Options for Financing a Business

Options for Financing Business

Businesses come in all shapes and sizes, from large corporations with hundreds of employees to mom-and-pop enterprises. But there is one thing that all businesses need, financing. Being aware of the financing possibilities available for businesses can help a company succeed. The following is a list of various financing alternatives.

  • Bank loans: A commonly used source of funding, bank loans require a solid business plan and often a personal guarantee from the entrepreneurs. More than 50% of small businesses use some type of institution-based credit to start, operate or expand their business.
  • Government grants: Government agencies provide financing such as grants and subsidies that are available to many businesses. Check the Government of Canada website for business grants and financing options. 
  • Business incubators: A business incubator is a program that gives early-stage companies access to mentorship, investors and other support to help them get established. There are a number of business incubators in Alberta such as Innovate Calgary at the University of Calgary, The Northern Alberta Business Incubator in St. Albert, Tecconnect in Lethbridge and the Agrivalue Processing Business Incubator for food-based businesses in Leduc.
  • Venture capital: A venture capitalist is a person or firm that invests in small companies, generally using money pooled from investment companies, large corporations, and pension funds. Though less than 1% of small businesses in Canada receive equity-based funding from venture capitalists, there are ways to find this type of funding by networking and meeting people at local start-up groups, or by researching, contacting or joining groups like the Venture Capital Association of Alberta. Venture capitalists are generally looking for technology-driven businesses and companies with high-growth potential in sectors such as information technology, communications and biotechnology.
  • Angel investors: Angels are wealthy individuals or retired company executives who invest directly in firms owned by others. They often contribute their experience, technical knowledge, management skills and contacts. Angels tend to finance the early stages of a company. They often reserve the right to supervise the company’s management practices and may be looking for some sort of share in a company. Check out this bdc site for information on finding angel investors and the National Angel Capital Organization.
  • Crowdfunding is the use of small amounts of capital from a large number of individuals to finance a new business venture. It makes use of the easy accessibility of vast networks of people through social media and crowdfunding websites and brings investors and entrepreneurs together. Crowdfunding has the potential to increase entrepreneurship by expanding the pool of investors beyond the traditional circle of owners, relatives, and venture capitalists. The National Crowdfunding Association of Canada is a good place to find information on crowdfunding for small businesses. If you’re considering the crowdfunding route, ensure that your intellectual property is protected. Read the fine print on crowdfunding websites.
  • Peer-to-peer lending: P2P lending is the practice of lending money to individuals or businesses through online services that match lenders with borrowers. It allows investors to lend money directly to other individuals via a P2P platform. Check out Peerform and Funding Circle.
  • Microloans are simply small business loans that are issued by individuals rather than banks or credit unions. These loans can be issued by a single individual or aggregated across a number of individuals who each contribute a portion of the total amount. They are a great option if you need a bit of capital to fund specific operational costs, expansions, or projects. They typically have specific limitations in regards to how much you can borrow. Check out Accion, LiftFund and Kiva.
  • Pitch competitions are contests where entrepreneurs present their business concept to a panel in the hope of winning a cash prize or investment capital. Even if you don’t win, the pitch competition can be a way to introduce yourself to the elite world of venture capital and angel investment. Check out Hatch Pitch, Disrupt and PITCH.
  • A business line of credit: This is an option for those who need cash quickly and have good credit. Check with your local bank.
  • Personal funds: Many businesses use some type of personal funds to finance themselves (savings, mutual funds, collateral).
  • Love money: This refers to money loaned by a spouse, parent, family member and/or friend. 

If you’re interested in starting or expanding a business and you require financing, there are many and varied options available. No matter the size of your business or the amount required, there is a method to finance your company that suits your needs. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.

Why Should a Business Undertake Financial Planning?

Business Financial Planning

A financial plan affects day-to-day fiscal decision-making, defining the future of a business and shaping a company’s journey. A detailed financial plan brings a company’s objectives into focus and helps in developing viable strategies.

What is financial planning for a business?

Financial planning is the task of determining how your business will finance its strategic goals and objectives. The plan is a document that describes the activities, resources, equipment and materials needed to achieve these objectives. It sets time frames for your goals and strategies for achieving them. It helps you be in control of your company’s income, expenses and investments and is essential to building a successful business. A good plan includes an assessment of the business environment, company goals, resources needed to reach these goals, team and resource budgets and risks that might be faced. It ensures a company is equipped in advance to deal with changing circumstances at both personal and business levels. 

Why create a financial plan for your business? 

  • To manage your risk and respond quickly to financial issues: A business must plan for a lot of risks (death or disability of central figures, illness, property ownership loss, lawsuits, interruption of business, lower than expected revenue, high overheads, etc.). By regularly reviewing risks and planning a response, a company is prepared to tackle issues quickly, before they become hard to manage. 
  • To provide a road map for growth: It’s easy to focus on daily issues and neglect long-term planning. A financial plan helps a company focus on the future by providing clear goals for company growth and performance.  It helps you analyze your current situation and project where you want the business to be in the future.
  • To help you develop a good tax strategy: Financial planning is helpful when it comes time to submit your tax return or if you sell the company.
  • To identify sales trends: A financial plan that includes quantifiable targets and sales records helps determine which individual products and which initiatives are most lucrative, making it possible to adjust your marketing strategy appropriately.
  • To prioritize expenditures: A financial plan sets clear expectations for cash flow and helps a business owner to consider spending priorities. 
  • To identify necessary cost reductions: A financial plan helps you refer to past spending and identify unnecessary or over-inflated costs so you can adjust accordingly. 
  • To create transparency with staff and investors by sharing key figures (revenue, costs, profitability, etc.).
  • To show progress: A financial plan is helpful in showing increased revenues, cash flow growth and overall profit in quantifiable data, encouraging business owners.

Every financial decision your business makes has a significant impact on the overall strength of your company. Financial planning helps you be better equipped to make decisions. Corporate financial planning demands a strong understanding of commerce and how companies operate fiscally. It also calls for attention and care for the immediate financial needs and specificities of your enterprise. 

Need help with financial planning? Looking for business advice? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. We are based out of Calgary, Alberta, serving clients across Canada and the United States. We provide high-quality tax, assurance, financial and succession planning services for a wide variety of privately-owned and managed companies. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.

Mutual Funds vs. Exchange Traded Funds

Mutual Funds and Exchange-Traded Funds

You may have heard about mutual funds and exchange-traded funds (ETFs). How do you decide which best fits your investment needs? Both offer many benefits for your portfolio and they have a lot in common, but mutual funds and ETFs have some key differences. The following are the similarities and differences and how to determine which of the two instruments is best for you.

What is a Mutual Fund? 

A mutual fund is an investment vehicle that pools money from investors to buy a basket of stocks, bonds, and other securities. This allows you to invest in different companies or bonds at the same time so as to diversify your investments and reduce your risk. Investors buy shares of a mutual fund directly from the company issuing shares or through a broker who purchases shares for investors. Since you buy and hold shares of a mutual fund with the fund company, you cannot move the assets to another financial institution without selling. Mutual funds typically have minimum initial purchase requirements and can be purchased only after the market is closed when their net asset value (NAV) is calculated and set. These funds are generally actively managed by professional money managers so they try to beat their benchmark and may charge high expenses and/or sales commissions. 

Advantages of Investing in Mutual Funds:

  • able to react quickly to changing market conditions (flexibility)
  • a single mutual fund may contain dozens or even hundreds of separate stocks or issuers (diversification)
  • mutual funds can be bought and sold once every trading day (liquidity)
  • a manager is involved in the funds’ investment selection and management, offering investment advice and providing a simpler, more hands-off experience
  • can easily set up automatic investments in fixed amounts

Disadvantages of Investing in Mutual Funds:

  • are expensive and often perform only as well as passive automated investments
  • management fees tend to be high, eating into your returns.
  • may have built-in “loads,” which are essentially sales commissions
  • advice is often an additional cost
  • the vast majority of actively managed mutual funds fail to outperform benchmarks
  • many active mutual funds fail to outperform the market yet you still pay for “active” management
  • traded only once per day at the closing NAV price
  • most mutual funds are not guaranteed
  • the level of risk in a mutual fund depends on what it invests in


What is an Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF)?

An exchange-traded fund (ETF) is an investment vehicle that pools money from investors and uses the funds to buy a basket of stocks, bonds, and other securities. You can buy and sell shares of an ETF just like you would buy shares of a stock from a stock exchange. There are various types of ETFs available to investors that can be used for income generation, speculation, price increases and to hedge or offset risk in an investor’s portfolio.

  • Bond ETFs include government bonds, corporate bonds and local or municipal bonds
  • Industry ETFs track a particular industry, such as technology, banking or the oil and gas sector
  • Commodity ETFs invest in commodities, including crude oil or gold
  • Currency ETFs invest in foreign currencies, such as the Euro or the Canadian dollar
  • Inverse ETFs attempt to earn gains from stock declines by shorting stocks (selling a stock, expecting a decline in value and repurchasing it at a lower price)

Advantages of ETFs:

  • access to many stocks across various industries
  • low expense ratios and fewer broker commissions
  • risk management through diversification
  • ETFs exist that focus on targeted industries
  • no investment minimums
  • no fees or sales charges
  • can trade on an exchange throughout the trading day
  • you control the managing of your investments
  • usually generate fewer capital gain distributions overall which makes them somewhat more tax-efficient than mutual funds.

Disadvantages of ETFs:

  • actively-managed ETFs have higher fees
  • single industry focus ETFs limit diversification
  • may contribute to market instability
  • many ETFs are based on unproven models


Which is right for you?

Understanding the differences between ETFs and mutual funds can help you decide which is best for you and your business.

Use ETFs if:

  • Tax efficiency is important: If you’re investing in a taxable brokerage account, having more control over capital gains distributions may be important.
  • You’re an active trader: ETFs allow you to set limit orders, stop-limit orders or use margin in your investing strategies as they trade just like stocks. 
  • You want to gain low-cost exposure to a specific market without researching individual companies: A lot of ETF options benchmark niche market indexes.
  • You may change brokers in the future. ETFs are easily transferred between brokers. 

Use Mutual Funds if:

  • You value the potential to outperform the market through active management.
  • You’re investing in less-efficient parts of the market. Actively managed funds have the best potential to outperform in these areas.
  • Comparable ETFs are thinly traded.


If you’re not sure whether a mutual fund or ETF is best for you, consider consulting your Chartered Professional Accountant. They understand these products and can offer advice that meets your specific needs. 


Need help deciding whether ETFs or mutual funds are right for you? Looking for business advice? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. We are based out of Calgary, Alberta, serving clients across Canada and the United States. We provide high-quality tax, assurance and succession planning services for a wide variety of privately-owned and managed companies. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.





Estate and Succession Planning for Businesses

Business Estate and Succession Planning

A stable and growing business is what every serious entrepreneur desires, but what about your company’s long-term future? After devoting much time, money, and effort to the creation and operation of your business, you’ll want to ensure a smooth succession process. Whether you’re selling it, passing it down to the next generation or closing it down, it’s important that you take the necessary steps to shape your business’s future in accordance with your needs. If you’re planning to sell, how can you get the most value for what you’ve built while enabling a successful transition of ownership? If retirement is on the horizon, who is best suited to take the wheel and bring the company to new heights? How can you protect your family, your personal assets and your business should you pass away? Whatever the circumstances, a smart exit strategy will make all the difference for you, your family and your business. The following are some estate and succession planning tips for business owners. 

Separate your Personal and Business Assets:

Without proper estate and succession planning, when you die default directives are applied that essentially lump your business assets in with all other assets you own. Your beneficiaries may be required to pay significantly more tax than necessary and the survival of your business may be threatened. To avoid this scenario, draft essential documents to separate your personal from your business possessions and make your wishes clear. 

    • A buy-sell agreement allows business stakeholders to retain or assume control of the business itself while letting you pass on the value of your stake to your personal beneficiaries. This type of agreement makes for less stressful outcomes for all concerned.
    • Powers of Attorney for your business interests/activities: These may differ from those authorized to administer your personal affairs.
    • A business succession plan: You may transfer your business outright to a beneficiary or set up a trust that can be used to control the assets of the business. 

Establish Estate Planning Asset Protection:

To do this you take nonexempt assets subject to creditors’ claims and reposition them as exempt assets through techniques such as family limited liability companies and irrevocable trusts for your spouse, children and other beneficiaries.

Undertake Estate Tax Planning:

In order to minimize the tax burden of settling your estate, there are estate planning concepts that can be applied to potentially taxable areas including RRSPs, RRIFs, and capital gains on real estate and shares.

Transferring the ownership and management of a company is a personally and professionally delicate process. Without skillful planning, a number of issues and mistakes are prone to arise. Revising and updating your succession and estate plan regularly is crucial. Constantly amend your plan for changes in desire and the current business environment. Everything is more achievable when you’re well-prepared and involve the right help. Talk to your Chartered Professional Accountant. They have the expertise, knowledge and experience to help you create and maintain a successful succession and estate plan for your business. Businesses deserve nothing less than to feel comfortable every step of the way.


Need help with business succession and estate planning? Looking for business advice? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. We are based out of Calgary, Alberta, serving clients across Canada and the United States. We provide high-quality tax, assurance and succession planning services for a wide variety of privately-owned and managed companies. We possess a detailed and tactful understanding of business succession planning and its many moving parts. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.

What is a Capital Asset?

Capital Asset

A capital asset is an item a business owns for investment purposes; an investment that is anticipated to generate some kind of value over a specified period of time.  It’s owned for its role in contributing to the business’s ability to generate profit. When you sell it, you earn a capital gain or a capital loss, depending on the price. Gains are taxed at a special rate and losses can be used to reduce the amount that is taxed.

Capital assets have the following characteristics:

  • The asset has an expected useful life of greater than one year.
  • The acquisition cost of the asset exceeds some predetermined company minimum amount, known as a capitalization limit.
  • The asset is not anticipated to be sold as part of normal business operations.
  • The asset is not easily convertible to cash.
  • The asset is recorded on the balance sheet and expensed over its useful life through a process called depreciation.
  • The asset is expensed over the course of its useful life helping to match the cost of the asset with the revenue it generated over the same time period

Kinds of capital assets:

There are two main categories of capital business assets.

  • Tangible capital assets are physical and have a finite monetary value. They include cash, inventory, vehicles, equipment, buildings and investments. 
  • Intangible capital assets do not exist in physical form and include things such as accounts receivable, prepaid expenses, patents, copyright, franchises, trademarks, trade names and goodwill. An intangible asset is difficult to evaluate.

Is there a set cost at which an item becomes a capital asset?

There is no fixed cost at which an item becomes a capital asset rather than a consumable item. It depends on the size of your business. A computer might be a capital asset in a very small business but would be a consumable item in a large company. However, items like batteries, cables and memory sticks are always consumables. If you’re not sure whether an item is a capital asset, speak to your accountant.

Depreciation of capital assets:

A capital asset’s value is spread across the time it takes to be used in your business (it’s useful life). A proportion of the asset’s value is shown as a day-to-day running cost for each year it’s useful. This is referred to as depreciation for a tangible asset or amortization for an intangible asset. The cost must be written off over more than one year. At the end of each year, you subtract all depreciation claimed to date from the cost of the asset, to arrive at the asset’s book value, equal to its market value. At the end of the asset’s useful life for the business, any non-depreciated portion represents the salvage value for which the asset could be sold or scrapped. Accountants use a variety of conventions to approximate and standardize the depreciation process.

Ideally, your business assets will store and increase wealth, increase income and/or reduce expenses. Selling an asset results in a capital gain or capital loss. If you need more information and or understanding regarding your company’s capital assets, talk to your accountant. They have the knowledge, experience and skills to help you with your business needs. 

Need information regarding capital assets and your company? Looking for business advice? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. We are based out of Calgary, Alberta, serving clients across Canada and the United States. We provide high-quality tax, assurance and succession planning services for a wide variety of privately-owned and managed companies. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.



Bookkeeping Tips for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses

Bookkeeping Tips for Small Businesses

As your business grows, the once simple process of bookkeeping can become complicated and daunting. Yet, it’s vital that you have accurate books. If you don’t keep detailed financial records you can end up with problems; unpleasant financial surprises, an audit, forgotten paperwork, missed goals, large bills from your accountant, payroll and tax challenges. Accurate and efficient bookkeeping can help you make and keep long-term goals, smooth out the ups and downs of seasonal cash flow, improve profits and alleviate troubles with the CRA. The following are some tips to help you improve your bookkeeping skills.

  • Keep business and personal banking separate: Open a dedicated bank account for your business, preferably one with online access as this makes it easier to make payments and do bank reconciliations. If you need business money for personal expenses, do a regular transfer to your personal account. This will make bookkeeping much easier.  Don’t use your personal credit card for work purchases and vice versa.
  • Recognize business vs. personal expenses: You need to know what type of expenses can and can’t be claimed against your profit for the purpose of reducing tax. An expense that is directly related to the operation of the business and towards producing income is tax-deductible. An expense that is for your personal pleasure is not. Mixing personal and business does not mean a full claim for business can be made. If you’re in doubt about whether or not to claim an expense, contact your accountant.
  • Plan for Major Expenses: Consider what expenses will arise in the next one to five years (upgrade of facilities, new office equipment, peaks in staffing costs, emergencies). By planning for major expenses, you can avoid taking money out of the company during good months and finding yourself short in slow months.
  • Utilize bookkeeping software: There are free bookkeeping software packages if you are on a tight budget (Wave, ZipBooks, Akaunting, SlickPie, GnuCash, CloudBooks). If you can afford it, purchase a good quality program that comes with occasional updates (Cashbook, Quickbooks, Xero, Sage, Freshbooks, Zoho). Choose one that is easy to use, customizable, produces charts for quick reference and combines different aspects of reporting from one period to the next. 
  • Organize and store source documents: Quotes, orders, delivery dockets, sales and purchase invoices, credit and debit notes, payment/remittance advice, cheques, receipts, wage records and deposit slips need to be filed and archived for 5 to 7 years. Keeping source documents at your fingertips makes it easier to prevent fraud in your business, improve your accuracy and ease finding transactions when needed.
  • Read and understand monthly reports: Keep your bookkeeping system up to date and produce reports monthly. Learn to read and understand these reports, in particular the income statement and the balance sheet. 
  • Keep on top of sales invoices: Late and/or unpaid bills hurt cash flow.  As soon as a job is complete or a product is delivered, prepare and send out the customer invoices. Put a process in place to track your billing carefully (issuing a second invoice, a phone call reminder, penalties or extra fees). Be organized.
  • Know when to outsource: If you find bookkeeping too difficult or don’t have enough time for it, outsource the task. This can be cost-effective and professional help will ensure accuracy. Professional bookkeepers often give great business advice and assist with many tasks (recommend good software, attend meetings with your banker, explain accounts you find difficult, prepare annual budget and cash flow reports, etc).

These bookkeeping tips can help you improve your business, spend less time on finances, focus on growing your company and enhance your customer relationships. Give them a try!

Need help establishing a good bookkeeping system? Looking for business advice? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. We are based out of Calgary, Alberta, serving clients across Canada and the United States. We provide high-quality tax, assurance and succession planning services for a wide variety of privately-owned and managed companies. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.



The Benefits of a Holding Company

Benefits of a Holding Company

The Canadian taxation system allows for the establishment of holding companies. The registration process is the same as any other company. You can register at a regional or federal level. If you wish your company to have an official name, ensure that the proposed name is available for use by doing a search through  NUANS. Your corporation can alternatively be recognized by a unique number assigned to it by Corporations Canada.

What is a holding company?

A holding company is an entity created for the purpose of gathering various assets under one umbrella (real estate, shares, stocks, GICs, term deposits, bonds, other companies). This type of company doesn’t conduct any operations, ventures, or other active tasks for itself. There are several types of holding companies (pure, mixed, immediate, intermediate).       

  • A Pure holding company is formed for the sole purpose of owning stock in other companies.
  • A Mixed holding company (also known as a holding-operating company) not only controls another firm but also engages in its own operations. 
  • An Immediate holding company is one that retains voting stock or control of another company, in spite of the fact that the company itself is already controlled by another entity. 
  • An Intermediate holding company is a firm that is both a holding company of another entity and a subsidiary of a larger corporation.

What are the advantages of having a holding company in Canada?

  • Increased Asset Protection: A holding company helps keep assets safe from creditors in the event that something happens to the operating company. The operating company can take risks without exposing the holding company because the holding company performs no transactions and therefore does not move cash and other assets. The only risk is the extent of the holding company’s investment in the operating company. 
  • Tax Benefits:  Since dividends between Canadian-controlled private corporations (owned by the same person) are tax-free, you can move money from an operating company to a holding company with no negative tax consequences. 
  • Lock in the Capital Gains Exemption: There are specific criteria that need to be met to claim the Lifetime Capital Gains Exemption (LCGE).  A holding company can help business owners meet these criteria.
  • Estate planning: Shares in an operating company can be transferred to younger family members through a holding company by way of an estate freeze that is structured to cap a person’s tax liability upon his or her death and transfer any future growth to family members.
  • Limited Liability:  Companies frequently get sued by employees (wrongful termination), by suppliers and vendors (breach of contract) and by customers (product liability). Holding companies can protect an individual’s personal assets, shielding the individual from debt liabilities, lawsuits, and other risks. 

What are the disadvantages of having a holding company in Canada?  

  • Costs: Holding companies require set-up costs (incorporation fee, lawyers fee) and yearly compliance expenses (financial statements, corporate tax returns).
  • Complexity: A holding company adds a level of complexity that requires reliance on professionals. 

Holding companies are not right for all organizations. If your business is accumulating excess cash and you’re looking to invest, incorporating a holding company may be the right decision for you. Establishing a holding company is complex, so consult a Chartered Professional Accountant to discuss the pros and cons. Ideally, a holding company provides tax savings, helps you reach your estate planning goals, assists in growing your business, provides asset protection and limits your liability.

Interested in establishing a holding company? Looking for business advice? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. We are based out of Calgary, Alberta, serving clients across Canada and the United States. We provide high-quality tax, assurance and succession planning services for a wide variety of privately-owned and managed companies. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.




Succession Planning for Small Businesses

Succession Planning for Small Businesses

Planning can be overwhelming! Because of this, sometimes we avoid planning or we do it quickly and poorly. Small business succession planning is particularly difficult as it’s complex, people are often resistant to change and there’s potential for conflict. But no one stays in the same position forever. Illness, retirement and/or turnover are inevitable. If a company fails to plan, knowledge may be lost, opportunities missed and clients delayed. Succession planning provides a business with a framework that ensures continuity when change occurs. 

What is succession planning?

Succession planning is a process of identifying and developing future leaders/owners of your company. This strategy prepares your business for all contingencies by training high-quality people for advancement. It ensures that your business continues to run smoothly after key people retire, resign, move on to other opportunities or pass away. This process involves the coaching and development of designated successors.

Why develop a succession plan?

There are multiple benefits and reasons for succession planning for your business. 

  • Lower hiring costs
  • Stronger internal hires
  • Shorter vacancies for key positions
  • Better career development
  • Increased employee engagement
  • Higher performance
  • Increased retention
  • Higher job satisfaction
  • Disaster-proofs the business
  • Identifies the most-qualified future leaders
  • Creates a structure for training and development
  • Maintains brand identity
  • Helps a company plan for the long-term

Phases of succession planning:

  • Phase One/Identification: Establish who you are as a company and what you want. Then, consider all key roles in your organization determining the day-to-day import of each position and the impact that would occur if that position was suddenly vacant. Identify multiple candidates for each position (a short list) and teach them the values, guidelines and vision of the business.
  • Phase two/selection: This is where a specific candidate is chosen for each role. The successor may be the person next in line in the organizational chart but may also be a promising employee from another position. Look for those who display the skills necessary to survive and thrive in the new post. Objectively consider your shortlist for performance, skills and emotional intelligence. Choose a candidate who is a lifelong learner and both self and socially aware.
  • Phase three/training: This phase involves scheduled professional development for the chosen successor(s). This may include job rotation (for knowledge and experience), mentoring in soft skills (communication, interpersonal relations, empathy, diplomacy), position shadowing and/or taking over when the person presently in the role is on vacation. 
  • Phase four/transition: This involves the present position holder retiring/stepping down and the chosen successor formally taking the role. 

Succession planning keeps a business moving forward, prepares a company for inevitable changes, assists in retaining strong performers and supports the continuity critical to a company’s future. A succession plan is a good idea at the start-up, growth and maturity stages of a company. It’s worth the investment of time and effort.

Need help with a succession plan for your company? Looking for business advice? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. We are based out of Calgary, Alberta, serving clients across Canada and the United States. We provide high-quality tax, assurance and succession planning services for a wide variety of privately-owned and managed companies. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.



RRSP Basics you Should Know

RRSP basics

RRSPs are one of the best methods of saving for retirement. However, many people do not fully understand this form of investment. The following are some basics you need to know about RRSPs. 

What is an RRSP?

A Registered Retirement Savings Plan is a sheltered account provided by the Canadian government to assist Canadians in saving for retirement. Contributions are tax-deductible and earnings are tax-sheltered. Contributors delay the payment of taxes until retirement, when their tax rate is lower than during their working years. 

How much can I contribute?

The holder of an RRSP can contribute 18% of their yearly income, up to their annual contribution limit. You can find your limit on your Notice of Assessment from the Canada Revenue Agency.

When should I start contributing to an RRSP?

There is no minimum age for beginning an RRSP. As long as you have employment income and file a tax return, you may set up and contribute to an RRSP. 

What investments can I hold in an RRSP?

  • Mutual funds
  • Exchange-Traded Funds (ETFs)
  • GICs
  • Stocks/Equities (both Canadian and foreign)
  • Certain shares of small business and venture capital corporations
  • Options, REITs, coins.
  • Cash
  • Investment-grade gold and silver bullion
  • Treasury bills (T-bills)
  • Bonds (government, corporate and strip bonds)
  • Canadian mortgages
  • Mortgage-backed securities
  • Income trusts

What investments are not allowed to be held in an RRSP?

  • Precious metals
  • Personal property such as art, antiques and gems
  • Commodity futures contracts

Where can I open an RRSP account?

  • Banks and trust companies
  • Credit unions and caisses populaires (cooperative, member-owned financial institutions)
  • Mutual fund companies
  • Investment firms (for self-directed RRSPs)
  • Life insurance companies

What happens when I turn 71?

In the year you turn 71, you need to convert or collapse your RRSP by converting it to an RRIF (Registered Retirement Income Fund), purchase an annuity or both. 

Things you should know:

  • Unused contribution room carries over indefinitely. 
  • You can set up a recurring transfer from your chequing to your RRSP so you won’t be left scrambling to find money to contribute.
  • First-time homebuyers can make a tax-free RRSP withdrawal of up to $35,000 to purchase a home through the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP). You have 15 years to make equal installment contributions back to your RRSP to replace the funds you withdrew.
  • With the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP), you or your spouse can withdraw up to $10,000 in a year to further your education, with a total limit of $20,000 over four years. Once your education is complete, you’ll repay 1/10 of the total amount you withdrew, every year, until it’s fully repaid.


For most Canadians, an RRSP is the most tax-effective investment they can make. Contribute to your RRSP while in a high tax bracket to get immediate tax savings, then pay taxes on withdrawals from the plan while in a lower tax bracket. 

Looking for business and investment advice? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. We are based out of Calgary, Alberta, serving clients across Canada and the United States. We provide high-quality tax, assurance and succession planning services for a wide variety of privately-owned and managed companies. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.

Advantages of Hiring a Bookkeeper

Advantages of Hiring a Bookkeeper

Business owners need accurate, up-to-date financial information in order to make good business decisions, maintain CRA compliance, support readiness in case of an audit and provide preparedness for the possible future sale of the company. Keeping track of business transactions and ensuring accurate books is complex and time-consuming. A bookkeeper can help. 

What are the duties and responsibilities of a bookkeeper?

A bookkeeper is a person whose job is to keep records of the financial affairs of a business. He/she undertakes a variety of tasks including:

  • Recording the financial transactions of your business (incoming and outgoing) and posting them to various accounts
  • Processing payments
  • Conducting daily banking activities
  • Developing a system for organizing sales, purchases, payments and receipts
  • Identifying trends and how they apply to your business
  • Producing various financial reports
  • Reconciling reports to third-party records such as bank statements
  • Providing a complete set of year-to-date accounting records
  • Supplying information regarding the performance of your business

Advantages of hiring a bookkeeper:

  • Saves you time: Bookkeeping tasks are time-consuming and tedious. Hiring a bookkeeper relieves you of these duties, allowing you to dedicate your time to growing your business. 
  • Saves you money: The cost of outsourcing your bookkeeping is usually less than employing a full-time bookkeeper. A bookkeeper’s detailed records will save you money by reducing the time your CPA needs to analyze your accounts.
  • Prevents errors: Mistakes are costly. Having a bookkeeper means your books are up-to-date, organized and accurate. 
  • Eases budget creation: A bookkeeper will examine your revenue and expenses, providing you with budget tips that help reduce spending, assist in efficient business operations and contribute to profitability.
  • Enables better business decisions: By identifying spending patterns and sales trends, providing forecasts of seasonal ups and downs, recognizing money-making opportunities, avoiding cash-flow problems and finding ways to increase income and/or decrease spending, a bookkeeper provides you with the information you need to make good decisions for your business.
  • Contributes to effortless tax season:  A bookkeeper provides up-to-date accounting records and a year-end financial statement making it easier to prepare accurate and complete tax returns and avoid tax penalties.
  • Allows maximum tax deductions: Proper bookkeeping allows you to take advantage of all possible input tax credits and deductions. 
  • Ensures compliance with the law: A good bookkeeper complies with the latest legal regulations and remains up to date with recent legal changes. 
  • Provides audit preparedness: Accurate and up-to-date records ensure a smooth audit process. 
  • Promotes ease of securing loans and/or investments: It’s easier to secure capital when you’re able to clearly outline your business’s performance and financial position. 
  • Reduces risk: A good bookkeeper can detect fraud and/or embezzlement, helping you spot suspicious business transactions.  

Businesses benefit from the assistance of a qualified, professional bookkeeper. These professionals help companies through all stages of start-up and growth.

Need professional bookkeeping and accounting services? Looking for business advice? Contact Cook and Company Chartered Professional Accountants. We are based out of Calgary, Alberta, serving clients across Canada and the United States. We provide high-quality tax, assurance and succession planning services for a wide variety of privately-owned and managed companies. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.