according to a wealth manager who knows more than a little about both.
Sam Sivarajan, the head of investments and sales at Manulife Private Wealth,
says investing and exercise follow the same old adage: no pain, no gain.
“People often go in without a plan, without a goal and without a real
thinking through of what is required,” said Sivarajan, who is also a personal
trainer and spinning and kettlebell instructor.
Whether your goal is shedding those few last pounds or rebalancing your
portfolio, the new year is a good time to reassess how things are working for
you and what results you want to see in the next 365 days, he says.
The 43-year-old practices what he preaches. Sivarajan is up at 5 a.m. five or
six times a week to lift weights, cycle or box. He’s also completed the Boston
Marathon and reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.
Sivarajan takes a similar regimented approach with his investment portfolio,
knowing he will only get what he wants if he’s disciplined enough to work for
“People want to believe that they can get a free lunch — want to believe that
there’s an investment out there without risks that can give you massive
returns,” he said. “I’m a bit of party pooper to say … I’ve never seen those
things at work.”
One of the most important steps to achieving financial success is to set
specific goals and detailed ways to achieve them.
You should also forget about those “get-rich” investment schemes, like ones
that promises investors they can turn $100,000 into $1 million in five
Sivarajan said investing should be like watching paint dry — it’s boring, but
it gives you the desired result.
“What I have seen, whether in the fitness world or the investment world, is
the tried and true plain vanilla method . . . you do it with discipline and you
do it with a plan (and) you will get the results that you’re looking for.”
Sivarajan said that with the current market, investors can generally expect
an annual return of six to nine per cent over the next five to 10 years.
Meanwhile, he notes that different investment goals often require different
financial strategies, much in the way that training regimens vary for different
For example, there are different approaches for saving for retirement over a
30-year period versus saving for a winter vacation in three months. Sivarajan
notes that your appetite for risk may be greater if you have a longer time span,
so stocks might be a good bet. But if it’s safe, short-term returns you’re
looking for, guaranteed investment certificates or bonds might be the better
Even if you already have a financial plan in place, Sivarajan suggests
reviewing it in the new year to make sure you still have the same goals.
Sivarajan’s approach is one young father James Murphy can appreciate.
Last year Murphy made a New Year’s resolution to get into shape, and signed
up for some sessions at the Toronto Sports and Orthopedic Clinic, a boutique gym
near his downtown office.
“My only goal was to be able to feel good at the beach,” laughs the
35-year-old business director at an international energy company.
Twelve months later, Murphy’s still sticking to a daily, half-hour lunchtime
He says the key to his long-term success has been approaching his fitness
goal the same way he approaches a financial goal: by getting professional
“You always need a (second) set of eyes on things,” he said.
“There are a lot of ways to go forward with stuff, but it’s worth it to have
someone there to ensure you you’re on the right path and not missing things.
It’s hard for us to be experts in all manners of our life.”
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