Doug Buss is a long-time financial advisor, having served clients in Winnipeg for over three decades.
Then it might come as a surprise that the veteran was only recently awarded the Distinguished New Advisor of the Year award, for 2022.
Buss is certainly no novice.
Yet recognition from the Knowledge Bureau — a Winnipeg-based professional development provider for advisors across Canada — goes to a recent graduate of its Real Wealth Management program for outstanding achievement.
So while Buss may be an experienced certified financial planner, his most recent achievement and the accompanying award speak to the fact that he never stops learning.
“It’s a program that takes certified financial planners to the next level,” says Buss, who started YourStyle Financial Planning in 2005 after several years in previous roles with Rice Financial Group and London Life.
Rather than just retirement planning, the program emphasizes comprehensive wealth planning.
And that’s remarkable considering that many aging Canadians have accumulated enough wealth to fund their golden years and leave a legacy for their families and communities.
“The (Real Wealth Management) program trains us to work with clients throughout their life stages.” This includes the wealth transfer phase.
According to Evelyn Jacks, president of the Knowledge Bureau, individuals with a big picture view of their heritage — including how to preserve it and pass it on to the next generation — have probably never been more of a focus.
“Providing financial advice is particularly challenging because it’s about bringing more certainty to an uncertain future,” says Jacks, who has also authored several books on wealth management.
“Working with qualified advisors like Doug is so important because we know 2023 will be financially challenging.”
Buss has had a lot of ups and downs in the markets over the course of his career. Yet he also acknowledges that the financial landscape is constantly changing, especially now in an environment of high inflation and rising rates.
His advice to everyone is to plan. It sounds elementary, but few people do it.
And those who do often do so only partially.
Planning is really about “helping families keep more of their hard-earned money by providing tax-efficient strategies to ensure their wealth is protected for their own needs and those of future generations,” he adds. he.
Good plans involve a lot of detail.
But Buss often finds when he first meets clients that they’ve overlooked details with big long-term implications.
“For example, a lot of people come to me first and their company pension” doesn’t name their spouse as the beneficiary.
This means that if they die, their pension could go to the estate rather than the beneficiary – the spouse – which could result in several months of this important source of probate-related retirement income.
And there are additional costs even though “here in Manitoba, probate fees have been waived,” adds Buss.
Often estates still involve attorneys in the probate process, and “they’ll charge a fee based on those assets in the estate.”
That’s not to say that Buss advocates not relying on the expertise of lawyers. Instead, he suggests working with professionals beforehand, including lawyers specializing in estate planning, to avoid mistakes that can disrupt the smooth transmission of wealth.
Another way to do this is to include the family in the planning process.
“I do a lot of family meetings with clients to bring the generations together to talk about it so they all know what the plan is.”
Buss adds that bringing members on board — especially once wealth has accumulated — is key to avoiding family disputes.
“I’ve seen horrible situations where the claws come out.”
For example, an estate can be divided equally between siblings. Yet some may still be upset because she provided all the care for aging parents. Buss says he’s seen situations where the money in question isn’t even important, but lawyers still get involved as emotions run high and wealth is reduced by animosity.
Comprehensive wealth planning helps avoid these issues because it helps people see the big picture, he adds.
Yet too often these days people focus myopically on investment losses.
Buss regularly reminds people that the declines in their stock holdings they see on statements are just losses on paper. That is unless they sell them, locking in those losses, rather than waiting and letting their investments recover.
This urge to sell is often reduced when individuals are well invested in income-generating assets, especially dividends, he adds.
Also, unlike most other goods and services, inventory prices are not rising right now. They deflate.
“It’s like they’re on sale,” Buss says.
It’s the same with bonds.
“Bonds are a great opportunity right now,” he adds.
Of course, interest rates can rise more than they already have, reducing the value of bonds in a portfolio. But these fluctuations in value don’t matter if investors hold these bonds to maturity.
“What’s important is that you get paid, that you receive that higher return.”
GICs also pay more, as do high-interest savings accounts.
Still, Buss notes against falling in love with these conservative investments too much, referring to a recent comment Jacks made about inflation.
“She said, ‘If you don’t generate enough growth in their portfolios to outpace inflation, you’ll lose purchasing power,'” Buss said.
It speaks to the need for ordinary people to get good advice in times like these, he adds.
More importantly, you need a good plan, which can serve as a balm for the worries of today’s market.
“A plan reassures people that they know what will happen to their finances if they get sick or die; or that they will have enough income to retire and can ride out inflation,” Buss says.
“And having that confidence really helps them sleep better at night.”