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TriDelta Investment Counsel – Q2 2014 investment review

Posted on July 4, 2014 by Ted Rechtshaffen in Bonds, Equities, Investing, Quarterly report

Executive Summary

The summer heat is upon us. We Canadians dream of summer for 9 months of the year, and the only bad part of the season (other than sunburns and bugs) is that many investors think the markets fall in the summer.

The good news is that it isn’t true (at least in Canada). While it is true that Q1 and Q4 are historically the best performing quarters, in Canada, in the last 10 years, July and September have been positive 60% of the time and August has been positive 70% of the time. Overall for Q3, the average return has been 1.29%.

Even in the US, most summer months have positive returns. Six out of 10 times July and August have been positive, while 8 out of 10 September’s have been positive. The challenge is that when they were down, they were really down. The average Q3 return in the US over the last 10 years has been -0.85%.

The overall message here is that after the first 6 months of the year, where overall returns have been strong – especially in Canada – recent history suggests that the summer is a quieter time for the markets. The recent string of 1%+ return months may just come to an end.

The key is not to overreact to the ‘interesting’ items like seasonality, but to remain focused on earnings, interest rates, and direction of financial trends. As a result, we will continue to be almost fully invested at this time, with a lean towards stocks, as the alternatives to stocks do not seem as strong in this environment.

The Quarter that Was

Stocks – Canada and Global

12886414_sThe second quarter was a great one for those invested in Canadian stocks. However, if you were invested outside of Canada, the strong Canadian dollar pushed most global market returns to neutral or negative. To be more specific, if you were invested in Canadian Energy and Minerals it was a great quarter. If not, the quarter was nothing special.

The second quarter saw strong returns for the Canadian TSX up 5.7%. This was led by the Energy sector’s 13% returns. Given that Energy makes up 27% of the TSX, everything other than Energy was up just 3%.

The S&P500 saw returns of 4.7% for the quarter, but a rebound in the strength of the Canadian currency brought these returns down to just 1.2% on a Canadian dollar basis. In fact the 30 stock Dow Jones index was down 1% in Canadian dollar currency this quarter.

To put Canada in perspective, it is the 2nd best performing market to India this year, among the 10 biggest world markets.

On a Global basis, returns in Canadian dollars were negative to flat across most of Europe and Asia.

Bonds and Preferred Shares

Once again, bonds did reasonably well given that interest rates actually declined slightly again this quarter. In fact, rates are so low that you can get a 5 year fixed rate mortgage as low as 2.79% – this is the lowest rate in history. These low rates are translating into decent bond returns. The Canadian bond universe was up 2.0% on the quarter, and 4.8% on the year.

Preferred shares kept pace with the bond market, with returns of 2% on the quarter and 4.5% on the year.

How did TriDelta Clients Do?


In most quarters growth oriented clients have had stronger returns than conservative, income oriented clients. In the second quarter, these roles were reversed.

Our more conservative stock portfolios saw returns of 4%, with Suncor Energy (up 18%), Apple (up 16%) and Canadian Natural Resources (up 15%), leading the way. This performance was particularly strong given that over 40% of the portfolio is invested outside of Canada and was hurt by the strengthening Canadian dollar.

Year to date, conservative equity portfolios are up over 9%.

Our growth portfolios were light on energy, and it impacted returns. Equity returns were 1% for the quarter. In fact, the two best performing stocks were precious metals names, Tahoe Resources (up 20%) and Agnico Eagle Mines (up 16%).

Year to date, growth portfolios are up 8%.


On the fixed income side, TriDelta saw tremendous returns, although they still couldn’t keep up with equity markets. After a 2013 that ended up with negative returns in many fixed income portfolios, most clients have seen bond returns of almost 6% year to date (2% on the quarter), and preferred share returns of almost 8% year to date (2.5% on the quarter). The bond numbers beat the Aggregate Canadian bond universe by over 1%, while the preferred share numbers are 2.5% better than the preferred share index on the year.

During the 2nd quarter, we repositioned the preferred share model to become less sensitive to longer term interest rates. We have now concentrated a significant portion of the model with 5-year fixed-resets that should coincide with when the Bank of Canada is in the position to raise rates. In other words, the next 5-year fixed rate will reset around the time when we believe the markets would have priced in central bank hikes in 2015.

TriDelta High Income Balanced Fund

Some clients who are accredited investors ($1 million+ in investment assets or $300,000+ in household income), have been able to invest in the TriDelta High Income Balanced Fund. This pooled fund aims to deliver high yields, and broad diversification, through stocks, options, and low cost leverage of bonds. Year to date the fund has returned over 9%, and has been in the top decile (top 10%) of all balanced income funds in Canada. We are very pleased with the performance of the fund so far this year.

Pending legislation changes may mean that the Fund could be available to all non-accredited investors soon. We will keep you posted as soon as this change comes into reality.

Dividend Changes

We continue to pay close attention to dividend growing stocks. We believe that this is a strong part of long term, lower volatile investment success. Again this quarter we are pleased to say that there were no dividend declines, and the list of ten dividend growers are as follows:

Company Name % Dividend Increase Company Name % Dividend Increase




Exxon Mobile







Johnson and Johnson








National Bank







The Quarter Ahead

Three items drive our thinking in the quarter ahead:

  1. Interest Rates
  2. Canadian Dollar Valuations
  3. Corporate Earnings

Some may be surprised that Ukraine, Iraq and other world hotspots are not on our list. These are definitely factors in the markets in the short term, but except in terrible cases, these political hotspots tend to have little mid-term or long-term impact on market performance. Given the lack of ability at predicting how things flare up in the short term, we try not to let them impact our overall investment thinking.

Interest Rates

In Canada, the last inflation rate announcement showed an inflation rate of 2.3%, the first time in 2 years the rate was above 2%. In general, this would lead to a push towards nearer term interest rate hikes. However, Canada’s inflation rate was as low as 0.7 per cent as recently as October 2013. In addition, volatile energy prices pushed inflation up in the past couple of months, but could just as easily bring inflation down with a late summer decline in oil prices.

While we are a little more wary of short term interest rate hikes after the May inflation numbers, we still don’t see a move before 2015. The front end of the yield curve is expecting overnight rates in Canada to move up 50 bps (0.5%) by the end of 2015.

On the longer end of the yield curve, interest rates could easily move higher, back to the higher
end of the trading range witnessed last year given a change in appetite for risk free government bonds. We don’t anticipate sudden jumps, but we don’t see the 10-year Canada and US treasuries remaining below 2.40% and 2.65%, respectively, for much longer.

While we believe for the first time in a couple of quarters, that the direction for interest rates is going to finally be up from here, we expect the pace to remain slow, and as a result, this shouldn’t provide any meaningful shocks to the stock market. Slow interest rate moves shouldn’t spook the market considering that rates would have to rise meaningfully (2%+) to once again be a strong alternative to stock investors.

With bonds, we have done a good job anticipating the decline in rates, and we have begun to make adjustments in anticipation of a rise in mid to long term rates.

We shall remain overweight corporate and/or high yield bonds as clients are rewarded with higher income, and there remains scope for such bonds to outperform government bonds in a rising interest rate environment. We are a little heavier invested today in shorter term bonds with intentions to pick-up bonds at higher interest rate levels (and buying longer term bonds) when the bond market adopts a more stable to declining interest rate outlook (possibly in Q4).

Canadian Dollar Valuations

28594289_sWith the Canadian dollar hovering just under 94 cents US, many pundits have been surprised by the Canadian dollars’ strength. Certainly the strong gains in oil price have helped, but the sense is that Canada’s central bank is more likely to raise rates before the United States, and that higher yield on Canadian treasuries vs. US treasuries will continue to support Canada’s dollar.

We believe there is still a little room to run higher, but we also believe in investing a meaningful portion of portfolios outside of Canada. As we see a Canadian dollar rise above 95 cents, we may start to look at adding to our global investment weighting to possibly take advantage of currency moves in the other direction.

It is important to remember that with investing 35%+ of stocks outside of Canada, the US dollar is the biggest investment in your portfolio. As such, we pay close attention to currencies, and look for opportunities to add value to your overall returns.

At the beginning of the year we predicted the Canadian dollar would be at 90 cents at year end. We still believe this, but in the short term (the Summer) see a stronger Canadian dollar ahead.

Corporate Earnings

Earnings in Canada grew by more than the U.S. as Canadian companies had a strong surprise on revenue and profitability beating estimates by more than 4.5%. This along with the positive outlook going forward should help drop valuations (price earnings ratios) from a current 20 times earnings to 15 times if the growth keeps coming. In the next 12 months the markets are expecting a 29% growth in earnings. We will watch this closely since if estimates start falling this could be a head wind pushing down the market.

So far, however, there has been little to suggest a slowdown in earnings is upon us.

Even with the very low US GDP numbers in Q1 of -2.9%, most economists believe that this is a short term weather related blip. We have simply not seen real signs of a US slowdown, and certainly not signs of an earnings slowdown.


When we combine our outlook on interest rates, exchange rates and corporate earnings, we may see a slowdown from the significantly strong market returns of the last 3 quarters, but we remain bullish on the markets overall.

We may be a little slower at times to invest cash in this environment, but it isn’t because there are not great stocks to invest in, but more a case of watching a few of these names and trying to enter at a point of weakness for the individual company.

All the best for a great summer!

TriDelta Investment Management Committee

Cameron Winser

VP, Equities

Edward Jong

VP, Fixed Income

Ted Rechtshaffen

President and CEO

Anton Tucker

Executive VP

Lorne Zeiler

VP, Wealth Advisor

When it comes to siblings and supporting parents financially, things can get complicated

Posted on July 3, 2014 by Ted Rechtshaffen in Financial Planning


When I was growing up, my paternal grandmother lived independently. While I was never involved in the details, it was quite apparent that her children were helping her financially. I didn’t give it a second thought.

Now that I think about these things for a living, I wonder when it all changed. When did adult children stop supporting older parents, and when did it start to go the other way?

In the time before pension plans and government social security programs (for the most part, prior to the 1950s), it seems very logical that those that were working and had money coming in, were responsible for those that had no income.

The Old Age Security that we know today didn’t fully come into place until 1952. The Canada Pension Plan (CPP) was launched in 1966. These changes along with major shifts in company pensions beginning after World War II had a significant change on the financial independence of seniors in Canada.

Based on a 2011 U.S. study by ForbesWoman and the National Endowment for Financial Education, 59% of parents financially support their adult children who are no longer in school. Clearly a great deal has changed in the past 60 years.

We continually hear the tale of adult children struggling to live a financially independent life.

What has been out of focus, but is becoming more common again, is the case of adult children supporting their parents.

Even with the changes in pensions, for those that are living into their late 80s and 90s, in some cases, the money is simply running out. This usually comes up when we ask middle aged clients the question “Outside of yourselves, do you see your parents as being an added expense over time or are they financially independent. If independent, are you likely to receive a meaningful estate?”

The answers to this question range across the map.

When adult children ask us about supporting their parents, I ask first if they can afford to help and if so, by how much. I also ask if there are other family members that are able to contribute.

2839811_saThis, of course, is just scratching the surface of the issues. When someone needs financial help, one of the questions is why? Today, when adult children have to support their parents financially, some questions and issues might include: why didn’t my parents save better, why do they spend money they don’t have, are they too proud to ask for help, why should I help if my siblings can’t, they didn’t support me or weren’t there for me so why should I be there for them?

These can be complicated issues. Even tougher, this question often grows into one of cutting costs by having the parents move in with the kids. That creates another large set of issues that go beyond the scope of this article.

If we go back to my initial three questions, these do require some long term financial planning to properly answer. Just because you can afford to help this year, or for the next few years, what will it mean for you when you are in your 80s or 90s?

Are you essentially putting yourself in the same position as your parents with every cheque you write? Even if you can afford to help, can you afford $1,000 a month? What if your parents need $2,000 a month?

Just as important is financial planning for the parents. Ideally this planning happens long before money runs out so that solutions can be worked on. These solutions often relate to selling a house and possibly renting. They may involve cutting back on spending. If young enough, they may involve continuing work or doing a new job. Essentially, making the tough decisions to try and prevent being a financial burden to their children. If the financial problems are well entrenched, this can often be the catalyst for bringing other family members into the discussion.

When it comes to the issue of siblings and supporting parents financially, things can get complicated. While in theory it would be nice if two siblings split the support 50/50, quite often someone shoulders most or all of the load.

How open should the process be? Should there be an open family discussion with everyone involved? If only one child is financially able and willing to help, should it be a private arrangement to protect the feelings of the parents?

In my experience, there is value in being open with financial difficulty. It can often relieve the stress of trying to pretend that things are fine, and can begin the process of addressing the problem.

Unfortunately, families are very complicated. In some cases, it is much simpler (while not necessarily fair) to keep the discussion between parents and the one or two children who can help financially.

The good news is that children who can help, are often happy to do so. They feel good about helping the people who have helped them the most along the way. There can even be a strengthening of the bonds between parents and children through this reversal of the traditional roles.

Maybe we simply weren’t meant to be financially independent in each generation. It is a good goal to have, but maybe we were really meant to have multiple generations supporting each other. History suggests that rather than children helping parents being a new trend, it has actually been the norm for centuries.

Ted can be reached at or by phone at 416-733-3292 x221 or 1-888-816-8927 x221

Reproduced from the National Post newspaper article 14th June 2014.

Here’s why you should show your group pension plan some love

Posted on May 21, 2014 by Ted Rechtshaffen in Pensions, RRSP

ted_financial_postIf your boss offered you a $5,000 raise for the same amount of work, would you say no?

That fact is that many Canadians are turning this down by not taking advantage of their companies matching of RRSP contributions.

The obvious reason is that money is tight for many people and the idea of having less in your pocket each paycheque can be painful. But the question must be asked: What else are you doing with your money that will return 100% (if there is full employer matching)?”

The answer is very likely “nothing.” Does it really make sense to pay down your mortgage faster when interest rates are 3%, than to take $5,000 and turn it into $10,000 immediately in a tax sheltered investment? Even if you are not paying the mortgage faster, what about borrowing an extra $5,000 or $10,000 from a line of credit to take advantage of pension matching. This is on top of the tax deduction for making a contribution to your retirement plan. I understand that there may be cases where you simply can’t afford it today. That is OK.

However, make sure you understand what you are missing and take a good look at your budget to see if you can somehow find the money for it.

We always recommend maxing out the amount of company contributions you can get. It may be something like 3% of salary contribution from the employee matched fully by 3% of contributions from the company. Sometimes it can be much better, with employer contributions as high as 12% of salary in some quasi-government plans.

Missing out on employer contributions is just one of the major problems. When reviewing Defined Contribution or Group RRSP plans with people, we often find five major mistakes.

1)     They aren’t maximizing the contribution from their company/employer.

2)     They are far too conservative, often with a meaningful part of their plan in money market.

3)     They ignore the plan for years on end, often making a change only when the stock market had a major downturn.

4)     They ignore the rest of their financial world when setting up their Group RRSP plan.

5)     They have no idea what fees they are being charged.

The main reason we find these five mistakes is that employees are simply not being educated on their plans. They are left to their own reading and decision making on something that they are not always able to understand. They have been essentially abandoned by their employer AND by the company or broker that sold the plan to the company.

In many cases, if someone does ask their HR department questions about the plan, the HR department is either uncertain of the answers or they are afraid of taking any risk around advice, so they often provide less than adequate answers.

Aside from education, why might someone not take the employer contribution in a plan?

Tied to a lack of education is the overly conservative asset mix of many plans. In some cases these plans have a default contribution of new money into money market, and these funds that are returning 1% or less, can become too large a part of the plan.

8399526_sWhat many have to realize is that a pension plan is a very long term investment plan – even for those near retirement. If someone is 35, this money will not likely be touched for at least 25 years, but that is only the top of the pile of money. That pile of money is supposed to last until they pass away. If they live until 90, that means that some of those investments will be a 55 year investment.

If some of that amount is left over, then it has an even longer investment horizon as it passes to the next generation. So even if you are near retirement, it isn’t as if you need all of that money the day you retire. Some of that money may still have a 30-year time horizon.

This long time horizon allows you to handle the ups and downs of the stock market, and will usually mean that if invested more aggressively, you will have more money in 30 years than if you invested with a high percentage of money market and bonds. Too many people are leaving too much retirement money on the table because of investing too safely.

Sometimes conversations about Group RRSPs start off with “I haven’t touched this in 10 years.”

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, if it was set up properly initially. One of the problems is that many plans have expanded or improved their investment offerings, and by not reviewing things for years, you may be missing some opportunities for lower fees, greater diversification, or access to better investment managers.

Another mistake that we see is that people don’t consider their broader financial picture when deciding what to do with their pension plan at work. For example, does a spouse have a defined benefit pension plan that will provide a steady retirement income? If they do, then you should definitely look at being more aggressive with your Group RRSP. On the other hand, if there is little other retirement money being set aside in your household, then you may want to be a little safer with your Group RRSP money, as it may be the key provider of retirement income. What about the amount of net worth in real estate or likely inheritances?

If these are large, and cash flow is tight today, maybe you really are OK not contributing to your Group RRSP plan.

In terms of investment fees, Group RRSPs should have lower fees in general. This is because they can be managed as part of a big plan. The reality is that investment fees on these plans are all over the map.

Keep in mind that the fees are as high as possible to still close the business with a company. That means that if it is a smaller company that hasn’t negotiated well, you may be paying 2%+ in fees on your Group RRSP plan. In cases of very large companies who have negotiated well, the fees could be less than 0.5%.

This information is important, because if you are paying high fees on your Group RRSP plans, you may be able to shift a large portion of your plan to your financial advisor or to manage it yourself. This doesn’t mean giving up on the employer matching benefits. It simply means moving a portion of the plan (your employer can tell you what is able to be transferred) to be managed outside of your Group RRSP plan, and now would either be part of your personal RRSP or into a LIRA (Locked in Retirement Account). You would then have much more freedom on investments and possibly lower fees.

When I think of some of the mistakes that are being made on this very important part of people’s retirement plans, it reminds me that many people need to take some action to learn more. If you can’t get some advice and guidance through work, then ask your financial advisor, and if they don’t help, then you may need to do some more research on your own.

After all, for more and more of us, this is your pension. Show it some love.

Ted can be reached at or by phone at 416-733-3292 x221 or 1-888-816-8927 x221

Reproduced from the National Post newspaper article 20th May 2014.

Three Ways High Earners Can Earn Higher After-Tax Returns and Help their Kids

Posted on May 13, 2014 by Lorne Zeiler in Tax Strategies

For those of us born before the 1980s, we enjoyed the benefits of affordable higher education and a fairly low entry point to the real estate market.  For kids about to enter University, the tuition cost of a three year law program could easily run over $100,000, a two year MBA between $60,000 -100,000 and the 20% down payment for their first home in Toronto would likely be over $150,000.  By comparison nearly 15 years ago, higher education was only about 10-15% of this cost and my first house down payment was less than $70,000 (and yes that was over 20% of the purchase price).  Our children, while given nearly every advantage, may find it tougher making their way in the world and to move out of our basements unless we start planning now. 

For parents (or grandparents) earning a combined income of over $250,000, below are three separate investment tools that can significantly enhance after-tax returns by 1) deferring taxes, and 2) transferring the tax burden to a lower income earner OR eliminating taxes altogether. 

These strategies also provide additional funds for your children when they attend University and/or start their careers.

RESP – Registered Education Savings Plan

Most people are aware that the government provides a 20% grant (Canadian Education Savings Grant ‘CESG’) for every dollar contributed to a child’s RESP up to a maximum of $2,500 per year and a lifetime limit of $36,000 ($7,200 in grants), but many do not realize that the lifetime contribution limit is actually $50,000. 

While the final $14,000 ($50,000 minus $36,000) does not receive grants, these funds enjoy two benefits: 1) tax-deferred compounding and 2) lower taxes on withdrawal. 

If a parent were to contribute the additional $14,000 into an RESP shortly after her child was born and the funds were invested in balanced investment earning 6% per year, the funds can grow tax-deferred to approximately $40,000 before the child begins University.  In fact, the investment could provide an additional $11,000 of spending per year for the son or daughter over a 4 year undergraduate degree. 

Since these funds are withdrawn by your child, any tax attributable to the investment gets taxed in their hands.  As your kid will be in school and likely earning little to no income, he or she will receive the full benefit of the tax deferred compound return on the investment, while paying little to no tax when withdrawing the funds.

Tax Free Savings Account

9717403_sAny Canadian citizen and resident 18 years of age or over, with a valid social insurance number (SIN) can open a TFSA and contribute the maximum annual amount of $5,500 per year.  TFSA accounts enable investors to earn tax-free compounding and pay no tax when withdrawing funds. 

If parents convince their teenager to open a TFSA account when she turns 18 and the parent provides her with $5,500 annually to invest in the account (there are no taxes on financial gifts), those funds could grow to over $75,000 before her 28th birthday, assuming an annual return of 6%.  The $75,000 can be withdrawn without any penalty or tax AND the daughter will be able to contribute that $75,000 back to her TFSA when she has available funds for savings.

Overfunded Life Insurance policy

Life insurance can be a powerful estate planning tool for high income earners as investments compound tax free, providing additional tax shelter and withdrawals can be tax-free or as in the case described below, taxed at a much lower rate than that of the contributor. Death benefits are always tax-free.

We often suggest that high income earners take out / write an insurance policy on their young children.  The benefits are many: 

1) As the policy is started at a young age, the premium amount on your child is very low.  While the child has no dependents to care for when the policy is started, it is a benefit to know that he has guaranteed life insurance in case he becomes ill or suffers a stroke or other ailment that would otherwise make him uninsurable later in life. 

2) Many plans also offer critical illness insurance with the life policy, also at a very low rate due to the young age of the insured, so if he were to suffer a major illness later in life, your child would receive a tax free lump sum payout to help cover the lost income while receiving treatment. 

3) The insurance plan can be a tax efficient savings vehicle. 

There is typically a high limit for how much a policy can be overfunded (contributions greater than the premium amount).  The additional funds can then be invested in a growth-oriented portfolio within a Universal Life policy. 

The investments returns will compound on a tax-free basis as there is no taxation while the investment is growing within the policy.  When your child turns 18, the ownership of the policy can be changed, i.e. instead of the parent being the owner of the policy, it can now be the child.

The main advantage is that after ownership has changed, no taxes can be attributed back to the original contributor (the parent).  When your son decides to withdraw funds from the policy, the tax obligation will be on him, not the contributor. 

Since your son will likely still be in school or not working when withdrawing the funds, the ultimate tax paid on the investment will be low and likely only a fraction of what would have been paid if the contributor (the parent) had invested the funds in a cash account.

Being tax smart with your investments can significantly enhance the cash available to your child for education and for purchasing a home.  If you are already a good saver and are fully using the tax sheltering and deferral benefits of your TFSAs and RRSPs, the three options above are highly tax efficient ways to generate a much higher after-tax return and provide needed funds to your kids in some of their highest spending years.

To find out more about this and other tax effective investing and planning strategies, please contact Lorne Zeiler at 416-733-3292 x 225 or by e-mail at

Lorne Zeiler
Written By:
Lorne Zeiler, MBA, CFA
VP, Wealth Advisor
Lorne can be reached by email at or by phone at
416-733-3292 x225

Low rates equal solid CDN Real Estate

Posted on May 1, 2014 by Anton Tucker in Economy, Interest rates

These days it’s even harder to ‘see the forest for the trees…’ as we’re bombarded with news, advertisements, new TV series, text messages and other information. In this article we look at a series of pointers on the Canadian economy, which will affect our daily lives for years to come.

We start with our government and no better place than bank governor Stephen Poloz who delivered a speech last week suggesting our interest rates are likely to remain low for the next decade, yes decade.

Mr Poloz suggested in his speech that the obstacles likely to hinder Canadian economic growth over the next decade includes aging of the Canadian population. This is likely to weigh on growth potential causing the Canadian economy to follow a weaker trend, which would imply low interest rates. Here is the Financial Post’s report on his speech.

20378277_sWith interest rates at 30 year lows and our bank governor’s suggestion that this is unlikely to change much for a decade, now may be a good time to consider borrowing to invest. TriDelta’s president, Ted Rechtshaffen authored a news article in the Financial Post a few weeks ago that addressed the issue of borrowing to invest head on. Click here to read the full article.

The world appears to be in a better place since the 2009 economic crisis although obstacles exist.  One key to the Canadian economy is clearly real estate. 

CIBC’s Benjamin Tal has done a very good job explaining Canadian real estate and explains why we are OK, while a noted US Hedge Fund manager calls for despair in the Canadian real estate market.  You can read the article outlining their viewpoints here

The key is that if low rates are around for a decade, this represents a major support for sustainable real estate pricing.  This may not mean a booming Canadian economy, but with stable real estate, it significantly increases the likelihood of a stable Canada.

Article compiled by Anton Tucker, Executive Vice President