This is the time of year when we all get a bit weary of winter, and you might be thinking about a getaway down south to banish the blues. But have you ever thought about Europe as an alternative? Spring in Europe is generally a lot more predictable than in Canada, and much milder. It’s also a great time to avoid the big crowds, as well as catch some seasonal events that can make your vacation all the more memorable. If you’ve never thought about Europe for a spring break, here are a few suggestions of unique experiences to whet your appetite, and help you start planning a last-minute escape.
Tulip Mania—Keukenhof, Holland
Ottawa’s famous tulip festival owes its origins to Canada hosting the Dutch royal family during World War II. Now, each year, Holland sends over masses of tulips in thanks. If you want to see an even more spectacular display of the famous flowers, though, you should head over to Holland in the spring. Every year the tulip bloom attracts thousands of tourists to the country, especially the gardens of Keukenhof, where you can see dazzling acres of brilliant tulips. Combine that with the wonderful art, architecture and friendly people of Holland, and you have a perfect way to welcome spring. For updates on when to visit, check out the Tulips in Holland website.
Las Fallas—Valencia, Spain
European cities love to celebrate the arrival of spring, often with parades, festivals and quirky events. Valencia is a great example. Every March, it hosts a month-long event called Las Fallas, with special foods, street performances and a parade that features hugely elaborate papier-mâché puppets on floats. There’s also a regular firing off of gunpowder for three weeks in a central square, followed by the construction of a 15-metre high cloak of flowers to honour the Virgin Mary. More information can be found here.
Easter Rocket War—Chios, Greece
The Greek island of Chios is home to one of the craziest rituals you could ever hope to witness. Every year, on the night before Easter Sunday, two rival churches on the island engage in a spectacular “rocket war”, where they fire thousands of fireworks at each other’s bells during midnight mass. The night air is filled with duelling fireworks, as you can see in this video. And they’ve been going at it for 200 years! Chios has many more attractions than just its pyrotechnics, including churches, museums, caves and nearby islands in the Aegean. A wonderful way to get away for spring, and enjoy a bit of Mediterranean lifestyle (including Greek food!). Click here to see the island’s tourism website.
International Chocolate Festival—Obidos, Portugal
It’s hard to resist a chocolate festival. But if you attend the one in Obidos, Portugal, you probably won’t feel the usual guilt about indulging. That’s because the town is also a medieval gem, almost unchanged over 700 years, and you’ll be walking off all those extra calories. Explore the castle and the medieval town walls, and then head back to Lisbon which is only half an hour away. With a great climate and far fewer tourists than neighbouring Spain, Portugal is an ideal spring break destination. For more about they country, take a look at the Visit Portugal website.
We’ve done it again!
It has been a great start to 2019 for Oaken. At the end of January, Ratehub.ca, one of Canada’s leading personal finance websites, announced the recipients of its best financial products awards. And we’re very proud to say that we’ve been invited into the winner’s circle! Specifically, Oaken Financial was singled out for two of Ratehub’s accolades: Top 1 Year GIC and Top 5 Year GIC.
Now, if this seems like déjà vu all over again, that’s because it is! Last year, we also won exactly the same awards. And at the time, we expressed the hope that we’d be repeating as winners 365 days later. Of course, we’re not entirely surprised, either. We’ve long committed ourselves to being a leader in deposit products across Canada, and our 1 Year rate of 3.10% and our 5 Year rate of 3.60% were highest in the country during 2018. Ratehub also singled us out for our easy online signup process, and noted that our GICs are CDIC-insured, up to the applicable limits.
You can read more about the awards here, which includes an explanation of the methodology underlying their awards. And look out for the Ratehub awards this time next year, when we hope to three-peat as your GIC champion!
CIPF—CDIC’s lesser-known cousin
When it comes to protecting your hard-earned money, Canada’s financial system has your back. You probably know that deposits made with many Canadian financial institutions are insured up to $100,000 the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation, commonly known as CDIC. Home Bank and Home Trust Company, which are the two issuers behind the Oaken brand, are both separate members of CDIC. And that means the savings accounts and term deposits (such as GICs) that you hold with us are eligible for coverage, up to applicable limits.
But did you know there’s a second entity that provides money loss protection to Canadians? It’s called the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF), and it’s the investment counterpart to CDIC. Member firms are investment dealers that belong to IIROC (Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada), and depositors are covered—within limits—in the case of insolvency of a member. Coverage extends to securities and cash, as well as more exotic instruments such as futures contracts and segregated insurance funds. Non-registered, registered and RESP investments are eligible for coverage, up to $1 million each.
An important difference
While both CDIC and CIPF are designed to shield ordinary Canadians from undue loss in the event of a member financial institution being unable to meet its obligations, they should not be viewed as providing identical types of coverage. CDIC will reimburse you not only for your principal, but also for your interest, so you’ll get back what you expected to earn on your savings (up to the maximum). However, that’s not the case with CIPF protection. As with all investments, those covered by CIPF do not carry any guaranteed or expected return on your money. If a member firm makes a bad investment on your behalf and it loses value, CIPF will not reimburse you. So if your insolvent firm was holding equities for you and the price plummeted, CIPF will make sure that you get those shares back—but not the principal that you originally invested in them. The same also applies to losses that occur as a result of misrepresentation, fraud, and poor advice. In such cases, you would have to bring your concerns to the member firm.
Both CDIC and CIPF are “seals of quality” when it comes to insuring your money, but it’s important to recognize the big differences between them. Look out for the logos of each entity, which are prominently displayed at member institutions, when you save and invest. You can also find more information about CDIC here, and CIPF here.
Calling all Vancouverites!
We’re delighted to announce that we’ll very soon be opening a new, dedicated Oaken space at our Vancouver location. This will provide a great environment that’s conveniently situated in the downtown core, where you can come and chat with our Oaken team members about any aspect of your investment needs.
It’s also worth noting that we have Cantonese and Mandarin speakers available in Vancouver, so if you or any of your friends prefer to converse in these languages, we’re always more than happy to oblige.
Of course, it goes without saying that this is a cause for celebration, so we’re hosting a get-together on Wednesday, March 6! Everyone is welcome to come on down for a drink, a bite and a first sneak peek at our gleaming new digs. Our address is 200 Granville Street, Suite 1288, and you can join us anytime between 3pm and 7pm. Simply click here to RSVP online. You can also give us a call us at 1-855-OAKEN-22 (625-3622), or send an email to email@example.com.
Whether you’re able to make it along for the event, or would just like to drop by our new space at any time in the future, our Vancouver Oaken team looks forward to welcoming you!
Spring is coming! But we still thought we’d offer up a diverse collection of interesting articles to help you through the waning days of winter…
- Browse through some more spring travel suggestions in this article from The Guardian about Europe off-the-beaten-track.
- The Vancouver Sun explores how the mysterious case of QuadrigaCX serves as a warning to investors who venture into unregulated financial markets.
- Even though financial apps are growing by leaps and bounds, cash is still going strong, according to this surprising little article from The Independent.