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This director’s advice: Get involved with your money

Deborah Nixon


Managing director of a human-resources firm

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The portfolio

Holdings include shares in Exelon Corp., TransCanada Corp., Ensign Energy Services Inc., Reitmans (Canada) Ltd. and no-load funds managed by Mawer Investment Management Ltd.

The investor

"My husband really liked the stock market and was involved with it," says Deborah Nixon. "I left it to him since I found it intimidating. However, I had no choice but to deal with it after his death at 37 years old [in 1999]."

How she invests

In the first year after her husband's death, Ms. Nixon's investments lost 10 per cent of their value "due to a poor choice of a financial adviser." She wanted to be more involved in the investment decisions but felt intimidated, and was too busy caring for a three-year-old child while running her business.

The second adviser treated her well, but was "very expensive, charging a high annual fee" for investing in a few conservative stocks.

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Finally, a switch was made to direct investing and working with an adviser who charges lower fees. The adviser also uses a value approach to selecting stocks, so her portfolio has become less conservative and gives more weight to earning capital gains.

The portfolio still has conservative stocks like TransCanada Corp., a member of the stable pipeline and power-generation industries. Many investors like its dividend, which yields 3.7 per cent and is raised regularly.

But now her portfolio includes value stocks, such as retailer Reitmans. Its shares have been dragged down by industry competition, online retailers and the lower Canadian dollar But Reitmans has no debt, the loonie appears to be stabilizing, same-store revenues are increasing and its online sales are up.

Ms. Nixon also owns no-load mutual funds from the Mawer family. They have low annual management expense ratios and a history of outperforming the market.

Best move

It was getting more involved with her investment portfolio.

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Worst move

The first adviser put her into telecommunication firm WorldCom, which went bankrupt in 2002. She felt it wasn't a good investment "but the analyst produced reams of reports," most of which she "didn't understand and felt stupid challenging."


"The advice I offer to everybody is to get involved – even if it's intimidating. Nobody cares about your money like you do."

Editor's note: An earlier version of this article misstated when Ms. Nixon was working at Mandrake Human Capital. She is working there now but was running her own consulting company at the time she began to invest.

Want to be in Me and My Money? Contact Larry MacDonald at or his website

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