Friday, October 10, 2014

Short Takes: Reinventing Finance and more

Here are my posts for this week:

The Alchemy of Finance

“Invest However You’re Most Comfortable”

Here are some short takes and some weekend reading:

Marc Andreessen believes we can improve finance by completely reinventing it. If you think Andreessen is right about this, you may not want to concentrate your portfolio in bank stocks.

Boomer and Echo compares 5 different robo-advisors already operating in Canada or coming to Canada soon.

Mr. Money Mustache teaches how to get rich with science. As usual, he writes very well and makes you think.

Canadian Couch Potato has some interesting examples of how taxes affect ETF performance. Portfolio turnover matters in addition to the mix of dividends, interest, and capital gains.

Big Cajun Man asks whether spousal RRSPs have any use now that we have pension splitting. He got some good ideas in the comments section for how spousal RRSPs are still useful.

My Own Advisor’s latest dividend update drew quite a few comments, mostly from active stock pickers.

Karen Cleveland at Canadian Business has some sensible ideas about what to do when you’re sick. Spoiler: stay home. You think you’re being a hero by going in to work, but others just want you to stay away from them. Another thing to consider is that staying home is doing your part to reduce the virulence of infections. Any infection that causes people to isolate themselves is a genetic failure. Infections are most successful if they’re as virulent as possible without making people stay home.


  1. I'm not sure if coming to work sick is a hero mentality as much as it has to do with old-school leaders who value face time above all else. Working from home (and results-only work environments) hasn't caught on as much as it should because of this stigma that we need to "be at work" to be working.

    Thanks for mentioning my robo-advisor comparison. Have a great weekend!

  2. @Robb: I take your point, but you're going to far to say that results-only work hasn't caught on. It's definitely a minority of jobs, but there are many companies that operate this way. I've spent my whole career working in results-only environments. So, when a colleague comes in sick, it's almost always a hero thing. However, people working part time, on contract, in retail, in government, etc. tend to be paid for showing up. I feel sorry for people who work for employers who make it difficult to stay home when sick. It's bad enough to try to work through an illness, but having to work around others who are sick is very unpleasant as well.

    1. I said it hasn't caught on as much as it should. You're lucky to have worked in that environment your entire career, but you are definitely part of a small minority.

      I liken it to football's concussion problem. Players hide the injury from their coach and trainer because they feel their job is on the line if they miss time. But an old-school coach's mentality around "getting your bell rung" is to tape an aspirin to your helmet and get back out there. It's a culture that needs to change - and old-school leadership is no different.

    2. @Robb: I don't think we're disagreeing much, but I think results-oriented jobs are more prevalent than a small minority. For example, most jobs in hi-tech companies are results-oriented. The same is true of most commissioned sales jobs.

      In any case, I doubt that attitudes toward staying home when sick will change much. If you work in a union where you don't lose your job for poor performance, the boss can't tell if you're really sick or just goofing off. If I get sick my boss doesn't even want to hear about it; he just looks at my performance at the end of the year and either gives me a bonus or fires me.

  3. My workplace is becoming much more flexible in terms of working from home, etc., when you're a bit under the weather but can still operate a keyboard. This is a good thing. Other employers are not or cannot be as flexible for various reasons.

    Thanks for the mention. Yeah, the dividend income updates get some comments but the reality of my portfolio is; it's rather boring. Most of the stocks are on autopilot as are the ETFs. I'm learning that boring wins out in the end.

    Have a good long weekend and I'll be back next week to see what you write about,

    1. @Mark: Sounds like positive changes from your employer. I consider working form home to be a different issue from whether your job is results-based or not. Some jobs cannot be done from home even if your employer is just focused on whether you get your job done or not instead of worrying about how many hours you work.

      All the best portfolios are boring :-)

  4. I think as with all investing vehicles, the Spousal RRSP can be useful, depending on what your plan is. Thanks for the inclusion, happy turkey genocide day!