The biggest TFSAs in Canada

The biggest TFSAs in Canada

Our contest turned up winners and investment strategies that will amaze and inspire you

(Darren Hull/iStock)

(Darren Hull/iStock)

Everyone loves the thrill of a good race, and small investors are no different. That’s what inspired MoneySense to launch the inaugural Great TFSA Race last year. It was designed as a contest to see who has grown their investments the most since 2009, when Tax-Free Savings Accounts were introduced. Because everyone who was 18 or older at the time had exactly the same amount of contribution room—$31,000—it was a fair fight.

To find our winners, we went in search of investors who made big bets to grow their contributions into much more. How much more? Well, between the two of them, this year’s winning husband and wife team grew their investments into more than $1 million!

Anyone in the country could enter, and of the 60 or so Canadians who did so this year, we selected the six with the biggest balances as of October 31. In the pages that follow, our winners happily reveal their strategies and the endgame they’ve planned for their TFSA money.

Some, like Rick and Maureen O’Hanley Doucette of Kelowna, B.C., are aggressive risk-takers who held thousands of shares of only one penny stock for the entire six years. Others, like Nita Sproule of Calgary, are slow and steady investors focused on buying large-cap value stocks.

Just keep in mind that their TFSAs are a small part of their total portfolio—often less than 10%. So they’re comfortable taking big risks with the knowledge that they have safer investments in their RRSPs, company pension plans or non-registered accounts. “Still, in many cases, the bigger risk is simply keeping your TFSA money sitting in cash or GICs and forgoing growth, something that 80% of people who contribute to TFSAs do,” says Jason Heath, a certified financial planner in Toronto. That’s why Heath recommends that TFSA investors hold high-growth or income-generating assets to take full advantage of the tax break.

READ: 7 things you didn’t know about TFSAs »

We hope you’ll be inspired by these success stories. But remember that any investment with the potential for huge returns also comes with a lot of risk. Before you try any of these strategies in your own TFSA, do your own research, review your short- and long-term goals and consider talking over your plan with an adviser.

The Great TFSA Race 2015

1st place

Rick & Maureen’s TFSAs: $1M+

2nd place

Shafik’s TFSA: $262,000

3rd place

Philippe’s TFSA: $100,021

4th place

Nita’s TFSA: $88,062

5th place

Milan’s TFSA: $86,300

6th place

Jin’s TFSA: $70,474