Your 2015 Year-End Investment Checklist

With year-end quickly approaching, your "to do" list is likely to grow. Make sure a portfolio review is part of your list. Market volatility has increased and economic conditions are shifting, so now is an important time to assess your progress. Consider the following checklist as a guide.

  1. Perform a self-assessment and review your financial goals. Start by reviewing your financial goals and revisit your comfort level with risk. You want to take the amount of risk that is necessary to help achieve your long-term goals, without taking so much risk that you are uncomfortable with your strategy when volatility increases. Identify the balance that’s right for your situation.
  2. Account for the unexpected. Assess your cash position to ensure you have enough for unexpected or emergency events. At the same time, make sure you aren't sitting on too much in cash and GICs, as their low returns can raise the risk of a shortfall down the road. It's also a good idea to review your current insurance coverage to help ensure it continues to meet your family's needs.
  3. Write yourself a cheque. It's important to manage debt while saving enough to reach your goals. A systematic savings strategy can be key for investment goals such as preparing for retirement, although it does not ensure a profit or protect against loss. Check your monthly or yearly savings goal and ensure  that it's still in line to help meet your future needs. Make your full contribution to your RRSP or a spousal RRSP for 2015 and/or contribute to a Tax-Free Savings Account (TFSA) before year end. If you're living in retirement, evaluate your spending needs and compare them to the income your portfolio is providing to determine if any adjustments are appropriate.
  4. Regain your balance. Fluctuations in the market can cause your portfolio to drift from your intended mix of stocks and bonds. Periodic rebalancing can help keep your portfolio on track with your long-term strategy while helping to keep it aligned with your risk preferences and investment goals.
  5. Reinforce your portfolio's foundation. A year-end portfolio review can help identify gaps and areas that need attention, including ways to help reduce risks or take advantage of market opportunities. Reviewing your diversification and enhancing it if necessary, can help you portfolio weather short-term swings and market volatility although it does not guarantee a profit or protect against loss.

The end of the year can be busy — but an ideal time to review your financial situation, the alignment between your portfolio and your goals, and opportunities to adjust or capitalize on market fluctuations. 

Working with a financial advisor, you can identify actions you can take to help you prepare for the years ahead.

Stephen Bronn is a Financial Advisor with Edward Jones located at 447 Niagara Street in Welland. For more information, call 905-714-4313, email Stephen.bronn@edwardjones.com or visit www.edwardjones.com