June 30, 2010, 7:18 am

What is Your Income Raise This Year?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Career


Last week, I wrote that I won’t be complaining about my very very very (did I say very?) low salary increase. This time around I am not complaining because I went on a crusade last year and got 3 income raises in the span of 12 months. As an insurance company does after a claim, my employer is trying to recover and was quite cheap this year. I guess they call it “compensation process” at the evil HR department ;-).

I know that my manager is fighting for me to get a higher salary considering my performance and the growth of my portfolio. So since you can’t always complain and I already know that someone is “working for me”; I won’t do or say a thing this year.

How much are you getting this year?

I’m curious to know how much you will receive this year? 1%? 3%? 5%? What is a decent income raise anyways? And by decent, I am not asking the question just from an employee point of view but also as an employer. How much can you successfully give to your employees and maintain a normal level of growth and profit? If you give too much one year, the next may bring a lot of disappointment among your crew. Is this better?

If you want a secret; employees will never be satisfied by the salary increase anyways ;-). Give them 4% they will ask for 5% next year. Give them a steady 3%, they will complaint that they always receive the same thing (taking the raise for granted).

I have seen a new management wave in the industry. Some companies are not talking about raises anymore. They are talking about your level of competency and performance in line with their salary bracket. They don’t give you a raise anymore, they reposition you in the salary bracket. And this is how I won my point last year; nobody had a small book, a master’s degree and the results that I had. Therefore, they had to reposition me in the salary bracket ;-).

You need to see yourself as a small incorporation

If you see yourself as an employee, you will be asking for a raise and complain about how small it is. However, if you consider yourself as a small company working for a bigger one, you will be able to build your case and show which kind of advantages your employer has when he requires your help to outsource a part of its business. If you are profitable for your employer, then perhaps you deserve a part of the cake. If you are just a big cost center, don’t talk too loud ;-).

If you are looking for a raise; you can always move to China 😉

The Chinese workers should get an increase of 15% on average for this year. In fact,  this is about the average increase for the past 5-6 years in China. However, the average income is…. Drum roll…. $0.75/hr 😉

So it is quite normal that international companies don’t worry about giving an additional $0.20/hr to their workers since they won’t even make $1/hr…

Where I am at since I didn’t ask for anything…

Well… I didn’t get much! But I am still waiting as I know that some “changes” are in the air. I still think that I am better off shutting my mouth for now 😉 I’ll keep you posted!

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June 29, 2010, 3:56 am

Top 40 Canadian Portfolio Managers – Is Your Money Invested In The Right Place?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Investment, Market and Risk


A year ago, fund managers were on the verge of  burning out. I would have required a few pills myself if I was one of the people who lost a total of 300G$ in 2008 while managing other’s people money!

In 2009 however, the top 40 Canadian portfolio managers produced a yield of 10.7% (while the TSX composite index went up by 30.69% but that is pure stock investing).

So is your money invested in the right place? Here’s the top 40 Canadian portfolio managers:

Top 40 Canadian Portfolio Managers (by Assets)

RANKPORTFOLIO MANAGER FIRMTOTAL ASSET ($G)2009 YIELD
1BLACKROCK46,7993.00%
2TD BANK46,77526.10%
3PHILLIPS, HAGER & NORTH (RBC)32,2798.00%
4STATE STREET GLOBAL ADVISOR24,014-3.10%
5MCLEAN BUDDEN22,58218.40%
6JARISLOWSKY, FRASER21,83718.70%
7GREYSTONE MANAGED INVESTMENTS21,54910.80%
8BEUTEL, GOODMAN & COMPANY17,08742.00%
9CONNOR, CLARK &LUNN FINANCIAL16,181-3.00%
10ALLIANCE BERNSTEIN INSTITUTIONAL15,983-13.00%
11ADDENDA CAPITAL15,674-14.90%
12LETKO, BROSSEAU & ASSOCIÉS14,80620.70%
13STANDARD LIFE12,87936.70%
14BNY/MELLON ASSET MANAGEMENT11,71624.20%
15CIBC11,4892.40%
16J.P. MORGAN ASSET MANAGEMENT10,506-2.60%
17FIDELITY INVESTMENTS10,13243.30%
18FRANKLIN TEMPLETON9,74544.80%
19BENTALL9,636-13.30%
20UBS GLOBAL8,71215.70%
21FIERA CAPITAL7,8816.80%
22LEITH WHEELER INVESTMENT COUNSEL7,78824.90%
23SPUCEGROVE INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT7,5998.20%
24MORGUARD INVESTMENTS6,87619.90%
25RUSSELL INVESTMENTS5,67668.40%
26FOYSTON, GORDON & PAYNE5,67025.10%
27GOLDMAN SACHS5,42511.90%
28GUARDIAN CAPITAL5,3284.30%
29PIMCO CANADA5,26555.60%
30GWL INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT5,150-0.10%
31GE ASSET MANAGEMENT4,90827.40%
32WELLINGTON MANAGEMENT COMPANY4,903-20.60%
33SCEPTRE INVESTMENT COUNSEL4,6916.50%
34MFC ASSET MANAGEMENT4,09413.60%
35INVESCO4,00818.20%
36NATCAN (NATIONAL BANK)3,78415.40%
37LONDON CAPITAL3,73713.80%
38INTEGRA CAPITAL3,679-0.20%
39SEI3,546-8.10%
40MONDRIAN INVESTMENT PARTNERS3,396-3.40%

What to expect in the future from the biggest portfolio managers?

Considering the doubts regarding the rise of interest rates (and how bad it would affect their bond portfolio), some managers are turning to real return interest bonds or in real assets (structures, pipeline, highway maintenance company). These kinds of asset classes experienced a lower volatility during the economic crunch.

So who is your favourite fund manager?

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June 28, 2010, 4:01 am

Being Happy is Priceless But There Is A Price To Pay For Happiness

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Miscellaneous,Personal Finance


Some people will definitely argue with me, but I think that money plays a big part in one’s quest for happiness. Most of you will probably agree with the fact that:

#1 being happy is priceless

#2 there is a price to pay for happiness
First things first, if you don’t wake up in the morning with the smile on your face, you won’t be happy regardless if you are rich or not. Happiness is a state of mind, something you cannot buy.

However, once you have the state of mind incrusted in your brain, you must be ready to pay the price to keep it. Actually, happiness is something that is renewed daily. It’s not something you can buy for a month like a bus pass, it takes effort every single day of your life to be happy.

When I am talking about the price to pay, I am not necessarily talking about cash. I am talking more about all the time and effort you have to sacrifice to keep this peace in your heart. Sometimes it requires money, sometimes; it just requires a smile.

Working hard to live a comfortable life

Most statistics show that money is the root of most disputes among couples, friends and family. Therefore, if you can find enough money to live comfortably, you will avoid a lot of stress and negative energy.

I recently paid off my parent’s loan and I must say that it was quite a relief. Owing money to relatives is not a pleasant thing and I would never do it again. It had caused an unnecessary stress in my life and I feel much better now that I have paid back my debt.

Working hard, but achieving balance

Some people work like crazy, I know it because I was once part of that crowd. I used to wake up early, work, work, work and return home around 8pm. Since it wasn’t enough, I had registered in an MBA program.

This was a bit ridiculous when I look back at the number of hours I worked during this time (while abandoning my wife). But I realized soon enough that working and making money was only a piece of the puzzle. Reaching the balance between having a life (i.e. spending quality time with the ones you love) and making money is the real deal.

I now concentrate on making more money by working less. And let me tell you, this is quite a challenge ;-). However, by becoming more productive, creating a sideline and working really hard when you are supposed to work (without having to work more hours) will lead you to this balance.

In the end, this is what I call “the price to pay for being happy”: it is the time and effort, the decisions you make to improve your life over the long term while sacrificing short term aspects. Over the past 8 years, I know that is why I have been working so hard and why today I enjoy what I have built.

So Where are you?

Are you in a working stage of your life? Or are you able to reach a balance where you can enjoy life without lacking money?

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June 25, 2010, 5:00 am

Financial Ramblings

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Financial Rambling


This was my first week driving from my new place to work. It now takes 1h20 to get to work (so 2h40 per day). Why would a sane person do that? Because I am not to sane after all I guess 😉

What I really like about my new home is that it’s like going back to a vacation property each evening. I have changed my working schedule to make sure I don’t get stuck in the traffic and that I have enough time to keep blogging 😉

I guess that everything has a price; living in beautiful place must be paid through more time spent going to work!

I’ve just hired my Virtual Assistant last week and she started to work for us already. I hope everything goes well so I have more time to spend on the fun stuff: blogging!

Here are some interesting reads for the weekend:

#1 Do Not Give Me Money! @ Budgets Are Sexy. I’ll give you my Paypal address instead 😉

#2 5 Important Steps for Retirement Planning @ Christian PF

#3 Build Your Own ETF Portfolio @ Intelligent Speculator

#4 Why Asset Allocation is So Important @ Green Panda Treehouse

#5 Passive Income Earner’s investing diversification reviewed

#6 8 Common Lines of Fine Print on Rewards Credit Card @ Financial Highway (a good deal can’t be that good of a deal 😉 ).

#7 Toss The Rule Book and Write Your Own @ Balance Junkie

#8 Personal Finance and Kung Fu Panda @ Canadian Personal Blog

#9 TD offers $250 for account opening @ Canadian Capitalist

#10 Increase in Canada Pension Plan? @ Million Dollar Journey

#11 Dividend Investing Myths @ Dividend Growth Investor

#12 2 Things Investors Don’t Want in A Dividend Stock @ The Dividend Guy Blog

#13 Borrowing Money From Family @ Money Smart Life

#14 12 Essential Steps to A Property Bargain @ Couple Money

#15 Smart or Selfish? @ Dinks Finance

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June 24, 2010, 11:17 am

Common Real Estate Misconceptions

by: admin    Category: Investment, Market and Risk

Last week I shared why I felt that real estate isn’t the greatest investment. Once I was finished with the article I realized that I a lot more left to cover as it pertains to real estate. Today I wanted to address some of the common misconceptions that young people believe when it comes to real estate:

Renting is throwing money away.

Just because you rent it doesn’t mean that you’re “throwing money away.” You’re paying money to have a shelter for you to live in. Are you throwing money away when you eat food? This axiom that views renting as a “waste” needs to be challenged. Your home base shouldn’t be considered throwing money away.

Throwing money away is when you buy more home than you can afford, when you move out of your house before you’re ready, or when you put down a very small down payment on a large mortgage. Don’t ever let anyone make you feel bad about renting. Generally speaking, the difference between renting and owning can be a couple of hundred dollars a month. I’m sure you could find a way to invest that money.

Real estate always appreciates.

There’s no guarantee that your property will always go up in value. Anything can happen to the area as a whole. We all know that real estate is all about location, location, and location. The location of your piece of real estate will determine whether it goes up or down in value. There’s no hard fast rule dictating that your property will go up X amount in value over X amount of time.

Low interest rates=buy now.

Just because interest rates on mortgages are low it doesn’t mean that you should purchase a property the next chance that you get. Sure low interest rates help if you’re in the market for a new home. Those that are currently trying to pay down debt or are slowly building an emergency fund, would likely be better off sticking to those goals instead of jumping into the world of real estate.

The funny thing here is that some of my intelligent friends that work in banks are attempting to get into real estate just because they can obtain low interest rates. The harsh reality is that many of them haven’t considered factors such as: how steady their work is, savings/assets, or flexibility when it comes to making real estate decisions. Low interest rates are very beneficial, but they’re simply one piece of the puzzle here. Make sure you can come up with a decent mortgage down payment and that your credit score is solid first.

Your home is an investment.

Your home can turn out to be an investment. However, when making the decision between renting or owning, this should not be your primary criteria. It’s one thing if you purchase a home because you can see yourself settling in the area or because it’s an ideal spot for your family situation. It’s another thing if the purchase is made solely because you feel the property is a greater investment than having your money in an online savings account. What kind of a online savings account requires you to paying closing costs or lawyer fees? Yes, you can make lots of money on your primary residence, but it just isn’t the greatest investment in the world.

As I write this I’m typing away in my condo, so please don’t think that I’m negative on real estate. I just wanted to express my concerns with some of the common real estate misconceptions that I’ve been hearing from friends in the last little while. And yes I’ll soon be writing about the many positives of real estate.

What are some of the other misconceptions about real estate that I may have missed here?

Image Source: simhur

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