• Tags

  • Kelly Willis, Editor

    Kelly Willis

    Kelly Willis is VP Marketing and Client Relationships. She is a self-described ‘right brain’ languages major who overcame her “fear of math” to earn an MBA and pursue a successful career in the financial services industry for the past 18 years.

    It is this perspective that she brings to her job as VP, Client Relationships -- demystifying the investment process and helping clients connect their financial decisions with their values. Working with the financial professionals on the team, she performs a unique role as the client’s advocate in the financial planning process – listening and asking questions to help you get clear on your needs, translating investment jargon and objectively helping you find the best fit and get the most out of the relationship with the portfolio managers at Newport Private Wealth.

    Kelly takes a special interest in serving widowed spouses and women in transition. Herself widowed in 2011, Kelly uses her personal and financial experience to serve as a “trail guide” to help others find their own path to greater security, confidence and empowerment in managing their wealth in all its forms.

    Through her personal blog www.inspiringwidows.com Kelly shares insights on finding peace, prosperity and purpose in widowhood. She is also a trained grief group facilitator and has interviewed more than 20 widows about their loss experience and how they have rebuilt their lives.

    In her VP Marketing role, Kelly is also responsible for ensuring the firm’s corporate brand and services meet the needs of our prospective and existing clients. She brings 18 years of marketing and communications experience working with a range of financial services companies and investment advisors.

    Prior to joining Newport Private Wealth in 2002, Kelly was the manager of the affluent market segment for a major global bank and directed the Canadian launch of that bank’s first worldwide banking service. In previous roles, Kelly has also been vice president, marketing for a boutique investment brokerage and vice president with a mid-sized advertising and marketing agency whose clients were some of the country's largest mutual fund, banking and investment companies.

    Kelly can be reached by email at kwillis@newportprivatewealth.ca.

    Protecting your portfolio against currency changes

    In our conversations with clients, one question keeps coming up these days:

    “The Canadian dollar has dropped a lot. How is this impacting my investments?”

    You may have wondered this yourself so we thought to address it here. To clarify, when the Canadian dollar falls, as it has by 7% against the U.S. dollar in 2015, the value of U.S. holdings in a portfolio rises. The reverse is also true. For example, from 2002 to 2007, when the Canadian dollar climbed from about $0.63 to over $1.02, the S&P 500 returned over 6% annually in U.S. dollars, but lost about 2% a year in Canadian-dollar terms. Many investors have seen otherwise solid returns wiped out by currency fluctuations.

    Predicting currency patterns is one of the most challenging tasks in the field of investing. Today, more than ever. And while we are the first to remind clients that we are not currency traders, you can’t ignore exchange rates when investing internationally. There are two ways to look at the issue:  first as owners of U.S. assets and second as potential buyers.

    Those who have been following our strategy know that since 2010 we’ve been putting a lot of money to work in the U.S., predominantly in the stock market and private real estate (e.g. apartment buildings). For much of this time, the Canadian dollar was close to par and the beat-up U.S. market was giving us an opportunity to buy quality assets at reduced prices. This strategy played out nicely given both the loonie’s decline and the uptick in the U.S. economy over the past four years.

    The challenge before us now is to protect these gains should the Canadian dollar recover. Because while it may fall further in the short-term, it is unlikely to stay at current levels over the medium to long term.

    The second issue is with respect to potential new investments in the U.S. In front of our investment committee currently are several U.S.-based real estate investments that look attractive. Yet, if we are buying U.S. assets with 80 cent dollars and the dollar rebounds to, say, 90 cents, we need to be comfortable that our target return is still attractive. This is a regular point of analysis and discussion at our investment committee meetings.

    There are a number of factors that impact exchange rates and we believe it is best for us to avoid predictions. From our perspective, the answer is to put a hedge on a portion of our U.S. dollar-denominated holdings. (To hedge is to enter into a financial contract to protect against unexpected, expected or anticipated changes in exchange rates.) We recently hedged one third of our U.S. exposure and will continue to manage this risk going forward to protect client returns and capital.

    Currency hedging is not a panacea – there is a cost, it is imprecise and it only protects the value within a certain range and for a certain period of time under the contract. And there’s the possibility the Canadian dollar could go lower still. (The pundits’ forecasts range from 70 to 90 cents over the next year.) However, in this volatile, low-interest rate investment climate, where every percentage of return is hard won, we think it makes sense to lock in some of our gains. It’s all part of our approach to protecting capital first — especially when we can buy that protection at a cost that is reasonable – and above all, to be prudently diversified.

    Retirement Planning for the High-Net-Worth Investor

    Retirement White PaperIf there is one question that is common to almost all Newport Private Wealth clients it is this: “How much money do I need to retire without any worries I’ll outlive my capital?”

    Because so much of the work we do is in helping people answer that question and design a retirement lifestyle that aligns with their vision and their means, we decided to tackle the issue in this newly-released whitepaper, Retirement: How much money do you really need?

    We have drawn on the perspectives of our wealth management professionals who have been providing retirement planning advice to clients for decades and the input of affluent retirees who offered their views on what makes for a happy, secure retirement.

    If you are a high-net-worth individual near or in retirement and would like to know more, feel free to get in touch or sign up for our Retirement Crash Test.

    How to be better organized financially in 2015

    A new year always represents an opportunity to do things differently. Some people set specific goals with action plans, others have a general sense of what they want to improve and act on it. According to a recent study by U.S.-based Fidelity Investments, 51% of people who made financial resolutions last year reported feeling better about their finances today — compared to just 38% who said the same but did not set goals.

    In the spirit of the season, we offer this month-by-month guide to help you better organize and optimize your financial affairs. Even if you’re already in good shape, you might find something on the list that could help you improve your overall financial picture — and your peace of mind.


    • Reflect back on 2014:
      • Review prior year’s investment portfolio and discuss with your advisor your strategy for the upcoming year.
      • If any significant changes or life events occurred; births or deaths, buying or selling of material assets, make sure to revise your Will and Power of Attorney(s) to reflect current wishes.
    • Review balance sheet for all family entities (i.e. trusts, corporations, family members).
      • Effectively redeploy cash balances to reduce debt or to obtain higher returns.
      • Minimize non tax-deductible debt and consolidate where appropriate.
      • Assess short term liquidity needs; set aside emergency funds covering a minimum of 3 months of living expenses.
      • Pay interest on prescribed rate loan by January 30th. If you don’t have a prescribed rate loan, consider it; as rates are at their lowest levels 1% from January 1st – March 31st.
      • Revise pre-authorized corporate tax remittance.
      • Establish priorities for charitable giving. Revise pre-authorization of payments for changes in giving.


    • Take advantage of tax sheltered compound growth.
      • RRSP contribution deadline for 2014 is March 2nd 2015; maximum contribution limit for 2014 is $24,270.
      • TFSA contribution room is $5,500 for 2015. Top up unused contribution room accumulated since 2009 and re-contribute any withdrawals from previous years.
      • Consider spousal RRSP or RRSPs/TFSAs for kids over the age of 18.
      • Review past unused contribution room in RESPs and take action. Only one year’s contribution can be carried forward in a given year to receive government grants.
    • Collect receipts and other information for tax filings due in March (trusts) and April (personal).
    • Consider paying out a taxable/capital dividend to preserve your operating company’s qualifying small business corporation status.


    • First installment due on March 15th for taxpayers remitting quarterly.
    • File trust tax and information returns by March 30th.


    • File personal tax returns for all family members by April 30th.
    • Pay any outstanding tax liabilities by April 30th (April 15th for U.S. filings).
    • Revise personal tax installments for the balance of the year.
    • Review Q1 investment portfolio results.


    • Review life and disability insurance needs and coverage.
    • Discuss income/family expectations for university/college children returning home to set expectations for the summer and September enrollment.
    • Review your notice of assessment and take appropriate action.


    • Second quarter installment due on June 15th for taxpayers remitting quarterly.
    • File personal tax return by June 15th if self-employed.
    • Pay out any prior year accrued bonus by June 30th for companies with a calendar year end.
    • Consider sprinkling the capital gains exemption on shares in your business to other family members.


    • Review Q2 investment portfolio results.
    • Consider mid-year reflection on personal, business, family and financial goals, philanthropic/stewardship objectives etc. and develop action plan for implementation in Q3 and Q4.
    • Determine most effective tuition funding strategy for upcoming school year. Also, review student living accommodation and opportunities to buy vs. rent.
    • Encourage and support your children in establishing their own savings and investment plans.


    • Third quarter installment due on September 15th for taxpayers remitting quarterly.
    • Review shareholder’s agreement.
    • Consider the merits of incorporating and/or an estate freeze.
    • Consider transferring property to other family members to minimize current and future tax liability. If you have a child turning 18, there are additional opportunities.


    • Review Q3 investment portfolio results.
    • Review medical expenses for the past 12 months (including those of dependent parents) to determine if there are tax deduction benefits.


    • Begin year-end tax planning:
      • Review status of unrealized capital gains and losses on investment portfolio and take appropriate action to minimize taxes for the current and prior years.
      • Consider a private or community foundation to shelter large capital gains.
      • Consider flow-through shares or other tax sheltering opportunities.
    • Ensure at least minimum RRIF and IPP withdrawals are made prior to year end.


    • Last installment due on December 15th for taxpayers remitting quarterly.
    • Make all charitable donations, TFSA and RESP contributions by December 31st.
    • Ensure IPP contributions are made by December 31st or fiscal year end.
    • Determine bonus/dividend policy for your company.
    • Ensure amounts paid or payable from trusts to beneficiaries are properly documented.
    • Income splitting: ensure family members are paid for work done during year.
    • Any loans from the company to shareholders should be eliminated prior to year-end; otherwise shareholders will be deemed to receive a benefit equal to the value of the loan.
    • Final review of tax loss selling opportunities. Remember carryback of losses to shelter gains from prior years.

    Milestone Birthdays

    • OAS and CPP benefits typically begin at age 65. At age 60, consider receiving CPP benefits early or alternatively, delay OAS and CPP in exchange for the higher monthly amounts.
      • Benefits do not begin automatically; you must apply to receive benefits.
    • December 31st of the year you turn 71 is the last day you can contribute to your own RRSP. Prior to year end contact your plan administrator to transition your RRSP to a RRIF account.
    • If over 40, consider setting up an Individual Pension Plan (IPP) or Retirement Compensation Arrangement (RCA).

    Future looks bright for Vision Critical

    Rarely do we write about specific investments in this blog, however, a recent post by Wellington Financial about one of our private investments caught our attention and we thought to share it with our readers.

    Vision Critical’s $10.5M secondary clears the deck for potential IPO.

    Vision Critical is a fast-growing Canadian tech company that has become a major player in global market research solutions. The company was founded in 2000 by noted entrepreneur, Dr. Angus Reid (former founder of Angus Reid Group, Canada’s largest research and polling group) and his son, Andrew Reid.

    [read more >>]

    Gluskin Sheff, a pioneer among independent money managers

    The investment industry is a highly-competitive business but it is also one that celebrates success. Today we tip our hats to two of Canada’s most successful money managers: Ira Gluskin and Gerald Sheff who announced yesterday they were selling their controlling interest in the wealth management firm they founded in 1984, Gluskin Sheff and Associates through a bought deal with a syndicate of underwriters.

    As friendly competitors, we have long respected the firm’s pioneering spirit and independent viewpoint – often expressed through Ira Gluskin’s always amusing and insightful commentaries.

    Gluskin Sheff helped pave the way for other large independent wealth management firms like Newport Private Wealth to grow and prosper by providing high net worth clients with an exclusive, service-first alternative to the offerings of the big banks.

    We salute you gentlemen and thank you for your service to our industry.

    Rediscovering Life After Loss: Widows Wellness Day can help

    Part of our service commitment to widowed clients is to connect them with resources, people and events that may help to ease their pain and support them as they work to rebuild their lives.

    As one of our widowed clients recently said to her advisor here at Newport Private Wealth, “The transition takes an enormous amount of time and energy — and courage.”

    Easing that transition  is the goal of Widows’ Wellness Day — a full-day forum I’ve planned for Saturday October 26th at Islington Golf Club. The day includes workshops covering a variety of wellness topics for surviving spouses – from the physical and emotional aspects of well-being to the financial and social adjustments of widowhood.

    I know first-hand how much this kind of support is needed; when the shock wears off, and the visitors have stopped coming, you are left to pick up the pieces of your life in the months and years that follow.

    According to a recent survey by Dr. Carrie West, an Assistant Professor of Communication Studies at Schreiner University, more than a quarter of widows say they don’t have another widow or widower they can talk to about their loss, and 20% say they have no one in their life they can talk to about private matters.

    Widows’ Wellness Day will seek to fill this gap by offering a day of support, education and connection with other widowed spouses. Whether someone’s loss was four months ago or four years ago, Widows’ Wellness Day is a place where they can gain insight, inspiration and some very practical tools to help them rebuild, renew and rediscover life after death.

    The event is open to anyone, man or woman, who considers themselves a widowed partner — whether legally married or not.

    Tickets and information at www.widowswellnessday.com

    What the smart money knows….and how you can benefit

    What are the super-rich doing with their money?

    I know it’s a question that many investors wonder from time to time. In our recently released whitepaper, “What the Smart Money Knows…5 ways to learn from institutional and billionaire investors” we examine the question.

    We look at five factors that set institutional and billionaire investors apart from ordinary investors – it’s not just the money – and we offer up our own solution packaging many of these advantages into turnkey investments for high net worth individuals who want a comparable calibre of expertise applied to their own wealth.

    You can download our whitepaper here.