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The Globe and Mail

Photographer frames his picture-perfect retirement with income ETFs


Ken Wightman, 65


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Retired newspaper photographer

The portfolio

More than 30 holdings, including Royal Bank of Canada, Bank of Nova Scotia, Crescent Point Energy, Penn West Petroleum and some exchange-traded funds emphasizing income such as iShares S&P/TSX Capped REIT Index Fund and iShares FTSE NAREIT Mortgage Plus Capped Index Fund

The investor

In 2009, Ken Wightman took a buyout package and retired from a 31-year career as a photographer for an Ontario newspaper. "Since retiring, our investments have grown by something in the neighbourhood of 62 per cent … Being able to put my buyout money in the stock market when it was almost at the bottom was a stroke of luck."

How he invests

The common thread is income. This is particularly noticeable in the 15 or so ETFs Mr. Wightman and his wife hold, nearly all of which emphasize income from dividend stocks, REITs, mortgages, preferred shares and high-yield securities listed in Canada, the U.S and other countries.

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Noticeably absent are bonds. With interest rates at historic lows, all their directly held bond investments have been sold, and the proceeds transferred into dividend, or dividend-like, investments. The portfolio now spins off 6 per cent in cash annually (based on its value at the time of Mr. Wightman's retirement).

Having no bonds has turned the portfolio into "a financial roller-coaster ride." But Mr. Wightman and his wife don't mind. They can live with it.

The TD Monthly Income Fund is also in the portfolio. It and another monthly income fund provide some stability.

"Yes, I know I am paying a [management expense ratio] but these funds, thanks to their substantial bond holdings, are less volatile than my other investments."

Best move

"Buying a Morgan Plus 4 in 1968. … The little roadster is worth 10 times what it cost 44 years ago. … It took us across Canada and the States to the West Coast in 2010."

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Worst move

"In two words: Yellow Pages. Thankfully, I dumped the units while they had value."


"Over the years, I've come to realize that a great piece of investing advice can be found on the cover of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy : 'Don't panic!' "

Special to The Globe and Mail.

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