Tuesday, 22 October 2019

Podcast Review: Canadian Portfolio Manager

Audio is my main form of content consumption so any new podcast in the Canadian Financial Landscape has to be reviewed and judged accordingly, regardless of whether or not FIRE is the focus.
Justin Bender's New Podcast!
Justin Bender of PWL Capital has been operating his blog for some time now. It is both quite interesting and quite boring at the same time. It's interesting because he writes in simple terms and doesn't beat around the bush about passive index investing. You get to learn a whole lot of practical Canadian investing mechanics and implementing his advice will make you rich one day. He himself seems like a cool dude.

It's boring because it's just plain old research-based investing and investing done right is boring. That's okay though, we're not chasing FIRE for the thrill of marijuana stock returns nor do we pursue actively managed ETF's in the E-Sports scene because computer gaming is the future of the olympics (which it might just be). Besides, games like Hockey are best explained by the mechanics of the hockey rink, the rules of the game and the known strategies most likely to win the Stanley Cup. Going through this process with graphs and blog posts is inevitably boring.

This is why I'm excited for Justin's new podcast: Canadian Portfolio Manager. While he does read from a script, he will certainly improve his lecturing skills in time and hopefully have a bit of fun with it much like Dan Bortolotti from Canadian Couch Potato did. Let's review his first ever episode:

The Soundbites
Oh my.. there were quite a few.. okay there were far too many but hey I found most of them funny and it lightened the mood. The problem is he sprinkled them in throughout the same train of thought in many instances, I had to go back and listen to entire segments because of the distractions. I would've liked to see an opening statement, then a soundbite, and then an explanation from beginning to end before another interruption or segment. Justin has received this criticism over and over again this past week and is happy to reduce the amount of soundbites for our listening pleasure. Excellent!

The Audio Format
Justin converted this blogpost into podcast format, which I loved. I actually saved this blogpost on my Pocket App but never got around to reading it - I drive a truck for a living so audio is my main go-to. To put this into context, the article was published on the 12th of September, 2019. The podcast was released 16th of October of the same year and I had downloaded and listened within 48 hours. I wasn't even driving my truck at the time, I was doing chores around the house. Ah, the power of podcasts!

Justin has a segment where he compared two ETF's: VGRO and XGRO. To make this the most amazing segment of all time in the financial space, he borrowed the theme of Mortal Kombat to showcase what is otherwise interesting but boring material (as described above). While I think a bunch of the soundbites have to go, I hope Justin keeps this entire segment theme the way it was. Ending with "Frugality!!" instead of "fatality" was the absolute cherry on top. I don't care if this theme was hit or miss with people, it's not intrusive enough to be cut and it makes the segment much more enjoyable.

If my readers will remember from previous post on the Vortex of FIRE Information, you'll note that I have 3 pieces of key criteria to be considered a podcast worth listening to: simple and relevant information, motivational and entertaining, and community engagement. It is this blogger's opinion that Justin has met all 3 with his first try:

  1. His analysis is somewhat simple. He dives into the complex world of ETF mechanics and to expect true simplicity is to not listen at all and just buy VEQT and be done with it. I would've liked to see conclusions at the end of a train of thought due to the complexity of his answers just to rope in any listeners who may have gotten lost or misunderstood. 
  2. His information is incredibly relevant to the FIRE space in Canada. Even though Justin is presumably outside of this movement, we'll still use it because FIRE doesn't discriminate and borrows from anybody with helpful content. 
  3. His Mortal Kombat theme and pop culture references are very entertaining. Remove 80% of the soundbites, keep the theme and carry on!
  4. His podcast included the segment where he answered a listener's question. He chose Robb Engen from Boomer and Echo so I think it's fair to say Justin will be very involved in the community. He's also been responding to everybody's criticism so far which to me means a top-notch content creator.

We're lucky to have this brand new podcast and I'm also impressed by the fleet of content creators at PWL Capital. Big Thanks to you and your organization and this listener is eager to hear the next episode, especially since Canadian Couch Potato is no longer producing new episodes.

Ryan Myricks
You can email me here: canadianfire1@gmail.com
You can listen to me here: www.exploreficanada.ca


  1. I would argue for keeping his sound bites, my husband who is not the nerd in the family liked them and stated “It would be to dry and boring without.” followed by snoozing sounds.

    1. Fair enough! I've criticized other podcasts for being too boring so perhaps your husband's point is valid!