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Saving and investing in today’s economy (Part 1)

Posted on: January 13, 2016 | Author: Dan Smith, Senior Manager – Marketing and Brand, ATB Investor Services

We’ve been here before. This is not the first, nor will it be the last time that Albertans face economic challenges. Resilient as we are, for some reason this time it feels a bit different. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should bail on your financial plan.

In his latest Economic Outlook, ATB’s Chief Economist Todd Hirsch projects Alberta's unemployment rate will crest above 7.5 per cent by spring or summer, something we haven’t seen for a long time. In ATB’s most recent edition of Investor Beat, an Ipsos Reid survey indicated that of the 45 per cent of Albertans impacted by the drop in oil, 22 per cent of Albertans have experienced a salary freeze, 19 per cent a salary reduction and 19 per cent have been impacted by job loss. Is this a new reality, or is it just another, albeit gnarlier, bump in the road? We all have to be careful of media “noise” and tend to our own financial needs.

Banks and wealth firms need to step up and grasp what’s happening in Alberta, but because of this RRSP season there is still a push to get your deposits in advance of the tax deadline. That's difficult to stomach if you’re unemployed, underemployed or genuinely worried about the future. What Albertans really need is a real discussion about keeping retirement plans on track, even during short-term strife. To that end, here are some pointers to consider:

  1. Have a financial plan and review it with a qualified advisor annually (or more often).

    Investor Beat shows that 56 per cent of Albertans who have savings/investments don’t have a dedicated financial advisor. If you don't have a plan, there are online tools you can use from the comfort of your home. It’s been chilly out after all! You can create a plan now and invest later when it’s right for you. And no, it’s not as simple as giving up that fancy coffee and investing the money instead. Go ahead and enjoy that latte, you deserve it! A plan will help you truly prioritize what makes you happy in life.

  2. Don’t let anxiety lead you to make rash moves.

    When emotions are riding high, an advisor can help you make objective decisions about your money. An emotional decision now could cost you down the road. Just ask anyone who sold their investments in March 2009 and missed the biggest market rally of this generation.

  3. If you only invest once a year, try a PAC (Pre-Authorized Contribution).

    Instead of investing a lump sum at the beginning of each year, a PAC lets you invest a smaller amount monthly. This way you don’t put all your cash into RRSPs right away, you create a system that lets you “set it and forget it”. Timed with your paycheque, you may find you don’t even notice the money you’re tucking away.

  4. Know how much your investments are costing you.

    According to Investor Beat, only 22 per cent of Albertans with investments are very familiar with fees. Ask your advisor about the fees you pay. CRM2 is a new industry regulation that requires investment firms to be more transparent about fees. ATB Investor Services welcomes the change because Compass Portfolio Series mutual funds have some of the lowest fees in Canada.

  5. Think it’s a bad time to invest? Let’s talk.

    The reality is there’s never a bad time, it’s all about having the right plan with a risk level you’re comfortable with. If you invest often in a diversified portfolio and review your plan regularly, you are set up for long term success. And never be embarrassed to ask questions. If an advisor is not making sense to you, ask them to clarify. And if it’s still not working for you, get a second opinion, over a latte, of course.

This article is meant to simply inform you of some options, but we always recommend you seek professional advice for your specific needs. If you have any questions about your current plan, want a review or would like to start a plan, please contact us at 1-888-282-3683, email advice@atb.com or search for an investment professional near you.

Other articles you may be interested in:

Saving and investing in today’s economy (Part 2)
RRSP or TFSA...or both?

The Compass Portfolio Series of mutual funds is managed by ATB Investment Management (“ATBIM”) and is sold through licensed distributors. ATBIM and ATB Securities Inc. (“ATBSI” - Member, Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada; Member, Canadian Investor Protection Fund) are wholly owned subsidiaries of ATB Financial and operate under the trade name ATB Investor Services. ATBIM and ATBSI are licensed users of the registered trademark ATB Investor Services. Please read the prospectus and Fund Facts before investing. Please visit compassportfolios.com for more information on the fee structure and MERs of the Compass Portfolio Series.

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