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    March 2017
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    Don Shaughnessy

    My goal is to develop, present and explain methods to achieve more income and larger capital values using tax advantaged structures, products and methods.

    The ability to deliver these outcomes have been developed as the result of experience gained in public accounting, life insurance sales and training and consulting services relating to capital acquisition and transfer questions.

    I have well developed written and presentation skills in the areas of seminars, keynote addresses, short articles and research documents.

    I have developed and presented seminars and course material for a wide variety of organizations ranging from The CIBC to BDC and from the Ontario Federation of Agriculture to The Canadian Bar Association.

    Teaching experience includes lecturing at community college, various insurance industry professional development courses and professional development courses for the Ontario Institute of Chartered Accountants.

    I have participated in more than 50 television shows related to financial planning and have authored upwards of 200 articles on taxation and financial planning


    Business structure, personal estate structures, strategic planning, life and living benefits insurance.



    Don Shaughnessy's Recent Articles

    What Must Be True For A Plan To Work?

    In developing a plan to attach financial parameters to your life plan, at some point you must begin a success algorithm.   A process that studies your wishes and resources and then asks a simple question. What must be true for this to play out as I wish?  How long must I live?  How long […]


    Mistakes Happen

    “Every great mistake has a halfway moment, a split second when it can be recalled and perhaps remedied.”  — Pearl Buck I think the quote is particularly revealing.  It certainly describes accurately what many of us know intuitively.  But not so many mistakes are recalled.  Why? Recalling the mistake requires a course change. Most people […]

    Posted: June 2nd, 2014 under General.
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    There Are Varieties of Unknown

    “Fear the unknown” is not very good advice. The unknown is just that, unknown.  Could be good, could be bad, could be boring.  You need to know how to make it become part of the known and how to retain the knowledge.  That will require an open mind, curiosity and some effort. As with most […]

    Posted: May 27th, 2014 under Estate Planning.
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    Planning Balances Life

    “Money is like gasoline during a road trip. You don’t want to run out of gas on your trip, but you’re not doing a tour of gas stations. You have to pay attention to money, but it shouldn’t be about the money.”   – Tim O’Reilly. Road trips are not primarily about gasoline and life is […]


    The Best Measure

    I came upon a map of Europe recently that was organized to show how many beers you could buy in each country with one month of minimum wage.  It reminded me of my university days. How is it possible that a calculus text book costs three cases of beer?  Madness! The point is that if […]

    Posted: May 12th, 2014 under Financial Planning.
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    I am a proponent of not asking “Why?” Based upon new information I am prepared to reconsider. I believe that why is a bad question any time you are discussing someone’s actions or behavior.  People have automatic negative reactions.  Why did you not do your homework, will always get a defensive answer.  Why did you […]

    Posted: May 6th, 2014 under Personal Finance.


    How Much Is A Pension Worth?

    Somewhere between a little and a very large amount.  It depends. There are reasons for the difference even when circumstances appear similar. One reason is that pension plans come in several flavors.  An employer can define how much you put in and then they match it, or an employer can define how much they will […]

    Posted: April 28th, 2014 under Pension, Personal Finance.
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    Change? What Change?

    I have, for about 15 years, tried to understand why investment returns tend to be the way they are. I have noticed that over long periods the stock market moves in a very narrow growth trough. In my view there must be an attractor that makes the rate the one we see. This is background.  […]


    Providing For Disabled Children

    Having a disabled child is a both a blessing and a burden and about which most of us have no real idea.  One of the concerns parent share is how to assure enough money for the child beyond their own death. In Canada, a recent (2007) initiative is the Registered Disability Savings Plan (RDSP)  This […]

    Posted: April 14th, 2014 under Children.
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    Regulation Feels Good, But

    The need for regulation of financial advisors arises from an abdication of responsibility by the people who may suffer the greatest cost.  That cannot end well. There are two thoughts that matter. The client is the sole planner, everyone else is a helper.  If the client cannot prepare their own plans, at least in general, […]

    Posted: April 7th, 2014 under General.
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    A Cruel Choice

    Why pay attention to convergence?  Maybe because it matters, as in “poorly handled it might kill you.” People have known for some time that retirement is life-threatening.  Some professions more than others, but no one is immune.  I once had a client ask if she could collect on newly-retired husband’s life insurance if she killed […]

    Posted: April 2nd, 2014 under Financial Planning.


    Learn From A Billionaire

    Dovi Frances of Malibu California recently delivered a $201 million life insurance policy to a billionaire client.  What does his client understand that most others do not? Malcolm Forbes, the owner of Forbes Magazine died 24 February 1990.  He left his estate in good order and with enough liquidity that there were no forced sales […]

    Posted: March 24th, 2014 under Estate Planning, Insurance.


    Common Sense Reporting

    Do financial planners really expect people to read and understand their reports? If the answer is, “No” then the cover letter must communicate the complete thought. Think of the cover as the strategic communication. Your recommendations will be tactical and connected to the strategies developed by the client and clarified in your work. Here is […]

    Posted: March 17th, 2014 under Financial Planning.


    Build Wealth On Purpose

    Building great wealth is not easy and most people have insufficient motivation and persistence and too few of the skills.   As an alternative though they should learn what they need to become wealthy enough. Wealthy enough is the amount that gives you the comfort, the security and a margin for error that you wish to […]

    Posted: March 11th, 2014 under Financial Planning.


    Managing The Cap

    Cowboys owner Jerry Jones: “Free-agency busts hindered Super Bowl chances” Jerry’s problem is just like yours. Previous commitments limit your ability to accomplish what you would like in the future. The headline was atop a recent Sports Illustrated story. NFL teams, like the Dallas Cowboys, are subject to a salary cap. If a high salary […]


    Why Be Disciplined?

    Yaman Saleh, founded a LinkedIn group called The Trader and while still small, I have found it to be among the more worthwhile.  You should consider joining here.  Yaman is a polymath and has good instincts as a group manager.  One of his good instincts is that he comments on articles I publish. Recently I […]

    Posted: February 24th, 2014 under Financial Planning, General.
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    Instant Success Takes a Long Time

    The Beatles came to America February 7, 1964 and played the Ed Sullivan Show two nights later.  73 million people watched.  45% of all American households with a television tuned in.  Just slightly lower than the rating for the 2014 Superbowl.  For those who saw it, it is a marker on their life line.  Where […]

    Posted: February 17th, 2014 under Financial Planning.
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    Do Advisers Add Value?

    People never question your price; they question your value.  It follows then that people who believe that investment management fees are too high, must be questioning value. The critics of the industry argue that many advisers are merely salespeople with a technique and a story.  That could be true, but it is seriously incomplete. If […]

    Posted: February 10th, 2014 under General.


    Volatility Can Hurt You

    You cannot ignore rate of return volatility if you are projecting over long periods.  I recently saw a piece that put forward the idea that volatility costs yield if there are withdrawals during the period.  It seems reasonable that over the long haul, volatility could not possibly help you if you were taking money out […]


    Price Does Not Indicate Value

    Price, by itself, is a poor indicator of value.  Things have a lower price for a reason and the reason is that you are buying less.  If you do not know the excluded parts, there is no way to assess value   The result of the “price describes value” mistake is in this common wisdom, […]


    Traders Are Not Investors

    “Animal Spirits” is a concept that Keynes raised in his 1936 book, The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money.  It refers to the tendency of markets of all types to move based on non-fundamental factors.  Market sentiment is the current idea.  Crowd psychology. Looking at the markets as a whole over long periods, we […]

    Posted: January 13th, 2014 under General, Investments.
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    Money and Teenagers

    What does your teenager know about money and what should they know? Success with money begins early and is a skill that grows with experience.  You need to participate to learn.  Like golf, you cannot learn it from a book or a DVD.  Books and DVDs can help but the important parts are experienced. There […]


    Yes You Can

    Leadership is an uneven skill.  Except for the command and control form, you cannot impose leadership on others.  Things that are imposed are opposed.  Leadership success is more about helping others to succeed by clearing obstacles from their path. One of the important obstacles to remove is the person’s innate insecurity.  Most weak leaders enhance […]

    Posted: December 30th, 2013 under General.
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    A Deeper View Of The Market

    Finding cause and effect in the stock market is a fool’s game. There are way to many variables and there are people in the equation too.  Individually, people are almost fully unpredictable.  Nonetheless finding tendencies with the crowd as background may be useful. As a case in point here is a graphic of the S&P500 […]

    Posted: December 23rd, 2013 under Investments.
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    Another Shopping Alternative

    “Support Your Local Sheriff” is a 1969 comedy starring James Garner.  It grossed $5,000,000 which, strangely, was enough to justify a 1971 sequel, “Support Your Local Gunfighter.”  Perhaps the “Support Your Local ______ ” is a theme that resonates, or maybe better, used to resonate. In this day of the huge Walmart or Costco or […]

    Posted: December 9th, 2013 under General.
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    The Swiss Franc and US Dollar and Gold

    I have always liked the Swiss Franc.  Even in high school I knew about the Swiss and their inherently future oriented and conservative society.  For many people now the Swiss economic standards are the ideal. It is interesting to go back 60 years or so and to see how the United States and the Swiss […]

    Posted: December 2nd, 2013 under Investments.
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    Protecting Disabled Heirs

    Many people have heirs who are disabled and in Ontario eligible for the Ontario Disability Support Program. (ODSP)  This program is valuable and parents should make efforts to be sure that it continues to be available for their child after they have passed. It is possible to lose eligibility based on the child’s income and […]

    Posted: November 26th, 2013 under Personal Finance.


    More On Decisions

    All decisions include an element of risk.  That is why some people have trouble with them.  Even people who deal with the risk part effectively and presumably make “better” decisions are sometimes wrong to do it the way they do. For the weak decision makers, notice that a decision that can be reversed at no […]


    The Banks Will Take You Part Way

    For many small businesses, especially young ones, bank financing is a key part of the financial structure.  It will pay you to understand how it works, what limits there may be, and what you can do to make it work better for you. First of all, you need to notice that banks are not risk […]

    Posted: November 12th, 2013 under Banks.
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    Wither Interest Rates

    Knut Wicksell had quite a lot to say about how interest rates work. He was born in 1851, died in 1926 and was an economist who influenced both the Austrians Hayek and Von Mises and at the same time Keynes. He is a resource in at least six economic schools of thought. Clearly a useful […]

    Posted: November 4th, 2013 under Investments, Personal Finance.
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    Do Index Funds Always Beat Managed Funds?

    Posted on October 28, 2013 by Don Shaughnessy Maybe not. It will behoove you to notice the parameters. It is a tenet of my life belief system that it is better to know nothing than it is to know something that I believe to be true but which is in fact untrue. When I know […]

    Posted: October 28th, 2013 under Financial Planning, Investments.
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    Planning To Go To The Moon

    After proposing the rough idea to congress in May, 1961, on 12 September 1962 while visiting Rice University, John F. Kennedy said, “We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that […]

    Posted: October 21st, 2013 under Financial Planning.


    When Should Succession Planning Begin?

      There is no definitive answer. For some it begins before children are born. For others it is a last minute thing. For more still, it never happens. Does it matter? Likely. Because, there will be a succession of every business. No one has yet lived forever. Not everyone wants to run a business forever. […]


    When People Don’t Play Nicely With You

    A couple of weeks ago, I watched two of my grandchildren, who are cousins, playing. The 3-year-old wanted to play on a small teeter-totter, the 2-year-old would not. The older one was upset about that. He liked the toy and wanted to play, but being upset about his failure, did not improve his chances much. […]

    Posted: October 7th, 2013 under Communications.


    What To Do Until The Financial Planner Gets There

    What are the basic first steps of financial planning? These are the ones that require no particular knowledge or skill. They are the things that everyone can and should do and few actually do. They are fundamental but not always fun. Let’s see what is there. Life is about time. If you get a lot […]

    Posted: September 30th, 2013 under Financial Planning.
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    Do You Know What Poor Means?

    I have previously written about how a well defined problem is half solved and about how bureaucracies survive.  Defining the problem carefully is  an advantage for most of us.  There is a simple assumption in this belief.  That when the problem is solved you will go away and leave it alone. Not so for bureaucracies. […]

    Posted: September 24th, 2013 under Personal Finance.
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    What If You Live to 120?

    In Arles France, on Monday 4 August 1997, Jeanne Calment died.  I am sure that many other people died that day, but Jeanne Calment is special.  When she died she was 122 years 164 days old.  We should notice.  If many of us live to 120 then our social services and ideas about what life […]


    Is Apple The New General Motors?

    Is Apple The New General Motors? A recent article in Business Insider indicates the time between replacements of mobile phones is starting to lengthen.  Horror of horrors the upgrade cycle has reached 22 months.  That is potentially very adverse for the manufacturers. There are reasons for the time becoming longer of course. The principal one is […]

    Posted: September 9th, 2013 under General.


    What Does Financial Literacy Mean?

    I decided yesterday that “financial literacy” was a term of art that I did not fully understand, so I set out to find out what others think it means.  The array is quite instructive.  The lack of literacy is not for want of passing legislation and talking about it. Wikipedia offers this and it is […]


    Your Primary Succession Plan Is For Emergencies

    Everyone puts off business succession planning until it is almost too late. Some wait longer than that. Whether you think your succession plan begins the day your child is born or whether it begins the five years before retirement or whether it, like Henry Ford, begins on your death bed, there is one to it […]

    Posted: August 26th, 2013 under Financial Planning.
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    Everyone Has A Will

    Approximately 50% of Americans have no signed will.  If you include those who have not updated in the past 10 years it is substantially higher than that.  According to a 2012 survey, 56% of Canadians do not have a signed will. They are “intestate” but that does not mean that 56% of Canadians and 50% […]

    Posted: August 19th, 2013 under Estate Planning.
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    Don’t Take a Knife to A Gunfight

    What, if any, is the duty of a financial adviser to educate their client as to macro and micro economics, taxation, psychology, longitudinal spending models, mortality and morbidity models, financial products and processes, financial planning in general, their plan in particular and how they are all connected? Make no mistake, they are all connected. What […]


    Interesting Times

    There is, purportedly, a Chinese curse that says, “May you live in interesting times.” Given events over the past five years, it appears that the curse may have been invoked. As always the question is, “What are you doing about it?” Turbulent times need not necessarily be systemic in order to matter. Each of us […]

    Posted: August 5th, 2013 under Financial Planning.


    Intuitively Obvious Is Usually Wrong

    It has been my experience that when I receive summarized data and there is an obviously right conclusion, I should worry.  My rule is that when something is intuitively obvious, it is likely wrong.  I find that it usually pays to be a skeptic with summarized, and especially averaged, data.  Here’s why. People have intuitive […]


    A Sane Article About Investment Fees

    There has been much commentary on transparent investment fees in the past several months. This one in the Globe & Mail by Preet Banarjee is excellent. Financial industry needs more transparency on fees Preet makes several good points. For example, some advisers and fund providers are perhaps not worth what they receive and unbundling would […]


    Without A CFA, You Can Still Find Good Stocks

    When seeking investment opportunities you have ways available that do not require advanced training and deep research. They are indicators not conclusions. You will still need to think about financial stability, industry position and other factors but it is better to start looking for those within a company that seems to make sense as a […]

    Posted: July 15th, 2013 under Investments.
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    Think About Critical Illness Insurance

    Critical illness insurance is a conceptually simple insurance product.  If you are diagnosed with one of stroke, heart attack or cancer, the insurer will write a check to help you deal with the problems that have arisen.  Of course there are some definitional things like what do you mean by stroke, heart attack or cancer […]

    Posted: July 8th, 2013 under Insurance.
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    Are More Choices Good For You?

    More choice equals more freedom, therefore “Good!” seems like the self-evident answer.  As with all other self-evident answers, this one is wrong. That wrong result has significant impacts on financial advisers and on their clients. Reality is that the more choices you have the more dissatisfied you will be, and the more dissatisfied you are […]



    In life you have a choice.  Be the sheep or be the shepherd.  While being the sheep is not threatening and it is not very demanding, as a person, being the shepherd has tangible value.  You get to learn new things, experience more, make decisions and determine the outline of your work. Being the shepherd […]

    Posted: June 24th, 2013 under General.


    Office Overhead Expense Disability Insurance

    Most people who have thought about it own Disability Income Insurance.  That will protect your personal spending while you are unable to earn a living.  But, what about the business expenses that will carry on even while you are unable to attend? Things like the lease, the bank loan principal and interest, the support staff, […]


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