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TD E-Series RESP Beartrap

This was written a while ago, 2015. Back then I was attempting to cash out TD E-series Index Funds in my kids’ RESPs. Using the TD E-series RESP method is good, but fraught with gotchas.

Just when I thought I couldn’t possibly find anything more to write about with my kids’ RESP account, TD puts a beartrap in the process and I end up with yet another article to write, about the  TD E-series RESP mutual fund account, and how it is not a straight-forward process cashing out.

Is this another rehash about a visit to my local TD Branch to cash out my TD E-series RESP funds? Yes, and no (after a fashion).

Four months ago, when I changed all of my TD Mutual Fund savings vehicles, into accounts that allow for the purchase of the TD E-series Index Funds. Remember I did outline in Quicken and transferring E-series Index Funds, how to change from the I-series funds to the E-series versions (which have lower MER fees), little did I know that with that change, I set the beartrap, that I stepped on Friday evening.

TD E-series RESP bear trap
It snapped shut tight

I went to my local branch of TD Friday because my youngest daughter’s tuition fees were due. An appointment was set up at my branch last week, to get what I needed to pay for this term. You must go to a branch to prove your child is in a reputable program, before you can have access to the RESP funds. I had my letter, I knew what part of the portfolio I wanted to liquidate, so what could go wrong?

Upon arrival at the branch, and I was dealing with a polite young man, that I had dealt with previously. I explained quickly what I wanted, and he logged in and started clicking and typing. Time passed, screens seem to fly by and then return and I started to wonder, “What is wrong?”.

After about 10 minutes the gentleman turned to me and said, “We have a problem here”. At that moment, the bear trap snapped shut on my ankle.

The “Advisor” then explained that the in-branch Financial Advisor/Mutual Fund persons are not allowed to touch E-series funds. I believe my response was a confused but polite, “I beg your pardon?”. The young man went on to explain that he could only trade the I series funds. The TD E-series RESP funds were out of his “jurisdiction”.

At that moment I almost asked, “So I have a Save only account?” (i.e. I am allowed to put money in, but not allowed to take any money out). There is a methodology to take money out of a TD Mutual Fund account with E-series Index Funds.

Steps to Withdraw Funds

  1. Get a proof of enrollment letter from the post secondary school she is attending. Luckily I already had that from September
  2. Make an appointment with the local branch to do an RESP withdrawal. This is so someone trusted at TD can attest to the letter that you got in the first place (hint for TD, maybe I could have the letter sent to YOU or faxed?).
  3. Go on-line to my TD Mutual Fund account, and move the funds I want, into a TD Money Market account. This is a fund that the Mutual Fund expert or Financial Advisor can do something with. Do this at least 2 days before you go to the branch (to allow the transaction to go through).
  4. Go into the branch and spend 1/2 an hour answering questions, and possibly having to review your investing profile, but eventually put through the transactions to cash in the funds you want.
  5. Wait for the funds to arrive on-line


As an epilogue to Friday, I also asked what would happen if my RESP was with TD Waterhouse (in hindsight what I should have done in the first place)? It becomes more complicated, and at the end of your visit to the local branch, you must then wait for TD Waterhouse to release the funds to you (so you need to wait longer for it).

I must now return this Wednesday to attempt the same thing I attempted back on Friday (i.e. cash out my TD E-series RESP mutual fund account).

Feel Free to Comment

  1. Geez, that’s just nuts. Has TD Canada Trust ever seen these posts and reached out to you? You’d think they’d be embarrassed.

  2. FWIW, I only ever had an RESP with TD Waterhouse. My experience was that only the back office people at TDW, to whom you were not allowed to speak, really undertand the ins and outs of CESG, accumulated income and/or contributed capital. My advice, keep any and all paper copies of every statement with a transaction, in or out, to be able to check and prove when they forget, for instance, to apply for CESG on your behalf (I had to send a copy of the TD bank branch contribution form).

  3. I get that they’re on-line only but I went through a lot of the same pains with my RESP. I went through the process of opening a family RESP and converting to an e-Account and buying e-Series funds with the money I originally deposited in an MMF to open the account.

    When my 2nd child was born (remember this is a family account) I had to go through the whole process again to be able to buy e-Series funds in his name!

    And not only would the branch reps act like I didn’t exist once I crossed over to e-Series, the phone reps wouldn’t help me either! It’s like the e-Series aren’t even a real TD product!!!

    RESP’s require a lot of in-person paper-work, but TD hasn’t figure out to make that happen for their e-Series accounts.

    The MER over at RBC was only slightly higher and their branch reps not only answered my questions, but their phone reps called me back the next day to follow-up. They didn’t insist I go to my home branch either, the branch nearest my office was more than happy to help out (going to different branches seemed to be an issue for TD as well). And at the end of the day, I’m doing everything on-line with RBC anyways!!!

    Bonus: RBC participates in QESI as well as the CESG so there’s that bit of extra money too – TD, at least for e-Series, did not do the QESI for Quebecers.

  4. I sort of thought everyone knew this when they signed up for e-series funds. It says “self-directed” all over the forms. Branch advisors/clerks keep their dirty little hands off it, because it’s SELF directed. I’m glad they’re not allowed to screw with these and easily convert somebody’s e-series into some fancy high MER product with the click of a button. Yeah, the common way to liquidate something with these is to convert it to a MMF and then transfer into an account,

    1. Yeh, I will plead guilty that I may not have read closely all the forms, but I do seem to live under the wrong star when it comes to “interesting swerves” when it comes to taking money out of any of the RESPs.

  5. Heh considering TD makes it difficult to sign up for an e-Series account I suppose it’s no surprise they make it hard to get your money out.

    I wonder if you have an account with TD Investments if it would be any different.

  6. Hi BCM,

    Happy 2015! That said, I think that you have run into the same problem that people have run into before. TD sometimes doesn’t understand its own products.

    I have TD e-series in my low value TFSAs and small RSPs with TD Waterhouse. I am able to buy and sell within the account online. As long as the TD interface has a sell button, you should be able to convert the mutual fund into cash.

    Then it should be a straight phone call or meeting at the bank to get the cash transferred out.

    The $25K limit to waive fees applies to the total of ALL your accounts (SDRSP, TFSA and others) and not just the total of the account you are using. I had the same question for my TD Waterhouse rep.

    If you are looking for alternatives, Dan Bartolli (Canadian Couch Potato) just published his revised portfolios with returns. It appears that the Tangerine funds at 1.09% MER are an attractive alternative to the TD e-series. The returns were very close this year.

    I suppose when it is time for me to use my TFSA, I will probably run into similar glitches. But for now, I am happy that I am using TD Waterhouse and not TD Bank.

    Best of luck,


  7. Emily @ Simple Cheap Mom

    We got a letter in the mail from TD last week saying that as of March there would be a charge to transfer funds to another institution. That was the push I needed to start looking elsewhere. Thanks for the heads up for getting out your RESP money. That sounds like a very frustrating visit!

  8. With TDDI it’s more intuitive because you can hold cash, and selling your investments to get cash to withdraw is a natural, logical step to take before trying to take money out. With TDMF it’s not, because you can’t hold cash and converting to a money market fund to then sell and withdraw in one step is not remotely intuitive (you’d have to read the TD e-series guide or something to know that’s what you have to do). At least your rep seemed to figure it out after a while — some never do and just send you home to try again another day with someone else or search for it on the internet.

    1. Yes, I should have said, my guess is one of the many boxes I ticked when I went to TD E-series funds said this might happen, but yes, TD Waterhouse you can hold “cash” so it is a little simpler too (that way).

    2. You so funny!

      I stared with TD e-Series RESP because of the low MER but it just isn’t worth it! It’s such a hassle, it seems like really don’t want people to actually buy the e-Series funds, they just want to advertise the lowest MER.

      1. I think they’d work just fine, in a TD Waterhouse (or Questrade for that matter) account, I think most of my issues are with the TD Mutual Funds folks and their ways of doing business. I think they’d be happy if I went away…

        1. Not Questrade. You can only buy the e-series through an account with TD Mutual Funds or TD Direct Investing (Waterhouse). They are “in-house” only, one might say.

    3. Wow, such hassles with the big banks, I don’t know why they have some many customers. I had my kids RESPs at MD Financial (anyone with a relative who is a physician can get an account). All withdrawals were asynchronously handled with email. No appointments, no visits to branches, no FAXing (scanned documents by email is almost the same thing I guess), no wasted time :).

    4. After hearing all of your stories I’m glad this phase of the RESP process is still 12-15 years away. I’m sure TD (and the Universities) will have everything sorted out by then…right?

    5. I’ve had a TD Waterhouse (now TD Direct Investing) RESP for several years. In fact, I just wound it up in the last few months as the youngest of my four children is in his final year of university. It does take a little planning to withdraw funds from a TDDI RESP, but nothing terribly onerous in my view. No need for a money market fund to hold the cash proceeds before you withdraw the funds. One thing I wonder about is your asset allocation. As my children got older, I eventually got entirely out of equity mutual funds and transitioned to GICs and a high-interest savings account. We went through the dot-com crash of 2000 and the 2008 recession and while we kept going with equities in our RRSPs and taxable accounts, the RESP had an earlier wind-up date.

      1. With Waterhouse, you still have to go to the Bank to show your child is at a school, and I am pretty sure you have to have your “money” in something that the bank person can “see”, but again, can’t comment for sure, as I have only dealt with the TD Mutual Fund folks.

        1. You don’t necessarily have to go to a branch for TDDI RESP accounts. I faxed the proof of enrolment, the RESP withdrawal form and a cover letter (just to make sure they knew what I was asking for) to a number on the RESP withdrawal form. Before I did that, I made sure that I had liquidated the investments to release the necessary cash and that the trades had settled. The money just sits as uninvested cash inside the account. The money was then direct deposited into my account (the portion of the withdrawal made up of contributed capital, non-taxable) and into my child’s account (the portion consisting of growth and grant money, taxable to the child), or alternatively, cheques can be mailed. All that took a few days, but proceeded without a hitch.

          1. Thanks Russ, actually that sounds MUCH easier, just takes a little patience. OK, I most definitely should have changed to a TD Waterhouse RESP, might do that for my son’s account…

          2. Just one more comment on TDDI (TD Waterhouse) RESP accounts: if you choose to open one for your son, watch out for the $50 annual administration fee and inquire with them about ways to waive the fee.

            1. $25,000 min. to waive for RESPs. But, in the last couple of years our RESP was well below that figure and we weren’t charged. I asked once why we weren’t and I don’t recall the exact answer but I think it was because we had substantial investments in RRSPs and taxable accounts. I think electing for e-statements rather than paper statements is also a factor, but I may be mixing up registered vs. non-registered accounts.

        2. Wow! The “Hotel California” of investment plans!

          I wouldn’t want the proof of enrollment mailed directly to TD or any other bank, though. The chances of them misfiling it vs me losing it are huge. When a document went astray at BMO once and I was roaring since it had my name, address, SIN etc on it, they blithely said “oh, if it lands on the wrong desk they just SHRED it!” That’s right, no attempt to get it back to the right dept. They just shred anything mis-sent to protect from identity theft.

          Good luck later this week!

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