A Perfect Plan for the Holidays

December 12, 2011

In the spirit of holiday giving, Justin Bender, portfolio manager with PWL Capital in Toronto, has approached me with an offer for Canadian Couch Potato readers. As part of his firm’s charitable giving program, Justin is offering to help up to four DIY investors design and set up a passive ETF portfolio in exchange for a donation to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH).

One of the reasons I wrote The MoneySense Guide to the Perfect Portfolio was to help the many would-be Couch Potatoes who are not sure how to get started with DIY index investing. Now here’s an opportunity to have a professional walk you through the process, and to support an organization that does incredibly important work.

Before you dismiss this as a thinly veiled attempt to snag new clients, let’s be clear that Justin is looking to work only with do-it-yourself investors on a one-time basis. His goal is to help you design a plan that you will execute on your own, not to manage your assets on an ongoing basis. There’s no ulterior motive here. PWL’s Toronto office has made a commitment to support CAMH because one of the firm’s staff members lost a close family member who struggled with addiction and mental illness.

How to get started

Here’s how it works. If you’re interested in participating, contact Justin at jbender@pwlcapital.com. He will discuss your investment goals and your financial situation to make sure it’s straightforward—and that it’s something you can handle on your own going forward. If you decide to work together, then you agree to make a donation to CAMH of $1,000 to $2,500, depending on the amount of work involved. Keep a copy of the receipt as proof. Of course, the donation will earn you a tax credit, so a $2,500 may end up costing just $1,500 in pre-tax dollars.

[Update on December 14: Justin received a number responses to this offer, netting almost $10,000 in donations for CAMH. He is able to take on just one more client for $2,500.]

The ideal candidate would be someone in the wealth accumulation phase of life—say, early 50s or younger—rather than someone who is drawing down their portfolio. (Retirees in that situation face complex tax issues and probably shouldn’t work on their own.)

Justin will put together an investment plan for you, including determining your target rate of return, an appropriate asset allocation, suggesting specific ETFs, and a rebalancing schedule. Then he’ll walk you through the process of placing the orders as you build your ETF portfolio. He can work with the brokerages of all Big Five banks, and he will help you open the appropriate types of accounts and transfer any securities from existing accounts, if necessary. Then you take over from there—no strings attached.

Ideally, you should be prepared to pay a visit to Justin at his Toronto office. However, he is licensed to work with investors in other provinces, so if you’re comfortable working by phone and email, he’s willing to do that as well.

If you’ve been planning to rebuild your portfolio but you’re nervous about pulling the trigger, this is an opportunity to get a helping hand from a professional—and to help a great cause. It would also make an excellent holiday gift from a parent to an adult child who is just getting started on the road to investing.

To make sure you’re comfortable managing your portfolio on your own, I will throw in copies of my book to any investor who participates.

{ 13 comments… read them below or add one }

Phil December 12, 2011 at 11:43 am

Wow, this is a great opportunity for DIY investors. I can’t imagine how much advisors have cost people over time for misleading direction. I can especially see how some more complicated tax issues would benefit from professional help. Thanks Justin an Dan this is a great way to give some much needed financial help to CAMH.

Canadian Couch Potato December 12, 2011 at 12:10 pm

As of noon on Monday, Justin reports he’s already had two people take him up on the offer. Great stuff, and thanks to my readers for supporting a great cause.

Andrew December 12, 2011 at 4:43 pm

I like the model this initiative presents. Canadians like donating. The fee only model for advice is growing. Investment firms often have a charitable mandate and Canadians are often generous donating to such good causes. Typical advice models are too expensive and many Canadians are waking up to this – investment advisor firms could drum up regular business with this type of initiative. Win Win Win situation.

My Own Advisor December 12, 2011 at 9:26 pm

What an outstanding initiative. Kudos to Justin and Dan for this effort.

As for that great book of yours, I hope to provide a review in a few weeks Dan :)

Mike Holman December 12, 2011 at 10:26 pm

This is a great initiative Dan. I’ll mention it in my Friday roundup if there are any spaces left.

Marie December 12, 2011 at 11:26 pm

Great idea and motivation. I have a very close family member who struggled for many years with depression and it was hard for everyone. One question, you say that Justin can work with any of the big 5 banks brokerages, which is great, but I was looking at their website and on the “Access Worldclass Expertise” page it notes TD Waterhouse Institutional Services as the carrying broker for PWL and that portfolio transactions are executed by TDWIS on behalf of PWL Capital. I found this confusing but maybe Im misunderstanding.

Canadian Couch Potato December 13, 2011 at 1:09 am

@MOA and Mike: Thanks for the support, guys. There are still a couple of spots open and the goal is to raise $10,000 for CAMH.

@Marie: The connection with TD Waterhouse is only relevant for clients of PWL. For this arrangement, the idea is that you can use whatever discount brokerage you want, because you will be managing your own portfolio going forward. So, for example, if you already work with RBC or Scotia iTrade, that’s no problem, as Justin can help you open an account, transfer funds and make trades with those brokerages.

Marie December 13, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Thanks Dan.
Happy holidays.

Marie December 13, 2011 at 1:40 pm

BTW I am going to talk to my partner about the offer. Ironically I just said to him this week that we really need to find a good professional to review what we’re doing and get a plan set up. If we dont we will still keep them on our list for the future and wish them the best in raising the donation goal. To be honest without the help of the resources of CAMH and their partners I dont think our family member would be here either. Justin and others in corporate settings who do these types of fundraisers through thier company helps to take the stigma off that keeps others, especially in business settings, from getting help. So kudos, really.

Raman December 13, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Dan, this is an excellent idea. I’m considering buying Mr. Bender’s services as a present for a friend of mine. Would this be possible? What I intend on doing is providing the donation myself, and then Mr. Bender helps out my friend with his financial situation in return.

Thanks for all the great work, Dan.

Canadian Couch Potato December 13, 2011 at 4:10 pm

@Marie: I agree it’s a great cause, and one that is often overlooked by corporate initiatives that often focus on “safer” charities. Do let me know how things work out for you.

@Raman: I don’t foresee any problems with what you’re considering, but definitely drop Justin a line and ask him how he’d like to handle it. Your friend should chat with Justin before you make the donation, just to make sure he’s able to help with the friend’s specific situation.

Trevor January 12, 2012 at 9:10 pm

It seems the link to the MoneySense Guide to the Perfect Portfolio is down. Doesn’t work on any site that uses it.

Canadian Couch Potato January 12, 2012 at 10:40 pm

@Trevor: We’re working on fixing the link. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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