In The Press

This renter shows a five-star retirement is possible even without a real estate windfall

August 2nd, 2019

Financial Post – By Andrew Allentuck

A B.C. man we’ll call Jonah is employed by a high-tech company. He is 52, anticipating retirement at 60. He earns $106,000 per year and has take-home income of $4,800 per month after extensive deductions for benefits and taxes. A renter, he has neither equity in a home nor mortgage debt. His balance sheet is pristine except for $2,000 in credit card debt.

Jonah expects to die by age 85, and has been thinking about his finances in those terms. The problem — what if he lives beyond that?

Jonah’s daily spending is quite modest. He has rented all his adult life and has no plans to change. He prefers public transit to owning a car. He pays his credit card bills monthly, and has avoided other forms of debt. His indulgences are $500 per month for restaurants and travel at $450 per month.

Jonah expects to be alone in his old age.

“I may need assisted living or full-time care,” he notes. For now, he is healthy but his employer’s medical plan will not cover care after retirement. His questions follow from that concern: when he can retire, whether to buy a long-term care policy and should he buy an annuity as a hedge against declines in his $564,000 portfolio of registered and non-registered financial assets?

Family Finance asked Ian Black, a planner with Macdonald Shymko and Company in Vancouver, to work with Jonah.

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Can This Single-Income Couple with Two Teenagers Soon Retire?

March 15th, 2019

Special to The Globe and Mail – By Dianne Maley


Living well below their means has paid off for Ellie and Evan, a single-income couple with two teenagers and a strong desire for Evan to retire from work early. He is 50, she is 49.

Helping their plans are their suburban Vancouver house, which has risen substantially in value, Evan’s two defined benefit pension plans, one from a previous employer, and $11,000 in rental income from a lower-level apartment. Evan earns about $106,500 a year.

“We have saved hard for many years,” Ellie writes in an e-mail. “My husband is the only breadwinner in our family.” Their younger child is in high school and the older one is in university, she adds. They have substantial savings and investments and a mortgage-free house worth about $1,150,000. Their only debt is a $130,000 investment loan, which will be paid off by the time Evan retires.

Evan plans to retire in four and a half years, at the age of 55. The couple’s retirement spending goal is $75,000 a year after tax, far more than the $46,700 a year they are spending now, excluding savings and the loan repayment. After Evan retires, they plan to use the extra money to travel, go kayaking and take plenty of short trips.

We asked Keith Copping, a fee-only financial planner and portfolio manager at Macdonald, Shymko & Co. Ltd. in Vancouver, to look at Ellie and Evan’s situation.

Burned out? How financial planners can recognize and survive it

November 26th, 2018

The Globe and Mail – By Audrey Carleton

Commission-based work paired with long, unpredictable hours can be a recipe for burnout. Experienced advisors offer tips on rest, recuperation and productivity

MaryAnn Kokan-Nyhof began her career as a financial planner in 1998 after giving birth to her third child.

“I was breastfeeding my son and working 16-hour days. I had to make phone calls and meet with people or I wasn’t going to get paid,” says Ms. Kokan-Nyhof, recalling how she struggled to build a client roster and earn enough commission to help support her family.

Ngoc Day, a certified financial planner at Macdonald Shymko & Company Ltd. in Vancouver, has found exercise and personal hobbies, such as playing the piano, to be the most effective outlets for releasing stress and finding personal meaning beyond her professional success. She attributes her ability to avoid burnout for the duration of her nearly 20-year career to these activities.

“Every morning I go in and I spend an hour in either the gym or the pool. And I find that really helps set me up right for the day. I find that if I get too busy and I’ll say ‘Oh no, I’ll skip the exercise and I’ll get to work earlier to get ahead in the day,’ I find that by mid-afternoon I’m really tired, I’m not focusing anymore, I’m not fresh anymore.”

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A guide to money management: Who should handle your nest egg?

October 4th, 2018

The Globe and Mail – By Dianne Maley

At age 59, Anne-Marie is at a turning point. She and her husband ran a business for decades before it closed, and he recently died. She sold the family house in the city to free up some cash, then moved to a small town and bought a condo.

With the house sale, her retirement savings amount to $1.1-million, and she wonders what to do with that sum.

Anne-Marie is a composite of a number of men and women who have written to The Globe and Mail’s Financial Facelift feature seeking advice.

Where should someone like Anne-Marie look for advice, and how much should she pay for it? Who should handle her nest egg and help her invest it? The options are many for those with larger sums of money, and they can be confusing. While a robo-advisor could work for her, older people can be less comfortable with technology and likely to need more in-depth financial planning.

Macdonald, Shymko & Co. Ltd. of Vancouver offers a similar service to a broad base of clients seeking independent, fee-only financial planning and optional portfolio management. Like Kerr, Macdonald, Shymko does not sell investment products.

“You’re paying for advice, not the product,” said Ian Black, a financial planner and portfolio manager.

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There’s a smart way to shut down the bank of mom and dad

September 6th, 2018

The Globe and Mail – By Kira Vermond

Forget asking for keys to the family car. Now, some adult children are soliciting parents for cash to pay for wheels of their own.

But is it any wonder why millennials are turning to the bank of mom and dad to bankroll everything from car payments and mortgages to day-to-day expenses such as phone bills and dental fees? Faced with mounting student loans, sky-high housing costs and lacklustre salaries, launching into early adulthood can seem downright overwhelming. Particularly in high-cost markets such as Vancouver and Toronto, asking parents and grandparents for a handout can even mean the difference between paying rent and not.

“It comes up all the time,” says Ngoc Day, a registered financial planner with Macdonald, Shymko & Company Ltd., a fee-only firm in Vancouver. “There’s a perception that the seniors are very wealthy because the real estate has done so well.”


Parents are often willing to acquiesce to the requests, even if they’re not rolling in real estate dough.

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