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For some Canadians who looked to make ends meet during the pandemic, withdrawing from their RRSPs earlier than expected was the solution. /istock

Tax-efficient investment vehicles have been available to Canadians for many years, but there’s still a lot of confusion on how best to use them – along with a desire to learn how they work.

That’s why advisors remain in the best position to provide not only the education clients need, but the planning necessary to help investors take advantage of each vehicle’s unique benefits to reach their life goals.

Whether that’s planning for children’s post-secondary education, saving for a big-ticket purchase, building a retirement nest egg, or producing income during retirement years, advisors can guide clients on how to best use registered education savings plans (RESPs), tax-free savings accounts (TFSAs), registered retirement savings plans (RRSPs) and registered retirement income funds (RRIFs) to achieve these objectives.

The following 10 articles published on Globe Advisor this past year focus on some key strategies for making the most of registered plans:

Five lesser-known facts about TFSAs advisors should discuss with investors

The TFSA has been around for more than a decade, but a recent Bank of Montreal survey shows many Canadians aren’t maximizing its benefits. That’s why advisors need to do more to educate investors on how to use – and not use – a TFSA. To start, here are five lesser-known facts about TFSAs advisors should discuss with clients.

Six ‘satellite’ ETF picks for an RRSP portfolio

While low-fee, broadly diversified stock-and-bond index exchange-traded funds (ETFs) make ideal long-term, core holdings, thematic, smaller-cap, industry sector, or developing-market equity ETFs could provide the extra fuel to beat market indexes. Ben Johnson, director of global ETF research, Morningstar Research Services LLC, Daniel Straus, director of ETFs and financial products research, National Bank Financial Inc., and David Kletz, vice-president and portfolio manager, Forstrong Global Asset Management Inc., shared their top satellite picks for an RRSP portfolio.

Why there’s greater urgency in calls for changes to the RRIF rules

It’s time to change the rules around RRIFs to allow retirees to draw down their savings how and when they best see fit. That’s the message from some seniors’ advocates who say the existing legislation around RRIFs is out of date. These advocates point out that if the federal government were to make changes to the rules around RRIFs, it wouldn’t be the first time. During the past six years alone, Ottawa has adjusted the rules twice.

How advisors are helping clients tap into RRSPs tax efficiently amid COVID-19

For some Canadians who looked to make ends meet during the pandemic, withdrawing from their RRSPs earlier than expected was the solution. A poll of Canadian investors conducted in the spring showed that almost one in five people (17 per cent) said they would have to withdraw funds from an investment account such as an RRSP, TFSA, locked-in retirement account, RRIF, non-registered investment account, or pension plan to pay for an unexpected expense of $5,000. That represents an opportunity for advisors to explore strategies to help clients withdraw money in a tax-effective manner and navigate options for rebuilding their retirement nest eggs.

How Canadians can keep more of their tax dollars invested

Most Canadians who make annual contributions to their RRSPs look forward to a tax refund in the spring. However, tax experts are quick to point out the advantages of having a long-term plan that keeps more of those tax dollars invested. In fact, investors can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in extra retirement savings through “tax-free compounding” over a lifetime. The strategy allows tax savings to generate further tax savings while compounding in investments. It also means reinvesting that cherished RRSP refund.

How families can deal with RESP uncertainties as another school year gets underway

Families who contribute to or withdraw from their RESPs may not be facing the same level of uncertainty as they did a year ago. Nevertheless, some advisors say this second year of the pandemic has resulted in a new set of questions from RESP subscribers. These advisors say there’s an ideal opportunity to provide reassurance to clients with children either entering their university years or those earlier in the contribution process on their RESP strategies. There are three specific areas, which are causes of uncertainty, that advisors and their clients should discuss.

Six ESG ETFs for an RRSP

ETFs that focus on socially responsible investments have exploded in popularity in recent years, allowing investors to build a retirement nest egg that aligns with their values. In fact, ESG ETFs have increased to more than 50 from only one five years ago. Daniel Straus, director of ETFs and financial products research, National Bank Financial Inc., Ben Johnson, director of global ETF research, Morningstar Research Services LLC, and Pavan Khaira, ETF and mutual fund analyst, Industrial Alliance Securities Inc. shared their top ESG ETF picks to hold in an RRSP.

What to do when it’s time to convert an RRSP?

Advisors help investors get into the habit of saving and building a retirement nest egg as well as taking advantage of the tax deferral in their RRSPs. But once those clients turn 71 years of age, the conversation must turn to drawing those assets down and giving the tax authorities their due. “The biggest ‘Aha!’ moment [for clients] is how much they have to take out [a year],” says Carissa Lucreziano, vice-president, financial planning and advice, at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce in Toronto. Specifically, individuals must draw down at least 5.28 per cent of their total RRIF in the year after they turn 71; that percentage rises as clients age until it hits 20 per cent at age 95.

How advisors can help rein in temptation to splurge with pandemic savings

Some Canadians’ savings have been growing because of the limited opportunities to spend money on entertainment, travel, or big-ticket purchases since the pandemic began. But with the holidays and 2022 likely to bring more opportunities to spend, clients are turning to advisors to develop plans on how to allocate their funds most effectively and, in some cases, avoid the temptation to splurge. Wendy Brookhouse, financial advisor, money coach and founder of Black Star Wealth in Halifax, says she has been working with clients primarily around the decision of whether to put the extra money into their RRSPs or TFSAs.

How advisors are getting clients back on track for RESPs before year-end

Many advisors encourage parents who are behind on contributions for their children’s RESP to play catch up before the Dec. 31 deadline to qualify for free government grant money. The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) matches 20 per cent of RESP contributions each year up to $500, making $2,500 the ideal annual amount to contribute, says Jennifer Walker, partner and certified financial planner with Carruthers Financial and Associates at Investia Financial Services Inc. in Aurora, Ont. But parents can contribute a maximum of $5,000 a year and would receive $1,000 in CESG if the RESP has carry-forward contribution room. An RESP beneficiary can receive a lifetime amount of $7,200 in CESG.

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