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Investment Q&A

Not investment advice or solicitation to buy/sell securities. Do your own due diligence and/or consult an advisor.

Q: Hi, Happy new year!!

When looking at the long term rates of return of Emerging markets, developed INTL markets, Canadian and US stocks, the US has outperformed by a mile. I hold mostly stocks that are Cdn and US and I have global international and developed exposure through the mentioned ETF's, which only account for around 6% of my total portfolio. My questions are:

1. What is the simplest way to break down portfolio exposure without getting too overly complicated and detailed? Currently I break it down by where they trade. But for example, I hold stocks such as BAM, SLF, GOOG, JPM, V which are more global. How would I go about classifying some of these stocks? Would I allocate some % of these towards international exposure based on the company revenue breakdown, etc? any other metrics? Any good sites that easily summarize this info. or do I need to go looking through the companies financial statements?

2. Is there any mean reversion long term between CDN, US, INTL, and EE markets? So since INTL and EE has underperformed so much lately, is it time to rebalance equities from US to CDN/INTL/EE? Or for a long term growth investor, is the US still the best place to invest for growth whereas INTL/EE look cheap and have better value, although slower growth? Thoughts?

Read Answer Asked by Keith on January 04, 2022

Q: Hi, currently holding these Cad ETFs in RSP. What would be the best equivalent ETF's to buy in the US if I were to convert my holdings to USD and buy the US ETF. Looking for equivalent exposure with lower MER, better tax efficiency, etc... I've included some of my choices, would these be the best ones to switch to? Other ETFs are welcome if I haven't listed them below. Thanks and Happy holidays, looking forward to a great 2022!

ZUH to either XHC/VHT/XLV

Read Answer Asked by Keith on January 03, 2022

Q: What are the Can ETFs that cover the main US ETFs, like SPY? And what are their mers?

What are the advantages of using these Canadian versions?

Do you still require W-BEN forms if you buy these?

Thanks for all your help.

Read Answer Asked by Mark on October 28, 2021

Q: I recently asked a question about recommended ETF holdings in my RRSP for coverage of the US market. You had suggested converting my holdings to USD and purchase VOO direct on the US market rather than the CAD ETFs I currently hold. This would eliminate withholding taxes.
How much of a drag on performance would these withholding taxes represent?

Read Answer Asked by Bruce on September 09, 2021

Q: I hold the US portion of my portfolio in my RRSP. It represents roughly 20% of my total investment. I do not need to convert to RRIF for another 5 years and at that time will be taking the minimum required.
I currently hold ZQQ; ZPAY; ZDY; ZWH; ZSP.
I am thinking of switching my holdings to the following in roughly equal amounts: ZPAY; VUN; ZSP; ZNQ; XSU.
The objective is to get better coverage of the total US market through XSU and VUN. Maintain coverage of S&P 500 through ZSP. For Tech switching to non hedged via ZNQ. ZPAY will still provide good income with perhaps some downside protection through its options strategy.
Your thoughts and recommendations of alternatives.
The rest of my portfolio in my Non-Registered account and TFSA follow a mixture of your 3 portfolios which by the way have provide me with a return of 12 - 15% in the past 6 plus years.

Read Answer Asked by Bruce on September 08, 2021

Q: Hi Peter, Ryan, and Team,

We need to increase our US exposure and wish to do this in our non-registered account. We're considering CUD and VGG as we'd rather use ETFs. (Our broker allows us to buy and sell CUD with zero commission, and not so with VGG, but this wouldn't be a 'make or break' reason for choosing one over the other). What would your recommendation be when considering tax efficiency, performance, volatility, and other important metrics? I do like that CUD has a relatively low weight in Technology, as our Canadian holdings like CSU, ENGH, KXS, TOI, etc. have done so well, and we're now overweight in this sector, thanks to 5i. :) Also, if there are any other US ETFs sold on the TSX that you think we should consider, we'd appreciate that info as well.

Thanks in advance for all your assistance and wise counsel.

Read Answer Asked by Jerry on August 06, 2021

Q: I would like to invest using only 4 ETFs. One for short bonds, one for all Canadian stocks, one for emerging markets, one for the whole US market, and one for the developed world (as wide as possible) excluding Canada and the US.

Which ETFs should I use?


Read Answer Asked by Federico on July 19, 2021

Q: In my RRSP I would like to take a long term, very low maintenance approach. For this reason I have it all in index funds. I have a 30 plus year time horizon. Which funds would you recommend here? I currently have $60,000 invested in VFV, VUN, VGRO and XAW. Looking to front load these with $2000/ mo for the next 3 years and then stop contributing as I will be "semi-retiring." I'm 29 for context

Read Answer Asked by Danielle on May 11, 2021

Q: Can you suggest a few good ETF’s which should form the basis of one’s portfolio.

Also please suggest ETF’s for specific applications like..... high risk/ growth, dividend, US equities, Canadian equities, dividend stocks, tech stocks, emerging markets ..... and your choice of basket of ETF’s which a person could use to build a portfolio ( with % allocations)

Read Answer Asked by HARRY on May 10, 2021

Q: "President Biden's plan is expected to call for a 39.6% top tax rate on long-term capital gains, up from the current 20%. The tax would apply to returns on assets held more than a year and to taxpayers with more than $1 million in income." If this proposal becomes reality, do you expect an impact on stock markets?

Read Answer Asked by Dennis on April 29, 2021

Q: Hi gang, have $200,000.00 canadian to invest for 2-3 years. Just want to invest 50-50 Canada-USA. Would like to be as safe as possible. Some stocks and some ETF. If possible dividend paying one. Thanks

Read Answer Asked by Alnoor on April 28, 2021

Q: I recently borrowed from my HELOC to top up our TFSAs. I'm thinking of potentially keeping it simple and going TEC + XAW (40/60 split). This would give me quite a bit of US exposure but thought of bumping up US exposure. Would it make sense to instead buy VUN + VIU + VEE in a 70/23/7 split instead of XAW which has a lower US allocation? Do you think US equities will continue to outperform world over 10+ year horizon?

Also thinking instead of the 40% allocation in TEC, should I take a small position in ARKK or other ARK funds? Maybe 30% TEC, 10% ARKK? I feel like many of the names in ARKK fund are priced to perfection. Thanks

Read Answer Asked by Perry on February 25, 2021

Q: Whats are your thoughts on the following sets of ETFs ?

Set -1

iShares Core S&P U.S. Total Market Index ETF (XUU)
Vanguard High Dividend Yield ETF (VYM)
Invesco QQQ (QQQ)



Read Answer Asked by Kapil on December 29, 2020

Q: Hi,
I hold ETFs (VRE XEC XEF XIC VUN) in my TFSA and RRSP. follwoing questions
1) Are there tax considerations /US-dividend withholding for any one of those?
2) Also, any specific considerations to use TFSA vs RRSP to invest in these ETFs? for example VUN should be used in RRSP.
3) are they good ETFs to investing in long term (8 to 12 years) for growth and income?


Read Answer Asked by Kapil on December 17, 2020

Q: Good Morning,
Looking for top suggestions for US based ETF's that are either total US market or Global markets that pay little or no dividends. I understand that saving the 15% withholding is not a big consideration, but, looking for something to buy and leave untouched for a long term hold within my USD$ TFSA and would rather see the growth done automatically then me reinvesting dividends/distributions.
Thanks so much!

Read Answer Asked by Stephane on November 24, 2020

Q: After scanning 5I questions for the best fit for my daughters LIRA which she will not need for 20 years and will not be contributing to it, we settled on VFV,VEE,and VUN. That leaves room for a tech ETF for the remaining. Considering:
XIT.TO but the MER is high at 0.61% vs. TEC.TO which is a TD ETF
product with an MER 0.35%. Are there any others to consider or which
would you choose and why?

Read Answer Asked by Don on October 30, 2020

Q: Hello 5i Team
I am comparing two ETF from Vanguard Canada and from Vanguard USA.
Vanguard Canada – US Total Market ETF (CA:VUN), trades in Canadian dollars on Canadian exchange, tracks the CRSP US Total Market Index. The MER is equal to 0.16 %. The 2019 distribution was composed of $0.99538 foreign income, $0.00076 ROC and $0.1593 foreign withholding tax (approximately 16 % of the total distribution, applied by Vanguard).
Vanguard USA – Total Stock Market ETF (US:VTI), trades in US dollar on US exchange, tracks the CRSP US Total Market Index. The MER is equal to 0.03 %. The 2019 distribution was US$2.8747 with no withholding tax applied by Vanguard.
Questions are:
1 – Are these two ETF essentially the same (one trades in C$ on Canadian Market, the other trades in US$ on the US Market) as they both appear to track the CRSP US Total Market Index?
2 – If I hold CA:VUN in a non-registered account, will there be withholding tax applied by my broker to the distribution?
3 – If I hold US:VTI in a non-registered account, will there be withholding tax applied by my broker to the distribution?
4 – Is the difference in the MER (0.16 % vs 0.03 %) essentially the 15 % withholding tax applied to US dividends?
5 – Which is the better ETF to hold in a non-registered account, ignoring the cost of currency conversion to purchase US dollars in order to buy US:VTI?
Thank you

Read Answer Asked by Stephen on September 03, 2020

Q: Currently have 25% of my portfolio in XUU. I am interested in increasing my US exposure up to 30% though. My question is do you have any problem with 30% XUU or would you possibly split it in to two? Eg ZSP and something else? Note - I would prefer a Canadian listed ETF but if you think there is a better American option I'm willing to listen.....

Read Answer Asked by Jeff on August 04, 2020