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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.

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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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This is the Globe Investor newsletter, published three times each week. If someone has forwarded this e-mail newsletter to you or you’re reading this on the web, you can sign up for the newsletter and others on our newsletter signup page.

The Rundown

Uptick in bond yields deals blow to bull market

Bond yields have surged to their highest levels in about a year, weighing on stocks in recent trading sessions and offering what is arguably the strongest test of market resilience since the bull market recovery began 11 months ago. Central bankers are stepping into the fray and trying to assure investors that key interest rates will remain at ultralow levels as the economy heals – which could reduce pressure on bond yields. Market strategists are also weighing in with thoughts on how the bull market in stocks can endure in this environment, and what sectors are best poised to deliver gains even if bond yields remain elevated. David Berman reports.

Also see:

Why RBC thinks you shouldn’t let surging bond yields spook you into selling stocks

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As bond selloff gets real, policymakers face fresh headache

Millennial and Gen Z men losing money: Wealthsimple study profiles GameStop investors in trading frenzy

Canadian investors who made bets on GameStop Corp. during the remarkable trading frenzy in late January and early February were mostly male millennials and mostly unsuccessful in their trades, according to an analysis from Wealthsimple. The good news: Most of the losses were relatively small. David Berman reports.

High-flying ARK ETF falters, sparks fear of ripple effect

The $26.6 billion ARK Innovation ETF, which analysts say is beloved by retail investors, is down nearly 11% over the last week, nearly 10 times the slide in the benchmark S&P 500, as companies in its portfolio, like Tesla Inc, have stumbled. The fund has large positions in so-called momentum stocks, which tend to attract investors based on thematic trends rather than fundamentals or valuation. David Randall and Lewis Krauskopf of Reuters report.

Also see: Bubbles, bubbles bound for trouble?

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The cash-flush amateurs hunting game cards, handbags and art

Once the preserve of the super-rich, or just the eccentric, all kinds of unusual investments from vintage handbags and shares in fine art to rare Pokemon cards are now the happy hunting ground for stuck-at-home punters. Often armed with lockdown-era savings, such amateur investors are seeking higher returns beyond conventional markets where rocketing prices are prompting warnings of bubbles. They have in turn driven prices on some “alternative” assets up several hundred percent higher in the past year. Elizabeth Howcroft and Tommy Wilkes of Reuters report.

Others (for subscribers)

Gordon Pape: My Growth Portfolio has gained over 27% a year, but it’s time to make some high-risk, high-reward changes

Number Cruncher: Eleven small caps poised for growth in a postpandemic world

Global dividend payouts forecast to revive in 2021

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Wednesday’s analyst upgrades and downgrades

Tuesday’s analyst upgrades and downgrades

Tuesday’s Insider Report: Company leaders are accumulating units in these three high-yielding REITs

Globe Advisor

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

Are you a financial advisor? Register for Globe Advisor (www.globeadvisor.com) for free daily and weekly newsletters, in-depth industry coverage and analysis, and access to ProStation - a powerful tool to help you manage your clients’’ portfolios.

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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.

--Gordon Pape

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.

Click here to see the Globe Investor earnings and economic news calendar.

More Globe Investor coverage

For more Globe Investor stories, follow us on Twitter @globeinvestor

You may also be interested in our Market Update or Carrick on Money newsletters. Explore them on our newsletter signup page.

Compiled by Globe Investor Staff

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