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As I work with my clients I find that sometimes having to change financial advisors or investment advisors is the hardest thing for them to do.  Mostly because they are emotionally invested in the relationship or scared that they might end up making a mistake.  However, there are situations where a changes is warranted.  I find that most people pay attention to it when they are approaching retirement or already retired.  Here are a few red flags that get missed most of the times.

1.       Your advisor hasn’t called you in over 3 months, and you haven’t had a face-to-face meeting in over 12 months.

Translation:

a.       Your advisor is too busy for you.  Like doctors, advisors like to grow their clientele, and many times they over extend themselves.
b.      They have more important clients compared to you and you are probably getting B, C, or D grade service from them.
c.       Perhaps your advisor is going through a major life event – it may be your turn to pick up the phone and find out.

How would you rate your advisor on service, on being there when you need them, on making you feel that they are actively taking care of your financial needs.  Rate your advisor on a scale of 1 to 10.  Ten being excellent. ________



 
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Here are six things I think anyone who is three to five years away from retirement must do.  These are based on my experience in working with my clients, and do not include the traditional replies including up-dating your financial plan and your wills and power of attorney. 

1.  Renegotiate your mortgage (if you have one) and get the biggest unsecured line of credit the banks will give you.
It is common knowledge that over 50% of retirees have mortgages or credit lines secured against their homes.  That’s just the way it is – we wish it wasn’t but wishing doesn’t make it go away.

I recommend all retires increase their access to credit before they retire.  Don’t mis-understand me.  I don’t mean for you to actually use the facilities and get into debt if you don’t have any or further into debt if you have some.  I mean that you should have the option to borrow if the need arises.  That’s what a credit line is – it is an option to borrow.  If you did not use the credit line, there would be nothing to pay back.  




 
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The TFSA is probably the most under-utilized investment tool that I have ever come across.  The trouble with these accounts is that they are called "savings accounts".  Really they should be called "investment accounts".  Ninety nine percent of the people I sit down with think that they should put their saving in a TFSA and earn whatever the bank decides to pay as interest, when really the most aggressive investment positions should be going into these accounts.

The TFSA operated pretty much in the same manner as an RRSP except that it doesn’t have the tax break attached to it.  So you contribute to a TFSA with after tax dollars.  You contribute to an RRSP with before tax dollars and these dollars become exempt from taxation.



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