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retirement planning

Dushan Milic

It's been 15 months since Paul participated in The Globe's Portfolio Makeover series, when he asked whether he should seek a new financial adviser after questioning so many of her moves: Paul has shed despair – should he now get rid of his adviser?

At the time, Paul was getting back on his feet after experiencing more than 14 years of severe depression. He was feeling better, but he hadn't been monitoring his portfolio.

Once he was in a position to take a closer look, Paul wasn't comfortable with the way his adviser was handling his investments, nor was he impressed by the high management fees to which his funds were exposed.

Since hearing the views of two financial experts who weighed in on his Portfolio Makeover, he opted to cut ties with his adviser.

"She was more concerned with her revenue than my revenue," says Paul, a former investigator in the criminal justice field. "At one point she said to me, 'Look, I've got to make a living too.' Isn't there a conflict of interest there?

"I didn't know what to do," he adds. "After I got the makeover I realized 'I can deal with this.' I got rid of my adviser, and it's precipitated quite a positive change in my life. Things have worked out really well. I'm on cloud nine right now."

Now 61, Paul is in a comfortable financial position. With no debt and full medical benefits, he has a fully indexed defined benefit pension that pays more than $3,321 a month. He started collecting early CPP last year, and it pays $510 monthly.

Using cash savings, he recently purchased and renovated a house in a small Ontario town. He's about to sell his Toronto home, which should go for well over $1-million.

Feeling more comfortable about handling his portfolio on his own rather than working with an adviser, Paul also enrolled in TD Direct Investing. He attended some educational seminars and has been rebuilding his portfolio. He started with unloading certain mutual funds that had high fees and that didn't align with goal of income preservation rather than growth.

"The majority of my funds are fixed-income producing with some value capital growth equity and a high income-balanced fund," Paul says. "I'm still above book value, which is good."

He admits, however, that his next challenge is to determine how best to direct his money for the remainder of his retirement, which he plans on spending as a snowbird.

"When I get the cash from the sale of my home, I want to invest it as efficiently as I can," he says. "How do I invest with low risk but generate good cash flow in a way that's tax-efficient?

"I've been frugal all my life," he adds. "I'm going to fall into a big chunk of money and I don't want to waste it. I want to protect my nest egg from decline or decay."

Although it's going to take ongoing research to manage his money for the remainder of his retirement, he's not overly daunted.

"I'm actually quite excited about it," he says. "My situation has changed so drastically that I feel like the world is my oyster. If someone's going to make a mistake with my money, I'm quite happy to make that mistake myself."