Solving The Retirement Funding Puzzle

While generally a cause for celebration, retirement often comes with its fair share of financial anxiety. Research indicates that many people fear outliving their savings, resulting in an inability to enjoy life to the fullest throughout retirement.

Advisors can assist clients with sorting out what has been called the “nastiest, hardest problem in finance”1 by creating a cash flow and income stream to help them live well in retirement without the worry of running out of funds.

Generating a cash flow stream can have a very positive impact on retirement. Cash flow can help smooth out annual income and personal tax liabilities and help fund unexpected expenditures that may arise.

What is cash flow, and how is it different from income? 

Quite simply, cash flow is not reported on a personal tax return and is not subject to income tax, whereas income is. The most common sources of cash flow are cash or chequing accounts and an individual’s TFSA.

While every situation is unique, here are a few questions to get started on a retirement funding plan:

  1. How do you envision retirement? It’s important to understand your retirement lifestyle goals and spending patterns. Do you plan to spend most of your assets or leave an estate to intended beneficiaries?
  2. What are the risks? Do you expect to enjoy good health and a long retirement? Most retirement plans project living and associated lifestyle expenses to age 90 and beyond. Retirement plans should be revisited every few years to adjust for the key risks of health care costs, inflation, poor sequence of returns, or any deviations from your assumptions.
  3. What sources of funding are available? An efficient drawdown plan from all available sources helps to minimize taxes, put more funds into your hands during your retirement years, and maximize your estate value where applicable.

First, let’s review some of the typical sources of cash flow and income as they relate to: flexibility, taxation of such and control.

Sources of Retirement Income and Cash Flow
Sources of income Denotation

Government Supports

Government Supports

Registered savings and Defined Benefit Pension Plans

Many Canadians save for retirement using Registered Retirement Savings Accounts (RRSPs) and Locked-In Retirement Accounts (LIRAs), which allow contributions to grow tax-free within the plan. Withdrawals from such plans in retirement are taxed as regular income, subject to certain rules:

  • RRSPs must be converted to Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) and/or an annuity by the end of the calendar year the account holder turns 71.
  • LIRAs have additional unlocking and age considerations depending upon the province of residence. In certain circumstances 50% of a LIRA can be rolled over to a RRSP, and the remainder can be converted to a Life Income Fund (LIF) and/or an annuity upon retirement, the earliest at age 55 and the latest being the end of the calendar year the account holder turns 71.
  • Withdrawals must adhere to the minimum (and maximum, in the case of a LIF) percentages outlined per the account holder age on January 1 each year. For RRIFs it is possible to elect at the time of conversion to use a spouse/CLP’s age.
  • Up to 50% of RRIF/LRIF/annuity withdrawals can be split with a spouse/CLP given Canada’s eligible pension splitting rules.
  • Spousal RRSPs remain a useful retirement tool and can help to balance retirement capital, income and associated taxes for a couple: the higher-income spouse contributes to a spousal RRSP, and ultimately the RRIF withdrawals are taxed in the hands of the lower-income spouse in retirement.

Defined Benefit Pensions are another consistent, stable source of retirement funding for those who have access. Pension payments are taxed as regular income, may also be indexed to inflation, and are eligible for pension income splitting with a spouse/CLP.

Non-registered investments and corporate assets

Where available, non-registered or private corporation2 investments may help to augment government supports and/or registered savings and defined benefit pension income. These sources of funding tend to offer more flexibility as to the timing, amount and nature of income or available capital/cash flow, and they can be tapped as needed for larger purchases or to make up the bulk of an estate.

Tax-Free Savings Accounts (TFSAs)

TFSAs offer the ultimate in tax efficiency and flexibility in retirement funding, as income and gains generated in the TFSA and withdrawals are tax-free.

Key strategies

Once you understand your retirement goals and sources of funding, your Wellington-Altus advisor can prepare a Retirement Funding Plan outlining one or more scenarios for your consideration. Here are some strategies to contemplate:

  1. Delay government supports. Despite the opportunity to take higher guaranteed, indexed payments for life, only 1% of Canadians delay CPP income to age 70.
  2. Draw down RRIF assets early to bridge the gap before accessing delayed government supports, thereby smoothing income and the associated tax impact throughout retirement. Use any excess marginal tax rate room to fund TFSA contributions and then non-registered investments.
  3. Ensure you are utilizing all available tax credits, deductions and income-splitting opportunities (e.g., pension income splitting and pension income tax credit).
  4. Consider requesting the Canada Revenue Agency use your current year’s anticipated income as a basis to reduce or eliminate the OAS recovery tax/clawback if a large capital gain was realized, or a one-time income receipt was reported in the prior year. Please reach out to your tax advisor to complete Form T1213(OAS) “Request to Reduce Old Age Security Recovery Tax at Source Year____” in this instance.
  5. Mitigate the OAS recovery tax/clawback by strategically timing the receipt of taxable dividends where possible, splitting pension income with a spouse, or realizing large amounts of income before starting OAS, while being mindful of OAS automatic enrollment and proactively delaying the start of payments up to age 70.

Conclusion

Because every client’s situation is unique, it is impossible to craft a retirement funding plan that considers every possible scenario. Spending shocks, changes in family status and foreign taxation are examples of events that can lead to different planning outcomes. Having a deep understanding of your spending and estate planning needs, knowing when further analysis is warranted, appreciating any assumptions and stress-testing the results under different scenarios is key when developing a successful retirement funding plan.

The opinions contained herein are the opinions of the author and readers should not assume they reflect the opinions or recommendations of Wellington-Altus Private Wealth. Assumptions, opinions and information constitute the author’s judgement as of the date this material and subject to change without notice. We do not warrant the completeness or accuracy of this material, and it should not be relied upon as such. Before acting on any recommendation, you should consider whether it is suitable for your particular circumstances and, if necessary, seek professional advice. Graphs and charts are used for illustrative purposes only and do not reflect future values or future performance of any investment. The information does not provide financial, legal, tax or investment advice. Particular investment, tax, or trading strategies should be evaluated relative to each individual’s objectives and risk tolerance. All third party products and services referred to or advertised in this presentation are sold by the company or organization named. While these products or services may serve as valuable aids to the independent investor, WAPW does not specifically endorse any of these products or services. The third party products and services referred to, or advertised in this presentation, are available as a convenience to its customers only, and WAPW is not liable for any claims, losses or damages however arising out of any purchase or use of third party products or services. All insurance products and services are offered by life licensed advisors of Wellington-Altus. Wellington-Altus Private Wealth Inc. is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. All trademarks are the property of their respective owners.

Holly Hetherington

HOLLY HETHERINGTON

BCom, CFP®, CIM® | Associate

With over 18 years’ experience in the industry, Holly holds the Chartered Investment Manager (CIM®), CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®, and Chartered Financial Divorce Specialist (CFDS) designations.
Holly has lived in Squamish for 23 years and loves all the Sea to Sky has to offer. She is an outdoor enthusiast and enjoys skiing, biking, and time on the water with her husband, daughter, son and two stepsons.

Holly believes in giving back to the community and recently completed a rewarding four-year term as the Treasurer of the Sea to Sky Hospice Society.

Professionally, Holly has held roles as Financial Advisor, Investment Advisor and has overseen the growth and success of financial teams in various management positions. Holly enjoys providing tailored and personal financial advice to individuals and families, while encouraging multi-generational financial planning. Throughout the planning process she will address short-term and immediate cash flow needs, review tax savings strategies and will focus on investment and estate planning strategies that look further into the future.

Holly looks forward to continuing to work as a trusted advisor in the Sea to Sky Corridor.

Amy Sweeney

AMY SWEENEY

Associate

Amy was born and raised in Squamish, is David’s oldest daughter and now the newest member of the Sweeney Bride team. Many may recognize her as she has worked periodically for the team for over 20 years. For the past five years, she has gained administrative experience and more running her own business as a Kinesiologist after completing a bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology at the University of British Columbia in 2016. Now, Amy is officially ready to join the finance industry. Currently residing in North Vancouver, Amy spends all her “free” time raising Dave’s two wonderful grandchildren.
Liam Hill

LIAM HILL

Associate

Originally from Sydney, Australia, Liam moved to the Sea to Sky region in 2013, leaving the beaches behind to embrace the mountains. He hasn’t looked back since and enjoys exploring the wilderness by both land and sea.

Liam’s unique strength lies in his capacity to adapt and fine-tune strategies to match the ever-changing financial world. He’s a passionate advocate for adaptability and flexibility, believing these traits are crucial for securing financial well-being.

Liam holds the Canadian Securities Course qualification and is currently pursuing the Chartered Investment Manager (CIM) designation.

He shares his industry knowledge and business skills to empower individuals, families, and businesses on their path to financial success.

Liam is committed to educating our clients about the financial services industry and helping them make the most of available resources to achieve prosperity.

SHARON FIELDS

Administrative Assistant

Sharon worked for Sweeney Bride from 2014 to 2016 and recently rejoined the team as an Administrative Assistant in 2021. She has years of administrative experience in a variety of industries including working in legal and accounting firms. She enjoys being detailed, organized and efficient. When not hard at work, she enjoys exploring the great outdoors with her dogs, playing co-operative strategy board games and relaxing while sipping a nice Craft beer.

Carrie Freitag

CARRIE FREITAG

Administrative Assistant

Carrie is the newest member of our team and is our Administrative Assistant. She has previous industry and administrative experience and her fascination with the finance industry is rapidly growing. Carrie moved to BC in 1994 from Ontario and never looked back. While not working she loves hanging out with her two kids, awesome cat Leo, and enjoys a competitive game of 21, and her gardens.

Katie Norton

KATIE NORTON

Associate

Katie is a Business Administration graduate who joined the Sweeney Bride team in 2016. She takes care of on-boarding as well as managing account administration for our existing clients. She works hard to ensure the clients feel supported throughout the on-boarding process and is always available to answer questions.

A BC resident since 1997, Katie and her husband moved to Squamish to raise their two girls. They enjoy all of the outdoor activities and natural beauty that Squamish has to offer.

Hannah McVean

HANNAH MCVEAN

CFP®, CIM® | Investment Advisor

Hannah is a financial planner and investment advisor with Sweeney Bride Strategic Wealth Advisory.

Hannah’s personable approach to client meetings unmasks financial goals and anxieties clients didn’t know they had or felt.  Her specialty is then taking the stress out of complicated financial planning issues. She has an infectious passion for personal finance (even about insurance, believe it or not!) and providing solutions that leave clients feeling more at peace about their finances.

Hannah holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® designation and has been working with Sweeney Bride since 2017.

When not at the office, you can mostly find her outside – mountain biking, white water kayaking or skiing. When resting, she will be at home engrossed in a great sci-fi or fantasy novel (or, from time to time, re-playing the Elder Scrolls video games).

Liz Woodsworth

LIZ WOODSWORTH

Office Manager

Liz joined the Sweeney Bride team in 2015 as office manager. She is the gatekeeper in the office and is the face that greets you as you come through the door. If she can’t help you, she will ensure you speak with someone who can. Liz is a long-time Squamish local; when not in the office she spends her days soaking up all that this town has to offer while chasing her two active boys. Liz brings her valuable organizational skills and enthusiastic attitude to the team.

Janet Bride

JANET BRIDE

CFP®, CIM® | Senior Wealth Advisor

Janet Bride is a Senior Wealth Advisor at Wellington-Altus Private Wealth and co-founder of the Sweeney Bride Strategic Wealth Advisory team.

With over 15 years’ experience in the Industry Janet holds the Chartered Investment Manager (CIM®), CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®, and Elder Planning Counselor (EPC) designations and is also Insurance licensed.

Janet grew up in Ontario and moved out to beautiful British Columbia in 1995 with her husband, Paul, who is an adventure travel photographer. Her passion is to travel the world. Always interested in exploring different cultures and landscapes, she is grateful to have traveled to over 50 countries across 6 continents. She also enjoys continuous learning, spontaneous adventures with family and friends, and an active lifestyle in the Sea to Sky. Janet is proud to be a Big Brothers Big Sisters Alumni member since 2004.

She is highly motivated by helping people reach their financial dreams by creating comprehensive financial plans for individuals & families. While using a holistic approach to wealth management, she specializes in tax strategies and her goal is to encourage savings and help build our client’s wealth for a healthy and prosperous future.

David-Sweeney

DAVID SWEENEY

CFP®, CIM® | Senior Wealth Advisor

Dave Sweeney is a Senior Wealth Advisor at Wellington-Altus Private Wealth and co-founder of the Sweeney Bride Strategic Wealth Advisory team.

With over 31 years’ experience in the Industry Dave holds the Chartered Investment Manager (CIM®), CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®, and Elder Planning Counselor (EPC) designations and is also Insurance licensed.

Dave has lived in Squamish for most of his life. Married to his wife Donna, since 1987, they proudly have 3 lovely daughters, Amy, Danielle and Jamie. With his time in Squamish, it has allowed him an opportunity to become involved in many valuable groups.

Dave is a retired Captain of Squamish Fire Rescue after 35 years of service. Another passion was sports and he has been a coach for Squamish Youth Soccer Association where he dedicated 10 years to coaching girls Rep teams. Additionally, he is a former member and Treasurer of the Sea to Sky Community Services Board. Dave is a frequent contributor to Mountain FM’s Mountain Monitor, providing general advice and financial commentary.

Dave continues his volunteer work as Treasurer for both the Squamish Hospital Foundation and the Squamish Downtown Business Improvement Association. He is also a sitting Board member of the Squamish Community Foundation.

Professionally, Dave started his Financial Planning practice in 1994. After living through both his parents’ demise and witnessing what a lack of understanding they had, he realized what sound planning techniques could do to ensure that an untimely death did not destroy one’s lifetime work. For over 20 years, he has made it his passion to assist others in not facing the same plight.