Manulife posts $1.6 billion fourth quarter net loss on $2.8 billion in charges

TORONTO _ Manulife Financial Corp. says a $2.8-billion post-tax charge related to U.S. tax reform and a decision to change its portfolio asset mix resulted in a $1.6 billion or 83 cents per diluted share net loss in the fourth quarter of 2017.

The company earned a net profit of $63 million or a penny per share in the year-earlier period, in which it declared a $1.2-billion charge related to the direct impact of markets.

Manulife CEO Roy Gori says the tax change that hit net income in the most recent quarter will benefit the company in the future, adding Manulife is “fully committed” to transforming its business to become a digital leader with stronger customer focus.

The financial services and insurance company says its quarterly dividend is being increased by seven per cent to 22 cents per common share from 20.5 cents.

It says earnings before special charges in the fourth quarter were $1.20 billion or 59 cents per share, down six per cent from $1.29 billion or 63 cents per share in the same period of 2016, due to lower investment gains, offset by strong growth in Asia business.

For the year, Manulife says it had net earnings of $2.1 billion or 98 cents per share, compared with $2.9 billion or $1.41 per share in 2016.

It says its core earnings before charges for 2017 were $4.56 billion or $2.22 per share, up from $4.02 billion or $1.96 per share in 2016.

iA Financial Group adds travel insurance to its individual insurance offer

In collaboration with established partner, TuGo

QUEBEC CITY, Jan. 17, 2018 /CNW Telbec/ – iA Financial Group is proud to partner with TuGo, one of the largest providers of travel insurance in the country, to offer travel insurance and provide its clients with TuGo’s recognized quality customer service and expertise. TuGo has more than 50 years of experience assisting travellers across the globe.

Distinguishing features of this insurance:

  • Simplified eligibility criteria
  • Reliable emergency assistance anywhere in the world, 24/7
  • Multilingual customer service
  • myTuGo online client portal

“Travel insurance meets the needs of most people who are concerned with being properly protected when they travel, states Pierre Vincent, Senior Vice-President, Individual Insurance and Sales at iA Financial Group. We are proud to extend our product offer through our partnership with TuGo, a company that is recognized for the quality of the service it provides.”

iA Financial Group’s new travel insurance product is exclusively digital and can be obtained from an advisor or directly at ia.ca. There are no medical eligibility questions for travellers under 60; travellers 60 or older are only required to answer five simple questions.

About iA Financial Group
Founded in 1892, iA Financial Group is one of the largest insurance and wealth management companies in Canada. It also operates in the United States. iA Financial Group stock is listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol IAG.

iA Financial Group is a business name and trademark of Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc.

SOURCE Industrial Alliance Insurance and Financial Services Inc.

Bank of Canada hikes interest rate to 1.25%, cites strong economic data

By Andy Blatchford

THE CANADIAN PRESS

OTTAWA _ The economy’s impressive run prompted the Bank of Canada to raise its trend-setting interest rate Wednesday for the third time since last summer but looking ahead it warned of growing uncertainties about NAFTA.

The central bank pointed to unexpectedly solid economic numbers as key drivers behind its decision to hike the rate to 1.25 per cent, up from one per cent. The increase followed hikes in July and September.

While the central bank signalled more rate increases are likely over time, it noted the unknowns surrounding the future of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the potential negatives for Canada were casting a widening shadow over its outlook.

The bank said ‘some continued monetary policy accommodation will likely be needed” to keep the economy operating close to its full potential.

Governing council, it added, would remain cautious when considering future hikes by assessing incoming data such as the economy’s sensitivity to the higher borrowing rates.

For the move Wednesday, the bank couldn’t ignore the 2017 data, even as it acknowledged the risks about NAFTA’s renegotiation.

“Recent data have been strong, inflation is close to target, and the economy is operating roughly at capacity,” the bank said in a statement.

“Consumption and residential investment have been stronger than anticipated, reflecting strong employment growth. Business investment has been increasing at a solid pace, and investment intentions remain positive.”

Moving forward, the bank predicted household spending and investment to gradually contribute less to economic growth, given the higher interest rates and stricter mortgage rules. It predicted Canada’s high levels of household debt would amplify the effects of higher interest rates on consumption.

The rate increase by the Bank of Canada is expected to prompt Canada’s large banks to raise their prime lending rates, a move that will drive up the cost of variable-rate mortgages and other variable-interest rate loans.

Exports have been weaker than anticipated, but are still expected to contribute a larger share of Canada’s growth, the bank said. It also noted that government infrastructure spending has helped lift economic activity.

The Bank of Canada said the unknowns of the NAFTA’s renegotiation are continuing to weigh on its forecast and have created a drag on investment and exports.

“Today’s rate hike was a rear-view mirror move, but the Bank of Canada hints that the view out the front window isn’t quite as sunny,” CIBC chief economist Avery Shenfeld wrote in a research note to clients after the rate announcement.

“We share the Bank of Canada’s view that higher rates will be needed over time. But perhaps not as fast and furious as the market was starting to think. The bank’s statement put NAFTA uncertainties right up front.”

The Bank of Canada warned that lower corporate taxes in the U.S. could encourage firms to redirect some of their business investments south of the border. On the other hand, it predicted that Canada will see a small benefit from the recent U.S. tax changes thanks to increased demand.

The bank also released new economic projections Wednesday in its latest monetary policy report.

For 2017, it’s now predicting three per cent growth, as measured by real gross domestic product, compared with its 3.1 per cent prediction in October.

The bank slightly increased its predictions for 2018, up to 2.2 per cent from 2.1 per cent. It expects the economy to expand by 1.6 per cent in 2019, up from its previous call of 1.5 per cent.

The fourth quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018 are each expected to see annualized growth of 2.5 per cent.

Governor Stephen Poloz raised rates in July and September in response to a surprisingly strong economic run that began in late 2016. The hikes took back the two rate cuts he introduced in 2015 to help cushion, and stimulate, the economy from the collapse in oil prices.

Up until a couple of weeks ago, many forecasters still had doubts that Poloz would raise the rate Wednesday. However, two strong reports _ the December jobs data and the bank’s business outlook survey led many experts to change their calls.

Heading into the decision Wednesday, Scotiabank Economics forecasted three hikes totalling 75 basis points throughout 2018 and three more in 2019. TD Economics expected a gradual pace of tightening over the next two years of about 25 basis points every six months.

Nissan Canada data breach may have exposed 1.1M finance customers’ information

Nissan Canada Finance said 1.13 million customers in Canada may be victims of a possible data breach.

By  | Global News

Nissan Canada Finance says the personal information of approximately 1.13 million customers may have been exposed due to a data breach.

In a media release sent Thursday, the company said the breach involved unauthorized person(s) gaining access to the personal information of some customers that have financed their vehicles through Nissan Canada Finance and INFINITI Financial Services Canada.

It’s not yet known how many customers have been impacted.

Nissan Canada became aware of the data breach on Dec. 11, but did not notify customers until Thursday, a spokesperson told Global News.

“We immediately began taking steps to make sure the breach happened, everyone is now being contacted,” a spokesperson said.

The unauthorized access may have impacted the following types of information for some customers:

  • customer name,
  • address
  • vehicle make and model
  • vehicle identification number (VIN)
  • credit score
  • loan amount and monthly payment.

Nissan Canada is still investigating.

There is no indication that customers who financed their vehicles outside of Canada are affected, the company said.

Liz Weston: How to ‘death clean’ your finances

By Liz Weston

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

The phrase “death cleaning” may sound jarring to unaccustomed ears, but the concept makes sense. It’s about getting rid of excess rather than leaving a mess for your heirs to sort out.

“Death cleaning” is the literal translation of the Swedish word dostadning, which means an uncluttering process that begins as people age. It’s popularized in the new book “The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning” by Margareta Magnusson.

Magnusson focuses on jettisoning stuff, but most older people’s finances could use a good death cleaning as well. Simplifying and organizing our financial lives can make things easier for us while we’re alive and for our survivors when we’re not.

This task becomes more urgent when we’re in our 50s. Our financial decision-making abilities generally peak around age 53, researchers have found, while rates of cognitive decline and dementia start to climb at age 60. As we age, we tend to become more vulnerable to fraud, scams, unethical advisers and bad judgment, says financial literacy expert Lewis Mandell, author of “What to Do When I Get Stupid.” Cleaning up our finances can help protect us.

Some steps to take:

CONSOLIDATE FINANCIAL ACCOUNTS

Fewer accounts are easier to monitor for suspicious transactions and overlapping investments, plus you may save money on account fees. Your employer may allow you to transfer old 401(k) and IRA accounts into its plan, or you can consolidate them into one IRA. For simplicity, consider swapping individual stocks and bonds for professionally managed mutual funds or exchange-traded funds (but check with a tax pro before you sell any investments held outside retirement funds). Move scattered bank accounts under one roof, but keep in mind that FDIC insurance is generally limited to $250,000 per depositor per institution.

AUTOMATE PAYMENTS

Memory lapses can lead to missed payments, late fees and credit score damage, which can in turn drive up the cost of borrowing and insurance. You can set up regular recurring payments in your bank’s bill payment system, have other bills charged to a credit card and set up an automatic payment so the card balance is paid in full each month. Head off bounced-transaction fees with true overdraft protection, which taps a line of credit or a savings account to pay over-limit transactions.

PRUNE CREDIT CARDS

Certified financial planner Carolyn McClanahan in Jacksonville, Florida, recommends her older clients keep just two credit cards: one for everyday purchases and another for automatic bill payments. Closing accounts can hurt credit scores, though, so wait until you’re reasonably sure you won’t need to apply for a loan before you start dramatically pruning.

SET UP A WATCHDOG

Identify whom you want making decisions for you if you’re incapacitated. Use software or a lawyer to create two durable powers of attorney one for finances, one for health care. You don’t have to name the same person in both, but do name backups in case your original choice can’t serve.

Consider naming someone younger, because someone your age or older could become impaired at the same time you do, says Carolyn Rosenblatt, an elder-law attorney in San Rafael, California, who runs AgingParents.com. Grant online access to your accounts, or at least talk about where your trusted person can find the information she’ll need, Rosenblatt recommends.

Also create. “in case of emergency” files that your trusted person or heirs will need. These might include:

Your will or living trust

Medical directives, powers of attorney, living wills

Birth, death and marriage certificates

Military records

Social Security cards

Car titles, property deeds and other ownership documents

Insurance policies

A list of your financial accounts

Contact information for your attorney, tax pro, financial adviser and insurance agent

Photocopies of passports, driver’s licenses and credit cards

A safe deposit box is not the best repository, because your trusted person may need access outside bank hours. A fireproof safe bolted to a floor in your home, or at minimum a locked file cabinet, may be better, as long as you share the combination or key (or its location) with your trusted person. Scanning paperwork and keeping an encrypted copy in the cloud could help you or someone else recreate your financial life if the originals are lost or destroyed.

Canadians head into Black Friday ready to shop, unprepared for more debt

Manulife Bank survey reveals that despite claiming to understand debt management, many Canadians aren’t meeting debt reduction goals and feel unsupported by their banks

  • Knowledge doesn’t cut it: More than half of Canadians claim good knowledge of debt management (54%), however, household debt has reached record highs1 and only a minority (41%) are comfortable with their debt
  • Need for allies: Only one in six Canadians believe their bank helps them pay down debt (16%) and puts their needs first (17%); however, those with advisors are 60% more likely to be satisfied with overall financial health
  • Missing the mark: Many Canadians say being debt-free is a priority; however, less than a third of debtholders (31%) achieved debt reduction goals in the past year
  • Debt impacts health: Most Canadians (53%) believe financial challenges take a toll on mental or emotional health, and a third (34%) on physical health
  • Silent treatment: More than 30 per cent of Canadians are embarrassed or unsure of whom to talk to, and 55 per cent seldom talk about own debt with friends or family

TORONTONov. 23, 2017 /CNW/ – Canadians will tap, swipe and click their way through Black Friday, Cyber Monday and into the holiday shopping season under a cloud of debt, despite a majority claiming they know how to manage debt (54%) and saying they are committed to becoming debt free (64%).

While being debt-free is a priority (64%) according to a survey released by Manulife Bank of Canada, Canadian household debt-to-income is at record levels2. While almost half of debtholders surveyed (44%) said they had reduced their debt burden over the past year, (31%) actually met their debt reduction goals.

“When it comes to debt, knowledge alone does not equal power,” said Rick Lunny, President and CEO of Manulife Bank. “There is a clear gap between what Canadians say they know about managing debt, their good intentions, and their ability to do something about it.”

Nearly one-quarter (24%) of Canadians also said they are embarrassed to talk about how much debt they have. Nearly 40 per cent could not say they knew whom to talk to about debt management, while more than half said they seldom have the conversation with friends or family (55%).

 Lack of confidence and looking for help

Canadians lack confidence in their bank’s willingness and ability to help with debt. While more than seven in ten (71%) would like to be more confident about financial decisions and most look for guidance from their banks to help pay down debt, only a small number actually believe their bank helps them reduce debt (16%) and makes their interests a priority (17%). However, 46 per cent of respondents said they simply do not know how their bank could help.

This despite many Canadians recognizing the link between health and wealth. Nearly nine in ten (88%) said financial issues impact other areas of individuals’ lives and that financial wellness positively impacts overall health and productivity at work. In addition, three-quarters believe financial literacy and support is key to avoiding financial issues, and that having access to financial counselling is beneficial.

However, more than half (53%) said financial challenges impact mental or emotional health, while more than a third (34%) also considered impacts to physical health.

“There is a very strong connection between health and wealth. People should feel confident that they have allies when it comes to managing and reducing debt. Beginning to talk about debt, especially with a financial advisor, is a very important first step. Canadians who do not have a financial advisor are encouraged to seek out somebody they can trust,” says Lunny.

Approximately half of those surveyed expressed satisfaction with their overall financial health (47%); most satisfied were those who worked with financial advisors (59%) in contrast to those without (36%).

Differences between homeowners and renters

Among more than half (54%) of Canadians claiming good knowledge of debt management, homeowners (60%) are significantly more likely than renters (42%) to say they do. Homeowners also indicated different financial priorities than renters, focusing more on savings and investments rather than preparing for unexpected expenses or interruptions of income.

For homeowners carrying mortgages, the key factor in choosing a mortgage was the interest rate. More than half (56%) of respondents put this on the top of their priority list, while only 11 per cent said the ability to pay down their mortgage as fast as possible was most important.

Mortgage holders also reported not having a very good knowledge of critical information, such as the consequences of missing a payment. One in ten were not certain on who their mortgage provider was.

The average level of mortgage debt has remained relatively steady at approximately $200,000 since Manulife Bank last surveyed Canadians in February 2017.

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