Take control of your holiday calendar, stress-free

Most people, when asked, are able to quickly list the stressors they face heading into the holidays. Some wear this list like a badge of honour and are motivated by it. Others collapse under its weight. Consider for a moment the stressor at the top of your holiday list: Is it the pace, or the financial stretch that accompanies the season? The loneliness, or the impending arrival of a difficult visitor that triggers anxiety? Changes in diet, exercise routine and sleep habits can also throw you off your game. So can the eggnog.

What if there were an instant solution to your stress? What if this solution magically arrived at your doorstep tomorrow morning, instantly eliminating No. 1 on your stress list? How would that change things for you?,” wrote Dr. Dwight Chapin, Health Advisor, for The Globe and Mail on December 4, 2015.

Chapin continued, “An estimated 80 to 90 per cent of all disease is strongly influenced by stress.

70 to 90 per cent of family doctor visits are due to stress-related issues.

To give you a better sense of the power stress has over the body, it drives somewhere in the neighbourhood of 1,500 biochemical reactions within fractions of seconds of you facing the stress. Neurotransmitters are activated, hormones are released and nutrients are metabolized. You likely know this as the “fight or flight” stress response.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

10,000 Syrian refugees to arrive in Canada by Dec. 31

“A surge of Syrian refugees will land in Canada at the height of the holiday season, causing logistical challenges for welcoming parties but giving the asylum seekers a quick taste of the country’s giving spirit, Immigration Minister John McCallum said.

Details of the operation continue to evolve, but federal officials remain confident that 10,000 Syrian refugees will arrive in Canada by Dec. 31, with the large majority of them landing in the last 10 days of the year. The government has brought in three planeloads of refugees over the past week, but the operation is set to increase, with two to four planes landing in Toronto and Montreal every day.

The next planned flight will leave Beirut for Toronto on Dec. 18, while a detailed schedule of daily departures will be announced in coming days,” wrote Daniel Leblanc for The Globe and Mail on Wednesday December 16, 2015.

Leblanc continued, “The government still needs to bring in nearly 9,000 refugees over a two-week period to meet its target of 10,000 by the end of the month. Of those, 6,500 will be sponsored by individuals and groups, while 3,500 will be sponsored by the government.

The government has increased its capacity to conduct health screenings from 600 a week to 800 a day, federal officials said at a briefing. Overall, the officials said they are on their way to identifying a total of 25,000 refugees by the end of the year, who will be brought in by the end of February.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Will oil woes continue to threaten Canada’s economy in 2016?

“Oil prices sank to their lowest level in nearly seven years, threatening fresh pain for Canada’s economy.

Benchmark West Texas intermediate tumbled nearly 6 per cent to $37.65 (U.S.) a barrel, its lowest since February, 2009, as world markets digested the move by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries to avoid setting new production quotas for its member states. The drop in oil prices triggered major falls in both the Canadian dollar and the stock market. For Canada’s economy and government finances, oil’s woes threaten to jeopardize hopes for a slow climb from an economic contraction as resource-sector incomes dwindle beyond the point where the new promised federal infrastructure spending can reverse such a blow,” wrote Jeffrey Jones and David Parkinson for The Globe and Mail on Monday December 7, 2015.

Jones and Parkinson continued, “Canada’s economy grew at an annualized pace of 2.3 per cent in the third quarter, reversing small economic contractions in the first and second quarters. But some economists have speculated that fourth-quarter growth could come in at less than 1 per cent, in light of the renewed drag from oil. It’s particularly bad news for the economy of Alberta, centre of the country’s energy industry, which suffered a recession this year and has seen its unemployment rate spike to 7 per cent from 4.5 per cent at the start of the year.

Oil’s struggles mean more suffering for the Canadian dollar. It fell .84 of a cent to 74 cents (U.S.) on Monday, its lowest since June of 2004. Energy products represented roughly a quarter of Canada’s exports last year, and oil’s slump has been the key factor in the loonie’s 21-per-cent nosedive against its U.S. counterpart since the middle of 2014.

The cheap dollar has helped propel exports in non-energy goods this year, making them considerably more price-competitive for foreign buyers, but the loss of income for the energy industry has starved the economy of crucial business investment, especially in capital-intensive resource sectors.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Financial market moves that aren’t supposed to happen

“Interesting things have certainly been happening in the underpinnings of global markets – things that either run counter to long-standing financial logic, or represent an unusual dislocation in the “normal” state of market affairs, or were once rare occurrences but have been happening with increasing frequency.

Here’s a rundown.

1. Negative swap spreads

What’s new, and negative, and makes no sense? Swap spreads below zero, of course.

While the term may mean little to your average retail investor, swap spreads have become the talk of financial markets in recent weeks as they plumb historic lows and seemingly defy market logic,” wrote Tracy Alloway for The Globe and Mail on Thursday November 12, 2015.

Alloway continued, “4. Market moves that aren’t supposed to happen keep happening

Much of Wall Street runs on mathematical models that abhor statistical anomalies. Unfortunately for the Street, such statistical anomalies have been happening more frequently, with short-term moves in many assets exceeding historical norms.

Barnaby Martin, a credit strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, made this point earlier this year. The number of assets registering large moves – four or more standard deviations away from their normal trading range – has been increasing. Such moves would normally be expected to happen once every 62 years.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS


Pictorial tribute to the fallen soldiers in Midland

Nikki Cole photo

Nikki Cole photo

“In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.”

– Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae

See the pictorial tribute here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Will Trudeau invest in Canada’s important public needs?

“Canada’s new Liberal government is destined to be very different from the Conservative one it defeated in last week’s election. Its most distinguishing economic promise is to run budget deficits of roughly $10-billion for each of the next three years, much of which is earmarked for new infrastructure. But there is a related and bigger challenge for Canada, and I hope prime-minister-designate Justin Trudeau will be taking it seriously in the years ahead.

Mr. Trudeau’s commitment to increase infrastructure spending is economically sensible for two reasons. First, it is clear to most people, certainly those living in our large cities, that Canada has serious infrastructure needs; much of it is already crumbling,” wrote Christopher Ragan for The Globe and Mail last Thursday October 29, 2015.

Ragan continued, “Turning things around is anything but simple. How do we convince Canadians of the enormous value of our shared public goods, and that having such things is an important part of how we help the least fortunate among us? How do we convince people that our sports facilities and libraries and museums and parks are important for building a country in which we develop similar values and aspirations? And how do we convince Canadians that having these valuable things is worth paying a little bit more in taxes – and that our duly elected governments can be trusted to use that money wisely?

This is an enormous challenge for any political leader, but I hope Mr. Trudeau rises to the occasion. And I hope he brings along the provincial premiers and civic mayors to join him in the project, for they have an equally important role to play.

Mr. Trudeau ran a remarkable election campaign, in which he was resolutely positive in tone and optimistic about Canada’s future. He clearly believes that government, when run well, can play a crucial and constructive role in building a better country.

Perhaps he is just the prime minister we require to make a real difference to Canada’s important public needs.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS



Photo credit: Alex Guibord / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

Are you putting retirement savings on hold?

“Jessica Hand and Mike DesRoches are juggling numerous financial goals, but saving for retirement is one ball they’ve had to let drop over the last year.

After the mortgage payment and other bills, the couple are barely breaking even. In fact, they recently dove deeper into debt to fund Ms. Hand’s tuition for graduate studies and a DIY basement bathroom renovation – all in the midst of expecting their second child,” wrote Joel Schlesinger for The Globe and Mail on October 22, 2015.

Schlesinger continued, “Moreover, savings rates are declining, too. Only 28 per cent of workers age 25 to 34 make RRSP contributions while only 34 per cent of those between age 35 and 44 contribute. A decade ago those figures were 36 and 42 per cent respectively, according to StatsCan data.

And overall personal savings rates have fallen from 20 per cent of household income in the early ’80s to less than five per cent in 2010.

Yet over the last 20 years, wages have grown even if Canadians’ capacity to save has not.

In 1985, median household income was about $24,000 – or about $48,000 in today’s dollars – while in 2012 median household income was about $77,000, according to StatsCan data.

Yet wage growth has not kept pace with the cost of housing. The median price of a Canadian home in 1985 was about $78,000 – or about $157,000 in today’s dollars – while the median price for a home in 2015 is $433,267.”


Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

One year later, honouring the attack on Parliament Hill

“It was the perfect day for some welcome healing – a warm, midautumn sun, mostly blue skies and a gentle breeze.

The specific occasion was to pay tribute to the average citizens and first responders who raced to help, but could not, one year ago; to the police and security personnel who risked their own lives to protect others – but most of all to the two soldiers who were hunted down and killed for reasons that will forever escape.

The larger occasion brought together the country’s three most significant personalities of the moment: Stephen Harper, the current Prime Minister of Canada, Justin Trudeau, the prime-minister-designate and David Johnston, the Governor-General who will hand power from Mr. Harper to Mr. Trudeau on Nov. 4,” wrote Roy MacGregor for The Globe and Mail on Thursday October 22, 2015.

MacGregor continued, “With their families present, with a 21-gun salute echoing across the Ottawa River toward the orange hills of Gatineau and with a CF-18 flypast in the “missing man” formation, the two fallen soldiers were honoured with wreaths and tributes and prayers.

By far the most compelling moment was the simple wreath jointly laid by Mr. Harper and Mr. Trudeau, who then silently returned to their chairs, separated only by Laureen Harper, quickly shook hands and then bowed their heads in whatever private thoughts such a week and such a tragedy brought.

A year ago, after the attacker had cowardly shot Cpl. Cirillo in the back – ordinary citizens desperately trying to save the young soldier in the minutes before paramedics could get there – the attacker had raced to Parliament Hill. Once there, he bounded up the steps below the Peace Tower and barged into the Centre Block, wounding a security guard who tried to intercept him and unleashing a series of rifle shots that terrified Hill workers and politicians in caucus before he was himself brought down in a hail of bullets.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Majority win for the Liberals in yesterday’s Federal Election

Raymond Matt pictured with Justin Trudeau, Canada's new Prime Minister

Raymond Matt pictured with Justin Trudeau, Canada’s new Prime Minister

“Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau has named a former senior Ottawa bureaucrat, Peter Harder, to head his transition team, sources said Tuesday, as the incoming prime minister turns his attention to forming government after a winning decisive majority in Monday’s election.

The Liberals won 184 of the country’s 338 seats, capturing 39.5 per cent of the vote as the appetite for change drove the party from third place in Parliament to first with the largest increase in seats in an election in Canada’s history.

Mr. Trudeau has scheduled a 2 p.m. rally with supporters in Ottawa and a 5 p.m. news conference at the National Press Theatre across from Parliament Hill,” wrote Shawn McCarthy, Bill Curry and Daniel Leblanc for The Globe and Mail on October 20, 2015.

McCarthy, Curry and Leblanc continued, “The incoming prime minister faces some pressing issues that require immediate attention. He must decide whether Canada will ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the 12-country trade deal that could mean major changes for the country’s supply-managed agricultural sector, auto industry and digital economy. During the campaign, Mr. Trudeau said he needed to see the text of the agreement before deciding on a position. His decision may be helped by the fact U.S. President Barack Obama may not have the support needed to win approval in the U.S. Congress.

He also has a heavy schedule of travel in November, including a trip to the Group of 20 meeting in Turkey, where Middle East conflict will be prominent on the agenda. Mr. Trudeau has promised to end Canada’s combat participation in the air war against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, and will have to explain that change to NATO partners, including the United States.

He will also likely attend the United Nations climate summit in Paris, which starts at the end of November, and has promised to work with the provincial premiers to send a message to the world that Canada fully embraces the battle against global warming and will have a more ambitious strategy. However, Mr. Trudeau said Ottawa will not set any new targets until he has had a chance to meet with the premiers after the UN summit – even though environmental groups are pressing him to meet with the premiers before Paris to bring a new Canadian offer to the table.”

Read the full article here.

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

Advocis Simcoe-Muskoka Fall Congress closing ceremony

Advocis president and CEO Greg Pollock addresses financial advisors at the Advocis Simcoe-Muskoka Fall Congress
Advocis president and CEO Greg Pollock addresses financial advisors at the Advocis Simcoe-Muskoka Fall Congress

At the closing ceremony of the Advocis Simcoe-Muskoka annual Fall Congress on Thursday, September 24, Advocis president and CEO Greg Pollock emphasized the need for higher standards for financial advisors and increased protection for Ontarians.

Advocis is a voluntary professional association for financial advisors and seeks to raise the professional bar through higher standards for all financial advisors (including financial planners), which could include meeting continuing education requirements, maintaining appropriate levels of errors and omissions insurance, and adhering to a code of ethical conduct.

In a recent government proposal Advocis called for one regulatory body to oversee the profession

At the Fall Congress, Pollock addressed an audience of local association members and reminded them about the importance of the work they do. “Financial advisors coach and encourage their clients to think about future stability. It’s like a trainer at the gym. Everyone knows that exercise is important but it’s only a small subset of people who will actually work out regularly without someone holding them accountable,” Pollock said.

Did you know that on average, advised households have three to four times the financial assets of non-advised households? A comprehensive 2014 study on Canada’s financial advice industry by PricewaterhouseCoopers found that the average amount of assets held by a non-advised household is $24,000 compared to $101,000 of an advised household.

Financial advisors work with Canadians in every life stage, from opening a bank account to buying a home to living in retirement. Advocis is working diligently to ensure that Canadians continue to have access to the advice they need.

About Advocis

Advocis, The Financial Advisors Association of Canada, is a voluntary professional association for financial advisors and planners. With more than 11,000 members across the country, Advocis is the definitive voice of the profession, advocating for higher standards for advisors and increased consumer protection.



Advocis president and CEO Greg Pollock with Simcoe-Muskoka's chapter president Raymond Matt holding the Totem Pole at the Advocis Simcoe-Muskoka Fall Congress

                    Advocis president and CEO Greg Pollock with Simcoe-Muskoka’s chapter president Raymond Matt holding the Totem Pole at the Advocis Simcoe-Muskoka Fall Congress 

Raymond Matt, CFP, CLU, TEP, CHS

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