Exposed on Banks

Even as a simple country Index Investor (to paraphrase Bones McCoy), you need to understand the Index you invest in. If you own a TSX-based, Canadian S&P Based or Dividend Royalty based index you hold a lot of Banks.

Two examples of this are:

  • S&P/TSX Composite Index, (OSPTX) which holds 36 % “Financials“. The top 10 holdings 4 are banks (Royal Bank RY, Bank of Nova Scotia BNS, TD Bank TD and Bank of Montreal BMO).
  • S&P/TSX Composite High Dividend Index ETF (TXEI) which holds 30% “financials”. You find 4 banks in their top 10 holdings (Bank of Montreal BMO, Bank of Nova Scotia BNS, Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce CM, National Bank of Canada NA)
exposed on banks

Why this imbalance? Banks are doing very well lately, and have done well for over 15 years.

Are banks likely to “Nortel out“, in the near future? No, but realize that you are holding a lot of Banks if you are investing in Canadian Indexes.

My problem is that I am highly exposed on Banks. From my days as a Stock holder, I still hold TD and BMO in one of my larger investing portfolios. In this same portfolio I also hold a TSX index fund, which means my exposure to banks is too large (given I may retire within the next 10 years).

As Interest Rates slowly rise to more normal rates, I should start thinking about some more stability and start building a GIC Ladder in my portfolio. I should be looking for more stability given I am within 10 years of retirement.

Treat This as Informational

I am not offering advice. I am simply pointing out that many passive investors are heavily exposed to the Financial Sector in Canada.

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Banking Regulations our Friend

I got a very good comment from someone who calls themselves Anon Banker, about the Tied Selling Banking Regulations and how that should stop banks from forcing you to have a chequing account with them if you have a mortgage with them. The Tied Selling regulation is quite clear about this:

For example, if you apply for a mortgage at a bank, the institution cannot make you buy another product or service as a condition for obtaining the mortgage.

Bank Accounts and Loans

You don’t have to open an account, but the bank may not give you a great deal either.

Luckily for the banks there is a little wiggle room, with the following statement:

However, banks (and their affiliates) are allowed to offer consumers, in conjunction with one of their products, another product or service on more favourable terms than they normally would provide. This is similar to a company offering a deal or discount to its customers if they purchase more than one item from the company. For example, if you obtain a loan from a bank to purchase a Registered Retirement Savings Plan (RRSP) investment, the bank might offer you a better rate on your loan if you also purchase your RRSP investment from them.

Better Deals if You Get an Account?

So the bank can not deny your mortgage application if you decide not to have a bank account with them, however, they can offer you a better mortgage rate if you do open an account with you. I suppose that sounds fair.

 

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How Do Banks Differentiate Themselves?

I have run across a few interesting things that caused me to wonder what exactly are the banks in Canada doing to make folks want to be their customers? Given they continue to have enormous profit margins, do banks differentiate themselves in Canada?

All of the banks advertise (I don’t have their numbers spent on advertising, but no bank in Canada does NOT advertise). You can see some of the ads on this very web site some times, so they must have very deep advertising pockets, I do like the TD ads with the cranky old men, but that wouldn’t cause me to change banks for that reason alone.

Cheques

The first thing I noticed while collecting dues for a basketball team is that  I received 4 cheques from different parents, but I noticed the cheque design for all 4 cheques were EXACTLY the same, even though they came from 3 different banks. The security patterns on the cheques were exactly the same (I compared them under a strong light), the differences were:

  1. Bank Information about which bank this is, address and logo
  2. Customer information (name and such)
  3. What was included in the MICR lettering at the bottom of the cheque

Other than that, there is no difference in the cheque.  In fact most of the banks use the same printer for cheque designs they simply order them, and thus this service is the same.

On Line Bank Interface

This is very different in terms of who designed the interface and such, but my guess is the “back end” of the software is exactly the same. What you can do is remarkably the same, typically there is a lot of advertising around it to get you to try new services with the bank.

Tomorrow, we continue this interesting case study.

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Up Selling in Banking

My wife went in to our Bank last week (the brick and mortar version), to cash a cheque. She decided to do this at a teller, and she stood in line for this privilege. As she got to the teller, suddenly she was accosted by the teller, asking about how our family investments were being handled, and whether we had an investment advisor.

Upselling financially

You want fries with your GIC?

Mrs. C8j has learned the answer to give, and she simply stated that we take care of our own investments and we were happy with that, however, evidently that was not good enough for this teller. My wife came home with a glossy brochure, and, a flyer about Financial Planning Week, along with the name of a “Financial Planner” who could help us out. I realize this is the bank attempting to “drum up some business” for their Financial Planning income stream, but it is another reason (for me) to stay away from my local branch.

As usual, I should thank TD for giving me more content to rant about, since without them I am not sure what I would be writing about.

Given I feel I have a smart and sophisticated readership, I’d like to give you folks some homework. I do plan on sending an e-mail to this planner and possibly going to visit with him to research how the system now works, however, what kind of questions should I be asking?

Questions to Ask Your Financial Planner

So far, I have a couple of obvious examples:

  • How do you earn your pay ? What is the difference between you and a fee-based financial planner?
  • What licenses, credentials or other certifications do you have?
  • Could I see a sample financial plan?
  • What makes your client experience unique?
  • Given I have a pension, what kind of a retirement plan do you think I should have?
  • Do you still make money if I lose money?

Am I missing other great questions to ask?

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More Blocked Mutual Fund Transactions at TD

Again, I am tripped up by my “investing profile” at TD? Yes, again, due to my Mutual Funds account investing profile was not “up to date” and thus my risky transfer from a Money Market Fund, to a Bond Fund was blocked. What do I mean by blocked? It was disallowed and my money remains in the Money Market Fund.

Transaction Denied

Dikembe must work for TD ?

I sent the following message:

So AGAIN, my transaction in a TD Mutual Fund account is BLOCKED because my “Profile” is not up to date? I was just in my bank branch, having to do the EXACT SAME THING for another Mutual account, yet I must do it again?

Can I do this on-line? If not, why not? My level of frustration with this system is nearing a critical level, and feel that while it is good that you care enough about your customers to ask them about their investing needs, I am also growing weary having to wander into my local branch to update my profile once a year.

I figured I’d hear nothing back, however, I got the following even more frustrating message back, using the secure message feature of TD’s On-line banking interface.

Thanks for connecting with us. I am happy to offer further guidance.

The idea of reviewing your investments once a year is to make sure they still align with the level of risk that you are comfortable with. Since your investment goals and some events in life might have changed, by reviewing your profile, you are reducing the chance of being affected by unpredictable changes.

You can revisit your priprities and review your Mutual Funds Investment profile by calling us at 1-866-222-3456 option 5. A licensed representative will be happy to assist you with your Mutual Funds from the comfort of your home.

I trust this will help. Please let me know if you have any other questions.

How does this address my query? How is this helpful? Telling me that yes, you need to review your investing profile every year seems to suggest my e-mail was not quite understood?

OK, so this has now convinced me, I only have 2 TD Mutual fund accounts left, and I will be closing those, enough is enough.

 

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