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Financial planner’s portfolio requires little time and effort

Sandi Martin


Sandi Martin, 34


Fee-only financial planner

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The portfolio

TD e-Series index funds: Canadian Bond, Canadian Equity, U.S. Equity and International Equity.

The investor

For many years, Sandi Martin worked as a financial planner at a bank. But she found "it was a struggle to truly serve client needs," so she resigned to become a fee-only financial planner. "I firmly believe that advisers who are compensated for selling [financial] products are fundamentally unable to give unbiased advice," she writes on

How she invests

Ms. Martin uses the TD e-Series of mutual funds to follow the Couch Potato approach of investing in low-cost index funds (more on this strategy at

The TD e-Series family has the lowest management expense ratios in Canada for the index-fund category, ranging from 0.33 per cent to 0.54 per cent a year. The funds can be purchased online without commissions in either lump sums or pre-authorized transfers from bank accounts.

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What Ms. Martin particularly likes about her approach is how undemanding it is. She gains diversified exposure to stocks and bonds without all the time and effort required for "choosing securities, reading financial statements, and trying to figure out when to get in and out of any particular security." She would rather spend her "limited hours on work, family or reading a good book."

Investing in active mutual funds (with managers that pick stocks) can save some time and effort too. But they are likely to underperform index funds over the longer run because "the small amount of alpha [market outperformance] that an active fund manager might achieve every once in a while can't possibly outpace the fees…."

Her Couch Potato portfolio is rebalanced "no more frequently than once every six months" to keep allocations to her funds in line with her risk tolerances. She also makes regular contributions from her savings. "I'm the most boring investor I know, and proud of it," she remarks.

Best move

"Switching to a Couch Potato strategy…."

Worst move

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"Starting out in a bank-branded managed portfolio…."


"Seriously consider how much time, interest and ability you have to follow any particular investing strategy before you commit to it."

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