You can’t infer trust from any random person dressed in formal wear eager to tell you where the stock market is headed. This is especially true in a world where financial television stations like CNBC, Bloomberg, and BNN bestow their airtime on experts who pull economic predictions out of their behinds and aren’t held accountable for being unreliable.
What you’re looking for are financial professionals who can be objective with you because they don’t have to choose between giving you useful advice, or selling you products and services, even if you don’t need them, to ensure that there’s food on the table.
It’s hard to comb through the media landscape to identify people who focus on the needs of everyday investors, the ones who never learned money management in school, and treat the financial field as they do the medical one—with unwavering trust—when most financial advisors in Canada are actually under no obligation to put your bottom line before theirs. In the interest of facilitating the process, get to know a handful of people who have shaped my investing mind with solid fundamentals for long-term success.
Ben Felix is a financial advisor who runs a YouTube channel called Common Sense Investing. It’s great for in-depth but digestible explanations of core investing concepts, plus a fair amount of content that will take you far into the investing weeds. I like Ben’s work because he backs his points up with academic research and isn’t afraid to call out active managers for lining their pockets with client money before bothering to grow what’s left over. He’s also very blunt, which I find refreshing. All he’s trying to “sell you on” is the upside of taking the reins of your financial future.
One reason Ben can be so forthright about his peers is that he works for a firm that is way more transparent about its strategies and fees than the major Canadian banks. One of his colleagues there, Dan Bortolotti, is the creator of the Canadian Couch Potato, a pioneering blog and podcast dedicated to helping everyday Canadians understand the benefits of investing through index funds. Unlike picking individual stocks and relying on your research to ensure satisfactory returns, index funds allow you to own a piece of the global stock market for cheap, thus hitching your money for a ride on capitalism and human progress as you save more of it. Dan is one of the leading index fund proponents in Canada; a contrarian stance in a country where most advisors steer clear of index funds because they get paid the least for recommending them.
Richard Coffin, an investment analyst in Ottawa, operates a YouTube channel called The Plain Bagel. He uses his platform to run through basic investment concepts, much like Felix, but in a broader, more accessible style that emphasizes humor and entertainment. His Q&As and April Fools videos are prime examples of this. If you’re as new as it gets to stocks and bonds, I’d say start here.
Preet Banerjee, a popular financial consultant and speaker known for his many media appearances, sits somewhere between Coffin and Felix when it comes to pedagogical use. On Money School Canada, he pairs his slow and measured approach to unraveling terminology with your favourite teacher’s enthusiasm and production value that helps break everything down into constituent elements.
Does anyone worthwhile come to mind to complement this post? Feel free to drop their name in the comments. Everyone’s journey to financial independence will have its own unique twists and turns and I’d love to know who’s been there to help you along the way.
If you’ve been searching for a short, no-nonsense guide to walk you through the process of index investing, you can pick up a copy of my new book, Nine Steps to Successful Investing: A Guide for Young Canadians.
I’m also available to teach you 1-on-1 over Zoom if you prefer.
Feel free to drop any questions in the comments!
Disclaimer: This article is meant for general education purposes only. It does not constitute financial advice as I am unaware of your personal situation. Consult with a professional who abides by a fiduciary standard before making any investment decisions.