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I am a retired widow and a good proportion of my income comes from my $1.5-million portfolio, held with an adviser at one of the big banks. My strategy is to buy and hold stable stocks with steadily rising dividends, but my adviser continues to recommend inappropriate positions in such volatile stocks as cryptocurrencies and cannabis, or simply churning one stock for another. I dread talking to him because I must constantly remind him of my strategy and argue my case. We are no longer on the same wavelength. Could you suggest how I might go about finding a suitable new adviser?

If your adviser repeatedly refuses to follow your stated investing plan, it is definitely time to look elsewhere. First, ask yourself whether you really need an adviser. You seem to have a clear idea of your investing strategy and if you simply want to buy and hold blue-chip dividend stocks – and keep your trading to a minimum – going it alone may be well within your grasp. I have corresponded with countless investors over the years and the ones who took control of their own money rarely regretted the decision. If the idea of managing individual stocks scares you, consider investing in a low-cost dividend exchange-traded fund. Another option – available to investors such as yourself with a relatively large portfolio – is to find an investment counsellor, or portfolio manager, who charges a flat fee based on your assets. The fee-based compensation model – which many financial advisers also use – helps to reduce conflicts of interest inherent in a commission-based structure. Ask around for some names and then sit down with at least three potential candidates and explain your strategy and what you are looking for in a relationship. When you find someone who is a good fit, he or she can help you terminate your existing relationship. Also keep in mind that, with a $1.5-million portfolio, you have some leverage when it comes to negotiating your annual percentage fee. For more information and advice on selecting a firm, check out the Portfolio Management Association of Canada website (portfoliomanagement.org).

Do you know of a website where I can track my dividend income?

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If you do a search for “dividend portfolio tracker," you’ll get a bunch of results. Problem is, some of these services cost money or may not support Canadian stocks. If you’re simply looking for a way to track your portfolio’s total income, consider building a basic spreadsheet. That’s what I did and it is one of the most useful tools I have as a dividend investor because it shows me exactly how much annual income my portfolio is generating. If I buy more shares or a company raises its dividend, I just enter the updated information and the spreadsheet calculates my new dividend income automatically. It’s also completely free (I use Google Sheets). In a previous column (tgam.ca/dividendspreadsheet), I provided instructions for building a simple dividend-tracking spreadsheet. [Note: The way to obtain Canadian stock quotes in Google Sheets changed recently. To get the market price for BCE, for example, enter the following in the cell: =GoogleFinance(“TSE:BCE”,"price"). For Canadian stocks that end with .UN, such as BIP.UN, do not include TSE: before the stock symbol.]

Why do stocks take a hit after the release of encouraging reports? Bank of Nova Scotia’s quarterly statement on Tuesday prompts the query.

It’s all about expectations. Excluding acquisition-related costs, Scotiabank’s third-quarter net income rose 7 per cent to $2.26-billion and diluted earnings a share increased 5 per cent to $1.76. Those aren’t bad numbers. However, analysts were expecting EPS of $1.77 and the slight miss may have contributed to the drop in the shares that followed.

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