Carving A Path To Retirement

Given all life’s demands, we believe retirement planning requires a more personal approach than ever before.

11.03.2020 - David Cieslowski, Vice President, Private Wealth Counselor

"Retirement planning demands a more personal approach than ever before.” - David M. Cieslowski

Arising out of the ninth annual Franklin Templeton Retirement Income Strategies and Expectations (RISE) Survey, this simple sentence is easily missed.1 Yet, as our conversation with David Cieslowski shows, they are weighty words holding the potential for a lasting impact.

Q: What is so important about this statement?

David Cieslowski:Take younger Boomers and older Gen Xers, who are focused on saving for retirement, as an example. Then look at some of the competing life demands they face. A lot of people are sandwiched between the financial and family responsibilities of elderly parents, and young adult children living at home or going to post-secondary school. Children who are having challenges launching careers. Given the high prices of real estate, many clients are helping family members buy a first home or condominium. This step is not new in itself, but the extent of the financial support certainly is. For the last few years, we have also seen large numbers of people in this age range face early retirement, not by their choice. This is ongoing across the country. Now COVID-19 has added a new level of uncertainty across many fronts, particularly with family-run businesses. With uncertainty comes anxiety. This is just one side of the story.

Q: What is the other?

David Cieslowski: Clients traditionally face numerous options and decisions about how much money to allocate, and where. Does paying down the mortgage make more sense than increasing RRSP contributions? How do you ideally add contributions to RESPs and a TFSA to the picture? What amounts should optimally be invested outside of any registered accounts? How do you maximize tax efficiencies across the board? What is the best way to manage any current debt load? COVID-19 has also highlighted the need for emergency funds. There are a lot of moving pieces that evolve over time.

This is where an ongoing holistic approach to retirement planning can help provide clarity, ease anxiety and introduce relevant next steps.

Q: Can you elaborate?

David Cieslowski: Our clients have busy lives with complex responsibilities. I do not know of an algorithm, or one-size-fits-all approach that can effectively answer large concerns and nuanced worries. When clients sit down with their advisor, important things happen. They are physically pausing to review today’s life circumstances, look at the numbers, set priorities and take practical steps with their goals in mind. This can involve small things, for instance, such as setting an RRSP contribution target at an amount that is just enough to shift their taxable income down to the next lowest tax bracket, and then applying the resulting savings elsewhere. It could also involve short-term adjustments—whether spending, investing or savings related—and provide insight on how the ripple effects of such decisions can be smoothed over the long term.

Alternatively, business owners may be making a concerted effort to keep more money in their company at this time. What does that mean for their personal wealth strategy and what steps make the most sense from both a tax and money management perspective?

From experience, we know vision, planning and disciplined steps are recurring themes behind the life, business and professional success of our clients. Those same qualities applied to a plan that truly reflects one’s current personal situation will help create some certainty in these tumultuous times.




1. “Retirement Income Strategies and Expectations (RISE) Survey,” Franklin Templeton Canada, January 31-February 11, 2020, Manmeet Bhatia, “Competing Priorities Impact Retirement Preparedness,” ADVISOR/ANALYST.COM, July 8, 2020,



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