Investing Through the Ages: Wealth Management Tips for Your 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s

Many of us may (at least from time to time) wish we had a crystal ball when it comes to choosing the right investments. The very good news is that in the world of wealth management, experience is a better tool than any crystal ball. And with 20+ years of experience as a portfolio manager, Genus Head of Wealth Management Mary Lou Miles has carefully observed what works and what doesn’t at all ages and stages of investing. Here she offers her guidance for how to optimize your investment approach in your 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s to ensure that you’re setting you, your children and grandchildren, and future generations up for true success.

Investing Tips for your 30s

For many people, being twenty-something is a time to enjoy life, begin to establish a career, and to start earning. But as we enter our thirties, our mindset can begin to shift. “In your 30s, you’re settling down, buying a home, expanding your family, and continuing career education,” Miles says. 

“Liquidity – access to capital – is required at this stage of life,” she says. “So investments may be more conservative, despite the longer time horizon.”

To support this changing lifestyle, she notes that saving – and being able to easily access what you put away – is crucial. “You need to develop a savings discipline with a more short-term approach,” says Miles. “You will need to access this capital for big purchases, like buying a home or continuing your career education, so ensure that it’s easily accessible.”

One of the most common issues Miles sees with investors in their 30s is a lack of planning, so she stresses the need to look ahead. “A common mistake is that people in their 30s don’t plan for the future,” she says. “Or that they fail to budget or save. I also see them take on unnecessary debt,” which she says can hinder their ability to set aside 10% of their income – an ideal amount at this stage – for investments. 

Key takeaway for investors in their 30s: Make saving and investing a portion of your income (ideally 10%) a regular habit. 

Investing Tips for your 40s

Heading into our 40s, the attention of many investors may be focused on not just our own futures, but also the future of our kids. “We see investors in their 40s growing their family and saving for post-secondary education,” says Miles. “With that, they may purchase a larger principal residence or undergo renovations,” she says. To accommodate the need for these kinds of short-term savings plans, Miles recommends focusing on a shorter time horizon for investments. 

At this stage of life, investors also tend to be farther along in their careers with more savings, so they can take on more risk and invest in more equities. “Once RRSPs are maxed, open TFSAs with a more aggressive impact focus,” Miles notes. “Those TFSAs have potentially the longest time horizon, so you’re able to take on more risk.”

Some very common issues Miles sees with investors in their 40s include not accelerating mortgage pay downs, and failing to maximize RRSPs, which she recommends addressing. 

Key takeaways for investors in their 40s: Focus on paying down your mortgage, maximizing RRSP contributions, and opening TFSAs.

Investing in your 50s

Once we reach our 50s, it’s time to double down on retirement planning. 

“Often, in a person’s 50s, the mortgage is paid off,” says Miles. “And those savings can be translated to focusing on the retirement years.” 

Retirement planning looks different for everyone, and even if your mortgage is still in play, your 50s are a great time to maximize your pre-retirement savings and chart your retirement investing strategy.

“I suggest maximizing RRSP and TFSA contributions at this age,” says Miles. “This is a great opportunity to look for growth in the portfolio versus income or capital preservation.” 

For some, a pre-retirement investing strategy also means considering what impact you want your wealth to have. “Gen Xers tend to be focused on sustainable and impact investing,” she says. “You can still align your values to your 50s’ asset mix decisions.” 

Key takeaways for investors in their 50s: Prioritize maximizing RRSP and TFSA contributions and focus on your upcoming retirement. 

Investing in your 60s

In this decade of our investing lives, our mindset tends to shift toward intergenerational wealth transfer. “Depending on your resources, you may start gifting offspring funds for downpayments or providing inheritances in advance,” observes Miles.

Investors at this stage may also begin to put their retirement savings plan into action. “Investments need to start looking for income and yield for potential regular withdrawals,” Miles adds. “Investors may lean toward more conservative asset mixes, but it depends on the overall requirements, plus other pensions and inheritances.”

With retirement right around the corner, it’s also time to consider how much more you’ll need to save for the post-retirement lifestyle you want. “One of the most common problems I see with investors in their 60s is failing to save enough to support their retirement lifestyle,” Miles says. To address this, she recommends setting aside 20% for investing to plan for the longer term.

Key takeaways for investors in their 60s: Start setting aside greater amounts to invest and begin charting your intergenerational wealth transfer strategy.

Regardless of your age and investing stage, Miles concludes that there are three things you can do now, and at any time, to ensure a successful investing future: “savings discipline, focusing on long-term values and goals, and considering the best asset mix for your investments depending on your objectives.” 

Why not start today? We welcome you to talk to a Genus Advisor to discuss a customized investing plan that addresses your unique needs.


Client impact

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Douglas H.
“Genus is a very innovative firm. I am pleased to invest in their Fossil Free and Impact strategies that help me invest in line with my values.”
Marnie C.
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David L.
“Genus consistently provides a good, clearly explained, comprehensive picture of the general economic and financial situation, along with an excellent account of the investment decisions made in relation to this. Genus’ equally strong concern with clients’ questions and requests for further information is also a very important part of the service it provides.”
Allan S.
“Back in 1992 when I found myself at fifty with a substantial amount of money to invest, I knew just one thing — that I didn’t want to contribute to tobacco companies, arms manufacturers, or oil. But over the ensuing years the options for socially responsible investing have become far more sophisticated and I’m very happy that this is a big part of the Genus approach. I also very much appreciate the long-term relationship with my portfolio manager, Mary Lou.”
Ann P.

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