How to Celebrate Mindfully this Holiday Season

Food

With the holidays upon us, it might be a good idea to take a few minutes to reflect on your financial goals and see how they are faring against the busiest spending season of the year. If, like me, you find yourself enticed by the trademark sights, smells and activities of the holidays, then you likely know how easy it is to get into a mindset of excess; if a little is good, a lot is better.

Establishing a holiday budget with our short and long-term financial goals in mind is one of the best ways to minimize the financial stress that seems to come part and parcel with the giving season. Without a game plan, we can easily find ourselves overspending in a multitude of little (or big!) ways that can quickly add up and derail us from the goals we work towards throughout the rest of the year.

Setting and sticking to a holiday budget is only one half of the equation however, when it comes to mitigating seasonal financial stress. The second half is reassessing what the holidays mean to us and reflecting on the reasons why we feel driven to express our seasonal spirit and love for those around us the way we do.

It is no secret that Canadians carry a significant amount of debt. “In March of 2019, Canadian household debt reached 2.6 trillion… the highest debt load in the Group of Seven economies.” [1] Of course, debt is not inherently ‘bad’, but we need to be realistic about how these reported levels are indicative of excess and potentially unhealthy relationships with spending.

In addition to establishing a holiday budget that is right for you, here are a few things to consider for a more financially healthy holiday season.

1. Set Expectations

Are you the type of person who likes to give lots of small gifts or do you prefer to give a few larger ticket items? Whichever you are, people likely have preconceived notions of what to expect from you based on years prior. Rather than feeling like you need to live up to your giving history, consider modifying these expectations by reaching out to friends and family and letting them know what your plans for giving will look like this year.

Ask people what they need, and you may be surprised at how little it takes to make them truly happy – think dinner at their favourite restaurant or the promise of time spent together. Seek to add experiential value to their life instead of material gifts they may not really need or want, and you will likely be able to cut out superfluous spending/gifting without feeling like you haven’t lived up to expectations.

2. Create New Traditions

Are the seasonal traditions and activities you engage in every year accompanied by a hefty price tag? If your budget is stretched between multiple gift exchanges, mailing seasonal greeting cards, and baking enough to feed an entire elementary school, perhaps it may be time to evaluate if your seasonal traditions truly bring you joy. Participating because you feel obligated to or for fear of disappointing others are clear signs you may not be doing what is best for your mental or financial well-being.

Brainstorm ways you might refocus seasonal gatherings on what is truly important: quality time spent together. You don’t have to miss out on attending events, like gift exchanges, just because you prefer to opt out of bringing/receiving a generic gift. The same goes for certain traditions, like sending seasonal greeting cards, that are taking a toll on your budget. Be open to replacing or modifying yearly traditions to include friends and family so the activity becomes less about the material output and more about the process of working together. 

3. Opt for the Unconventional

If you truly love giving gifts to the people you love (as many of us do), why not take an unconventional approach this year and try your hand at ‘doing-it-yourself’? DIY activities are an excellent opportunity to spend time with others, especially kids, and the perfect way to show others via time spent and thoughtfulness, how much you love them.

If you or the intended recipient would prefer to forgo giving material gifts altogether, an excellent alternative might be to donate money in their name. Simply choose an organization in line with their values and let them know you helped them support a worthwhile cause this holiday season.

As fun and heartwarming as the holidays can be, we all need to be realistic about whether they are worth derailing our yearly budget for. Come January, gratuitous spending is much less appealing and rationalizable than it was amid the seasonal fervor of November and December. Remember, you’re not required to spend money to have fun or show people you care for them this holiday season. What is more, it is never too late to do what is best for your financial future, even if it means downsizing in ways people may initially find surprising. For help establishing or modifying a budget to help you withstand every season, connect with us.


[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-03-26/canadians-are-feeling-the-debt-burn

What’s the Deal with Probate?

What’s the Deal with Probate?

In Canada, probate is the process by which the provincial court verifies a will as current and legitimate. Although probate is not required, per se, it can be a helpful process for the people trying to handle the estate of a loved one because it grants legal power to an executor. This allows the executor to go about dividing an estate without pushback from institutions holding the deceased’s assets – like banks – who cannot verify wills and therefore may otherwise refuse to deal with them.

Despite the benefits of the process, people tend to fixate on the cost of probate and, depending on which province you live in, the complexity of the fee structures. Probate costs vary (sometimes drastically) by province and estate size. For example, in Quebec, no fee is assigned to probate whereas in Alberta, it can cost up to $525. Several provinces charge a flat amount for the first $10,000 of the estate and a percentage of every $1,000 after. Manitoba, for example, charges $70 + $7 per $1,000 or fraction thereof in excess of $10,000.

Too often, people will make financial decisions in an attempt to circumvent paying “death taxes” which end up having significant, unintended consequences that make paying for probate look like a dream.

One such common decision is joint ownership. Older parents will sometimes make a child a joint owner of an asset, like a bank account or a house, without fully understanding the avenues of access they’re opening by doing so. What happens if that child files for divorce? How about if they get into an accident and are being sued as a result? Being a joint owner means the parent’s assets are viewed as belonging equally to the child and are therefore accessible to outside parties regardless of the parent’s wishes, which adds additional risk to an asset that wasn’t a concern before.

Because estate planning is so complex, here are three potential ways to minimize probate fees, ‘at a glance’.

1.Designate Beneficiaries       

Non-registered assets that are put into segregated funds, a permanent life insurance policy or a fixed term investment offered by an insurance carrier, like a GIC or term deposit, may allow people to designate a beneficiary to whom the proceeds will flow directly; bypassing probate and other legal and estate fees. Designating beneficiaries can be an effective way to minimize probate fees, however it should not be the only reason for choosing a product.  Working with a financial advisor to review your needs and beneficiaries is an important part of the estate planning process.

2. Establish a Trust

A trust is “best described as a relationship of trust between two or more persons whereby one person (called the Trustee) holds the legal ownership and control of property for the benefit of someone else (called the Beneficiary).” There are many different types of trusts and each have their own oversight and administration fees.

Trusts can be a method of minimizing probate fees since the assets within them, at the time of disbursement, will be dealt with under the conditions of the trust (the Trust Agreement) and not of the estate. With increased tax legislation in the past decade however, trusts are a decreasingly accessible investment option for the “average investor.”

3. Give Gifts

One of the simplest ways to reduce estate-related fees is to decrease the number of assets that will be included as a part of an estate upon death. For those people who can afford to, gift giving before death might be a practical and even emotionally rewarding way to downsize an estate. It could also provide a window of opportunity to talk to loved ones about any remaining assets, expectations, and final wishes.

Communication and good planning will go a long way to alleviate stress and uncertainty for our loved ones when we’re gone. Try to remember estate planning is ultimately for their benefit and come to terms with the fact that, in some cases, probate may make the lives of our loved ones easier (or at least not more difficult).

While minimizing probate fees is great, your entire financial plan should not revolve around strategies for doing so. It’s important to meet with an estate planner who can assess your situation and advise on what options for minimizing probate fees are suitable for you.

Connect with us for more information on estate planning.

Estate Planning Can Make Us Feel Comfortable and in Control

Estate Planning Can Make Us Feel Comfortable and in Control

“The greatest mistake we make is living in constant fear that we will make one.” – John C. Maxwell

Though there are many misconceptions about financial planning, two common ones are:

it’s only for the wealthy and/or

it’s only for ‘type As’ with Herculean levels of self-discipline.

Even people in the throes of planning – who are neither wealthy nor perfect – can find themselves deterred by certain types of planning for fear of not having enough or making mistakes.

Estate planning, “the disposition of assets during life and at death,”[1] is an example of planning that tends to inspire discomfort and aversion. At first glance, estate planning focuses on things that require us to acknowledge our eventual passing and really, relinquish our sense of control over our lives and our assets. Think wills, powers of attorney and executors.

Good advisors, more than anyone, know how hard it is to think about and plan for the time after we’re gone. Combine these heavy emotions with the complexity of estate planning and it is understandable why people might feel overwhelmed and prefer to ignore it altogether. But estate planning is far more about gaining control than relinquishing it and far less about ourselves and more about our loved ones.

For those who have been avoiding estate planning, here are three key questions to consider:

1. Do you have assets?

Although this is a straightforward question, a lot of people overthink their answer. Young people especially, who tend to have lower incomes and fewer assets, convince themselves they don’t need a formal, legally binding will because they don’t have enough to bother. What many of them don’t consider however, is their debt and how it too can be inherited by loved ones after their passing.

Perhaps paying for a lawyer to draw up a will isn’t practical or necessary for some but having a plan for their assets (and debt) in the event of their passing is.

If this reasoning sounds familiar, consider writing a holographic will. It is simply a letter of direction signed by two non-beneficiaries that outlines how your assets are to be divided and distributed. Though more contestable than a formal will, it is still a legally binding document unlike giving someone verbal instructions.

2. Do you have dependents?

The last thing anyone wants is for the government to choose a guardian for our loved ones. Estate planning looks at the impact our passing would have on loved ones and helps us determine the key people we need to appoint (trustees, guardians, beneficiaries) to ensure our minor children, dependents, and even pets will be taken care of in the manner we approve. There’s no need to worry about making a mistake either, these key players can be modified as life circumstances change.

Estate planning also addresses survivor income needs, often in the form of life insurance. To be clear, different cultures have different opinions on life insurance which means there is no one ‘right’ view. One way to think of it, however, is as a method of compensating for the loss of your income and ensuring your family has the time and resources to deal with your passing as comfortably as possible.

3. What are your final wishes?

Rituals and practices surrounding death vary all over the world. In Canada, having a funeral is commonplace and so is having to make the very personal decision between burial, cremation, or perhaps other options. Trying to plan for and make these kinds of decisions on behalf of others can be extremely difficult and emotionally taxing.

Having a will that explicitly outlines final wishes (i.e. specific funeral details, charitable intentions, burial or cremation preferences, etc.) can help alleviate stress on loved ones and ensure they don’t grapple with the choices they may otherwise be required to make.

Even if our natural inclination is to shy away from estate planning – whether it is because we’re afraid of making mistakes others will suffer the consequences of (i.e. triggering taxes) or because of the unease thinking about death brings – it’s important to keep in mind that having a plan keeps us feeling in control and at ease.

As difficult as it may be to imagine the time after we’re gone, it is so much more comforting to know our planning can help soften the impact of our eventual absence on our loved ones and hopefully, enable their continued protection and prosperity.

For help establishing or revising your estate plan, contact us.


[1] https://keystonebt.com/2014/08/exit-planning-succession-planning-estate-planning-similarities-and-differences/

Your Advisor Needs to Know About More Than Just Financial Things

Your Advisor Needs to Know About More Than Just Financial Things

For financial advisors, being able to adapt to the unique needs of clients is integral to deliver sound, relevant advice. Increasingly savvy clients with easy access to technology – online information, advice and investment tools – continue to challenge the financial industry to prove the value of professional, face-to-face advice.

At the same time, changing social and cultural norms are redefining certain needs advisors have historically associated with specific life stages and genders.

Each successive generation of Canadians is forcing us to reconsider our notions of things like wealth, marriage, homeownership and retirement.

Depending on your situation, finding an advisor who understands and can adapt to the evolving needs of different generations can be the key to realizing your financial goals.

Here are two groups of Canadians who are redefining societal norms and in doing so, challenging wealth management professionals to stay relevant.

Millennials

We have all read headlines like: “Millennials are killing the (blank) industry.” From diamonds to department stores, millennials have earned a reputation for rejecting industries and practices traditionally viewed as culturally important, even necessary.

Younger generations are approaching homeownership, marriage and divorce – key events when it comes to wealth management – differently than previous generations. When it comes to homeownership, many millennials are waiting longer to take the plunge: 30.6% of young adults aged 20-34 in 2001 lived with at least one parent whereas 34.7% did as of 2016.[1]

Younger adults are also putting off getting married and having children. This means when it comes to divorce, “Millennials tend to have fewer assets to divide, and they’re more likely to have similar incomes,” making spousal support a nonissue. Our society – advisors included – tends to view divorce as an event which should take a substantial financial toll on one or both partners.

When you combine inconsistent incomes due to freelance or “gig” work, high rates of student debt, and the cost of raising children, the reality is many married millennials can’t “afford to buy [their partner] out of the matrimonial home.”[2] Millennials’ finances are requiring them to be more frugal, even democratic, than previous generations and advisors should be prepared to accommodate their unconventional situations.

As the largest generation in Canada,[3] millennials have a huge impact on our economy and, despite their purported financial irresponsibility, spend a lot of time thinking about and managing their money. A 2019 report from BMO found, “millennials [are] outpacing [their] baby boomer counterparts” when it comes to retirement savings and “continue to hold higher amounts [in RRSPs] over time, accounting for the highest percentage increase with 87 percent since 2016 ($28,821 vs $15, 377 in 2016).”[4] Millennials may not be buying diamonds, but they are being mindful of their finances.

Women

Today, women account for approximately half of the labour force (up from less than a quarter in the 1950s[5]) and “directly control no less than $2.2 trillion of personal financial assets.” By 2028, that number is expected to rise to $3.8 trillion.[6]The archetypal investor – historically a man – is quickly changing to reflect the increased number of women, both married and unmarried, who are directly participating in the Canadian economy and making more household financial decisions.

In fact, a 2019 CIBC study found, “three-quarters (73 per cent) say they’re actively involved in their own long-term financial planning – a number that grows higher the older they get, rising to 82 per cent among women aged 55+.”[7]

Most Canadians need better-defined retirement plans (about 90% do not currently have an adequate one[8]) however, advisors should be prepared to provide advice which accurately reflects women’s needs, especially given their burgeoning control of financial assets.

Employed married women “in the core-working age demographic… now account for a record-high 47% of family income, almost double the share seen in the 1970s.”[9] Women also live, on average, four years longer than men[10] meaning many will likely inherit assets from their spouses later in life. 

Yet, despite women having more (control over) money, they are also more likely than men to forgo incomes and therefore pensions for the sake of their families. “Almost 1 in 3 (30 per cent) women say they’ve reduced or stopped saving as a direct consequence of childcare or eldercare responsibilities.”[11] A good financial plan will account for and work to minimize the impact these kinds of events have on women’s retirement savings.

Take Away

When it comes to wealth management, finding a professional who understands the unique situation and need of each individual client makes all the difference between stellar and just average financial advice. Millennials and women are two demographics frequently on the receiving end of stereotypes – most of which have the potential to impede their ability to achieve their financial goals if their advisor subscribes to them.

Advisors who approach common milestones like homeownership, marriage and divorce from an outdated standpoint and disregard the way social norms are changing, will likely have a harder time relating and remaining relevant to those clients whose circumstances challenge them to go above and beyond “business as usual.” Make sure your advisor is a fit for you.

Connect with us to learn how an advisor and a customized financial plan can benefit you.


[1] https://www12.statcan.gc.ca/census-recensement/2016/as-sa/98-200-x/2016008/98-200-x2016008-eng.cfm

[2] https://www.advisor.ca/my-practice/conversations/offering-money-advice-when-millennials-divorce/

[3] https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-627-m/11-627-m2019029-eng.htm

[4] https://newsroom.bmo.com/2019-01-29-BMOs-Annual-RRSP-Study-National-Attitude-Shifts-On-Retirement-As-Average-Amount-Held-Increases-by-21-Per-Cent-Since-2016

[5] https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/89-503-x/2015001/article/14694-eng.htm

[6] https://www.advisor.ca/my-practice/conversations/womens-growing-share-of-assets-to-change-wealth-management/

[7] http://cibc.mediaroom.com/2019-02-21-7-in-10-women-make-significant-financial-sacrifices-for-the-sake-of-others-new-CIBC-study-finds

[8] http://cibc.mediaroom.com/2018-02-08-Am-I-saving-enough-to-retire-Vast-majority-of-Canadians-just-dont-know-CIBC-poll

[9] https://www.advisor.ca/my-practice/conversations/womens-growing-share-of-assets-to-change-wealth-management/

[10] https://www.cibc.com/en/personal-banking/advice-centre/women-and-wealth.html

[11] http://cibc.mediaroom.com/2019-02-21-7-in-10-women-make-significant-financial-sacrifices-for-the-sake-of-others-new-CIBC-study-finds

Financial Planning is for Everyone

Financial Planning is for Everyone

With millennials entering the global workforce and baby-boomers on the cusp of retiring from it, the world is experiencing a substantial transition; one accompanied by rapidly changing technology and social norms.

It can become easy to focus on perceived generational differences instead of similarities with many generations of people interacting and working alongside each other. This is especially true with finances and financial planning.

Despite what media headlines might say, financial literacy – or the lack thereof – is not exclusive to one group of people. General unease with the intricacies of financial planning coupled with the highly complex emotions surrounding money means many Canadians of all ages are reluctant and/or unsure how to seek professional financial advice.

According to a September – October 2018 survey done by the Financial Planning Standards Council, “one-in-three Canadians fail the [financial] stress test, meaning they somewhat or strongly doubt their bank account can withstand a financial emergency… [and] nearly three-in-ten are not confident they will achieve their financial life goals.”

The same survey found “two-thirds of Canadians have not engaged the services of a professional financial planner.”[1] Many Canadians clearly share a reluctance to seek professional financial advice and this reluctance is having a serious impact on their sense of financial stability and well-being.

The survey listed the following reasons for why Canadians avoid seeking financial advice:

  • I don’t have a big enough portfolio
  • I do not know who to trust
  • It is too confusing and overwhelming for me to consider at this time
  • I’m embarrassed by my financial situation
  • I do not know where to find one

Although those who reported having never sought professional financial planning help were predominantly Gen X and Gen Y (18 – 44), a lack of financial know-how is not exclusive to younger generations.

50% of the respondents who had not sought financial advice stated not having a big enough portfolio as their reason why. This misconception was significantly more of a concern for individuals 45 years and older.

Remarkably, this tells us that from millennials to baby boomers, a major reason why Canadians are avoiding seeking financial advice is because of the misconception that they don’t have enough money to warrant it.

We only need to look at the reasons listed above to know guilt, shame and mistrust are emotions with a profound impact on our ability to make healthy financial decisions. Moreover, the way these emotions impact us can differ depending on social demographics.

For example, the survey found although significantly more women than men listed feeling too confused and overwhelmed to consider seeking financial advice, significantly more women than men also felt confident in their ability to achieve their financial goals and withstand a financial emergency. Likewise, significantly more people listed being too embarrassed by their financial situation to seek help if they made less than $40,000 annually.

The take away is: regardless of age, gender or income, many Canadians are stressed about their finances to the extent that it impacts their ability to secure their financial well-being. A good financial advisor will be understanding of the unique challenges faced by different generations and will craft a personalized plan based on his or her client’s lifestyle, timeline and goals.

If a fear of judgement is preventing you from seeking financial advice, you are not alone. Advisors understand the emotions experienced by investors and should take care to meet each person where they are today.

Connect with us to learn how you can start working towards securing your financial well-being.


[1] http://fpsc.ca/docs/default-source/FPSC/news-publications/fpsc-cross-country-checkup.pdf

Four Things to Remember for a Successful Farm Succession

Four Things to Remember for a Successful Farm Succession

Farming as a profession is unique in the way it places “overwhelming significance on lifestyle over profit.”1 Where the ability to function without a founder is testament to the strength and value of small or medium size businesses, a successful family farm is often made stronger by the full participation, sometimes for generations, of an entire family.

Farming can be as much a way of life as it is a way of making a living. For those men and women whose senses of self are informed by being a farmer, thinking about transitioning into retirement and determining a successor is no small feat. But, like every other Canadian business owner, farmers need a clear succession plan in place if they want to give their farm the best chance at surviving into the next generation.   

The 2016 Census for Agriculture anticipates that while “three out of every four Canadian farms will change hands in the next decade – that’s approximately $50 billion in farm assets – fewer than 10% of farmers have a transition plan.” This is an alarming statistic given that those farms without one “have a 66% chance of failure.”2

Whether you are just getting started or are well into farm succession planning, here are four things to consider.

Start Early

Ideally, a farmer should be thinking about the transition process years in advance of actual retirement. On average, “a full farm succession takes [about] eight years.”3 If children are involved in running the farm, starting to plan early will give a farmer time to teach best practices, establish specific roles and responsibilities, and involve them in the different day to day aspects of running a business. The more time a farmer has to plan – and involve their family in planning – the more valuable their biggest asset will be when it comes time to transition or sell.

Be Realistic

When children are involved in operating the farm, it can become clear that some are more invested in the business than others. For parents, it can be tempting to assume asuccessor based on a child’s work ethic and personality however, doing so can lead to all sorts of internal and external conflict for everyone involved. Having periodic, open conversations as a family will give both parents and children time to reconcile their visions for the future and be realistic about whether transitioning within the family is something worth seriously considering or if they should anticipate selling to an outside party.

Seek Professional Advice

Did you know an individual who owns farm property (land or building), an interest in a family farm partnership, or shares in a family farm corporation may be able to claim a $1,000,000 lifetime capital gains exemption (LCGE) when the farm property is sold?  The actual capital gains deduction is 50% of the capital gains exemption.

The 2015 Federal Budget increased the maximum Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption (LCGE) for qualified farm property dispositions on or after April 21, 2015 to the greater of:

  • $1 million; and
  • The indexed Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption applicable to capital gains realized on the disposition of qualified small business corporation shares.

This means that once the LCGE exceeds $1 million for Small Business Corporation (SBC) shares through indexation, the LCGE for farm property will be the same as the LCGE for SBC shares. 4

Part of creating a strong succession plan means keeping abreast of tax provisions and benefits. Seeking professional guidance from key advisors – financial planners, accountants, lawyers, etc. – will ensure your plan is tailored toward maximizing business value and actualizing your plans for the future.

Equity Not Equality

Inheritance is a common point of contention in farming families with multiple children. When only one child is set to inherit the farm operation, parents often struggle with the notion of equality – “what can we leave our other children so they don’t feel lesser?” In these kinds of situations, it is necessary to aim for fairness, not equality.

A farmer’s greatest asset is his or her farm so naturally, there will be an imbalance when passing it down to only one child. Explore how other options, like life insurance, might help mitigate inequalities between children.Ultimately, open communication early on helps to establish expectations and mitigate potential surprises down the road.

Like any other Canadian business owner, farmers need a succession plan to ensure the continuation of the farms they and their families have spent decades – sometimes generations – establishing. For help creating or modifying a farm succession plan, connect with us.

Sources

1 – Price, L. and R. Conn., 2012. “Keeping the name on the land’: patrilineal succession in Northern Irish family farming. Pp. 93-110 in Farm succession, inheritance and retirement: Challenges for agricultural futures. International Farming Systems Association (IFSA), 2012, pp. 2-16.

2, 3 – Farm Management Canada; 2016 Census for Agriculture in AgriSuccess, pp.20.

4 – Income Tax Act s. 110.6(1), s. 110.6(1.3), s. 110.6(2)

5 – Canada, Growing Opportunities, et al. “A Legal Guide to Farm Estate Planning in Manitoba.” Manitoba Agriculture, 202, pp. 1-64.

What Makes a Farmer?

What Makes a Farmer?

Where the famed work/life balance is an aspiration of many business owners, it can be virtually unattainable – and even undesirable – for farmers. “Farming life throughout the world is characterized by the almost inseparable, intimate integration of home, work, memories and family.” [1] More than just a job, farming is the locus of many families; a foundation that informs identity and gives purpose. 

As with anything business related, the financial side of farm succession often eclipses the equally valuable, personal side of the process. If you were to ask Revenue Canada Agency, a farmer is “the person who is assuming all of the risk in a farming operation.”[2] While useful for tax purposes and estate planning, this definition grossly understates what it means to be a farmer.

Agriculture and farming contribute an impressive amount to the Canadian economy – roughly 6-7% or $111.9 billion of gross domestic product (GDP) annually.[3] The economic importance of farming, coupled with the “greying” of farmers as a demographic (globally, not just in Canada), means intergenerational farm succession is increasingly lauded as the key to future agricultural viability.

Much of a farmer’s assets are in the form of physical capital – land, animals, and machinery – which tend to have substantial sentimental value.[4] Some farmers may shy away from transition planning given how emotionally and personally invested they are in their farming identities.

How does one begin to answer questions about what life after farming might look like when it is all life has been? For many, answers to these difficult questions come only after seeking outside help.

Financial advisors who understand farm succession is equally an emotional and financial process can help farmers envision and plan for a life after farming that invokes feelings of comfort, even excitement, and ensure the continued success of the family farm.

If you have questions about your farm succession plan or if you need help making yours, connect with us.

Sources

1, 4 – Whitehead, I., Lobley, M., and Baker, J., 2012. “From generation to generation: drawing the threads together”. Pp. 213-240 in Farm Succession, inheritance and retirement: Challenges for agricultural futures. International Farming Systems Association (IFSA), 2012, pp. 2-16.

2 – Canada, Growing Opportunities, et al. “A Legal Guide to Farm Estate Planning in Manitoba.” Manitoba Agriculture, 202, pp. 1-64.

3 – “An Overview of the Canadian Agriculture and Agri-Food System 2017.” Statistical Overview of the Canadian Fruit Industry 2017 – Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada (AAFC), 10 Nov. 2017, www.agr.gc.ca/eng/about-us/publications/economic-publications/an-overview-of-the-canadian-agriculture-and-agri-food-system-2017/?id=1510326669269.


[1] IFSA pp. 4

[2] Legal Guide, pp. 4

[3] “Overview of Canadian Agriculture”

4 IFSA pp. 4

There is No Time Like Now

There is No Time Like Now

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” ~ Maya Angelou

There can be some unexpected emotions at play for those in the early stages of financial planning. Besides the normal ‘geez what DO I want my life to look like when I’m in retirement?’ confusion, people may find themselves grappling with more complex, uncomfortable feelings like guilt and shame.

Why do people feel guilt or shame? It may be because they feel like they should have ‘saved more by now’ or have a belief that ‘everyone is saving and planning better than I am’. It is important to remember that financial literacy is not “common sense” and figuring how and where to start building a plan can be overwhelming, even with professional guidance.

But here’s the thing. Establishing a financial plan is one of the most effective ways to replace guilty feelings toward money with a sense of control and empowerment. A recent study done in the U.S. shows a correlation between amount of savings (not necessarily income) and overall happiness; the more you have, the greater your sense of well-being. In other words, there is no point feeling guilty about what you have or haven’t done to date because it’s already done. So, let the guilt and shame go and commit to building a plan and taking steps forward.

You have likely heard the ‘rules of thumb’ when it comes to investing. “Save 10% of your income”, is one of the better known ‘rules’ and is often the one that can cause people the most anxiety. These ‘rules’ are actually more like ‘in ideal situations, it is best to’. For example, if saving 10% of your income is not possible for your lifestyle, then lower it. Even one per cent is better than zero. The earlier you can begin saving for your future, the more impact compound interest will have on your investments.

Selecting an experienced financial advisor will bring outside, unbiased insight into your current situation and determine the best road forward. A good financial advisor will work with you to move your plan towards where you want to be in the future. As life, circumstances, and demands on our resources change, a good advisor will review and modify your plan to keep you working towards your goals and ultimately, a sense of well-being.

Regardless of all the ‘rules’ of investing, they don’t apply equally to every investor and may not apply at all, in some cases. Your best bet is to work with a financial advisor to build your long-term plan, work on achieving it, and modify as needed.

Be kind to yourself. Financial planning reality is different for everyone and taking any steps in the right direction is a move forward.

Connect with us to learn how you can learn how to start today and ease your mind.

Sources

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/changepower/201406/is-your-piggy-bank-source-happiness

 Ally Bank survey. “New Ally Bank Survey Links Money to Happiness”

Farming Family Brings in Help to Talk About Succession

Farming Family Brings in Help to Talk About Succession

When it comes to estate and succession planning, open and intentional communication plays a big role in the success of a transition.

Talking with our families about money, especially when it comes to wills and estates, is not easy. In truth, it is something most of us would rather avoid, even if family discussions are an important step to ensuring our future emotional and financial well-being.

Professional mediation is an immensely valuable resource that can help facilitate productive, honest discussions that ultimately help to retain the long-term health of the family and the individuals involved.

Mediators understand historical issues and resentments sometimes resurface during discussions about wills and estates and can threaten relationships. Mediators are also aware of how inherent generational differences can make it hard to reconcile the older and younger generations’ visions for the future.

The mediation process is foremost geared toward improving family communication so the complex dynamics, found in all families, are dealt with in a productive way. The process gives everyone a chance to be heard and individuals are able to be open and honest about what they feel is important. Open communication, with a mediator, is one of the best ways to avoid future upset over wills and estates.

The Situation

The following is an example of a farming family who found value in the mediation process.

John and Ellen are in their 60s and have two married children, Jake and Rachel. The family has been trying to build and implement their succession plan for the past two years and, for various reasons, have found themselves unable to.

John plans to transfer the farm to Jake, his current employee, but is having difficulty relinquishing control and ownership. For John, much of his identity comes from his status as a farmer and the way it enables him to provide for and give generously to his family.

Both Ellen and Rachel fear John is overworking himself (and Jake) and putting his health at risk. Ellen would like to see more of her husband so they can start the third act of their lives and enjoy retirement together.

Jake wants his father to fully transition into retirement so he can gain more experience managing the farm, while his dad is healthy and be able to “start his life” with his wife.

Historical sibling issues between Jake and Rachel also factor into the succession planning process. Rachel has never been involved with the farm and does not want a share of the estate, rather, she wants Jake to succeed their father and take over the business. With her parents in retirement, she will be able to see them more frequently. She considers Jake lucky because he has the luxury of seeing their parents on a daily basis whereas she lives too far away to do so.

Jake, however, feels that he missed out on the parent-child relationship Rachel got to enjoy because he was so accustomed to working for John, as his manager rather than father. Both perceive each other as having an advantage in their relationships with John and Ellen. Even though Jake and Rachel are not at odds over their parents’ financial assets, the emotional complexity of their relationships with their parents and each other were inhibiting open, productive dialogue.

John and Ellen’s financial advisor recommended working with a mediator to facilitate a meeting with the entire family to discuss the family’s estate in a productive manner.

The Process

*         Before calling a family meeting, the mediator spoke to each member to hear their individual concerns and was able to assess them as a neutral, unbiased party.

*         The mediator emphasized:

  • Better communication practices such as explicitly stating what position individuals were speaking from (e.g. when is John speaking to Jake as a father and when as a manager?)
  • Ways to start dialogue and better articulate feelings and concerns
  • Taking accountability for the actions each individual committed to

*         John realized he needs to work on his life after business plan given that so much of his identity is tied to his role as a farmer. It took a neutral party to open his eyes to the concerns his family had already been voicing to him.

*         Jake and Rachel realized their historical perceptions of each other were not necessarily reflective of their current realities and were better able to understand one another.

Takeaways

Professional mediation is not a threatening or intimidating process. Mediators lay the foundation for healthy communication which ultimately serves to enhance the overall well-being of your family.

Seeking help from professional mediators who are outside of traditional planning roles (e.g. lawyers, accountants, advisors, etc.) can be immensely beneficial to the planning process.

At Intent, we work with a collaborative collective of professionals and are therefore adept at bringing in the best individuals to meet the unique needs of every client to ensure your long-term welfare.

Connect with us to learn how mediation can help advance your financial, estate and succession planning goals.