CI Financial, Scotia Bank, and Sun Life

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CI, Sun Life, and Scotia

First Published: Published on: Aug 24, 2008

Last Friday's talk of the town was CI Financial's possible merger or acquisition news. CI confirmed that over the past few months, it has had discussions with a number of parties for possible strategic combinations.

News broke out on Friday stating CI was looking into buying Scotia Bank's mutual fund business. In return, Scotia wanted a stake in CI.

CI shares were halted on Friday morning on the Toronto Stock Exchange when the news broke. Later on, CI's shares were up 5% and total shares traded doubled than the day before.

Sun Life Financial holds a 37% stake in CI. In case this transaction goes through, CI has to issue a considerable chunk of its shares (estimated 25% but Scotia wants more) to Scotia. It's hard to predict what's going on in Sun Life's mind, but it makes sense to think that they may not be happy about this deal.

CI is Canada's second largest fund manager. CI made many successful and unsuccessful bids in the past. Read CI Financial's Unsolicited, Hostile Bid to know more about this.

New Brim Credit Cards Bring New Perspectives

Brim Credit Cards Canada

Brim Financial is launching new credit cards on the Canadian market that will change the credit card game. These cards have features and flexibilities never seen before in Canada. Today, I will touch base on some of the features. Please visit my video on this as well to learn more.

Rewards Structure – There are no limits on how or when you can redeem. Also, there are no specific categories to earn accelerated points. If you shop more at the same stores, the earn rate increases.

Installment Payment Options – Brim will offer the ability to set up install payments towards a purchase that can be paid in installments at a set lower interest rate (they call it one time installment fee) without affecting the rest of the credit limit. 

Free Boingo Global Wi-Fi – Access to 1 million Boingo Wi-Fi hotspots across the globe. A neat perk that would come in handy when you travel.

0% Foreign Transaction Fee – This is one of the most sought after features on Canadian credit cards. Especially since the Marriott Rewards & Amazon credit cards offered by Chase (that provided no foreign currency fee) are no longer available in Canada.

Travel Insurances Provided by Reputable Canadian Provider – Another feature, which is my favourite, is that the Brim World Elite MasterCard offers full travel insurances (Trip Cancellation, Hotel/Motel Burglary, Travel Medical, etc.) by a reputable Canadian insurance provider. This is unlike Scotia Amex Gold and many other Canadian travel cards serviced by the same insurance company where the provider has bad ratings when it comes to fulfill claims.

Lounge Access – Brim’s higher-end cards will provide lounge access through Lounge Key. However, it is not clear how many visits will be included or it’s just the membership they will offer.

And packed with much more features (including real-time payment clearing to open up available credit limit without waiting 2-3 days), it may sound like that these new Brim Credit Cards are too good to be true. We will need to wait and see when the cards come out.

Brim’s website ( is accepting applications, so when I applied it told me that they will contact me once they start processing my application. I do have a video on Brim and here is the link you can follow to watch: 

How To Market Your Business On The Cheap

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Marketing Your Business Cheap

As an entrepreneur, you are under the gun to succeed because you have put not only your reputation, but your financial future on the line. As a result, you need to find a way to reach customers without spending too much. You don’t have the marketing budget of Coca-Cola, so don’t try to market like them. You need to find a way to market yourself a at low cost, so you can maximize your profits. Getting the most customers, for the lowest amount, is the goal you should set for yourself. So, what do you need to do to market yourself to your customers?

  • Provide excellent service and encourage word-of-mouth advertising. When you do this, you are using the best form of advertising, which is word-of-mouth. People trust their friends and family and if those people tell them that you do great work or sell excellent products, that can mean more than a $2 million Super Bowl commercial. Offer your customers deals on future purchases for the business they bring in from their friends and family and always be there for your customers with great service. 
  • Forget about newspaper advertising and television advertising, it is too expensive and it doesn’t always work that well. Instead, advertise with promotional gifts. This way you are giving your customers something they can use and wear, while they advertise your company. It works like this, your customer buys something and you give them a free t-shirt with your company name on it. They wear that shirt when they are out and they are a walking billboard for you. People see your company name and logo and the more they see it, the greater the brand awareness is. 
  • Go out and find your customers. You don’t need to wait for your customers to come to you, so why not go to them? Bring brochures about your business and go door-to-door if you have to. That shows your customers you are willing to do the leg work for their business and that will earn you respect, which is vitally important. 
  • Find ways to out-do your competitors through sponsorship. Show your customers that you care about the people in the community by sponsoring charitable events and offering money or your services to help. You can provide money to churches, charities, schools, animal shelters and community events. That not only gets your name out there, but the more people see it, the more they will recognize you and that will help you make more money from your customers.

Marketing yourself and your business is not always cheap or easy, but by using these methods you can save money and gain customers. You want to get loyal customers because a loyal customer can be worth as many as 10 non-loyal customer. Even if the loyal customer does not spend as much each visit, they will keep coming back and keep recommending your business to others. So market your company properly, get loyal customers and move into the future with your business.
First Published: Published on: Oct 30, 2010


CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Card Ends Manufactured Spending

CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Card Ends 

Manufactured spending is one of the vehicles travel hackers use to generate points. This is simply manufacturing credit card spending, instead of real spending to create transactions that generates points and later on to deposit the money back into the account.

I am not going into the detail of manufactured spending. The CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Visa Prepaid Card was one of the easiest ways to create manufactured spending in Canada.

The AC Conversion card had a feature that let you load Canadian dollars from other credit cards and unload Canadian dollars from CIBC bank machines at no cost. This would create transactions on the credit cards you are loading from to generate points.

Initially the limit was $3,000 a day, then it was reduced to $2,000 a day. When card management found out what’s going on, they reduced it $100 per day because they were bleeding money paying other credit card fees.

In the interim, many people got points and miles millionaires utilizing the loophole. It was like a dream come true for travel hackers to easily generate points using the AC Conversion card.

However, now CIBC Air Canada AC Conversion Card has decided that they still can’t afford to give away $100 per days as they can’t recoup the expenses and they are closing the loophole beginning April 13, 2018. After this date, Canadian currencies are no longer allowed to load and unload. You can load other supported currencies, however. If you try to load other currencies and unload Canadian dollars, the machines will dispense US$. So it will no longer make sense to use this card to create manufactured spending and the loophole that existed for many years will be sealed.

If you would like to watch my video on this, click on this link.

CIBC AC Air Canada Credit Card Ends

On my YouTube channel, you will find more videos like this.

Where Is My CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Card?

My CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite Card?

Today I will talk about my experience applying for a CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite credit card. What could have possibly gone wrong went wrong with the process and that’s what I will share.

On Jan 13, 2018, I called in to apply for a CIBC Aerogold Visa Infinite card and an American Express AeroplanPlus Gold credit card. Within a week, by the following Friday, my Amex AeroplanPlus Card arrived, but there was no news from CIBC.

After around 10 days, I received a call from CIBC asking to call them back for further information. When I called back, the guy asked me what credit limit I wanted. For example, $5,000 or $10,000, or something else. I mentioned that $5,000 would just fine. He said I should be receiving my card shortly.

3 weeks passed and nothing arrived, so I called them again. They had difficulty tracking my application, but finally they were able to find it. I was told that the last person I talked to did not do his job or he forgot and no credit card was mailed out. They said it would be mailed out shortly. I was still calm and accepted CIBC’s poor service.

The next day, on Feb 5, 2018, I received another email from CIBC asking to call them again for information verification. It was like deja vu. So I called back as I got irritated. The rep was apologetic and mentioned that it was their back office that caused all these delays and assured me this time it would be OK.

Finally, nearly after one month, I received my card in the mail. I never had this type of issue with anyone else before. My credit score is usually above 800 and I get whatever credit card I apply for right away. So this was a lesson for me on how disorganised and inefficient CIBC’s back office is.

Another thing I found out is that CIBC’s regular credit card customer service (not the lost or emergency line) is not open 24 hours. It is very important to have a credit card that offers 24-hour customer service. You just never know when you need to call them. For example, you are travelling and your card is declined or you just have a question and you can’t get a hold of anyone due to a time difference.

I have a few CIBC credit cards, but none of them are my primary credit cards. And due to poor customer service, I intend to keep it that way.

Scenic Caves Entrance Area

Scenic Caves Ontario Canada

First Published on: Aug 22, 2008

This is one of my Blue Mountain Trip video clips. On a recent trip, I visited scenic caves and suspension footbridge in Blue Mountain. I will be posting video clips of these shortly. This is a clip showing the entrance area of Scenic Caves. This is where you can sit back and relax by the water just before climb through blue mountain Scenic Caves. You will find gemstone mining, a pond, Muskoka chairs, lots of seagulls, gift shop, eco log cabin and much more here.

WestJet Starts Its Ultra-Low-Cost Carrier Swoop

Swoop (Fly) Within Canada for As Low As $39 One-Way

Video Link:

A return flight within Canada can cost more than a return flight to Europe. But those days will soon be gone with Canada’s new budge airline Swoop offering ultra-low-cost flights within Canada.

A one-way flight between Abbotsford to Edmonton is as low as $39 one-way. However, there is a catch. You will not be fly out of major airports in big cities such as Toronto or Vancouver. Instead, Swoop operates out of smaller cities’ airports, such as Hamilton in Ontario or Abbotsford in British Columbia. These locations are an hour or more commute from big cities.

Also, you are allowed to have only one personal item. Anything extra will cost you money and so are extra amenities like WiFi, movies, snacks, drinks, and so on.

Most travellers wouldn’t mind paying for the extra items, given the fact they are getting such great deals on fares.

Swoop will start flying in June, but booking is available on its website ( starting in June.

There are more low-cost carriers currently operating or will be operating from Canada internationally or locally. Here is a list of what we have so far:

Wow Air – Iceland based. Started in 2015.

Primera Air – Denmark/Latvia based. From May, 2018.

Flair Air – Kelowna based. In operation.

Jetlines – Vancouver based. From June 1, 2018.

Swoop – Owned by WestJet. From June, 2018.

More carriers mean more competition and lower prices. I hope we will see more of these low-cost carriers to make flying more affordable for Canadians. According to the 2017 Flight Price Index Canada ranks 65th out of 80, making it very expensive to fly out of Canada.

The Best Small Business Ideas

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Top Small Business Ideas and Tips

When you decide to start a small business, you need to determine what idea is going to work the best for you. There are often many ideas to choose from, but the world is changing and the entrepreneur has to change with it. So, in the 21st century, what ideas for a small business are the best? You have to consider how easy it is to start up, and how much it costs. So, here are some of the best businesses to start up as an entrepreneur

  1. Yoga Instructor: You don’t need a studio, you can go directly to your clients and all you need is a yoga certification to start this job, making it very cheap to start.
  2. Tutoring: If you are skilled in something, then being a tutor is a very cheap business to start. All you need are the books for what you are teaching and a few flyers put up around schools. At that point, you will have everything you need to start this business.
  3. Consulting: If you are an expert in a particular sector, then you may want to start a business working as a consultant. You will help businesses and individuals do better in their industry by using your own knowledge to help them.
  4. Medical/Legal Transcribing: If you can type fast, have the right equipment and can do a training course, then this is a good business to start because of its low cost and high demand.
  5. Web Design: The internet has been around for 15 years, and yet there are still millions of people who need websites to add to the billions already online. If you can make a good web site and have the skills for it, then this is a good job for you. It will allow you to do business from home, while making a lot of money.
  6. Photography: If you have a good camera, know how to use it and love to take pictures, then photography may be a good business for yourself. As a photographer, you would take pictures of families, birthdays, weddings, funerals and more. You will also be able to sell pictures online, while editing photos and selling them at everything from sporting matches to school events.
  7. Interior Design: If you know how to make things look good and like to do interior design in your own home, then you may want to consider doing it in another person’s home. It is a good business that is easy to start up, cheap to run and highly in demand.
  8. Personal Shopper: Do you love to shop and want to spend someone else’s money? Then you can shop for people who are too busy to shop for themselves. This is a good business that is fun, cheap and easy to start up.

As an entrepreneur, you need to find a business that is going to work for you but is going to be cheap to start up. The right business, at the right price, in the right market, can make you a lot of money.
First Published: Published on: Oct 24, 2010


Scenic Caves, Suspension Footbridge, GPS, And A Haven From The Hustle and Bustle

Blue Mountain Trip

This post was written on Monday, August 18. There will not be any post tomorrow. 

First Published: Aug 20, 2008 @ 21:27

I am writing this post from Toronto. Yesterday, I reached Toronto at 6.00 PM. It was a day filled with lots of activities. I visited scenic caves and suspension footbridge in Blue Mountain. I will be posting video clips of these shortly.

On my way back to Toronto, I relied on GPS (Global Positioning System). GPS did make me get lost; however, it gave me a longer route and took me an additional hour to reach Toronto. I was driving on mountain roads, gravel roads, and sometimes on totally unpaved roads. GPS is useful but it may not be good for your skills. Research shows that GPS is detrimental to human navigational skills.

On Saturday I visited Wasaga beach. I was on the beach for four hours. There was a car show going on and lots of people came to enjoy the show. Wasaga Beach – the world's longest freshwater beach is also a part of Georgian Bay. Wasaga Beach offers 14 kilometres white sand beach, panoramic lush mountain views across the bay, clean pristine waters, and much more.

What I noticed from a business perspective is that a lot more can be done to bring more tourists. It felt like kind of having not enough stores, restaurants, and recreation facilities to attract more people.
Today, I am going to post Part Two Wasaga beach video clip. More clips are coming shortly. I have so many pictures that it will be impossible to post all of them here. I will post some of them here later on, and you will be able to see all of them on my Flickr page.

Since I left Blue Mountain, I have been missing it, and it feels like I don't want to come back to Toronto. It would be fantastic to live there for good. It's like a haven from the hustle and bustle of city life. But the question is, if I really start living there, how long I would love living in a small town? Will I miss Toronto then?

The Small Business Administration (SBA)

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How The Small Business Administration Helps Entrepreneurs

In the United States, one of the most popular and widely used organizations for entrepreneurs is the Small Business Administration. This administration exists for the sole purpose of helping people start their own small business by offering resources and financial assistance to entrepreneurs.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has the mission to maintain and strengthen the nation’s economy by enabling the establishment and viability of small businesses and by assisting in the economic recovery of communities after disasters. While the SBA does not make loans directly to small businesses, they do help to educate and prepare an entrepreneur to apply for a loan through a financial institution. In addition, they will also serve as the guarantor for the loan with the bank. The administration will also help get government contracts for small businesses following natural disasters.

Since its creation, the SBA has directly or indirectly helped over 20 million businesses get off the ground, and in 2008 alone they had a loan portfolio of 219,000 loans, worth more than $84 billion, making them the largest single financial backer of business in the entire country.

The SBA was created in 1953 through the passing of the Small Business Act by congress. It was created to aid, counsel, assist and protect small business concerns. It was also stipulated that the SBA would provide fair proportion of government contracts and sales of surplus property to small businesses. Sadly, while the Small Business Administration has proven to be essential for millions of businesses, it has been nearly dismantled several times in its existence. In 1996, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives planned to end the agency but it survived and had a record budget in 2000. Four years later, the Bush Administration tried to end the loan program of the BA but was not able to, so the budget was cut and certain expenditures were frozen.

The SBA has several programs in place, with the most visible programs being the loan programs. Many believe that SBA loan programs are for those with bad credit who cannot get bank loans and need the SBA to effectively co-sign, but this is not the case. The primary uses of the loan programs are to make loans easier to pay, with less interest. Typically, the most common use of the SBA loan is for commercial mortgages on buildings that small businesses would like to build, or to move into.

The loan programs that the SBA helps to finance include:

  1. Loan Guarantee Program: The 7(a) Loan Guarantee Program is designed to help a small business owner start and expand their business. It does this by making money available to the small business through the bank, or non-bank lending institutions. This is the most popular loan program administered through the Small Business Administration.
  2. 504-Fixed Asset Financing Program: This program provides funding for the purchase and construction of real estate, or the purchase of machinery for a business. With this program, the lender will provide half the financing, while a Certified Development Company will provide 40 per cent of the financing through a SBA-guaranteed debenture. The last 10 per cent of the financing is provided by the applicant and due to the high amount of capital that is needed, this type of loan is much harder to get and aggressive vetting of any property purchased is done.
  3. MicroLoan Program: This is a loan program that is provided through non-profit, microloan intermediaries to small businesses who have less than perfect credit. These loans are only up to $35,000 and can have a term length of no longer than eight years in total.
  4. Economic Development Program: This program offers free counseling and low-cost financial training to small businesses.
  5. 8(a) Businesses Development Program: This program offers assistance to the development of a small business that is owned/operated by someone who is classified as socially and economically disadvantaged. This typically means women and minorities.
  6. Disaster Loan Program: Homeowners can receive long-term and low-interest loans to rebuild or repair a damaged property to pre-disaster conditions. The SBA will determine the cost of repairing or rebuilding the property structure, the ability of the applicant to repay the loan and whether or not the applicant can get credit elsewhere.

The SBA loan industry can be split up into three categories, which are:

  1. The largest banks in the United States, which is typically the Bank of America and Wells Fargo, generate most of the SBA loans. These banks use computer systems that make the process much quicker to allow people to get loans through the SBA that they would not have been able to receive elsewhere.
  2. SBA loans are used quite often by banks of all sizes to finance the purchase or construction of business owner-occupied real estate. Banks will offer loans through the SBA only for this purpose and only for properties and business owners that the bank would have found too risky to give money to on credit without the backing of the Small Business Administration. These often include gas stations, car washes and motels.
  3. SBA loans are used to allow a person to buy a business. Commercial lenders will get a referral fee to business brokers who help someone buy or sell a business and for this reason, the funds for this typically come from smaller banks and finance companies that operate for this purpose specifically.

The Small Business Administration exists to help people start or continue to operate their business. In tough economic climates, the SBA can be one of the most beneficial and highly sought after organizations in the country for entrepreneurs. Anyone in the United States who is thinking about starting a business should seriously look to the Small Business Administration for assistance.

First Published: Oct 16, 2010