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Pension analyst adds some oomph to his passive portfolio

Sean Cooper, 28

Occupation

Pension analyst at a pension-consulting firm

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The portfolio

TD e-Series index funds and CI Financial mutual funds

The investor

Sean Cooper has a passion for personal finance. Indeed, in his spare time, he writes personal-finance articles for publications such as ratesupermarket.ca and his own website.

Mr. Cooper bought a house in Toronto last year. Ongoing talk of an imminent real estate correction didn't deter him because he intends to live in the house for 20-plus years (house prices have historically gone up over the long run). He also rents out the top floor to pay the mortgage.

How he invests

More than $25,000 has been amassed in his registered retirement pension plan so far. Most of it is invested passively in TD e-Series index funds, with the rest allotted to actively managed mutual funds from CI Financial.

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As for his CI Financial funds, Mr. Cooper owns the F class series, which excludes the trailer fees paid to financial advisers. F class funds are increasingly becoming available from brokerage firms (his were acquired when he worked at CI Financial). What he likes about them: The lower cost increases the odds that the portfolio managers will be able to outperform the market.

Mr. Cooper contributes to a defined-benefit pension plan at work. This allows him to take on more risk and invest a larger portion of his RRSP in equities. "I invest 30 per cent in Canadian equities, 30 per cent in U.S. equities, and 30 per cent in international equities, with the remaining 10 per cent in bonds," he reports.

Best move

"My best move was investing in my RRSP at a young age."

Worst move

"When I was a young and inexperienced, I invested $6,000 in an online high-yield investment program that promised returns of 12 per cent every 12 days. … But the website got shut down by the [Securities and Exchange Commission] and … I never received a dime back."

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Advice

"Leave stock picking to the pros."

Want to share your strategies? E-mail mccolumn@yahoo.com

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