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Tired of tenants, investor simplifying her holdings

Investor Betty Shields and her husband purchased 10 rental properties over the years, but have since sold most of them at a profit.

Betty Shields, 70



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The portfolio

Mutual funds and stocks, including Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc., Agrium Inc., Caterpillar Inc., and Nu Skin Enterprises Inc.

The investor

Betty Shields has been self-employed for most of her working life. Prior to her current partnership with a direct-sales firm, she owned three retail stores.

The mortgage on the family home was paid off by the time she turned 40, freeing up money to invest. She and her husband purchased rental properties at a rate of one a year for 10 years. "That was fine but a lot of work, as we self-managed," Ms. Shields reports.

Most of the properties have since been sold – at a profit, except for one. "At this point in my life, I'm tired of tenants," says Ms. Shields. She is content now to be in stocks and mutual funds.

Her investments

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"I've had my own investment portfolio for many years, and also work with a broker," Ms. Shields discloses. She feels her experience as a businesswoman comes in handy when picking stocks.

The focus at this stage, for the most part, is on maintaining the investment portfolio and carrying out administrative tasks, such as "simplifying and consolidating" holdings. A while ago, equities with capital losses were sold to offset capital gains incurred when a rental property was sold.

Learning through investment clubs

Memberships in investment clubs have provided "a great learning experience." Her first club invested in properties. "The only members who made money were the real estate agent and the lawyer … but I did learn from the other ladies and that was my goal."

Her current club invests in stocks. Most of the members have never run a business and she finds that the group's research "overfocuses on the financials and not enough on the company executives, founders and their mission statements."

Best move

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"Investing in companies I knew and trusted."

Worst move

Not staying with the family's first investment adviser. Her husband decided to transfer to another adviser that sold only mutual funds (although some good advice was provided on setting up a family trust).


"When choosing a stock, look at more than the financials. Also look at the management, company founders, what their goals are."

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