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I’d really appreciate any advice you can offer.

We invested with a Manulife advisor about 10 years ago. I am 62 and my husband will be 53 in Feb. ’10. We lost about 40% our investments. In the fall of 2008 our advisor switched us to a more conservative portfolio and on average its up about 16% since then. We did not cash out. Our current advisor took over our account several years ago.

We have a joint MRS Loan account worth $36,404.00 and is in Fidelity Balanced Managed Portfolio. As of Sept. ’09 we owe a little over $4K

We also have another joint account in the same Fidelity Balanced Portfolio worth $40,429. as of Sept. 09.

My husband has an MRS RRSP worth $69K in the same FBP.

I have a Manulife Registered Retirement Income Fund worth $13K. A portion of the RRIF was reinvested into the Fidelity Balanced Managed Portfolio.

In all, as of Sept. 17 we have about $158,734.00 with Manulife.

I have a provincial indexed pension of $1,897. net monthly along with CPP - $520. net monthly.

As I have a bridged pension, my pension will be reduced by whatever I receive from the Old Age Pension. When I die my husband Bert will receive 2/3rd of my provincial pension. I am living on borrowed time as I have already had chemo twice and have a node which is inoperable.

I have $20,915.00 of unused RRSP contributions available for 2009.


My husband would like to retire at age 60, but might consider retiring later depending on the situation at work, etc. From our conversations, I foresee him doing part-time consulting work when he retires. He currently earns about $55K a year and works for a provincial school board. He has a non-indexed pension plan. He has only $296.00 of unused RRSP contributions available for 2009. He will inherit at least $100K from his parents who are elderly.

We each have $5K in a TSFA at President’s Choice – Unfortunately, next to no interest. It was done hastily.

We’ve also got about $80K divided between 2o banks – again earning next to no interest as we stopped investing several years ago when we saw our investments heading down hill. We’ve also got about 25K in Euros, etc. BTW, our house & cars are paid off and we have no children, but would like to leave some money to nieces and nephews,

Our Manulife guy knows we have become risk averse and wants us to consider Manulife’s Income Plus plan, but based on what we’ve read so far we have reservations. I gather there are some pretty hefty MER’s & other fees. I’m wondering if we shouldn’t buy some preferred bank shares and oil/gas/mineral stocks.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Sorry for the long post.
 

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That's a wealth of information, but it's not clear what the question is. Do you just want an opinion on Manulife, or advice on complete financial planning?

Without a complete history of your contributions to Manulife no one can say if your returns have been good, bad, or indifferent. But in general terms Manulife does have high Mer's or other fees for its funds for no better return than you could get elsewhere.

If you are unhappy with your advisor, your husband at least should be looking for one elsewhere, or learning to manage his own portfolio. It is doubtful if it would be of any benefit to you personally to pull your money out of ManuLife, but your husband is in it for a longer term.
Given your health problems, and the disparity in ages between you and your husband, I would also be careful about Manulife selling you on something that is locked in and cannot be transferred to your husband's control when the time comes.

Whether you should be using up your unused RRSP room, which your husband could then inherit as beneficiary, depends a lot on your overall taxation status, and your current revenue needs.
 

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Manulife's Income Plus product is not a mutual fund. It is a hybrid "finsurance" product that combines the upside potential of conventional investments (stocks, bonds) with the downside protection of guaranteed income (an annuity) for the duration of the contract (typically 20 years, but there are opportunities to extend the length of the contract if the underlying investments do well).
 

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From the few minutes I spent watching ManuLife's income Plus web ad, I would say avoid it in your situation. There are too many locked-in conditions. Sure, you can buy a joint life payoput option. But the monthly payout will be lower (just as with a joint annuity). And does he need the income stream at his age? Yes, there is is also a Death Benefit Guarantee with this plan, but the payout is 100% minus the sum of all payments you received up until time of death. So the death benefit is declining with time, as if Manulife was earning no money on the capital.

IMHO your husband would likely be better off inheriting the capital to invest in his own RRSP, which you can do by simply designating him as beneficiary of your RRSP. It seems to me you want to maintain liquidity of your assets for a couple of reasons: you may need to draw on them for your health care; and to make them easily transferable to your husband after you are gone.
 
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