Jake Goertzen
Ian McCausland

This article appears in the June 2021 issue of Advisor’s Edge magazine. Subscribe to the print edition, read the digital edition or read the articles online.

City: Winnipeg, Man.

Age: 62

Occupation: Truck driver

Assets and liabilities: My retirement funds consist of RRSPs, TFSAs and a registered pension plan. My employer, Kleysen Group, matches my defined contribution up to 4% of my gross earnings. I also have non-registered brokerage accounts. My wife and I own a single-detached home in Winnipeg.

Sometimes things don’t go as planned

While my original goal was to retire at 55, life often has a way of adjusting one’s plans. My adjustments came in the form of three specific factors as I see them: 1) a less-than-firm commitment to sound retirement planning when I was younger; 2) an ex-wife who didn’t exactly contribute to my retirement accounts; and 3) working for some trucking companies early in my career that failed to contribute to my retirement plans.

Admittedly, when I was younger, my focus seemed to be more on wine, women and song rather than financial planning, partly due to testosterone and an assumption of immortality. While it is clearly an individual’s responsibility to plan their retirement, it is equally clear that it is during the earlier years of a driver’s life when trucking companies — or any employer for that matter — have a fiduciary responsibility to at least encourage contributions to a group retirement plan for their future retirees.

Time itself does, however, bring a calming balance to the hormonal and other influences, leaving one able to plan more clearly for the future. It is partially this fact that caused me to seek out an employer willing to contribute to my retirement plan, and that’s one of the reasons I left my previous employer of 10 years.

Investing for retirement

I have not started my CPP benefits even though I have been eligible since age 60. This decision is based on calculations involving a life expectancy of 80-plus years, health and other quality-of-life factors.

My workplace pension is held with my employer’s selected investment firm and restricted to a specific group of mutual funds. I’m free to select any combination of funds, subject to short-term trading fees.

Outside of the pension, my funds are held in self-directed accounts denominated in both Canadian and American currencies to avoid paying the currency conversion fee every time I open or close a position. I prefer self-directed accounts for the ability to take advantage of short-term opportunities, such as options and certain ETFs in non-registered accounts. This does not mean I don’t hold any long-term positions, such as large-cap value stocks and mutual funds.

Although I do not engage in short-selling, I use options and have leveraged inverse ETFs, which essentially produce the same results. Short-term trading does not always translate into higher returns and I have had my share of losses. My investment decisions have become increasingly conservative with age.

A cautiously optimistic view of financial advisors

I believe most advisors perform a beneficial service in retirement planning. It is, however, worth noting that they have no obligation to act in the best financial interest of their clients. Many are paid in sales commissions, usually from mutual fund fees that directly affect the performance of the fund. These sales incentives often influence their recommendations. It is, however, far better to use the services of a financial advisor in the absence of a self-disciplined approach to a sound retirement plan. Personally, I meet with a financial advisor for life and disability insurance needs.

I did not venture into self-directed investments without advice and guidance from more experienced advisors. I started out with a financial advisor who made mutual fund investment recommendations based on my investor profile and risk tolerance. This arrangement left me feeling confined and limited — not only in the types of investment options but also my personal involvement in making changes to my portfolio.

Eventually, as I felt an urge for more hands-on involvement, I subscribed to an online investment advisory service based in the U.S. This service provides an analysis of their recommended investments, and then I make final decisions and place the trade orders through my online broker.

Up close and personal

This isn’t to say I’m not in a financial position to retire now, but being in relatively good health and assuming more is better, I prefer to continue working. As well, in the current Covid-19 pandemic environment, I prefer driving truck, which includes the ability to travel legally as opposed to staying home under lockdown and occupying my time with household chores at the direction of my house boss.