Thursday, October 28, 2010

Independent Contractors FAQ about Retirement Savings and RESP

I’ve had quite a few questions lately about retirement and education savings. If you are a self-employed independent contractor – incorporated, sole proprietor or partnership – then saving for your retirement or your children’s education can be a little more complicated.

Many employers offer a Group Savings Plan to arrange for regular income deductions that are automatically contributed to a personal RRSP or RESP. Employer group savings plans are great if you're a permanent employee for a company that offers one. But what are your options for retirement and education savings if you work for yourself?

I’m not a financial planner myself so I put your questions to Michael Collins, a financial planner who manages the group plan for our internal staff and also my personal investments. Did you notice that we share a last name? Yes, we're related. Michael Collins just happens to be my Uncle Mike. Here are Mike’s answers to some frequently asked questions from independent contractors.

  1. As an independent contractor (incorporated, sole proprietor or partnership) how do I save for my retirement?

    Independent Contractors, if they have income through earnings (not dividends) are allowed 18% per year to a maximum of $22,000.00 they could put into an RRSP. If they are behind or starting in later years of life they might qualify for another method of deposits (Individual Pension Plan) where they could put in significantly more, but must meet certain criteria to qualify.
  2. Are Group Plans available for independent contractors?

    Your Financial Planner should have all the required documents to set one up and yes I do those also.
  3. What is the maximum I can invest in RRSP/RESP?

    18% on income can be put into RRSP to a maximum of $22,000.00 for this year.
    RESP is $5000.00 per child annually but only $2,500.00 each get the 20% government grant added on.
  4. Is there any carry over if I haven't invested in the last 5 years?

    RRSP's – yes, the full qualifying amount of 18%/year of earnings (in any amounts desired) which are not used can be carried on to age 71. On an RESP you can catch up the full qualifying amount also but only by using two years in any one year.
  5. What is the tax credit for RESPs?

    There is no tax credit, but they do grow tax free.
  6. Can I invest in an RESP for someone outside of my immediate family? A cousin, nephew or niece?

    Yes but the parent must sign off on it so that there isn't a doubling up of credits or government grants.
  7. How much would my child need to invest if they are going to university in 5, 10, 15 or 20 years?

    There are tables available to help with this question, but assumptions have to be made on Interest Earned and the costs associated with which University they wish to attend or the type of program they are taking, whether 4 year Arts or a 7 Year Doctorate.
If you have more questions for Michael Collins here's how to contact him:

Micheal Collins
Dundee Wealth Management
2225 Kingsway Drive, Kitchener, N2C 1A2
519-579-5477 phone
519-744-5506 fax
Click this link to watch my video

Suggestions for Further Reading:

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Welcome to Toronto, Silicon Valley North

A tech revolution is taking off right here right now in Toronto. What does that mean for you and me? It means exciting work opportunities and fierce competition for creative technical talent.

Why are companies such as EA, Apple, Microsoft, RIM, Disney, Facebook, Twitter and Google partnering with and buying Toronto tech companies?
  1. Excellent People – Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook says it best, "We have not once bought a company for the company. We buy companies to get excellent people."
  2. Great Schools – Toronto has access to a wealth of talent being produced in schools like Waterloo (Masters Program in Technology Entrepreneurship), University of Toronto, Sheridan College, Queens University, and many others which have world renowned Technology and Engineering programs.
  3. Community – Toronto has a community of young tech entrepreneurs who are building word class companies and networking at camps, informal meetings and through social media sites like Sprouter.
  4. Government Tax Credits – SR & ED (Scientific Research and Experimental Development). “SHRED” gives millions in stimulus dollars to small and medium sized businesses. CEO of Polar Mobile, Kunal Gupta, says he “briefly looked at outsourcing to India or China but between the talent and the tax credits, we realized it was cheaper to do it in Toronto.”
  5. Extreme Labs creates an environment for developers to build companies and follow their dreams. They run a very cool training program for young entrepreneurs who are given $5000 and during a 12 week session create products that are presented to a group of VC’s and investors (Dragon’s Den Style). The three companies that were successful last year raised 1.5M.
  6. Funding – Money is becoming more available to entrepreneurs. Companies such as Tech Capital, RBC Ventures, Blackberry Partners Fund, Extreme Venture Partners and Growthworks are investing millions in technology startups.
  7. New Devices – This tech trend has staying power. Smart phones are selling more rapidly than PC’s. Tablets will gain market share as the price point comes down over the next 6 months. Apps are driving sales of these devices.
Let’s look at some of the recent amazing success stories of Toronto companies:
  • Polar Mobile – 6 million downloads of their apps – Sports Illustrated, Time, Food Networks, CNN, CBS, NCAA Sports, and 500 new apps to come for Microsoft
  • Five Mobile – custom apps for Rogers, Disney and Sony Pictures – one of their apps for the The Score has over 6 million downloads
  • Rypple – just raised 7M – their software integrates smartphones and office email
  • Extreme Ventures – invested in 14 tech start ups – 250 staff – one of their companies BumpTop recently sold for a rumoured 35M to Google
  • Sysomos – allows corporate clients to analyze Twitter and Facebook conversations – sold last summer for 35M
  • Endloop – fantastic app called iMockups that gives developers a template for developing apps on an iPad – all object oriented
Toronto is an exciting place to be right now if you have an entrepreneurial spirit and you’re interested in app development. We are fortunate to have a number of these companies as our clients.

Action Points

  • Talk to us about the possibility of working for one of these companies. Email us at
  • Join the conversation and network with entrepreneurs. Join Sprouter, a Twitter-like community for startups and entrepreneurs, and answer the question “What are you working on?”
  • Read more about the tech revolution in this November 2010 Toronto Life Feature Article "Download My App" posted by Kunal Gupta of Polar Mobile:

Written by Tim Collins

Friday, October 15, 2010

What Should I Wear to an Interview for a Job?

Your appearance, your smile and your handshake create that all important first impression. You know what they say--people form a lasting impression within 20 seconds of meeting you. I've also read that people know in the first 20 seconds whether they would be willing to hire you. The first impression has very little to do with your words and a great deal to do with your attitude, energy and appearance. Why not tip the scales in your favour with a great outfit.

I was struggling with what to blog about this week when I stumbled upon this awesome little video from Harry Rosen. Harry Rosen caters to men but I think the principles apply to everyone. Even if the office you are interviewing at has a business casual dress code you still need to take special care with choosing what to wear to the interview.

With few exceptions you should dress more formally for an interview than you would normally dress when you go to work. The care you take with your personal appearance implies respect for the employer and interest in the job.

But please don't feel like you have to run out to Harry Rosen and spend $1000 for a new suit! You can put together a great outfit for a much lower price if you shop around a bit. You might have to invest a few dollars in tailoring and dry cleaning to make the outfit look perfect, but it will be worth it.

So here's the video for what it's worth!

Related Posts:
Five Tips to Stay Motivated During the Job Search
How to Land a Job in 7 Seconds
The Hidden Job Market: How Tim Got In!
Interview Dos and Don'ts

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Comparing Apples to Berries: 4 Reasons Why I Pick the PlayBook

As a self-proclaimed “crackberry”, I was thrilled when Mike Lazaridis announced the arrival of the Blackberry PlayBook. As a Wilfrid Laurier Alumni, I have seen the excitement that RIM has brought to the town of Waterloo, Ontario and Canadian’s in general. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t spent a few afternoons playing with Apple’s “PhotoBooth” application or playing with my friend’s iPhones. However, I’ve spent more time napping with my Blackberry, admiring the flurry of RIM buildings on Columbia St, attending career fairs at RIM Park and BBMing my friends when I spot our local celebrities Mr. Balsillie or Mr. Lazaridis out for lunch.

So why would I rather purchase a PlayBook than an iPad?

1) Flash Flash Flash
Although Steve Jobs has made a gallant effort at eliminating Flash, I think it is here to stay. Flash is a wonderful tool and Blackberry embraces it. Virtual training, tours and demos are just some of the capabilities that Flash makes easier. In addition, Adobe has integrated Adobe Flash Player 10.1 and Adobe AIR apps on the PlayBook. This creates a large opportunity for PlayBook application development – how exciting!

2) Video Conferencing
The corporate crowd will appreciate this functionality. With iPad’s lack of camera, the PlayBook takes the cake on this one, providing users with two cameras and an HDMI hook-up. Need I say more?

3) The Specs
Some would criticize the PlayBook for its size (7 inches compared to the iPad’s 9.3 inches). I think the smaller size provides a perfect balance of convenience and readability. Plus for a small package it sure has impressive hardware. The PlayBook sports a dual-core 1GHz processor (the iPad only has a single-core) and 1GB of RAM (double what the iPad packs).

4) Local Support
Why wouldn’t I support the products that my friends and family help produce? RIM employees are my hometown heroes. RIM has provided over 26,000 jobs to Waterloo residents. Many of my classmates specifically attended school in Waterloo in hopes to score a job with RIM. As a Canadian, I feel an obligation to cheer on the efforts of a company that has completely transformed a local economy.

Whether you want to attribute my love of RIM product’s to the years I’ve spent in Waterloo, the endless job opportunities they have provided my friends or the plain fact that they make a magnificent product – I am and will always be a fan of the “Berries”.

Related Articles:
Who Do You Love? Blackberry Torch or iPhone?
Top 10 IT Skills in Demand 2010
Love What You Do
Why Is It So Difficult to Unplug From the World

Written by: Michelle De Rubeis, Technical Recruiter, StaffLink Solutions Ltd.