“Our industry’s broken”

“Our industry’s broken”

“Our industry’s broken”

In Canada, the embedded-fee system has the Management Expense Ratio (MER) set at about 2.5 per cent annually, which covers various fees and the advisor’s cut (about 1 per cent). The problem is many investors, when they purchase a product, are in the dark about these fees and how they impact their pocketbook.

“I don’t think that they (embedded fees) have to be banned, but better disclosure (is needed), leaving it up to the public to decide whether the advisor is giving adequate service for the fee,” says Ian Black, a fee-only advisor with Macdonald, Shymko & Company Ltd. “Disclosure is still not as strong as it should be.”

Reacting to international criticism that the industry lacks regulation ensuring transparency and accountability to investors, the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) – the body responsible for the securities regulations of all provinces – will require advisors to provide a breakdown of fees and services to their clients on a quarterly basis as of July 2016. The OSC is also reviewing its fee system and associated services to establish whether increased regulation is necessary.

“(Advisors) try to make their fees transparent, but their hidden in a lot of jargon,” says Scott Sather, an investment advisor and financial planner with Sather Wealth Management. “It takes a lot of digging and it’s not easy for the average investor to find out whether they are paying too much.” (Continued on Page 3.)

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  • Susan McArter 2013-11-06 10:33:30 AM
    I totally agree with this writers comments, restricting or limiting options will not work in the best interest of most of my clients. Educating clients is a large part of what I do at each meeting. Options and clear transparency is the way to proceed. If the regulators are successful with implimenting their intended changes to compensation it will drive out a large number of Financial planners and by default the big banks will become a clients only option. In my opinion this would be disasterous for all canadian investors.
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  • Bob T 2014-02-26 11:56:59 AM
    Unfortunately there are many people who appear unable to handle knowing what they pay. They are under the delusion that investment management should come to them at minimal or no cost.

    In 1996 I had a client who purchased on a commission basis 1,000 shares of Bank of Nova Scotia. She was so upset at seeing the commission on the transaction that she sold the shares and closed her account despite a clear discussion with her about commissions prior to her purchase. Total cost was about $40,000 and those 1,000 shares have split twice since that time and are now worth $250,000 and produce an annual dividend of just a little less than $10,000.

    The point isn't that it was a great investment but that she gave up on a great investment because she couldn't handle seeing the cost.

    On the other side I have a very analytical client who pays a fee based on the size of his account. When I informed him that some people didn't like to see a fee but would prefer to have it hidden inside as an MER in a fund he was absolutely confused. He just couldn't understand why people would rather pay more just so they didn't see it.
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