New investment strategy needed close to retirement

There are a couple of Canadian academics by the names of Moshe Milevsky and Thomas Salisbury at York University who recently published a research paper explaining their assumptions and the mathematics behind their claims that modern portfolio theory (MPT) or asset allocation is less than useful for a large and ever-increasing group of Canadians, wrote the Smart Money columnist Jan. 5 in the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal. The research on which their paper is based was funded by a grant from Manulife Investments.

Essentially, while they agree that MPT is probably the best approach to investing money as we are building our nest egg, once we get to a time they call the "retirement risk zone", they argue that there may be better ways to help investors avoid a situation from which they are ill prepared to recover. This means that the conventional wisdom – stick with an investment for the long term and everything will work out – may no longer apply to many Canadians.

It’s in proving this claim that Milevsky’s finance education and Salisbury’s mathematics expertise become really helpful. They demonstrate mathematically that, while an investor’s average rate of return over time is really all that matters during the accumulation phase, as that investor gets very close to the time when they will begin drawing on their portfolio, the sequence of returns is critically important.

Basically, poor investment returns within a few years of retirement – or a few years after – can make a huge difference in the probability that an investor will have the income they require in retirement for as long as they need it.

Law grad Peter Van Loan appointed House leader

In a sketch of Peter Van Loan, who was appointed government House leader and democratic reform minister Jan. 4, Canadian Press noted that he earned a bachelor of laws from York’s Osgoode Hall Law School. He graduated in 1987.

York aims for medal in volleyball tourney

The mother of all Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) volleyball tournaments kicks off another instalment Friday at York University’s Tait McKenzie Centre, reported the North York Mirror Jan. 4. York University has hosted the annual Excalibur Volleyball Classic, a three-game round robin that features eight university teams, for the last 28 years, but has won the coveted tournament just once.

York Lions head coach Wally Dyba – who recorded his 300th win with the men’s volleyball squad in a 3-1 victory over fellow Ontario University Athletics (OUA) league power Ryerson Rams recently – said with his team performing the way it has of late, a title win isn’t unthinkable. York, 9- 3 so far this season, has gone four games without a loss.

Patricia Murray, the director of sport and recreation at York, has been at the local university since the tournament’s start. "Wally’s really done a good job in bringing some of the best teams in the country to this," she said, adding that although York’s men’s volleyball program has seen stronger years, she is confident it will fare well this weekend.

Academics have no time to think – study

There’s something wrong when Canada’s academics are connected to all the world’s knowledge, yet don’t have time to think, wrote Carleton University Prof. Heather Menzies in an essay published Jan. 5 in the Ottawa Citizen. According to a survey I and a colleague, York University sociologist Janice Newson, conducted recently, a majority no longer have time to reflect deeply on all the information they have at their fingertips, nor to brainstorm ideas with colleagues on their own campuses, Menzies continued.

The research, while only in its pilot phase (with 80 respondents) produced some startling results. For example, with rising workloads and student expectations of availability, academics reported high levels of stress, resulting in sleep deprivation, new food allergies, short-term memory loss and problems concentrating. Fifty-eight per cent said that their ability to stay focused on their work had decreased, and 42 per cent said that their susceptibility to being distracted by all the communication and information coming at them had increased.

 On air

  • Fred Lazar, York social and political science professor and author of Mexico in Crisis, was interviewed about unsolved deaths involving Canadians in Mexico, on the one-year anniversary of the death of an Ontario couple, on Global TV’s "Global News" Jan. 4.
  • Judy Hellman, York economics professor, commented on the possibility that hundreds of First Nations workers may have to pay thousands of dollars in back taxes due to a legal fight with the Canada Revenue Agency, on CBC Radio’s "Points North" in Sudbury Jan. 3.