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A Tribute to Fraser Smith



I’ve already written a short tribute to Fraser Smith, but here is full tribute by Ed Rempel.

I was saddened recently to hear of the passing of one my mentors, Fraser Smith. I had actually just finished recording my first video about his classic strategy, the Smith Manoeuvre when I heard the news.

I first met Fraser 10 years ago at the CFP conference in Ottawa where he was a guest speaker. He was a down-to-earth, folksy speaker, which was quite different from all the typical financial speakers in suits. I was immediately struck by the brilliance of his idea and what a great benefit this could be for many Canadians struggling to save for their retirement.

Our clients often found that planning for their retirement was difficult because it was often a tradeoff between their lifestyle today and their lifestyle after they retire. Being able to invest from their home equity instead of using their cash flow was a great idea. It was a “simple, elegant” strategy with cool extras, such as capitalizing the interest.

His talk was the beginning of a journey for me. I soon learned that the implementation was a bit tricky. Fraser was generous in comparing notes about which Smith Manoeuvre mortgages worked best. We discussed meetings we each had with different banks. We started doing Smith Manoeuvre seminars, researched all the tax issues, learned about who is and is not suitable for, constantly worked on better ways to do it, and developed 7 different Smith Manoeuvre strategies. It all started with that one talk from Fraser.

During a speaking trip to Toronto, I met him for a long lunch and he told me his story. He had a wide-ranging, interesting career. He got his idea for the Smith Manoeuvre by noticing that mortgages are tax deductible for Americans and that some wealthy Canadians were able to achieve it. He inspired a credit union CEO to create a mortgage that would work by manually making all the adjustments each month (readvanceable mortgages did not exist in the 80s). What drove him was his desire to “give every Canadian mortgage holder the opportunity to make their mortgage interest tax deductible.”

Fraser was always very open and generous in sharing his knowledge. He had a straightforward, common sense way of thinking and was a huge inspiration for me. His strategy has made a huge difference in the lives of many of our clients. We are indebted to him.

We will keep his name alive.

About the Author: Ed Rempel is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and Certified Management Accountant (CMA) who built his practice by providing his clients solid, comprehensive financial plans and personal coaching.  If you would like to contact Ed, you can leave a comment in this post, or visit his website EdRempel.com.  You can read his other articles here.





7 Comments, Comment or Ping

  1. 1. GiMan

    I never met Fraser Smith, but I was one big fan of him. May he rest in peace.

  2. It’s too bad, if Smith had lived a couple years more, he might have found a whole new market for his creation with the USA possibly taking away the mortgage interest tax deduction in the next few years.

  3. 3. InsureCan

    There are few mentors in the financial industry these days. It didn’t use to be that way 20-30 years ago.

    When a friend passes, I try and take something away about their life and reimplement it in mine. Perhaps his passing can inspire us to mentor others.

  4. 4. Andrew F

    I’ll tip my hat to Smith for popularizing a powerful tax strategy for Canadians.

  5. 5. Troppus

    WOW! I had no idea he passed away. I’m thankful I frequent your blog. He has some really great strategies that have been employed by people I know (including myself) to make their personal residences’ mortgage a tax deduction. There’s a new software program coming out from Wealth-E Soft too that works with part of the smith maneuver I think, but not 100% sure, but this technique will help many people realize what they can do by using leverage, debt conversion and using borrowed money to invest with.

  6. 6. Ed Rempel

    Hi Insure,

    Very well said. You are right that it is rare.

    I’ve been fortunate to have had a few people that I consider my mentors. There was a family accountant that helped me through my accounting career. Then there was Nick Murray, who I think is full of wisdom. He does not know that I think of him a mentor, but I modeled much of my practice on his philosophies.

    Fraser was like a mentor to me in teaching me about the Smith Manoeuvre.

    There are others that I learned a lot from, but not to the extent that I would consider them a mentor.

    I’m also fortunate to be a mentor in my practice, which I find very rewarding.

    Being a mentor is one of the most rewarding things you can do and I would highly recommend it. I found that once I developed a core philosophy that I really believed in, I wanted to be able to teach it to others – to preserve it and to spread it to people that fully understand it.

    I guess being a mentor is a bit like having kids – leaving a legacy.

    I agree with you completely, Insure. Perhaps Fraser’s passing can inspire us to mentor others.

    Ed

  7. 7. Jen Verscheure

    Dear Ed,

    My name is Jennifer and I am Fraser’s daughter. I am currently in Dresden, Ontario with my family visiting my husband’s side of the family. I’m sitting by the pool with the MacBook and after e-mailing my mom to update her on our trip, I decided to google my Dad’s name which I do now and then because I miss him.

    I would sincerely like to thank you for your tribute. I hadn’t seen it until now and it always warms my heart to hear or read about the positive ways in which my dad impacted people’s lives. He was such an amazing man and I am so proud to be his daughter. What an honor. Thank you also to those of you who left a message in my dad’s honor. I miss him so much and it’s truly a beautiful thing to know he has left such a legacy and that his selflessless will continue to help fellow Canadians.

    Warmly,
    Jen.

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