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Event Review: Mutual Funds for the Self-Directed Investor

For many DIY investors, the idea of investing in the markets using mutual funds is somewhat of a controversial topic. So, it was interesting to see one of Canada’s largest online brokerages, TD Direct Investing, provide a webinar for DIY investors on the topic of mutual fund investing.

On the one hand, there’s no disputing the popularity of mutual funds as the dominant investment vehicle for many Canadian investors, especially on the managed wealth side of the spectrum. Mutual funds offer diversity and a ‘hands off’ approach that appeal to many non-DIY investors.

On the other, there’s the notion of cost – specifically that DIY investors can avoid the costs of products like mutual funds by choosing their own financial products or building their own portfolios.

Like all things related to investing, there are some interesting ‘grey areas’. There are (relatively) low cost mutual fund choices that might be appealing to some DIY investors and as such, this might be a webinar of interest to learn more about these products.

This webinar, produced by TD Direct investing and presented by Client Education Instructor, Jian Lu, offered a brief overview and introduction to the world of Mutual Funds (MFs).

The one-hour session included a 30-minute video on the basics of MFs followed by a live Q&A. There was also a walk through of TD’s online platform, WebBroker, so participants could see how costs, types, and other aspects of MF investing could be easily compared. The session moved along quickly and kept the viewer engaged and interested throughout, although it was clearly directed at novice investors.

That said, this webinar, while geared towards DIY investors, did not discuss (or even mention) one of the most popular categories of mutual funds for cost conscious investors – the TD e-Series. Instead, this webinar chose to discuss D-series funds, which are arguably a pricier version of the popular e-series product.

Screenshot of TD Direct Investing webinar – mutual fund series discussed.

Nevertheless, this webinar touched on a few issues that DIY investors might want to keep in mind if they plan to include MFs as part of their portfolios.

  • Fees are always a concern for the DIY investor, and MFs are no exception. This webinar discussed three kinds of fees including sales charges, trailers (commissions), and management expense ratio fees (MERs). They can add up quickly, and the DIY investor should check them out the MF to know what they are and whether the costs make this type of equity worth buying.
  • Mutual Funds are offered in different series. The D-series MFs are actively marketed to the DIY investor as they are, generally, cheaper to buy than other series (such as the A series). That said, TD Direct Investing also has e-Series funds (which were not discussed in the webinar) that may be less expensive than the D-series. In either case, there are still costs associated with MFs so there’s no free lunch.
  • MFs are not bought like stocks, in real time. Since they are a collection of equities, the price (technically the Net Asset Value or NAV) for any unit of a MF is determined after the bell. So, the ‘price’ you buy or sell the unit at is determined after the close of the trading day.
  • MFs are not meant for day trading, or for ‘market timing’. They are intended to be held, at least for a minimum period, and most funds will charge an early redemption fee (ERF) if they are sold too soon.

WebBroker, the TD Direct Investing platform that participants were walked through in the webinar, offers some good features that allow across the board price comparisons. One particularly interesting feature is that, when you do want to buy the MF, you can buy it by the number of stocks or by the amount of money you want to spend. You don’t have to work out either figure yourself, before making your sale or purchase.

Overall, the webinar was a helpful introduction to some of the MF choices available to DIY investors at TD Direct Investing. Given the complexity and diversity of MFs on the market, before getting started with any particular brokerage, it is probably a good idea to ask them about ALL the series you would have access to, not just the one’s they might prefer you to pay the most attention to. As a good reminder, when it comes to DIY investing, it pays to go the extra step in asking questions about what your options are.






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Event Review – 2014 Small Cap Conference Vancouver – Spring Edition

View from Small Cap Conference VenueWhile many have heard the saying ‘money never sleeps’ apparently money is also willing to blow off a spectacular spring day in Vancouver. Such is the sacrifice that die-hard investors were prepared to make as they attended the spring edition of the 2014 Vancouver Small Cap Conference.

Following the Recipe

As with conferences past, this conference followed a familiar format. The dance card featured 3 guest speakers and 7 company presentations providing investors and attendees with tips and ideas on investing in the small cap space. In keeping with tradition, there was also a frenzied refreshment break (a great lesson on supply & demand) and the usual prize draw to conclude the evening.

While the structure of the event was familiar, what stood out this time around was that almost all of the speakers were actually able to keep their presentations to the allocated time. It sounds trivial, but it was a big factor in making the night run smoothly.

For those that want to access the slide presentations for the show, they will be made available here in the near future.

In Good Company

Another noteworthy feature about this year’s conference was the diversity of investing ideas put forward by the companies in attendance. Even though Vancouver is typically ‘mining focused’ when it comes to investment conferences, there was a surprising variety in the presenting companies at the conference.

Here is a sample of the kinds of sectors or areas in which the presenting small cap companies were active:

  • Oil & Natural Gas (Arsenal Energy Inc – AEI:TSX)
  • Communications Network Support (NTG Clarity Networks Inc – NCI:TSX-V)
  • Mobile App Development (Brisio Innovations Inc – BZI:CSE)
  • Advanced Materials Development (California Nanotechnologies Corp. – CNO:TSX-V)
  • Gold Exploration (Manado Gold Corp – MDO:TSX-V)
  • Biotechnology (Solarvest BioEnergy Inc – SVS:TSX-V)
  • Payment Processing (TIO Networks – TNC:TSX-V)

In addition to the company presentations, one of the big draws for the conference was to hear the guest speakers provide their tips and insights on investing in the small cap space as well as to hear some of their suggested picks.

The three guest speakers at the conference included:

  • Brent Todd – Investment Advisor at Canaccord Wealth Management
  • Ryan Irvine – President KeyStone Financial Publishing Corp
  • Fabrice Taylor – Publisher of President’s Club Investment Letter

Here is a quick highlight reel of what each had to say:

Brent Todd

As the lead-off speaker, Brent Todd provided an overview of some of the big winners picked from conferences past in an effort to drive home the point that investing in small caps can be a lucrative exercise if done right.

For many investors, the sting of the financial crisis was enough to keep them out of stocks and especially out of junior companies. For Todd, however, the primary focus of his strategy has been reward and then managing risk and junior companies offer an attractive landscape in which to discover portfolio changing opportunities. He then offered up 8 points to explain his perspective on small cap investing.

Among the most interesting of the points was his opinion that small and microcap companies are often more reasonably valued than large caps and that financial statements for smaller companies are typically easier to follow than for much larger companies.

Both of these points underscore the importance of being able to do the research on companies and to be able to assess value – something that professionals and retail investors need to do in order to invest intelligently. In closing he offered up a ‘pick’ on Titan Logix (TLA on the TSX-V) as an interesting name to watch.

Tweet from Fabrice TaylorFabrice Taylor

Financial journalist and publisher of the President’s Club Investment Newsletter, Fabrice Taylor gave a much higher level of the value of the market place and the role of investors and brokerages.

In a nutshell, Taylor’s presentation positioned retail investors as ‘zebras’ and professional traders/brokers as ‘lions’ with the take home message being: if you’re not a lion, you’re a zebra.

It was an interesting take on the classic struggle between the little guy and the big players in that Taylor stated if the “zebras” work together, they can certainly get the lions to think twice about attacking.

Animal metaphors aside, the message that stood out from his presentation was “you’re gonna make a lot of money if you’re right” which, as any investor knows is much easier said than done.

Ryan Irvine

As a value investor, Ryan Irvine has consistently provided a well-reasoned approach for highlighting the kinds of companies that make for interesting investment opportunities.

At this particular point in the markets, however, Irvine made it known he was finding it more difficult to find “good” opportunities – a signal that perhaps valuation levels are getting less attractive. Nonetheless his one ‘pick’ to watch was High Arctic Energy Services (HWO on the TSX).

With the caveats about the current market in mind, Irvine offered up 5 tips for investors interested in ‘growth’ stocks:

  1. Take a deep breath – certainly there’s lots of noise but learn how to filter news and noise
  2. Select fewer stocks rather than many – in other words, focus on quality rather than quantity
  3. Layer into positions – it’s hard to time things just right, so gradual accumulation is the way to go
  4. Create a watch list – let the trade come to you, just make sure you get notified when it does
  5. Remember to take profits – taking money off the table ensures you’re reaping rewards for your risk

The Bottom Line

Like its predecessors, this edition of the Small Cap Conference stuck to its tried and tested recipe. For those interested in small caps or even thinking about small caps, conferences such as this one provide a unique opportunity to see how seasoned veterans in this space approach what many view to be an incredibly risky set of companies. We look forward to catching the next edition when they are back in Vancouver in the fall and watching the performance of the picks in the meantime.

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Digging, Dollars & Donuts – VRIC 2014 Event Review

Pic_EventReview_20140129_VRIC_Brochures_webIf there’s any good news to be found in the junior mining sector, it’s that those companies struggling to stay afloat are still around to struggle.  While the weight of negative news and uncertain forecasts still weighed on investors, this year’s Vancouver Resource Investment Conference (VRIC) nonetheless contained an interesting cross section of attitudes about where things in the junior mining space ‘go from here.’

Who Showed Up

As Western Canada’s largest junior mining & exploration conference, VRIC tends to pull in investors (both retail and institutional) interested in the companies in this sector.  In keeping with years past, this year’s conference was a two-day affair and featured a number of great guest speakers, company presentations, panel discussions and exhibitors.  Although attendance numbers were lower this year (~6000 investors, 2000-3000 exhibitor staff), many of the exhibitors were pleased with the crowd turnout.  In addition to the mining crowd, two discount brokerages had booths at this event: TD Direct Investing and Disnat (now Desjardins Online Brokerage). Unlike year’s past however, there were no really big conference promos although TD Direct Investing did have a draw for 2 hours of investing lessons 1 on 1 with one of their reps.

Pic_EventReview_20140129_CSE_Pavillion_webSome Highlights

A few noteworthy additions for this year included a couple of pavilions. The “Yukon” pavilion was abuzz with events and keynote speakers highlighting business development opportunities in the Yukon. As part of their rebranding campaign, the Canadian Securities Exchange (formerly the CNSX) had a very busy pavilion owing to the combination of some feature CSE listed companies, a big screen TV and an impromptu tailgate party during the Seahawks & 49ers game.  A great little guide was also produced this year by Cambridge House which contained the forecasts for 2014 from 18 thought leaders in the resource space. In addition to mining companies, media & analysts, there were a variety of organizations exhibiting covering everything from corporate social responsibility to crowd funding.

Digging In

Many attendees, exhibitors and speakers appear to agree that times for junior mining companies are bad.  As one mining company executive waiting in line for the conference said, “we’re hanging on by our fingernails.”   The attitude amongst company owners appeared to be, “if we’re fighting that means we’re not dead.”    Whether it’s resilience or denial, the mood amongst companies is to ‘hang on’ for as long as possible.

For investors in these companies, the case for mining and exploration companies spending valuable cash can seem somewhat tenuous.  On the one hand, if they’re not working with the cash, what is it doing? On the other, the timing for pushing forward on certain projects just doesn’t make economic sense.  The market seems equally as disoriented. For example, one mining company executive recounted when they announced that they’d shuttered their spending on exploration/development, they saw a bump in their share price.

Dollars Matter More Than Ever

In a challenging market such as this one, the laws of the investment jungle apply more than ever.  The strong will survive and the weak, no matter how ‘good’ the projects may be, will fall victim to either predators or circumstance.

What was interesting about this year’s VRIC is that there was a mix of both predator and prey in the same room.  Larger investors made no secret of their joy of being able to find undervalued and distressed assets. Analysts and guest speakers (even the usually bearish ones) also suggested that buying opportunities exist in quality companies/projects so long as you’re willing to do the homework to find them.  Perhaps that was cold comfort to some of the strategically weaker companies.  Still doing homework is part of the investment process. To that end, there were many analysts as well as several of the companies in the room, most notably Tickerscores, who have emerged with some interesting tools to help make the job of screening & identifying promising candidates substantially easier.

Pic_EventReview_20140129_VRIC_Donuts_webDo(nut) be Fooled

One of the great tips from the Tickerscores presentation for those interested in the junior mining & exploration space was to question management about how much cash the company has (not just the cash from financing either) to ride out this storm.  For investors, it is best to be aware that many company representatives report ‘sugar coated’ versions of events so be sure to do careful analysis of the company, ask management pointed questions and assess the sector  before considering these investments.

What’s in Store for 2014

Despite the lower turnout, this year’s VRIC crowd was especially enthusiastic to hear popular analysts/speakers giving their reasons to stay out of or dip into these markets.  While investors wait and watch to see what 2014 brings to the junior mining space, Cambridge House announced that investors can now also look forward to a tech investment conference (Cantech) being brought to Vancouver in June (June 12, 2014) shortly after the World Resource Investment Conference.   Either way, for those still in the game by their fingernails, it’s going to be a long winter ahead.

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Canned Fruit, Concrete & Carats: Vancouver Small Cap Conference 2013 Review

What do canned tomatoes, concrete and multi-carat diamonds have in common? They were among the investing opportunities discussed at this year’s Small Cap Conference in Vancouver.

The Small Cap Conference has traditionally been a smaller sized conference that provides investors the opportunity to learn about investing in small cap companies.  In keeping with previous conferences, the event was held in the eventing and structure of this year’s conference featured keynote speakers and company presentations.

This year, Ryan Irvine (Keystone Financial) and Brent Todd (Canaccord Genuity Wealth Management) both returned as keynote speakers and they discussed how they assess investing opportunities with small cap companies.  In addition, Ryan Glasser (Orefront Communications/Vadar) provided an update on the equity financing research tool Vadar one year after its roll out.

Keynote speakers

Getting a perspective from seasoned investors is a great way to put company presentations into context.  The two speakers did a great job of focusing in on some key points for attendees to pay attention to when thinking about investing in small cap companies.

Ryan Irvine

As was his usual style, Ryan Irvine provided a great context for investors looking to learn about and understand investing in small caps from a value-based perspective.  His read on the opportunities in the small cap space was that investing opportunities exist but they will be harder to spot given significant run up in small cap stocks over the past year.  Even so, one of the important tips offered by Ryan Irvine was to focus on the earnings per share when looking at a small cap company.  Growth in revenue is important but investors should not forget to be clear on what the shareholder gets out of a company’s revenues.  Some of the companies Irvine mentioned were High Arctic Energy Services (TSE:HWO), Parex Resources (TSE:PXT) and Enterprise Group (TSE:E)

Brent Todd

The presentation by Brent Todd echoed his sentiments from last year’s conference.  Specifically, he mentioned that investors sitting on the sidelines are only going to be there for so long given the current low interest rate environment. Those investors that have jumped into the markets over the past year, according to Todd, have probably had a decent run.  Some of the names quoted by Todd last year, such as WestJet or Rifco, however, have done more than “decently” since the last conference.  The key take-home messages from Todd’s presentation were that participation in the markets is required to capitalize on the gains.  Clearly there are real risks of financial loss when investing, however there also are positive “portfolio changing” opportunities to be found.   The key is to understand that it is possible to take some risk to make the reward – however large or small those rewards may be.  Names of interest mentioned by Brent Todd included Rifco(CVE:RFC) and Questor Technology (CVE:QST).

Company Presentations

This year’s company presentations represented an interesting mix of sectors and companies.  On the whole, the presentations were interesting and the speakers delivered a good portrait of their respective companies.

In all, 7 companies (listed below) presented and provided attendees with an overview of what their companies do, and what the investment opportunities and risks were in their business.

  • Greenstar Agricultural Corporation
  • CEMATRIX Corporation
  • Rock Energy Inc
  • VMS Ventures & North American Nickel
  • Diamcor Mining Inc.
  • Iplayco Corporation Ltd

Having the two keynotes precede the company presentations was nice as it allowed attendees to listen out for the “bottom line” to the investor in the company’s pitch.

Overall Impressions

This year there might be a signal that the appetite of retail investors for investing in the markets has improved – even over and above the lure of free food.

Official attendance figures came in slightly under 200 attendees – for those that came in late though, free seats were a rare commodity.  While modest in size, this year’s crowd seemed more enthusiastic to stick around than last year’s.  Equally impressive was that the attendees made the decision to come out on a Tuesday evening (sorry cheap movie night).

Numbers aside, it was the small, indirect measures of the crowd sentiment that were of particular interest.  In previous years the refreshment table was the center of attention at break time however this year it seemed like more individuals opted to chat with the exhibitors rather than fight the mob for a free snack.  In addition, the gift cards chosen (in order) by the winners were from Home Depot, Canadian Tire, Tim Horton’s and The Keg.

If these small measures are any indicator, it looks like investors are more focused on building winners rather than sitting back and celebrating them.

To learn more about upcoming conferences, you can check out the Small Cap Conference website or check out our investor education/conference calendar here.

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Bulls, Brew & Bottoms: Review of the Vancouver World Resource Investment Conference 2013

World Resource Investment Conference 2013This year’s World Resource Investment Conference (WRIC) in Vancouver came a bit earlier in the calendar than last year’s conference against the backdrop of a mining and exploration market fraught with pain and nervousness. In the mining sector, hope seems to be the rare commodity everyone is looking for these days.

The two-day WRIC featured the standard recipe of resource companies exhibiting and presenting, familiar speakers from Cambridge House conferences past and of course, the big bull.   Unlike previous conferences, however, this year’s WRIC felt like a much smaller show.  Attendance figures showed that close to 3700 individuals attended the conference this year which is down considerably from 2012.

Speakers and exhibitors also pointed out the smaller crowds this time around. One of the more popular speakers often present at Cambridge House shows, Danielle Park, remarked that the small numbers of attendees at this past conference are a far cry from the height of investor fervor during 2007.   As a follow up to that statement, however, she pointed out that fewer investors in the conference may actually be a healthy albeit contrarian indicator that the business cycle in junior mining and exploration stocks is working itself out.

From many of the talks, the sentiment appears to have shifted from denial of bad news to acceptance. As any seasoned investor knows, when it sounds like other investors are throwing in the proverbial towel, it is probably a good time to start looking over the merchandise to see what might go on sale.

Despite the widely acknowledged doom and gloom, there were a number of bright spots throughout the conference.  For attendees, this year’s speakers offered a great mixture of colourful analysis and opinion. In particular, the closing panels on both days saw spirited debates about the future of venture capital funding for junior companies (day 1) and an especially fiery closing panel on the world outlook (day 2) that saw outspoken personalities Rick Rule and Danielle Park exchange clever quips across the panel table, some of which landed on Marin Katusa who was seated between them.

Also spotted at the conference were a couple of the usual discount brokerage suspects, TD Direct Investing as well as Disnat.  What was particularly noteworthy was the promotion by TD Direct Investing that has yet to be widely launched. They have jumped into the ‘free trades’ game and will be offering up to 50 free trades to new clients between now and mid-July.  Check out our deals section here to find out more.   Disnat was also offering an ‘unadvertised’ deal which was being offered during their SCATE tour. The big lures for the Disnat deal are a 1 year subscription to Tyler Bollhorn’s daily alert newsletter and $300 in commission rebates. For more details on this deal, click here.

Other interesting bright spots included the Rocks to Riches course preview in which attendees could learn about some of the important concepts within geology by doing some hands on (experiential) learning.  This course is likely going to be offered in January 2014 at the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference. For more information on it, click here.Visual Capitalist Beer

Lastly, Visual Capitalist, an innovative Vancouver communications firm that creates fun and informative infographics (and apparently craft beer too) on a number of commodity and mining-related topics , is launching the beta-test of their new mining and exploration company comparison tool: TickerScores.  This tool aims to tackle making the difficult process of scanning and researching mining and exploration stocks much more intuitive and far less time-consuming.  To learn more about this neat tool, check out the link here.

The upcoming summer months will provide many answers to the predictions made by the analysts and experts at this conference as to the fate of many cash-strapped junior companies.  This lines up nicely with the timing of the last of the Cambridge House conferences in Canada in 2013, the Toronto Resource Investment Conference to be held in September.  Of course, for those investors and companies hoping for a market bottom, how they manage to stomach these next few months will be worth hearing about in September.

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Event Review – World MoneyShow Vancouver – April 2013

World MoneyShow VancouverThis year’s Vancouver World MoneyShow turned out to be a little different than most others. The exhibiting space felt a bit smaller than usual, the lineups took a bit longer and the schedule a bit less punctual.  As it turned out, this year’s MoneyShow would be the one in which this franchise would announce its Canadian retirement.

The big announcement the MoneyShow franchise would be exiting the Canadian market came as a surprise to many. With one more stop to go in Toronto this upcoming October, the MoneyShow organizers said they have enjoyed their time in Canada and will turn over their Canadian show back to the predecessor of the MoneyShow in Canada – the Financial Forum.  Charles Githler, Chairman and Co-Founder of the MoneyShow will be taking the reins for the Financial Forums next year and when we spoke to him at the show, he hinted that something bigger and brighter would be coming next year.

A small (26) and eclectic mix of companies, organizations and services exhibited this year ranging from multibillion dollar energy giant Royal Dutch Shell to consultants offering grant funding tips.  By far the most popular booth was the ‘crack the safe’ promotion held by MoneyShow which offered attendees the chance to punch in a code on a safe for a chance to win the $50,000 it contained.   There was also the usual assortment of promotional items and conference swag. Aside from some interesting pens and rubber ducks, nothing really stood out this year as being very cool conference loot.

Surprisingly, there were three discount brokerages in attendance and one notable absence. TD Direct Investing, National Bank Direct Brokerage and Interactive Brokers all attended the conference this year, however a regular at these conferences, Disnat, did not.  The discount brokerage’s booths varied in their ‘bells and whistles’ and giveaway items. TD Direct Investing’s booth was located in the prime real-estate – right at the entrance to the conference. They had their platforms on display as well as an army of staff to handle questions.  In contrast, Interactive Brokers took a no-frills approach with a lone rep, some brochures and a laptop. National Bank Direct Brokerage was offering their standard ‘hand sanitizer’ (a practical piece of conference gear after all that hand-shaking) as well as a special deal on trading commissions for new account sign ups (the details of which we’ll be posting in our deals section here).

One of the brighter spots of the conference was the assortment of interesting speakers discussing everything from market cycles and seasonality to exploration opportunities to personal finance and everything in between.

Bruce Sellery, personal finance author and owner of Moolala, gave an energetic and thought-provoking series of tips to help Canadians better approach their own financial management.  Other interesting speakers, such as Peter Hodson (of Canadian MoneySaver and 5i Research) gave investors some interesting food for thought about the mutual fund industry as well as important signs to look for when assessing investing opportunities. Most notable among those tips: “pull the weeds and water the flowers” when it comes to managing your portfolio’s winners and losers.  Marin Katsua of Casey Research also shared his dour forecast of the next few months in the mining and exploration space as well as his fascinating case for the energy market potential in Europe.

Overall, participants, speakers and exhibitors seemed to characterize Vancouver’s MoneyShow as a bit slower and smaller than usual. The MoneyShow’s formula of speakers, exhibitors and giveaways nonetheless provided something unique to attendees. Hopefully the Toronto show can be a chance for the Financial Forums to provide Canadian self-directed investors with a glimpse of greater things to come.

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Event Review – Equity Strategy Using ETFs with iShares Canada – Scotia iTrade

This one hour webinar organized by Scotia iTrade covered quite a bit of ground on how exchange-traded funds (ETFs) can be used as part of a number of different portfolio and investment strategies.  The presenter for this session was Steve Eng, an associate at iShares, who did a great job of leading attendees through how ETFs can be used in many portfolio management scenarios.

Two key takeaways from the session were:

  1. Make sure to do your due diligence. When considering an ETF, investors should ensure they understand what the ETF holds, what the mandate of the particular fund is and what fees are involved.  This has implications for helping to manage both risk and expectations.
  2. ETFs can be used as a tactical tool.  There are lots of ways in which ETFs can be used as part of investment strategies. For example, they can be used to focus on specific sectors, countries or asset classes. The diversity of ETFs means that there is some choice when trying to build a portfolio around a strategy or idea.

The Q&A session was also handled well, with a number of questions around tax implications of foreign income and dividend reinvestment programs (which iShares have recently introduced).

As a cautionary note for individuals attending sessions like these, while presenters may have expertise or knowledge in one area, such as ETFs, it can be difficult to get reliable answers when asking questions about taxation to the speakers as they are not certified tax experts.

The lesson for do-it-yourself investors is not to avoid asking the questions, but rather to ensure that you verify the information you gather with a professional, such as an accountant, on what the tax implications are of your ETF investment strategies.

To learn more about the different webinars/seminars for do-it-yourself investors, check out our investor education calendar, which lists the different events being run by various discount brokerages.

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Event Review – 2013 Vancouver Resource Investment Conference – Cambridge House International

Continuing in its tradition of providing a forum for investors to connect with resource and exploration companies, great speakers and one another, the 2013 edition of the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference by Cambridge House International was by many accounts, a successful event.

The official numbers reported over 10,000 individuals in attendance over the two days, taking in just over 500 companies, 50 speakers and 130 company presentations.  Some of the highlights of this year’s show were a treasure hunt and an art exhibition and of course, the iconic bull.  The presentations ranged from topics as diverse as gold market manipulation to mining on asteroids ensuring there was something entertaining, relevant and engaging for all types of investors to think about.

Even though the junior mining sector was well represented at this show, there were some heavyweight names in the room, such as Silver Wheaton and Detour Gold.  Interestingly, the combined market capitalization of the top 6 companies was about equal to the combined market cap of 230 other companies present, so there was no mistaking the room was full of companies hopeful to grow.   Our pre-show analysis showed that about 80% of the companies exhibiting were precious metals-related companies, highlighting the popularity of these metals in spurring companies looking to cash in on the historically high prices of gold and silver.  Of course, one of the burning questions on the mind of many investors is why, in spite of the performance of gold prices, share prices of producers and explorers of gold have not rallied in step – questions that were tackled by several speakers.

While a conference dedicated to resources and exploration will usually have a lot of junior companies jockeying to tell their story, there were a couple of noteworthy speakers, such as Brent Cook, Sid Rajeev and Danielle Park that painted a picture in numbers that put the enthusiasm of the conference floor into perspective.  A common thread among many speakers was that a lot of junior mining companies are facing challenging times raising money or have to confront increased costs to exploration.

The bottom line: there is good data suggesting investors have to work harder to understand what they’re stepping into, especially in the commodity space, because many companies around today may not be around by year’s end.

In spite of the darker clouds, there were some ‘silver’ linings.   The treasure hunt put on by Visual Capitalist managed to literally net some lucky conference attendees pieces of silver.  Also, the sentiment from exhibitors we polled was positive overall.  On twitter, the comments we measured from exhibitors, attendees and media were also mostly positive.

Overall this conference was a great experience filled with lots of walking as well as opportunities to meet and engage with junior mining and exploration companies.  The Cambridge House conference tour will return to Vancouver in May for the World Resource Investment Conference, however between now and then there will be shows in Calgary (April 5/6) and Saskatoon (April 19).  It will be interesting to see how many of the forecasts play out between now and the next time the show comes to town.

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Event Review: Stock Chatter – TD Waterhouse Discount Brokerage

We recently attended a roundtable event provided by TD Waterhouse Discount Brokerage entitled “Stock Chatter” at their downtown Vancouver Investor Centre.

This educational session lasted an hour and a half and provided the audience with an overview of current stock  market conditions and  two different approaches to equity valuation. The presentation also covered two case studies that provided a better understanding of stocks and important variables to consider when choosing them. The session also included opportunities for the audience  to ask questions.

Two different approaches to equity valuation that were covered were Discounted Cash Flow Techniques and Relative Valuation Techniques.

Discounted cash flow techniques covered the following topics:

  • Present value of dividends
  • Present value of operating free cash flow
  • Present value of free cash flow to equity

The relative valuation techniques covered included:

  • Price/Earnings ratio
  • Price/Cash Flow ratio
  • Price/Book Value ratio
  • Price/Sales ratio

Questions about both topics were answered well by the presenter

Another important subject covered during the session was the return on equity  (ROE), which is composed of profit margin, total asset turnover and financial leverage.  ROE is a measure of a firms profitability and is often known as a way of measuring the performance for shareholders. [Note: to learn more in detail on measures of company profitability and financial statements, click here]

Overall, the session was very informative and well structured. The presenter encouraged the audience to ask questions and was able to successfully answer them. Despite the small audience, discussions were informative and beneficial. The presenter also provided the audience with various handouts including presentation slides, charts and a dividend-focused report.

We were informed that the TD Waterhouse discount brokerage roundtable events would take place at the Investor Centre in downtown Vancouver on the first Wednesday of the month(excluding January)

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Event Review: Everything You Need to Know About Income Investing- TD Waterhouse Discount Brokerage

We recently attended the educational seminar by TD Waterhouse discount brokerage entitled “Everything You Need to Know About Income Investing” at the downtown Vancouver investor centre.

This lunchtime session provided attendees with an overview of different fixed income investment vehicles such as corporate bonds and convertible bonds.  In addition, the session also touched on preferred shares as well as dividend-paying companies.

According to the presenter, when deciding on companies to invest in, self-directed investors should consider the following three points:

  • The business model of the company: is it a conservative pipeline company or a more speculative energy company?
  • What is the yield that the company pays to its investors: is it healthy and sustainable that historically pays on time?
  • What is the dividend growth of the company: has it shown a steady growth over the years?

During the session, some examples were covered in order to provide a better understanding of the power of dividend growth.

Both conservative and growth income portfolio types were also explained and exemplified during the session along with recommendations on what these portfolios should consist of.

Finally, the session offered  the following list of investment planning tips:

  • Focus on asset allocation, diversification, investment selection and ongoing monitoring
  • Have a strategy in place
  • Have a disciplined approach
  • Focus on risk-adjusted returns and not ‘performance’
  • Rely on cash flow for income, not capital growth
  • Focus on tax-efficient income
  • Protect against inflation
  • Conduct a thorough yearly portfolio assessment
  • Have your portfolio managed professionally
  • Pay reasonable fees

For newcomers to investing, this TD Waterhouse presentation was full of useful information. The presenter encouraged the audience to ask questions and was well informed in answering them all throughout the presentation. The examples provided during the session were also very useful in order to provide a better idea about the concepts and how they actually work in real life.