Business owners are passionate about building and managing their companies. But when it comes to managing the money they've made in their businesses, many turn a blind eye. It's a problem that can undo years of hard work if an entrepreneur isn't careful.
If you've been taking a salary over the years and investing it in an RRSP (or non-registered account) which has grown to $1- or $2-million, that sum becomes your retirement nest egg. To manage it wisely, you have to consider yourself the CEO of your own investment business.
Fortunately, if you follow simple rules, it's a lot easier to act like a CEO and manage an investment business than to be the CEO of a professional practice or a company providing goods or services.
Focusing almost all of one's attention on the operating business or professional practice is a hard habit to break. When the business was launched this attention was critical for success. At that time the entrepreneur or young professional had to work non-stop on the business, and except for family there was little time for anything else. Financial security depended on making the business successful so it made good sense to focus almost entirely on the business.
At the beginning the business had little value and there was no investment portfolio. Gradually, through hard work, both the business and the investment portfolio grow in value – but typically it's the business that continues to get almost all of the business owner or professional's attention.
Individuals have to remember that the purpose (of both the business and the investment portfolio) is to have the resources to enjoy life and retirement. In many cases (if the investment portfolio is worth $2- to $5-million) it's worth more than the operating business. And if the investment portfolio is more valuable – it deserves more attention.
While there is a myriad of things you have to do right to be successful in business there are only a few things that you need to do to manage your investment business wisely.
You need to be in a "goals-based" portfolio, you should be following a disciplined investment process (because the investment process is more important than the investment products), and you need performance information that lets you know how you're doing compared to the proper benchmarks. As CEO of your operating business you need performance reports to manage the business or professional practice wisely. In the same way, as CEO of your investment business you need to see performance reports that show how the performance of your investment portfolio compares to the proper benchmarks.
By taking control of your portfolio, you ensure you have a healthy salary, long after you've decided to slow down and stop working.
Warren MacKenzie is principal at HighView Financial Group.