canada, 70-year-old Bill Janman has felt he needed to study detailed and overly complex Canadian tax laws – as he battles the federal government to recoup tax money after losing millions in another Ponzi scheme.

Janman and his wife lost more than $2 million after investing in Base Finance. They along with hundreds of others collectively lost about $137 million.”

Boomer & Echo highlighted a new Vanguard product designed to be a single-ticket solution to earn retirement income.

From Robb’s post:

“VRIF is a low cost, globally diversified, single ticket solution for retirees to earn a predictable and tax efficient stream of monthly income. VRIF can be held across all accounts, making it a true game changer for retirees looking for income from a simple and easy-to-manage solution.

Now, ETF investors don’t have to worry about the complexities of selling ETF units or relying on smaller, quarterly distributions to generate their retirement income needs. Simply convert your portfolio to VRIF to get a 4% annual payout target with a 5% annual return target.”

Thoughts on that product folks?

Dividend Earner highlighted some of the best Canadian bank stocks to own.

Reverse the Crush says you can become financially independent on a middle-class income. 

“This means that becoming financially independent depends on two factors: how much assets you own, and the cost of your expenses.”

Well done for this millennial – All About The Dividends was able to max out his Tax Free Savings Account (TFSA) contribution room and made a bigger contribution in his RRSP account. 

Speaking of dividends, I got some juicy raises this week without doing a thing other than being a shareholder as part of my long-term buy and hold (boring) investing plan:

  • Emera (EMA) increased their annual common share dividend to $2.55 from $2.45 per common share and reaffirmed their dividend growth rate target of four to five per cent through to 2022. (More raises to come!)
  • Microsoft (MSFT) increased their dividend by 10%! Although this company only represents 1% of our portfolio it’s still nice to get a raise. (I read an article that mentioned Microsoft could likely increase their dividends by 5-10% for the coming decade and still have cash leftover to reward shareholders!)

I shared our latest dividend income update this week in this post – onwards, higher and upwards!

August 2020 Dividend Income Update

Curious about the commuted value of your workplace pension? Millennial Revolution has some insights.

A good reminder in this post that when interest rates are low, as in now, this is why your commuted value is typically higher. Why?

Consider a pension like an annuity – locking-in payouts

What was not in the post is considering a pension like an annuity. In the case of any commuted value, you get a lump sum payout today vs. a monthly payout for the rest of your life. Today, I suspect you wouldn’t get very excited about locking-in a lifetime GIC that pays out just 2%. That’s essentially what an annuity is – locking-in money for life. In a low-interest rate world, that’s not great. A pension commuted value is the opposite. You get the money today!

At just 2%, you would need a whopping $2.5 million invested in order to get $50,000 in income per year. With just a 5% annual return, you would need to invest $1 million in order to get that $50,000 in income. This is a very loose example but the point is, commuted values beyond years of service, and actuarial values are also dependent on interest rates. This is not to say you should rule any annuity out of your financial future. I talked to an expert on that subject here.

Ten Questions on Annuities – Answered Here!

My point is, if you haven’t worked at a company very long AND you can invest in any lump sum payment in a way to deliver equity market-like returns in the coming decades (see Indexing) then commuting your pension might be worth a very strong look. I hope to have more on this subject when answering a reader question in a future blogpost.

The Dividend Guy shared some tech bubble lessons – 20 years on.

Last but not least, as a heads-up in fact, I’m very happy to be part of the upcoming 4th annual Canadian Financial Summit! 

I was lucky enough to join 20+ financial experts in the field of personal finance and investing, talking about general personal finance, investing, financial planning, insurance questions and MUCH more this year.

I’ll be sharing more news about how and when you can find this Summit in the coming week or so – so stay tuned!!

Happy Investing!


My name is Mark Seed - the founder, editor and owner of My Own Advisor. As my own DIY financial advisor, I'm looking to start semi-retirement soon, sooner than most. Find out how, what I did, and what you can learn to tailor your own financial independence path. Join the newsletter read by thousands each day, always FREE.

10 Responses to "Weekend Reading – Base Finance Ponzi scheme, Canadian Financial Summit, financial independence for the middle-class and more!"

  1. I will probably buy some VRIF as a short to medium turn hold. I have, on occasion, bought a brand new ETF and enjoyed the dividends while the ETF rose in price then sold when it went up in value. Vanguard is very good at marketing and VRIF will be featured in lots of traditional media by influencers/bloggers.

  2. I did a review of VRIF as well, and had a chat with Vanguard. It’s a good product – the benefit is convenience. Set it and forget it. Many seem to want that, VRIF is creating quite the stir.

    Can one do better? Ya likely. VBAL would likely do better, you simply need to sell shares each year, or as needed.

    And the product is not a retirement solution. It’s a piece of the puzzle.

    I like the addition to the one ticket family.


    1. I wouldn’t personally put more than 25-50% at most of this in my portfolio, although I have no intention of doing that actually. I will continue to own the stocks I do for the foreseeable future and attempt to “live off dividends” (and distributions) in the early 5-10 years of semi-retirement. I hope those days are about 5 years or less away now. Market returns willing!

  3. VRIF, no thanks. Since 2006 my Income has grown at about 10% per year, every year. It may be down this year, but there will be growth and no need for any capital withdrawals. I’m glad that fixed income does not make up ANY part of my portfolio, because I’d be lucky to see a 4% growth each year and my income might be subject to market fluctuations. The same with annuities, but some may not have a choice,

    1. Hey Cannew

      As a fellow retiree (7+ years), I totally agree with you on preferring individual dividend income/growth stocks compared to ETFs, especially these all in ones. I also agree with you on the fixed income front as my wife & I have absolutely 0 in fixed income. We are 100% equities in 5 sectors – utilities, banks, midstream/pipelines, telecom, and REITs but do keep a cash wedge for potential extra expenses.

      We’ve had 2 dividend cuts this year (IPL & HR.UN) but have added a bit to existing positions with extra cash from our existing dividend income, and we’ve also had 13 dividend increases. The net result is we actually have higher dividend income now than at the start of the year.

      We also never sell anything unless there is some sort of change to the company. This definitely makes for a very stress free way to invest.


      1. That’s a very good year with 13 raises amidst the pandemic environment Don. Well done.

        What utilities and pipes and REITs? I suspect I can guess your CDN banks and telcos since I bet we own the same ones. I outline most of my CDN and U.S. stocks here:

        Do you own any U.S. assets Don? I can’t recall and if so, which ones for long-term growth or income?

        1. Hey Mark

          My wife & I are strictly TSX listed – 26 stocks + 2 ETFs. We get our foreign exposure indirectly with some of the companies we own doing a chunk of their business in the US.

          The ETFs are because they offer something a bit different for us. FIE has some different holdings and usesleverage for extra divs and ZWB has the covered calls.

          Here’s our full list of holdings. We allocate based upon book% in 3 groupings – Main, Mid, Minor. We never sell or trim unless something changes with the company.


          STOCK %Curr %Book
          AltaGas (ALA) 1.70 2.43
          Algonquin Power (AQN) 8.09 4.24
          Bell Canada (BCE) 5.27 4.41
          Brookfield Renew (BEP.UN) 2.45 2.43
          Brookfield Infra (BIP.UN) 6.30 3.38
          Bank of Montreal (BMO) 3.32 4.41
          Scotia Bank (BNS) 3.42 4.24
          Brookfield Prop (BPY.UN) 1.94 3.89
          Capital Power (CPX) 1.71 1.83
          Dream Indust (DIR.UN) 3.91 3.92
          Emera (EMA) 5.88 4.24
          Enbridge (ENB) 3.60 4.23
          iShares Fin MI ETF (FIE) 1.95 2.42
          Fortis (FTS) 4.69 4.23
          Granite Ind REIT (GRT.UN) 4.41 3.34
          H&R REIT (HR.UN) 1.43 3.30
          Inter Pipeline (IPL) 2.75 3.94
          Keyera (KEY) 2.29 3.92
          Morguard NA Res (MRG.UN) 1.17 1.63
          Northland Power (NPI) 6.59 3.93
          Northwest REIT (NWH.UN) 4.17 4.26
          Pembina Pipeline (PPL) 3.01 3.89
          Royal Bank (RY) 4.82 4.41
          Telus (T) 4.32 4.41
          Toronto Dominion (TD) 3.62 4.42
          TC Energy (TRP) 3.34 3.87
          WPT Industrial (WIR.UN) 1.60 1.93
          BMO Cov Call Banks (ZWB) 2.24 2.45

          1. That’s an impressive list. Well done.

            I own many similar stocks although not surprising I guess since many dividend investors gravitate to the same boring companies 🙂

            From your list, we own some key ones that are >1% in weight in our portfolio:
            AQN (close to 3% of portfolio now); BCE; own BEPC and BIPC vs. BEP and BIP but same thing; BMO; BNS; CPX (big fan of that one!); EMA (close to 5% of portfolio); ENB; FTS; RY; Telus; TD; TRP.


    2. Yes, annuities can help some but not always a great product for others depending upon what they already own and their income needs. Will send you an email as well 🙂


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