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Kurt Rosentreter, CA, CFP, is senior financial adviser with Manulife Securities Inc. We asked him to construct an ideal retirement portfolio for a Canadian in their 50s.

No one should heavily rely on the stock market to fuel their goals – this guarantees many sleepless nights or worse, major losses. Those in their 50s don't have time to recover from a big market correction, so they need to be more conservative investors, work longer, save more, downsize real estate and prepare a retirement cash flow forecast to set realistic spending goals.

GICs with maturities of one to five years are easy to understand, offer guaranteed returns and pay more than equivalent government bonds. Stay away from bond funds and bond ETFs at this age.

Buy a U.S. index ETF in U.S. currency and benefit from the largest economy in the world, currency diversification, blue-chip quality and dividend income. Never put foreign products in your TFSA.

Limit your exposure to Canada since you may already have a house in Canada, job in Canada, will get CPP and OAS in Canada, and this narrow little resource-based economy is dangerously unpredictable. Buy a Canadian dividend ETF where the companies have at least a $25-billion market cap and enjoy the tax breaks from the dividend income.

Put a bit of your money in an emerging-market mutual fund for future growth. Look for a fund that consistently beats indexes after fees. Overall, if you are going to use a financial adviser to build a portfolio, use a commission-based account for fixed income and a fee-based account for equities – fees should never exceed 1 per cent for equities totaling more than $500,000.

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