A secret wish of many DIY investors is to get an unbiased second opinion on their portfolio.
In a hot stock market like we have now, we’re all genius investors. But realists know the test of smart do-it-yourself investing is to consistently generate the returns you need over long periods of time. If you have doubts about that, a second opinion makes sense.
Unfortunately, our current investing landscape is mostly a second-opinion desert. Among the few exceptions is the new Portfolio Health Check from BMO adviceDirect, an online investing service for people that blends the solo DIY experience with input from an adviser.
Let’s be clear – the adviceDirect Portfolio Health Check is a sales promotion. I tried a quick analysis and was told to contact an adviceDirect adviser to get specific information on one aspect of the health check. But there’s still enough there to be of use to investors wondering if their portfolio really gels.
To get a health check, you have to provide some details about how big your portfolio is and what you own (you don’t have to sign up for anything or give an e-mail address). Using the information you supply, adviceDirect assesses your exposure to both cash, stocks and fixed bonds. Attention is also paid to whether you might own too much of one particular security or have too much exposure to a particular sector.
This is all rudimentary stuff you could do yourself. But with newbies flooding into DIY investing these days, it’s a done deal that many are riding the wave and not thinking about the future much. A portfolio-health check, simplistic as it is, is better than flying blind into the next market downturn.
A far better portfolio analysis is available from a service called Wealthscope for $99.95 a year via a fintech company called Wealthica, which offers account aggregation. You can view what’s happening in your accounts at multiple firms on Wealthica and then have Wealthscope assess your overall performance, downside risk, fees and diversification. Wealthscope is available to clients of the online broker Virtual Brokers at no additional cost.
Another thought on second opinions: Some fee-for-service financial planners will perform them for a flat or hourly fee, which means you’ll get a view free of conflicts that arise when there’s incentive for someone to find something wrong with your portfolio. However, many planners of this type are limited by regulators in what they can discuss: basic issues of mixing stocks and bonds, for example, and a general discussion of pros and cons for various product categories, but not specific securities.
Finally, you can always do a “second opinion investments” search on Google. You’ll find articles by me and other financial journalists, plus many hits from investment advisers offering this service. Don’t expect an objective view from these advisers – it’s in their interest to give you a frowny, tsk-tsk analysis of your portfolio that opens your mind to seeking a new adviser.
-- Rob Carrick, personal finance columnist
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Ask Globe Investor
Question: When calculating the yield of a dividend producing stock, should I base the yield using the original amount of capital invested or the current value of the stock? For example, during the pandemic I purchased Canadian Tire at $99.75. The $4.70 annual dividend was yielding 4.7 per cent at the time of purchase. Today, the stock is trading at $175.57 and the dividend is still $4.70, but, at today’s price, the dividend yield is only 2.7 per cent. I know my yield should be calculated on the original purchase price but as the share price returns to previous levels and the price appreciation flattens, should I look for a different stock if I am looking for higher yields?
Answer: This is a question that often perplexes investors. Calculating the yield based on the original price paid is called yield on cost (YOC). If a company continues to increase its dividend over time, the YOC will increase, as the cost remains constant.
For example, my Income Investor newsletter recommended Cogeco Inc. in April, 2015, at $54.14. The annual dividend at the time was $1.02 for a yield of 1.9 per cent. We projected the dividend would rise and it did, to $1.90 a share in September, 2020. At that point the YOC was a more respectable 3.5 per cent. However, we recommended selling the stock for a capital gain of 71 per cent and reinvesting the money in a higher yielding security.
The bottom line is that you should be aware of the YOC of your stocks but be prepared to sell if you can buy a comparable security with a higher current yield. Just be sure you are not taking on significantly more risk.
What’s up in the days ahead
Rob Carrick later this week will present the latest installment of the 2021 ETF Buyers’ Guide. This time around, it’s on bond funds.
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Compiled by Globe Investor Staff