Canadian ESG funds

This post will review four Canadian ESG funds and ETFs. A friend of mine wants to add a global equity fund to his investment portfolio. But since he already has an Asian ex Japan fund, he wants to add an international equities fund ex United States & Canada. What makes his search for an international equities ESG fund or ETF more challenging is his Investment Policy follows fairly strict ESG and sustainability criteria.

At first glance, there didn’t seem to be too many Canadian based ESG mutual funds or ETFs that meet his sustainable investment criteria, but I did find four funds (some mutual funds and one ETF) that I will review below.

Keep in mind that my friend’s sustainability screen avoids investing in the following activities: oil & gas, mining, coal & gas fired power, tobacco, weapons, junk food, plastics. Let’s see if he could invest in any of the funds I will review below.

Greenchip Global Equity Fund

The Greenchip Global Equity Fund (symbol ECO100) benchmarks to the MSCI World Index. The geographic allocation of the fund is about 1/3 in each of Europe, USA/Canada, and Asia, with about 10% in cash at the time of writing based on this fund fact sheet.

The MER is 1.5% with 10% of the profits above a 6% hurdle, so its kinda expensive, but pretty average for a fund of this kind, and certainly cheaper than 2 & 20. The portfolio has a few utilities in it, and the top holdings are solar companies. Without doing any further analysis, it looks like the fund is suitable for my friend based on its holdings.

Russell Investments ESG Global Equity Pool

The Russell Investments ESG Global Equity Pool (symbol FRC163) looks like a fund of funds, with sub managers. The MSCI World Index is the benchmark. It looks like this fund holds a large number of securities that include the biggest global names that meet the sustainability criteria. No company on their top holdings list seems to go against my friend’s sustainability screen. But the portfolio does include lots of American stocks, which my friend wants to avoid since he already has a few US equities managers.

The MER is pretty expensive at 2.32% according to their fund fact sheet.

AGFiQ Global ESG Factors ETF

The AGFiQ Global ESG Factors ETF (symbol QEF) is a lot cheaper than the mutual funds reviewed in this post. The MER is only 0.45%. But the portfolio also holds a bunch of American stocks, which is not what my friend is looking for.

Mackenzie Global Leadership Impact ETF

The Mackenzie Global Leadership Impact ETF (symbol MWMN) has an MER of 0.63%, so its a lot cheaper than most mutual funds. The portfolio benchmark is the MSCI World Total Return index to Canadian dollars. This fund has some fund of fund characteristics, as the top two holdings are actually other funds offered by Mackenzie.

Also, since the benchmark is global equities, there are a lot of big American stocks in the portfolio.

If you want a sustainable Canadian dividend portfolio, click here to check out my post on that.

What is Qoinify?

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Qoinify is a open source crypto bank. Qoinify lets users exchange six currencies including Canadian dollars, US dollars, gold, bitcoins, clams, and zcoins. This post will describe the evolution of Qoinify and its current functionality.

Click here to create a Qoinify account.

Qoinify is a passion project. It began in the early days of crypto currencies when friends began asking me to buy and store bitcoins for them. As the crypto markets grew, I began to keep track of my friend’s bitcoins on an excel spreadsheet and sometimes I would invest the bitcoins using bots to earn interest. I also started staking clam coins, which were an early fork of bitcoins, and recording the earnings proportionately to my friends using a simple macro on the excel sheet.

Soon enough, my spreadsheet became unwieldy, and it was impossible for my friends to see their balance without contacting me directly and even then I’d have to update the spreadsheet manually and report results back to the users. To overcome this problem, I decided to create an accounting program to record transactions to a database with web pages serving up the data to users instead. I would move the transaction history to a database and abandon my old spreadsheet.

Since part of my passion for this project come from studying the nature of money, I decided to list six currencies on the Qoinify covering an array of money types including fiat, blockchain, and physical types of money.

Once a user opens a Qoinfiy account, they will arrive on the Dashboard page. The Dashboard shows a table of the user’s balances and a pie chart of the same with Canadian dollars as the unit of account (denominator). A line chart shows the value of balances in Canadian dollar terms and a table shows the user’s transaction history. A form is included on the Dashboard page enabling users to transfer funds to other users.

Users cannot signup for Qoinify without an invitation from a friend which provides new users with a code required to open an account. This code is found on the Affiliate page, along with with a URL link that can be texted to a friend and an e-mail invitation form that can be used to invite a friend via e-mail. Users who refer their friends will receive 50% of the fee from staking clams and earning zcoins (which is 10% of those profits).

The payments page lists all the currencies on Qoinify where users can choose to deposit or withdraw Canadian dollars only. Deposits can be made with Interac e-transfers, and withdrawals can be sent directly to your bank account. In the future, I hope to add deposit and withdrawal functionality for all currencies.

The Stats page shows the global value of the entire platform, and the Exchange page lets users buy and sell currencies on the platform. To buy bitcoins, users can deposit Canadian dollars using Interac e-transfer from the Payments page and then go the Exchange page to trade those Canadian dollars for bitcoins (or any other currency).

I would love to see Qoinify grow. It could be a useful site for Canadian crypto hobbyists who want a simple way to buy and sell bitcoins with other currencies. But I’m also busy with a thriving small business, so I don’t have much spare time to invest in Qoinify other than as a hobby.

Growing Qoinify also requires commitment to regulatory compliance, consistent marketing, client service, and a reliable dev team to continuously improve the software. There are other companies in Canada doing this business including Coinberry and Shakepay so a simple platform to buy and sell bitcoins is certainly a service customers want.

I’m happy to continue funding the development of Qoinify on its current trajectory which means improving the software part-time with a team of two University comp sci undergrads. I can also continue gathering new users from my personal network. Alternatively, Qoinify could raise money from new investors and be run like a real business with ambitious plans and financial objectives.

If someone likes to nerd out over marketing, there are lot’s of opportunities to help Qoinify. Writing a basic marketing plan is a good start. This plan will inform further decisions about what types of marketing strategies should be employed and how they might be done. If Qoinify decides to find outside investors to accelerate development, then a full business plan should be drafted and a pitch deck to support a presentation should be crafted. Coinberry and Shakepay each raised a few million dollars from investors themselves this way.

I’m also keenly interested in suggestions regarding web design because this is what users care most about. I’ve found that most crypto enthusiasts don’t care about or understand the technical aspects of money, but they do enjoy being part of something exciting that could rapidly gain in value. So its important that sites like Qoinify make it easy for users to achieve their objectives. UX is critical to success.

If you try signing up for a Qoinify account by clicking here, I’d be interested to know about your experience (whether the signup process, deposit functionality, and exchange page worked at all). So please comment this page with feedback if you have it.

Qoinify is open source. Click here to view our github repos.

High Interest Savings Rate Update (2020-04-09)

Canadian interest rates are at historic lows, and the yield on High Interest Savings Accounts reflects this. RBC & TD are paying 0.25% on their HISA funds (RBF2010 & TDB8150). While both EQ Bank and Home Trust are still paying 1.15% each. If you can stomach the process of opening a new account, 1.15% is a high rate at the time of writing.

Click here to view rates from all the high interest issuers that I follow. These funds can be purchased in brokerage accounts, but may not always be available at every broker. Brokerages limit access to these HISA accounts and sometimes restrict customers to their own proprietary products. Ask your broker what is available or try typing in a fund code on an order entry screen if you use an online discount broker to determine whether the fund is available on their platform.

Coronavirus Las Vegas Hotel Prices

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There has been a dramatic drop off in visitors to Las Vegas due to the coronavirus outbreak. The governor of Nevada has declared a state of emergency and all casinos have closed. The famed Las Vegas strip is mostly shut down. This post will note how hotel prices are pretty steady and maybe even a bit higher than a few months ago.

There is less demand for rooms because visitors are down, but supply has also decreased dramatically because all the big casino hotels are shut including all MGM properties, Stations, and Boyds.

A room for the week of March 22nd 2020 shows that guests can mostly stay at the “stay suite” type hotels. If I had to stay in Vegas this week, I would probably stay at the Hilton Garden Inn near Sunset Station in Henderson ($144 CAD) or the La Quinta on Sahara in Summerlin ($134 CAD).

High Interest Savings Account Update 2020-03-11

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The Bank of Canada lowered interest rates last week and high interest savings account issuers have adjusted to match their 50 bps cut. Some issuers have made bigger changes.

B2B Bank (BTB100) is the highest of the bunch right now at 1.20%, but RBC (RBF2010) and TD (TDB8150) are both at 1.05% and they lowered their HISA rates by 55 bps. Manulife (MIP510) has made a dramatic change, moving their HISA rate to 0.75%.

Click Here for a list of all HISA rates that I track.

Looking forward, if economic conditions continue to get worse, expect the Bank of Canada to lower rates even more. Since there is not much room towards zero, savers could find themselves in a position of not being able to find anywhere in Canada to earn interest on deposit. Its a real possibility.

Transfer Bitcoin Online

There are a few different ways to make bitcoin payments and transfer bitcoin online. Using the bitcoin blockchain is one way, but users can also transfer bitcoin online from user-to-user on many different sites. Below is a short description of how to transfer bitcoin to another user on CoinRoster, a bitcoin fantasy sports site.

Transfer Bitcoin using CoinRoster

After logging into your CoinRoster account, select the “My Account” link from the top main menu. Once you’re on the My Account page, click the “Transfer Funds” link from the left-side menu. Then, you’ll be presented with a form where you can enter the details of where you want to send bitcoin such as the username and the amount. Click the “Transfer” button to complete the transaction.

Here are some screenshots that illustrate the steps to transfer bitcoin using CoinRoster:

Click here to view my other CoinRoster posts

Free Bitcoin Faucets

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This post describes how to get Free Bitcoin by using faucets. I will provide a few links and describe the pros and cons. Bitcoin faucets let users click a button periodically to receive small amounts of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

Here are three bitcoin faucets where you can get free bitcoin:

FreeBitcoins.com – these faucets pay out in bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. You can also trade bitcoin for other cryptos on their new xChange.

freebitco.in – this site has a faucet game where you CAN win a lot of bitcoin, and you are also encouraged to gamble it or save it up for interest. Click here to get free bitcoin.

Bitcoin Faucets

How do bitcoin faucets work? I mean, can you really get free bitcoin? Yes, you can actually get free bitcoin, but just a very small amount at a time. You’re not going to get rich off these free bitcoin faucets, unless the price of bitcoin goes way, way up.

Bitcoin faucets are more like marketing tools for the website that offer them. Usually, the bitcoin faucets are accompanied by ads or other incentives to sign up for something. In the case of freebitco.in, you will be encouraged to gamble your free bitcoin, and in the case of FreeBitcoins, you will be encouraged to use their swap tool or their cryptocurrency exchange.

Free Money?

Yes, its possible to get free money using bitcoin faucets. But you’ll only be able to get small amounts of free bitcoin, and you probably won’t get rich off of free bitcoin faucets. But if you want to get a small amount of free bitcoin, then faucets are a good place to start.

Click here to check out my other posts with the word “free” in them

What is Dead Heat Betting?

dead-heat-betting

A Dead Heat is a tie between two or more outcomes in a betting contest with no method to determine an outright winner. The term dead heat comes from horse racing but today a dead heat most commonly occurs in golf betting. This post provides a way to calculate a dead heat payoff with an example.

Dead Heat Golf Example

A common golf bet is whether golfers will place top 5/10/25, etc. In most stroke play golf tournaments, if there’s a tie at the top, a playoff is used to determine the winner. But a playoff is not used to break ties for other places such as 5th, 10th, etc. So its common for golfers to finish tied for various places other than first.

Less commonly there are bets for team events about which golfers will get the most team points, and this also results in some ties. These ties create situations where dead heat rules apply. Depending on the number of players tied and the number of places offered, it affect settlement in a variety of ways.

Let’s say you bet $10 at odds of 10.00 on a golfer to finish Top 10, and they end up tied with two additional golfers for 10th place. This means there is a three golfer dead heat and a total of 12 golfers finishing in the top 10. Your payoff is determined by taking your original stake multiplied by the number of golfers involved in the dead heat and divided by the number of places available multiplied by your odds. In this case = stake * (number of expected winners / number of actual winners) * odds = 10 * (10 / 12) * 10.00 = $83.33.

So in this case your payout is reduced because more then the expected number of winners share in the payout. Without ties, your payout would have been $10 * 10.00 = $100.

Calculator & Freeplay Links

Calculating how much you are owed in a dead heat is a little tricky to do on the fly, so click on this link to view a Dead Heat Calculator from Smarkets.

I regularly write posts about betting and odds. Click here to view my other betting posts.

There are lots of freeplays available for sports bettors, click here for my list of freeplay and bonus codes. If you have bitcoins to bet with, check out Nitrogen Sports, which is my favorite bitcoin sports book.