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Alain Guillot Show

May 28, 2018

Who is John Roberson?

Dr. Robertson is a scientist, writer, investor, teacher, and an all-around nice guy. He specializes in explaining complex topics – scientific or financial – for regular people. He has a Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario in Medical Biophysics, and he writes about personal finance in his blog Blessed by the Potato.

Personal finance and investing have long been personal passions for John, and he has been an active part of the Canadian personal finance community for nearly a decade. In 2014 he published The Value of Simple to help investors move away from relying on commissioned sales staff to planning and investing on their own. The book focuses on helping people implement simple investment plans and get over behavioral pitfalls to success. He also has a course available to beginner do-it-yourself investors.

Highlights from the interview

    • Alain found out about John after listening to him in another podcast, Canadian Couch Potato #15.
    • John started blogging about 20 years ago.
    • Started to focus on personal finance after the 2008 financial crisis.
    • When he was 18 years old, his dad helped him set up his first broker's account.
    • John mentioned TD e-series as one of the less expensive Canadian Mutual Funds, but buyer be wear, if you contact a mutual fund representative, they might want to suggest a more expensive mutual fund.
    • The way to find out how expensive is your mutual fund is to look at the MER (Management Expense Ratio). Managed Funds have an expense ratio of 2% to 3%. You want to avoid. You want to get mutual funds with expense ratios of less than 0.5%.
  • Be careful buyers. This is not like a one time commission you pay when buying an object. This 2%-3% is taken out of your account EVERY YEAR.
  • If you are expecting your mutual fund to have a return of 7%-8%, when you take out 2%-3%, that's almost 1/3 of your money going to the bank.
  • If your investment horizon is 30-35 years, you are losing half of your investment value in fees.
  • We spoke about diversifying investments out of Canada. Canada is only 2% of the global economy. In order to avoid home base bias, we should consider investing in the economies of other geographical sectors such as the U.S., Europe, Asia, etc. We suggested an equal split between Canada, U.S., and international index funds.
  • We spoke about how to rebalance a portfolio.
  • We spoke about stocks vs. bonds; how much to have of each.
  • We spoke about setting up an account with Tangerine, with TD e-series and robot advisers.
  • What's the difference between an ETF and a mutual fund?
  • I have some money to invest. should I pay my mortgage or should I invest it in the market?
  • Take away point: Fees matter but being invested and having a plan that can be followed matters just as more.

John Robertson's recommendations

Book: Stop Over-Thinking Your Money! by Preet Banerjee

Blogs: Canadian Couch Pototato