Navi Kanagalingam




Markham, Ont.



I’ve been investing for:

9 years, since I graduated from Ryerson University in 2006

I plan to retire:

When I’m between 50 and 55 years old

Investable assets:

Less than $250,000 (excludes real estate)

How long I’ve had an advisor:

Officially, I’m on my own. Unofficially, I’ve got a network at my disposal since getting into real estate eight years ago.

Striking out (on my own)

I was raised in a family concerned with capital preservation. My parents didn’t care about making money; they cared about not losing any. GICs were their best friends.

After university, I did a complete 180 when I played the stock market to pay off my student loans. I kept an eye on BNN, Bloomberg and Morningstar for hot tips, and I invested in Penn West. Not knowing when to sell, I lost close to $5,000—practically a year’s tuition. I didn’t tell my parents; it’s my biggest investment regret. That’s when I decided the volatility of stocks wasn’t for me. I then met with six to eight advisors at various banks, but the advice seemed too standard: invest in mutual funds in an RRSP. I knew the advisors would benefit from such a plan, but I couldn’t see how I would. Wait until I retire to access my funds? No way. Later, my accountant introduced me to the tax benefits of RRSPs. But, at the time, there was a communication gap between me and the advisors at the banks.

Finding my niche

A year after I graduated from university, a friend and I got a great deal on a property in Oshawa, Ont., close to Durham College. We found a realtor, bought the property and rented rooms to students for $500 each. Real estate opened a world of networking opportunities with professionals in many fields. From clients to mortgage brokers, I learn something new from everyone I meet.When several colleagues told me that their investments in condos and rental properties provide them with a greater ROI than their savings vehicles do, my interest was piqued. After reviewing their investment properties, incomes and costs, I concluded they were right. I now own four properties, and manage clients’ rental properties as an additional realtor service.

Having a plan

The great thing about real estate is, well, the real part. Saving isn’t such a challenge when the savings vehicle is tangible. Although I have an RRSP for the tax deduction, my real (pun intended!) retirement plan is my real estate holdings, which I’ll add to. But, I wouldn’t mind working with an advisor to identify the best mutual funds for my RRSP—I’m always ready and willing to learn more.

by Michelle Schriver, assistant editor of Advisor Group.