Wednesday, October 7th5.7°C
David Allard

Living beyond 100

There was a time most careers involved an apprenticeship of one sort another. Some official, others involving years of servitude, and others time simply spent watching and emulating those who knew. Whatever the method, the goal in the end was to learn through a connection the things that one couldn’t find in books and in courses, the wisdom that could only be derived through experience.

And so it is no different with ageing. The secrets to longevity don’t reside in an app or a Netflix series, they are held in the experiences of those who have successfully navigated the mysteries of ageing. 

A National Geographic writer and explorer, Dan Buettner, studied long living populations around the world to identify the location of those who experienced the longest lives, and what they did to accomplish their health. He found five locations in the world that were home to the people who lived the longest and healthiest lives on the planet. They were: Loma Linda California, Sardinia, Italy, Okinawa, Japan, Nicoya, Costa Rica and Ikaria, Greece. He called them the Blue Zones.

These may be disparate communities with little in common on the surface, but it was the similarities in their lives that added to their longevity. Buettner identified nine traits that were common amongst each of these groups of long-living people. They are as follows:


1. Moving naturally: Structured, regular exercise was not part of their routines, instead their lives were built around everyday physical activities: getting up and down, carrying, walking, lifting, bending. All the things that the body was designed to do; they continued to do regardless of the fact that they were older.

2. Purpose: Having a sense of purpose, a reason to get up every morning was integral to their ability to add years to their lives.

3. Down shifting: Stress leads to inflammation, inflammation to disease. Each of these communities has routines, which shed the stresses they accumulate before they impact their health.

4. 80% Rule: The Okinawans say “Hara hachi bu” before meals which is a reminder to stop eating when their stomachs are close to 80% full. Not only in meals but also in life, moderation was a key factor.

5. Plant slant: The cornerstone of most of these people’s diets? Beans. That and vegetables formed the core of their diets. Meat, usually pork was only consumed five times a month.

6. Wine @ 5: The majority of these folks are moderate drinkers, it is generally agreed that all things being equal, moderate drinkers tend to outlive non-drinkers, especially if they shared those drinks with friends. 

7. Belong: Attending faith-based services four times per month – regardless of the denomination added years to their life expectancy.

8. Loved ones first: It was found that these centenarians put their families first. They kept ageing parents and grandparents close by, they were committed to life partners and spent time and energy with their children.

9. Right Tribe: These people collectively choose or were born into societies that supported healthy behaviors. While it is fortunate to be born into a community who focuses on doing the right things, it is also available to each of us as a choice. 

While much is said about genetics and standards of living when discussing the art of ageing, the true test to living the lives we were meant to live lies in our choices. It is the things we control every day that make our lives what they are. Sure, tragedy and disease may strike any of us, but beyond that, each of us has the ability to lead a life that is stronger and longer than the actuaries predict. Each of us has the ability to choose our own destiny.

This is for information purposes only. It is recommended that individuals consult with their financial advisor before acting on any information contained in this article. The opinions stated are those of the author and not necessarily those of Scotia Capital Inc. or The Bank of Nova Scotia. ScotiaMcLeod is a division of Scotia Capital Inc., Member CIPF.


Retirement headwinds

Financial planning is never a perfect science. At best, it’s a well-considered approach to marrying potential opportunities with the challenges and costs that often present themselves. It’s a way to protect oneself from an unknown future.

I often talk about opportunities and perspectives in this column but today I’d like to focus on some of the things that can stand between a successful retirement and one that can turn for the worse in spite of doing all the right things – in this case, specifically with one’s investment portfolio.

My partner at Navigation Wealth Management, Dave Allard, is fond of saying there are three things that can blow up a good retirement: TNT - travel, neglect and taxes. Travel being the biggest because of its potential price tag; neglect goes without saying, whether it’s one’s health or investments the results can be devastating; and taxation, which over a number of years can affect returns dramatically.

I would like to add to that conversation. The headwinds all of our investment portfolios face are taxation, inflation and fees. Each of these can have a major impact on the long-term success and net returns a retiree will experience.



While they say that taxes are as inevitable as death, there are things one can do to mitigate the impact and select investments with greater tax efficiency. At its most basic level, it comes down to dividends versus interest payments versus capital gains. Each is taxed differently in investor’s hands, and in order: capital gains, dividends and interest income, will leave decreasing amounts of income in the investor’s hands. Beyond the basics though, we look at ways to convert higher taxed income to a lower status. Corporate class mutual funds are an example of investments that will generate cash flow through regular distributions that is deemed capital gains rather than income or dividends. It also reduces your taxable income, which may protect government benefits from claw backs. Unlike dividends that gross up your taxable income to a higher level before the tax credit is applied, or interest income, which provides no relief at all, corporate class funds will defer most taxes until you actually dispose of the position.



While there’s nothing we can do to prevent the constant creep of inflation, we do have control over the investments we choose. When considering options, look for investments that have the potential to be impacted positively in an inflationary environment. Gold and real estate are two traditional examples of investments that do well in inflationary times, but most investments that rely on economic growth for their returns should also do well. One doesn’t need to own gold or real estate directly to benefit from their relationship with inflation; it is possible to gain exposure through mutual funds, ETFs (exchange traded funds) and REITs (real estate investment trusts). Inflation in moderation is usually deemed to be sign of a healthy growing economy when in moderation.



While they are unavoidable they’re manageable. The first step is to understand the fees you are paying and determining if they are providing value. What do you get for the fees you pay? Are they tax deductible in the year they are charged or does it require you to dispose of the investment to take advantage of a higher cost base? Would a different fee structure provide you with the same investment returns, but offer tax deductibility against income?

With the introduction of CRM2 over the next few years, regulators have taken major steps to provide greater transparency of fees to clients. While you are able to see transaction commissions on your confirmation slips, soon enough you will see transaction commissions, mutual fund trailers and new issue commissions on your statements as well. This should enable investors to make more informed decisions around fees.

This is not an exhaustive list and there are considerably more options to discuss. That said, this should begin the conversation around some of the headwinds your investment portfolio may face and a tangible few solutions that you can consider to minimize their impact.


This is for information purposes only. It is recommended that individuals consult with their financial advisor before acting on any information contained in this article. The opinions stated are those of the author and not necessarily those of Scotia Capital Inc. or The Bank of Nova Scotia. ScotiaMcLeod is a division of Scotia Capital Inc., Member CIPF.

Retirement has changed

For most of our modern lives, retirement was essentially a stripped down version of the life we were already leading. We would remove the daily toil and replace it with leisure: maybe a hobby, a bit of travel but the real objective was to give tired bones a well-deserved rest, and take the time to know the family again. You would most likely stay in the same house and in the same town, spending time with the same people and doing many of the same things you enjoyed when you were working.

It would be difficult to pinpoint a single reason for those retirement decisions, but they would certainly be tied to affluence, tradition and expectation in most cases. People often retired with a pension that may have come with some guarantees but at the same time would also limit the amount of discretionary income available. As well, retirement was based on a model that included a shorter life expectancy and closer family ties.

Today, retirees are living longer, and for many the concept of the nuclear family is a thing of the past. Children have spread their wings and are living in distant locations that aren’t feasible or desirable for their parents to follow. Family units themselves often don’t resemble the “Beaver Cleaver” ideals we grew up with, nor do the traditions that surround them. For some, this comes as a challenge, for others an opportunity.

Retirement today has evolved into something quite different than that experienced by earlier generations. The weariness that comes with years of hard labour is difficult for most people entering retirement today to comprehend. There’s more time and more choices available to retirees than at anytime in history. We are living longer and much of the time living healthier. It’s common now to see folks in their seventies and eighties living active full lives. And for many, if their health is good why not continue to work? If not part time then in a career or business that one’s always wanted to try.

The thing about all these choices is that making the right ones comes down to advance planning. It’s about doing a realistic assessment of your health, of understanding your financial strengths and weaknesses, and deciding what’s important to you. Where retirement once meant giving up things, today it often means taking on new challenges. The opportunities and choices that exist for retired people are growing all the time.

So the key then, like we’ve discussed so often in the past, is planning. Understand where it is you want to get to, understand your challenges and opportunities. The destination is important but the journey is where true happiness lies. Retirement is no longer about accepting your circumstances and waiting out your time; it’s about making lifestyle, employment and social decisions in a way that guides you to the best retirement life possible. It’s about having the power to make those decisions

Life happens; whether we choose to play a role or not is entirely up to us.


This is for information purposes only. It is recommended that individuals consult with their financial advisor before acting on any information contained in this article. The opinions stated are those of the author and not necessarily those of Scotia Capital Inc. or The Bank of Nova Scotia. ScotiaMcLeod is a division of Scotia Capital Inc., Member CIPF.


Boost retirement income

If you are retired or close to retirement, generating income is probably one of your biggest concerns.

You count on your investment nest egg to supplement the income you receive from government sources. But in a low-interest-rate environment, your money needs to work harder.

Consider these four investment strategies that may allow you to achieve higher after-tax income.


1.  Choose a T-SWP for a tax-efficient income stream.

A tax-efficient systematic withdrawal plan (T-SWP) works with special “T-series” mutual funds, which are set up to include tax-free return of capital (ROC) in your payouts. Once all of your original capital has been returned to you, withdrawals are taken by redeeming units.

Note, however, that as you deplete ROC, the adjusted cost base of the units decreases as well. This means a higher taxable capital gain when you sell or transfer the units. T-SWPs are best suited to non-registered plans.

2.  Consider high-income-generating asset classes, such as real estate and infrastructure.

Both commercial real estate and infrastructure investments have the potential to provide a regular and reliable income flow at a level that’s potentially higher than that available from current guaranteed investment rates. And while there is greater short-term risk associated with these sectors than with guaranteed investments — as investment prices can rise and fall with market conditions — they are generally less volatile than other types of equity investments.

In addition, these sectors offer diversification, with lower correlation to traditional asset classes.

3.  Invest in dividend-paying Canadian companies.

To encourage Canadians to invest in their own backyard, the government offers a tax credit when you invest in dividend-paying Canadian companies.

The tax payable on dividend income is lower than on interest income and can, depending on the provincial and federal tax brackets, in certain circumstances, be as favourable as capital gains tax treatment. Keep in mind that successful companies often increase the dividends to their investors year after year. Many dividend-paying shares also have solid growth potential over the long term.

4.  Climb a bond ladder as interest rates rise.

With interest rates in Canada expected to begin rising, you may want to consider making bond investments using a ladder strategy. This strategy allows you to take advantage of higher rates as they become available.

Here’s how it works: You start by buying roughly equal dollar amounts of bonds with a variety of maturities, each maturity date representing a different rung on the ladder. When the shortest-term security matures, reinvest the proceeds in the best-returning rung on your ladder, which usually is the top rung, with the longest maturity.

In time, the shorter-maturity, lower-paying rungs will be gradually replaced by higher-paying, longer maturity securities. You will have securities maturing every few months or every year, depending on how you construct your ladder.

Given that longer-term yields are normally higher than short-term yields, you are reinvesting funds at higher rates, on average, over the long run. This enables you to reinvest matured securities at the highest available rate.


This publication is intended as a general source of information and should not be considered as personal investment or tax advice. We are not tax advisors and we recommend that individuals consult with their professional tax advisor before taking any action based upon the information found in this publication. Opinions, estimates, and projections contained herein are our own as of the date hereof and are subject to change without notice. The information and opinions contained herein have been compiled or arrived at from sources believed reliable but no representation or warranty, express or implied, is made as to their accuracy or completeness. Neither SCI nor its affiliates accepts liability whatsoever for any loss arising from any use of this publication or its contents. This publication is not, and is not to be construed as, an offer to sell or solicitation of an offer to buy any securities and/or commodity futures contracts. SCI, its affiliates and/or their respective officers, directors, or employees may from time to time acquire, hold, or sell securities and/or commodities and/or commodity futures contracts mentioned herein as principal or agent. SCI and/or its affiliates may have acted as financial advisor and/or underwriter for certain of the corporations mentioned herein and may have received and may receive remuneration for same. All insurance products are sold through ScotiaMcLeod Financial Services Inc., the insurance subsidiary of Scotia Capital Inc., a member of the Scotiabank Group. When discussing life insurance products, ScotiaMcLeod advisors are acting as Life Underwriters (Financial Security Advisors in Quebec) representing ScotiaMcLeod Financial Services Inc. This publication and all the information, opinions, and conclusions contained in it are protected by copyright. This report may not be reproduced in whole or in part, or referred to in any manner whatsoever, nor may the information, opinions, and conclusions contained in it be referred to without in each case the prior express consent of SCI. ® Registered trademark of The Bank of Nova Scotia, used by ScotiaMcLeod under license. ScotiaMcLeod is a division of Scotia Capital Inc. Scotia Capital Inc. is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund.

Read more Navigating Retirement articles



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet presents its columns "as is" and does not warrant the contents.

These articles are for information purposes only. It is recommended that individuals consult with a financial advisor before acting on any information contained in this article. The opinions stated are not necessarily those of Scotia Capital Inc. or The Bank of Nova Scotia. ScotiaMcLeod is a division of Scotia Capital Inc., Member CIPF.

Previous Stories

RSS this page.
(Click for RSS instructions.)