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True Believers in Investing?

Written back in 2013 after I moderated a panel discussion on Investing. The perspectives were quite good, and the question, “Which is the best?” had a typical answer, “It depends”. Well worth having a read just to see what experts said about investing back then.

One of the things I learned after engaging some experts on investing is that for the most part, there are very few True Believers for any of the current investing concepts (e.g. Passive Investing, Dividend Investing, etc.,). That was the one answer to one of my questions that I got to ask at CPFC13 that had me raising my eyebrow a little.

Surely, someone who calls himself the Canadian Couch Potato would be a Kool-Aid-guzzling zealot of Passive investing. Dan Bortolloti, however, proved that while he thinks that Passive Investing is a good thing, he is not a zealot. He did not unequivocally implore that folks must use this method to be a good investor. The honest advice was even more sensible which was, “do what makes you comfortable“.


I was a little disappointed when I poked at the Dividend True Believers. I questioned whether this really was the Holy Grail of investing, as many folks have advertised. No Dividend Jihadist stood up and called me an investing infidel for making that statement. Even My Own Advisor did not rise to a direct provocation by me. I was a little crestfallen that my jabs were ignored.

It ended up being an informative and intelligent discussion of investing. It didn’t matter how much I attempted to turn it into a Barbed-Wire Cage Investment Match. This is a credit to the panel members, not rising to my petty commentaries.

Questions to the Panel

Financial Planner or DIY? Can Canadians be trusted with something as important as their own investments?

  • The panel’s view was that many, if not most, Canadians could use some help with investing and should seek the services of a professional.

Active or Passive Investing? Why can’t we all beat the market?

  • The simple answer to the second question is, you just can’t for a long period. This is where the Couch Potato let slip his agnostic views on Passive Investing. Somewhere in the Couch Potato Investing world, a spud fell into a deep friar fryer.

Dividend investing, what’s all the fuss ?

  • It ended up that the Dividend Jihadists showed moderation in their views on things. Some good points about Dividend Investing are that it is not an excuse to eschew diversification (something I, on occasion, forget as well).

Is the best investment for most Canadians to simply pay down their own debt?

  • A sucker question from me, we all knew the answer, although again, cooler heads prevailed when I attempted to derail the discussion about how (in my opinion) there is no such thing as good debt.

Given the aging population of Canada what is your opinion of the idea that seniors should be holding a high percentage of equities as part of their retirement savings ?

  • The simple answer is, you invest money you are willing to lose (or lose a large part of), so if you rely on having this money, maybe it should not be overly invested in equities.

What is the magic number for when an investor might think they will have enough investments/money so that they don’t need to work?

  • I guess the panel was having a bit of a low blood sugar attack (as it was nearly lunchtime), as we ended up agreeing on the answer, “it depends”, although Jason did say he thinks he can get a high certainty number for most folks if they come and talk to him.

What is the biggest NEW and EXCITING thing on the event horizon for investors (in your opinion) that worries you ?

  • The panel agreed that my Leveraged Chinese Housing Hedge Fund ETF might not be the best thing to be in right now.

All in all a very interesting time for me. The panel members were:

Michael James

Dan Bortolotti @CdnCouchPotato

Jason Heath

Thanks Gents, very informative

Feel Free to Comment

  1. “Even My Own Advisor did not rise to a direct provocation by me, I was a little crest-fallen that my jabs were ignored.”

    Your jabs weren’t ignored, I was listening intently, even to the moderator 🙂

    I think Dan has definitely softened his views on dividend investing. I appreciated his take on “do what makes you comfortable”. I don’t think the mental aspect to investing can be overlooked. If someone feels more “safe” to invest with GICs and not a bunch of equities, who is to judge them? Even indexing devotees can make a mess of their portfolios. Indexes are not perfect. Also, what do you index? There is no perfect portfolio. Do you index the entire world? Just 33% of US, CDN and bonds? What about resources, commodities, real estate? And what allocation do you assign to each? There is nothing that satisfies every investor. Just my take.

    I was a little disappointed with the “how much is enough” investment portfolio number. I wanted to hear, for most Canadians, a $2M portfolio is “enough”…or something like that with some justifications. Instead, “it depends”. Of course the answer “it depends”…?

    The BCM did a good job of moderating. Next time, I will smuggle in some beers and have a few pops to add more life to the debate 🙂

    Overall, a good discussion and Michael’s logical take is always good to listen to.


  2. You did a great job moderating. I think there was real disagreement, but the tendency for people to hear what they want to hear tones it down. For example, I took Dan’s words to mean that if you must deviate from index investing, do it on a small scale — you’ll lose money but hopefully less than if you abandon index investing entirely at a market bottom. But people no doubt heard that he endorsed their pet investing strategy.

    I think the best way to get the sparks flying would be to put up an actual portfolio and let people take shots at it. Then the differences of opinion would become more apparent.

  3. The panel was magnificent. Jason, Dan, and Michael really were moderate and full of common sense, and it was a real pleasure to listen to them…and I like that you rattled the cage a bit, Alan.

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