November 17, 2008

My history- as it relates to Investing

After graduating from university several years ago I played with day trading as a get rich quick scheme (like so many others). I had limited success in this avenue- mostly due to the lack of funds I had as newly graduated computer sciences student. In the past few years though I have gotten married, and settled into a nice career- as such my financial situation has improved to some degree and I am finally able to return to look at investing options.
My wife and I didn't just jump back into investing though, when we left university we had also left with a significant amount of student loan debt. We elected to target that debt and pay it off quite rapidly.

As a side note, perhaps I will do a post at some points about the benifits of paying off the debt at a low interest rate instead of investing the money. Let me know if that is something that interests any of you out there and I get on that a bit more quickly

Once our student loan debt had finally been paid off we focused in on moving money into RRSPs. Admittedly our knowledge on these topics was quite limited but we knew enough to know RRSPs seemed to be the way that everyone seemed to go so it must be a go idea. Having worked every summer while at university both my wife and I had amassed quite a chunk of RRSP headroom. Not knowing what to do we started pumping money into an ING RRSP cash holding fund. It returned a modest rate of return and allowed us to use the RRSP on our taxes - that tax return in the first year was sure nice! Shortly after that I began the hunt to find a good financial adviser.

My wife and I had some minor experience with financial advisers. My wife had an adviser from, lets call it, the bank of Quebec. She had put in a few thousand dollars over the years- a tidy sum to a full time university student. When the tech bubble hit much of the funds were lost. In reviewing the investments the fund adviser had put her in it was fairly easy to see the poor quality, and basic lack of thought that had been put into shaping the portfolio. My wife asked me to accompany her to meet the adviser one afternoon and the meeting was rather short and brisk. At one point he suggested that perhaps "we would be better off putting her money under her bed". My wife may debate this point but I don't think I was overly aggressive with the adviser, I just wanted to understand what the plan was and where this was all going. He really didn't seem to have one.

So began the hunt for a new adviser. At this point we had less than one hundred thousand dollars to invest so the interest I was getting from meeting a few advisers was extremely limited. The advisers that did show some interest didn't seem to really have a theory for investment- it seemed to be all about the sale. When I asked why would you suggest we buy this or that fund the answer was always- well look at its past performance. Not really the answer I wanted to hear, my wife and I know how to buy stuff- just let my wife loose at a Chapters book store where history movies are on sale and she will show you how to buy! I was looking for an adviser. After some digging we finally came across an adviser a good friend from work was using. His investment strategy seemed a good fit for my own- find value and buy it. We moved over all our funds and now make regular month contributions. I won't say it has been pretty- I think anyone who as suffered through this last quarter will agree, but I do have faith.

I leave the RRSP funds to my adviser, whenever he wants to buy or sell we have a chat and see if it is a good fit but overall I leave it to him. Besides the monthly contributions my wife has been kind enough to let me play with some money every month for our own direct common stock investments.

This will mostly be the nature of this blog- what I buy on my own and why I buy it.
And so the fun begins...