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Frank Flynn, 45

Occupation Playwright, tax penalty appeal writer.

His story

It only makes sense. When you're a playwright who has worked in collections, and also spent 12 years as an enforcement officer with the Canada Revenue Agency and you're looking to start a business, what's the obvious choice? Start a custom letter-writing service for taxpayers and companies hoping to get a break on the penalties and interest on their tax liabilities, of course.

"I wanted to invest in something unusual, so I spent a little money on a website, some business materials, and a little advertising," says Frank Flynn, noting that while he hoped to eventually make his money back, he did so in just two weeks. "I had no idea if there would be any demand, and it turned out to be the motherlode."

His approach to investing Mr. Flynn, who lives in Peterborough, Ont., sticks to very conservative mutual funds. He counts it as a bit of a victory that he's down between 11 and 15 per cent since 2009. "I'd have to say that's not that bad. Lots of folks I'm talking to are down 25 per cent."

Why he likes the big banks "I thing there's going to be a huge growth in investment banking, because there's going to be an enormous transfer of weight from one generation to another. That money has to go somewhere and it will go to Canadian banks."

Why he sticks with funds

from Investors Group Consolidating his holdings with a single fund company, he says, "makes it easier to manage, and simplifies my busy life."

Best moveHe likes the steadiness offered by the Investors Group Dividend Fund, which he's owned for about four years. The fund has a five-year average annual compound return of 1.86 per cent, a tad above the index return of 1.76 per cent.

Worst move A handful of Trimark funds that performed poorly in the early '90s was the catalyst for Mr. Flynn switching advisers. "Particularly brutal" is what he calls the three-year performance at the time of the Trimark European Growth Fund. "Everyone was saying Europe was so strong, and there was this big hope it would carry the global economy," he says.

Advice "Before you even start down the road of picking stocks or funds, educate yourself. Do some reading, pick up a newspaper, and find out what's going on in the world."

Special to The Globe and Mail

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