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Category Archives: Zavitz Blog

Spotlight on Michelle Crosby





Michelle joined our advisory team back in April and has since begun working with many of our clients.  We have put her under the spotlight, so that you can get to know Michelle a little bit better.


  1. What drew you to a career at Zavitz Insurance & Wealth (ZIW)?

Working under the leadership and mentorship of Terry and Justine is ultimately what drew me to ZIW.  The strong reputation they have in the community and industry was very appealing and I knew that I would learn from the best and grow a more successful career in the financial planning industry.

  1. What have you gained from working at ZIW?

I have gained an incredible amount of knowledge and belief around the importance of having a strong income protection plan in place to protect individuals and their families against the unexpected (not just death).  Knowing that I am helping people do this is extremely gratifying.  

  1. What is on your wish list for the next 5 years at ZIW?

My goal is to keep growing my experience, knowledge and client base here at ZIW.  I would like to help as many people as possible get a strong insurance and financial plan in place so they can rest assured they are financially protected, and that their goals are being achieved.  I will also achieve my Certified Financial Planner designation, among some other designations, in order to ensure that I am helping my clients in the best way possible.

  1. Tell us about your work with the Red Shoe Society? What drew you to the cause?

I got involved with the Red Shoe Society after doing some volunteer work with the Ronald McDonald House Charities.  RMHC is a staple in Southwestern Ontario and offers an incredible opportunity for families to be together while their child is in the hospital.  The Red Shoe Society is a group that supports RMHC with multiple fundraising efforts that bring a lot of money and awareness to the cause.  After doing some work with the RSS and seeing their incredible value to the cause, I joined the Board of Directors as the Membership Chair in January 2019. In my role I get to share the vision of RMHC and bring awareness to this amazing place by growing our community of supporters.  I will be continuing my term into 2020.

  1. What is your hidden talent?

I can draw very well, and I absolutely love it. I have always been able to look at a picture and duplicate it.  My dad can draw and so can my sister.  As kids the three of us would have “drawing contests,” where we would put a picture of something in the middle of us and all draw it. The best version “won”, and my dad would build a frame for it and hang it up.  He always won (he was quite good) but I continued to love to do it and still to this day can get lost in a sketch for hours. I now take requests from my kids and frame them to hang on their walls.  My secret dream is to illustrate a children’s book…maybe one day!

Association Plans – If You Can’t Stand the Heat, Get Out of the Kitchen





Some of you may remember our past blog called Should I Buy Life Insurance from a Big Box Store? where we outlined the importance of doing your research before assuming associations have the best products and prices on the market. It’s true, a lot of the time an association’s membership includes various discounts on a multitude of products and services…but not always. In that blog, we explored the offering of one store’s life insurance products and prices and compared it to what was available through the open market.  It was clear that their pricing was not competitive in both the short and long run. 

So why are we revisiting this topic of association plans? Well there’s more to the story than just pricing, and more products than just life insurance.  Disability insurance is something many people are attracted to through their associations because it can cost less in their younger years (although more when they’re older!).  What most people don’t know about association plans is that they are considered group insurance, which means you do not own or control the policy, and the contracts and pricing are not guaranteed.  A large professional association in Ontario recently underwent some major changes on their disability product impacting everyone who currently holds a policy with them.  Associations, for the most part, want to provide value to their members, not take it away.  So why would the association ever do this?

Group plans involve a company/association/member group asking an insurance company to provide a product specifically for their members.  The insurance company agrees to do this with the understanding that the pricing assumptions they use will relate to this specific group rather than society as a whole.  Every year, they will measure if their pricing matched the actual claims experience of the plan.  If it was better than they assumed, some plans will provide a small refund.  If claims were higher, the insurance company will require a change in contractual language and/or an increase to the price.  The association is simply the messenger of this outcome.

Our medical advances and societal awareness has expanded more than we could have imagined 20 years ago. Mental illness, cancers, autoimmune diseases…these are all much more prevalent in all ages and cause significant, long term, disability claims.  It’s not surprising that disability insurance providers are seeing dramatic increases in claims putting a lot of pressure on their products and pricing.  The big difference is some of these providers have contracts and prices that are fully guaranteed, whereas others have the right to make changes. One association has already had to make difficult adjustments…there will be more. 

When it comes to protecting something as important as your income, financial stability, family, long term goals, businesses…and on and on…sometimes it’s worth an extra couple of bucks up front to make sure the product you secure now, is the product you have when you need it.

Are All Investment Options the Same?

Fees vs performance? Investment advisor or no advisor? Active or passive?…these are common considerations amongst today’s investors who have more choice than ever. What are these options and how do you decide what’s best for you?  Here is some food for thought…

Active Investing

With active investing, a portfolio manager and their team will research various companies, sectors, geographies, etc. and build a tailored mix of stocks, bonds and other assets to create a portfolio for their clients. The thought process is to offer a portfolio that is heavily weighted in areas that are expected to outperform the market and less weighted in those that will underperform. The intended end result? A better return than the market itself or what’s known as the benchmark.

This all sounds great, but the resources used in active management aren’t free so the cost of these portfolios is among the highest. The biggest questions to ask are…can the portfolio manager time the market such that the portfolio will beat the benchmark?  And, will it beat the benchmark by a higher amount than the added cost?

Passive Investing

Passive investing is the opposite. Instead of making educated guesses on what will over or under perform the market, these portfolios are built in the exact weighting of a particular market itself.  These funds can be based on a major index like TSX, or can be a subsection of an index, sector or geography. 

Whereas an active portfolio has the possibility to provide higher returns than the benchmark (or greater losses), passive funds will provide the same returns as the benchmark of the market it is replicating. Since passive investments require less resources, their fees are much lower.  As such, even if the funds aren’t surpassing the benchmark, the net effect can sometimes be greater (or less negative in a down market) than active. 

DIY Investing

A trend that has gained popularity with the evolution of technology is Do-It-Yourself Investing – there are a lot of new platforms where you can try your hand at building your own portfolio, whether it’s made up of passive and/or active funds.

Overall, this is the least expensive form of investing. That being said, you need to know what you are doing and be diligent in reviewing your portfolio frequently and researching the various options available to you. There is nothing worse than going on vacation and coming home to see that your stocks tanked while you were on the beach!

Which Option is Best?

At the end of the day, the best option is the one that makes you most comfortable…but having a trusted advisor to help you manage the bigger picture will ensure all of the pieces of the wealth puzzle fit properly together. After all, wealth is made up of more than just investment returns and fees…it’s a long-term strategic plan involving investments, insurance, taxes, retirement and so on, all working in conjunction to support your vision of the future.

Passive Income Planning Seminar

Passive Income Planning Seminar, filmed on June 5th, 2019 – Presented by Brandon Gilbert, business advisor & partner at MNP LLP. 

June 5, 2019 — Passive Income Planning Seminar – Video

Passive Income Planning Seminar, filmed on June 5th, 2019. Presented by Brandon Gilbert, business advisor & partner at MNP LLP