Naming a Trusted Contact Person: Why it Matters

As we age, we may experience a decline in health or cognitive capacity that could result in difficulty making financial decisions independently. Unfortunately, relying on the help of family members, caregivers and friends can increase the risk of financial exploitation and fraud. One way to safeguard against potential future financial harm is by naming a Trusted Contact Person (TCP).

Who is a Trusted Contact Person?

If you invest with a financial institution or investment firm, your advisor is required to ask you about providing a Trusted Contact Person (TCP). The decision to name a TCP is optional and it’s your choice if you would like to name someone. Providing your advisor with consent to contact your TCP is similar to providing them with an emergency contact. Depending on the consent you provide, your advisor could contact your TCP in the following circumstances:

  • You cannot be reached after repeated attempts and where failure to contact you would be unusual
  • The advisor has concerns you are being financially exploited
  • The advisor has concerns about mental capacity as it relates to your ability to make financial decisions
  • Your advisor needs confirmation of your legal representative (e.g. power of attorney, executor, trustee)

For example, your advisor may contact your TCP when they cannot reach you because you have taken an extended vacation and forgot to inform them. Or, in more sensitive situations, your advisor may contact your TCP to ensure the validity of a request that they believe is out of character.

What can and can’t my Trusted Contact Person do?

A TCP’s sole purpose is to help safeguard your financial assets by being an additional resource to help your advisor make decisions that best protect your account. Your advisor might contact your TCP to discuss:

  • Concerns about your mental capacity and ability to make financial decisions
  • Signs of financial mistreatment or abuse they’ve observed
  • Concerns that you are being scammed

Your TCP is different than a power of attorney. A TCP is not permitted to manage your finances or make financial decisions on your behalf.

Who should be your Trusted Contact Person?

A TCP should be a mature family member or friend who you trust, and you should feel comfortable that they can handle difficult conversations about your personal situation if they arise. Consider choosing someone you know will protect your interests, is familiar with your support network, and is not typically involved in your financial decisions. You should also ensure the person you select agrees to take on the role and is comfortable talking to your advisor.

While naming a TCP on your account is optional and not a legal process, it can provide you valuable peace of mind knowing that your advisor has someone you trust to help safeguard your financial assets now and in the future.

To learn more about assigning a TCP to your accounts, please visit our Investing as you age page or speak to your registered advisor.

Saving and investing towards your first home with the new Tax-free first home savings account (FHSA)

In a January 2023 poll conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of NerdWallet, nearly two-thirds of Canadians (67%) listed owning a home as a priority. For those with the financial goal of buying their first home, the Canadian government introduced the Tax-free first home savings account (FHSA) on April 1, 2023, to help Canadians over 18 save and invest towards home ownership.

The FHSA is a registered plan that allows you to save and invest up to $40,000 tax-free toward your first home purchase. Learn what you should consider before opening an FHSA account.

1) The FHSA offers the best perks of the RRSP and TFSA

The FHSA takes the best benefits of a Registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) and a Tax-free savings account (TFSA). Your contributions to your FHSA within a particular calendar year will also reduce your taxable income when you file your tax return. Unlike RRSPs, where your withdrawals are taxed as income, withdrawals from your FHSA to purchase your first home are tax-free, including all the investment income you may have generated in the account, like a TFSA. This allows you to maximize your savings towards your first home purchase while minimizing income tax.

2) The FHSA has annual contribution limits and qualifying withdrawals

For those wanting to use this newly registered account, the Government of Canada imposed limitations on how much you can save and invest in your FHSA before incurring penalties. Starting in 2023, Canadians can contribute up to $8000 in their FHSA yearly, with any unused contribution amounts carried forward to a max of $8000. Over-contributing to your FHSA will incur a 1% tax on the over-contributed amount each month unless brought below contribution limits.

To make a qualified tax-free withdrawal or series of withdrawals, you must be a first-time home buyer when you make the withdrawal(s). To qualify as a first-time home buyer, you must not have lived in a home you owned at any time during the part of the calendar year before the withdrawal is made or at any time in the preceding four calendar years. Any non-home related purchases may result in withdrawals being treated as taxable income.

3) You can combine your FHSA savings with the Home buyer’s plan

Before the FHSA was introduced, Canadians could use the Home buyers plan (HBP) to pay for a down payment. The HBP allows you to take up to $35,000 from your RRSP without taxation for your first home purchase. Any amount withdrawn through an HBP must be paid back to the RRSP within fifteen years or you lose the contribution amount from your RRSP and it is treated as taxable income. Combining the use of both accounts, potentially gives you access up to $75,000 in savings and investments towards your home purchase.

Saving and investing toward your first home purchase can be challenging, but leveraging the unique benefits offered by the newly introduced FHSA can help you reach your goal quicker and more efficiently than any other registered plan or account currently available.

Kicking off the new year with resolutions to strengthen your financial fitness

For many, the new year is a time for personal reflection and goal setting. These goals or resolutions could be to hit the gym more frequently or even read a new book every month. While these are admirable activities, the new year is also a great time for considering your wealth-building journey and setting mid and long-term financial goals. Learn four actions you can take to become more financially fit in 2023:

1) Pay down your debt

Consumer debt is a challenging burden that limits not only the money you can put towards investing for future goals but also limits your ability to afford the day-to-day cost of living. One of the best steps you can take is to develop a repayment plan for your credit card or other kinds of debt. Credit cards have an average interest rate of 19.99% (the annual percentage calculated daily and charged on any balances carried from month to month) meaning debt can quickly grow out of control if you let it. Paying down your debt every month allows more of your future earnings to be used elsewhere.

2) Create a rainy day fund

If the pandemic has reminded us of anything, it’s that the unexpected can happen and the better prepared we are, the better we can weather the storm. From your vehicle needing an unforeseen fix to an emergency home repair, creating a savings account or high-interest savings account to cover the curveballs life throws at you can be a game changer for your wealth-building journey. Slowly building up an emergency fund, equivalent to 3-6 months of income, can allow you to dedicate a larger portion of your money to investing while giving you the confidence that you won’t have to sell your investments early to cover an unexpected cost. Starting with just $25 a paycheck can net you $600 in emergency savings in a year.

3)Take advantage of your employer’s group RRSP plan

Thinking about something far off – like retirement – can feel daunting, but the earlier you start saving and investing for your golden years, the bigger the nest egg you will create for yourself. If your employer offers a voluntary group registered retirement savings plan, you can start investing for your retirement every month, and also take advantage of group plan benefits like investments with lower-cost fees. You may even be able to benefit from a match savings program in which your employer will also contribute to your plan. Once you enroll in your company’s program, you can sign up for automatic payroll deduction and take the guesswork out of routinely saving for your retirement years.

4) Invest in yourself before you invest your money

Much like physical exercise, the more you train yourself to be financially fit, the better success you will have in developing positive habits with your money and investing toward your long-term goals. Look for opportunities to strengthen your knowledge of money management and investing with credible and unbiased resources. The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has excellent information on debt and borrowing, managing your money and even mortgage calculators. Want to learn more about investing? Visit, brought to you by the Alberta Securities Commission to access unbiased information, tools and resources to help you learn to invest and avoid scams. You can even attend one of the many free programs on investing held throughout the province all year long, both online and in person.

The new year always brings excitement and the push to learn and advance. As you build out your areas for growth in 2023, consider including a few financial resolutions to help you spend consciously, invest wisely, and reach your financial goals today and for many years to come.


Investing smaller amounts over time or single lump sums: Understanding what approach is right for you.

When it comes to investing, one of the first questions many consider is whether it’s more beneficial to invest frequently in smaller amounts or single large sums. By understanding both strategies and their pros and cons, you can find an approach that works for you.

Dollar-cost averaging or DCA, is an investment strategy where you invest the same amount of money at regular intervals to reduce the overall impact of price volatility of the investment and lower the average cost per share. Regardless of the investment’s price, investors following the DCA approach will buy shares regardless of how the market or their investment is performing at that point in time.

Alternatively, lump sum investing involves taking all or a significant portion of your investable cash, and investing it all at once. It’s about putting your money to work as soon as possible and relying on compounding growth over the long term.

Let’s explore the benefits of both approaches:

Why dollar cost averaging might be right for you

It’s a way to get started

The process of just starting to invest can seem insurmountable and for many the thought that they do not have enough to make a difference in the long term can have them avoid the markets all together. Investing smaller amounts over a set period of time can be a good strategy to overcome this obstacle and build the assets you need to reach your financial goals without large sums of money.

Less guesswork

Contrary to lump sum investing, dollar cost averaging can help take some of the emotions out of investing by having you develop the habit of contributing consistently to your investments no matter what is happening in the market. This approach also helps you avoid the costly pitfall of trying to time the market in the attempt to chase greater returns.


Using the DCA approach allows you to integrate your chosen investment amount into your budget, strengthening the routine of investing on a continual basis. Another benefit is that you can automate the deposit of funds into your investment account and instruct your brokerage firm or adviser to invest the amount automatically.

Why lump sum investing might be right for you

Reduces chances of spending the money elsewhere

For some, it may be hard to dedicate money to their investments on a routine basis. Additionally, there may be temptation to spend the money elsewhere and forgo investing all together. By deploying a lump sum investment approach you avoid these risks and put your money to work immediately.

Decreased Costs

Brokerages and financial institutions often charge a fee for placing trades which can add up if investing using the DCA strategy. Lump sum investing doesn’t have the trading and transactions costs that can build up over time, helping to ensure more of your money is invested rather than lost to fees. It’s a good idea to review fees for brokerage firms and financial institutions before opening an investing account to ensure you work with one that has a fee structure that works best for you.

Dollar-cost averaging and lump sum investing both have their benefits and drawbacks. While it may feel like you need to choose one strategy over another, you can deploy a blended strategy. Commonly, wise investors will invest on a scheduled basis while also investing some or all of larger sums they may receive, like annual bonuses.

Regardless of the frequency and amount you decide to invest, focusing on your long-term financial goals and developing a dedicated approach can help set you up for success on your investment journey.

Achieving your short-term goals with high-interest savings accounts and guaranteed investment certificates

Thoughtful financial planning is what will determine your success as an investor. A good rule of thumb when planning is to organize your financial goals into three planning time horizons. These horizons typically include short-term goals that you want to achieve in the next six months to five years, medium-term goals that you want to achieve in the next five to ten years and long-term goals that you want to achieve in ten years or more. Investors often use a variety of different investments for medium and long-term goals because they have a longer period of time to recover from potential downturns before needing their money. When looking at short-term goals, where you may need to withdraw sooner and cannot afford to lose money on riskier investments, there are a couple of options to consider.

Understanding high-interest savings accounts (HISA) and Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GICs)

Short-term goals might include saving for a down payment on a new car you want in a few years, an exciting trip to Hawaii or even establishing an emergency fund. Regardless of your short-term goals, HISAs and GICs enable you to generate returns on your principal without exposing your money to the risk of loss.

As the name implies, HISAs are savings accounts that generally offer higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts. Whereas a normal savings account may have an interest rate of approximately 0.5-0.8 per cent, a HISA may have an interest rate of 1.5 to 2.25 per cent. This may not sound like much of a difference, but if you saved $10,000 in a savings account with a 0.8 per cent return and another $10,000 in a HISA offering 2.25 per cent, after five years your HISA would have generated a whopping $770 more than the traditional savings account.

GICs are another avenue for investors to save for short-term goals. By purchasing a GIC, you are locking away your money for a set amount of time to receive either a fixed or variable interest rate. While these rates can range from approximately 1.5-5.00 per cent, depending on how long of a term you select, the money becomes inaccessible until the term finishes. If you need the money sooner, you will often need to give advance notice and pay a penalty that can severely negate any returns you would have made.

What should you consider before using a HISA or GIC?

With guaranteed returns, it may seem like HISAs and GICs are the perfect investment, but there are things to consider:

1) Open vs Locked-in: HISAs allow you to access your money when needed, whereas GICs have your money locked in. Make sure you assess whether the liquidity of your money is important. For something like an emergency fund, you want to make sure you have immediate access.

2) Fluctuating interest rates: During times of high inflation like we are currently seeing, the Bank of Canada increases interest rates financial institutions can offer to incentivize Canadians to spend less and save more. If inflation decreases in the market, you can expect interest rates to lower on GICs and HISAs.

3) Neither are ideal for medium to long-term goals: While they are less risky than other types of investments, HISAs and GICs interest rates rarely surpass inflation (the yearly increase in the cost of goods and services). So while they are ideal for short-term goals, the purchasing power of your money will diminish over the medium and long term by using HISAs or GICs exclusively.

HISAs and GICs can be powerful tools in helping you reach your short-term goals. By considering when you need to utilize the money and how readily you will need access to it, you can choose the suitable one for you.


How to conduct fundamental analysis and invest wisely

Relying on social media platforms, self-proclaimed investing gurus and online forums for investment recommendations can be disastrous. Whether you’re assessing the potential of a company or analyzing your existing portfolio, fundamental analysis is the best barometer for gauging the true value of any investment. Learn the five key steps of conducting fundamental analysis and making informed investment decisions about companies you are interested in.

1. Review public reports – When you have found a company that best fits your investment objectives, the first step is to research and understand how the company makes money and any business risks it faces. You can gain a better understanding of that by reviewing public reports on the company’s website or those available on SEDAR (i.e. the filing database for the Canadian Securities Administrators) or EDGAR website (i.e. U.S Securities and Exchange Commission’s SEC filing database).

2. Understand the company’s financials – Once you feel confident in the company’s business, the next move is to understand the company’s financials. This information can be found in the company’s publicly available annual reports. These reports will help you learn about the company’s debt and obligations as well as its net income at the end of the quarter or year. Additionally, you can learn about the company’s return on equity, which can help you determine if it’s using its investment money responsibly.

3. Explore the company’s industry – Next, you want to explore the company’s business landscape. At this stage, you can learn about the innovations, disruptions, and opportunities facing the company’s industry. This is also a great time to understand the company’s competitors and whether it has the right products and services to compete.

4. Examine the company’s leadership – You should examine the company’s leadership, including board members and executive team. The purpose of this step is to understand if the company’s leadership has the right experience and management style to make the critical decisions for the company’s success.

5. Finalize your research with trusted and experienced resources – Once you have conducted all of the preceding steps, you can round out your research with additional insights and perspectives on the company. Utilizing information provided by reputable sources like Bloomberg News,, TMX.COM and, you can uncover any risks you may have missed during your research or additional growth opportunities. Remember to avoid the temptation of confirmation bias and consider all expert opinions and not just the ones aligned to your own opinion.

The excitement around investing continues to grow, with speculation, social media hype, and ongoing news coverage stoking frenzied investor sentiment. While fundamental analysis will never guarantee investment returns, it will help you move past the online noise and provide you with the knowledge to make informed investment decisions.

How financially fit are you?

The New Year has arrived and while health and fitness resolutions easily come to mind, have you considered how financially fit you are? Undue stress from your finances can have a negative impact on your health and wellbeing, but there are several actions you can take right now. Check out our tips to help set out your 2021 financial goals on the right foot!

1. Review and refresh.

Blue Monday gets its name for a reason. The holiday cheer has worn off and your first post-holiday credit card statements have arrived. Check what you spent against your budget and make a plan. The New Year is a fresh start and you can take this opportunity to assess your budget, revise your financial goals and create a plan to repay any debt. CheckFirst offers a wide variety of calculators, quizzes and worksheets that can help you evaluate and set your 2021 budget no matter where you’re starting.

2. Don’t let new goals overwhelm you.

If you’re setting out with new investment goals in 2021, don’t let them consume you. It can be easy to get lost in the sea of investment options, unfamiliar language and complex mathematical equations by yourself. If you’re looking for a crash course in investing that’s taught in plain language and easy to digest, consider the wealth of resources, quizzes and videos at so you pick the right investments for you and your financial goals.

3. Find the right fit. 

The root cause of financial stress can often be linked to a lack of information. If you aren’t working with a financial adviser, take some time to consider it. A relationship with the right financial adviser can help make you a more informed investor who is comfortable with their investment decisions. Before you work with anyone new, always be sure to check their registration and ask key questions to make sure they are right for you. With few exceptions, securities industry professionals are required to be registered with the securities regulator in the jurisdiction where they conduct business. Registration helps protect investors because securities regulators will only register firms and individuals if they are properly qualified, helping you to rest easy.

4. Break up with bad relationships.

Another big source of stress can stem from distrust in your investments or financial advisers. This year, once you’ve evaluated your finances and goals, don’t be afraid to end relationships that aren’t working for you. If an investment, financial partner or financial adviser isn’t providing what you need to feel comfortable and successful, don’t be afraid to speak up. Remember, they’re supposed to work for you.

5. Nothing is set in stone.

While goals can help you clearly define where you want to be, the path to get there isn’t cut and dried. Don’t be afraid to pivot on your financial plan, or change direction throughout the course of 2021 as needed. Your finances should be arranged so as to help you achieve your goals. If something is bringing you undue stress, now is the time to change it!

As you embark on your financial journey in 20121 don’t forget to visit for free, unbiased resources. Wherever you are in your investment journey, CheckFirst is your go-to website for financial knowledge and investing wisely.