RESPs and High Fee Mutual Funds

RESPs and high fee mutual funds seem to go hand-in-hand in Canada. Most RESPs, are set up with an “adviser” of sorts (usually at a bank), who makes helpful suggestions as to where your money should go. The question to ask, who profits from this advice? Sometimes both adviser and investor, but always the adviser.

Mutual Fund companies want you to buy high MER funds for 18 years, so they can profit from you. This does not mean RESPs and high fee mutual funds are inevitable.

High Fee Mutual Funds

Whether your investment goals succeed is not their goal. Their goal is to extricate as much money from you in fees and increase their profits. Mutual Funds are businesses, sometimes with shareholders, and employees who want bonuses, remember that and you will be fine. Who and how are profits made, is always the question to be answered.

I have friends ask me about RESPs, as they are aware that my kids have graduated from University, so they ask if I used the  program. My answer is yes, but  I start with warning them that when I set up these accounts they were Canada Trust Mutual Fund accounts. The CT Mutual Funds turned into TD Mutual Funds, but it was not until later that I learned about the TD E-series funds I should have used (and the bear trap in using them).

The typical answers or comments that I get (that really cause my gears to grind) are:

  • I talked to my Manulife One guy and he helped set up the account for us.
  • While I was at the bank, I saw an adviser who set up some RESPs.
  • My insurance broker said they had a really good product for RESPs so I had her set it up for
  • Someone told me about these great Group RESPs, sounds like a great idea I usually go for a beer after hearing this stuff, and sometimes I just weep.

Let’s unwrap these malodorous gifts, first, your Manulife One guy is going to put you into Manulife Mutual Funds because that is where he (or she) makes their money. These funds have MERs that are far too high for a shorter term savings program like the RESP.

The same is true for your local bank. I once mentioned the TD E-series funds to my Bank’s “TD Mutual Fund Expert”, she looked them up and said that she couldn’t  actually  sell me those  funds. I asked why, the  answer, “they don’t let me”. So TD doesn’t allow their “Mutual Fund Expert” sell some  of their Mutual Funds? In fact you can buy only their I-series in your account, you cannot access their E-series, D-Series, O-series or any other unless you have a TD Trading Account).

Your insurance company’s RESP is going to be closed and the only thing you can buy is their High MER funds. I hope you are noticing a great deal of repetitiveness here.

The Group RESP thing, I had to go look up and then almost cracked a tooth while clenching my teeth. Group Scholarship trusts are throwbacks to before the day of the  RESP. They can work for folks, and their forced savings is a good thing for many folks, but read all the rules very carefully. What are the penalties if you take money out quickly (or early)? Are there penalties if your child doesn’t go to post­ secondary school? What are the rules about what is a post-secondary education.

If I could just hand someone a simple outline like say this article, this article or this article, I would, but I guess no one writes about RESPs much? Yes, that is sarcasm, why do people spend more time worrying about what organically grown kale they want to  buy, than this important  investment?  Rhetorical  question, don’t  answer that.

Are RESPs a Good Idea ?

An RESP is a great idea for your kids’ education, but don’t jump at the first one you see. Do some research; know what you are buying and how much it is going to  cost you. Mutual Funds and other associated firms are hoping you get confused in terms of how much you pay in management fees. It can get confusing especially with the grant money going into the account which can muddle your figures. Your goal is trying to pay the least in fees, and maximize your growth and grants received.

{ 4 comments }

Wanting the Big Piece of Chicken in the Financial World

Michael James, inspired me to write another rant/commentary on the financial industry. He wrote about Mouths to Feed in the Financial Industry and it reminded me of a very funny monologue by Chris Rock: Bigger and Blacker (Amazon Link) about how Fathers don’t ask for much in life:

What does daddy get for his hard work? The big piece of chicken at dinner! My mamma would kill us if one of us ate the big piece of chicken by accident!

Daddy's piece of chicken

That is a BIG piece of Chicken

What does this have to do with the Financial System? Everybody in the financial system thinks they are Daddy, they all want the big piece of chicken.

  • Mutual Fund managers want you to pay the front-end, back-end and high MER fees because they are doing that much work to invest for you. That is a whole chicken, not just part of it.
  • Banks think they are the Daddy, just for taking care of your money. There are banks in Europe giving negative interest on your money. The money shrinks if you leave it in the bank.
  • Any Cell Phone Company (in Canada) is your Daddy, how much do you think their service really costs, but they are making sure you get quality service.
  • Internet Service Providers are plumbing, but they want a big piece of Chicken for the way they count your packets (and charge you if you use too many)

Let Daddy have that big financial piece of chicken? No way! They get enough, without taking the big piece of chicken too!

 Image courtesy of piyato. at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

{ 0 comments }

Is Your Toilet Flushing Hot Water ?

That is a very odd title, but it did happen. My Brother had just moved into a new town-home complex, and there were a few idiosyncrasies that he found in his new place, but he didn’t notice this issue for a little while after moving in. He really only noticed one day when he sat down and noticed the warmth emanating from the commode, and only then realized that his toilet was connected to the hot water system for his house (not a huge issue, but it would waste a little money for a long time).

toilet flushing hot water

No, it wasn’t that hot

Financially Flushing Hot Water?

Are you flushing hot water in your financial world? How many fees are you paying that you are unaware of, or worse, are ignoring? What kind of fees am I commenting about?

  • Bank fees, do you still pay those? There are so many banks that offer zero fee accounts, why are you flushing that hot water (money) down the toilet?
  • Entry fees, exit fees and high MER Mutual funds? Seriously, how many times do we (pretty much everyone writing about investing) have to write about this topic? Evidently, we have not hit the maximum count yet. They are called Index Funds, look it up.
  • What are you paying in Insurance rates? Are you shopping around? Remember that insurance is only for ” … in case stuff happens …” (to paraphrase Chris Rock).  If you are overpaying for insurance your money is flushing away.

Am I missing any other Financial Toilets that flush hot water ?

{ 0 comments }

Financial Web Page Usefulness

After checking out yet another Financial Web Page (i.e. a Mutual Fund firm)  I ended up putting together this interesting Ven Diagram of the information I was able to discern from the site:

financial web page usefulness

So Many Terms So Little Information

I realize most web sites are rarely full of useful information (some might say the same of this site), but a little more information might be helpful.

It is a simple list of what folks want:

  • Fund allocations
  • All fees charged explained clearly
  • Performance history

We don’t want photos of folks frolicking in meadows.


{ 1 comment }

Mutual Fund Order Rejected (again)

My friends at TD Mutual Funds ended my year with a bang, by cancelling a Mutual Fund order that I had put in for my son’s RESP Account. You remember the last time I tried to do this, I ran into issues that my Trading Profile was not up to date, and thus my order was cancelled, well, it happened again, thanks to my Trading Profile (or Risk Profile).

I was following my own end of year advice, trying to put money into my son’s RESP account, and decided it would be prudent to do this on-line, and attempted to by some TD E-series Funds for the account. I put in my orders and in less than an hour an e-mail arrived outlining why my order was refused, my Trading Profile (or Risk Profile was not up to date. The cry of anguish from me could be heard in Orleans.

Transacation Cancelled

Transaction DENIED!!

One of my new goals for this year, is to fight through the red tape, that is set up to stop me from getting what I want, so I dutifully called the number supplied (in the rejection e-mail), and after a bunch of “security questions”, the young man on the phone told me he could help me “update my investing profile”, which allegedly had not been updated since 2007. I could have asked what I was doing last year when “updated my profile” for another account, but I did not.

I then spent 10 minutes answering questions about my investing beliefs and ideas, of which, two of the questions were specific to this investment account (an RESP). Those  two questions were only specific in that it was, “When do you need this money” question, but I suppose they are savings vehicle specific (in an obtuse way).

Was that all that needed to be done? No! My wife also had to go through the exact same interrogation, as the account is jointly held by her and I (for my son). She then had to answer 10 minutes of the exact same questions. After about 1/2 an hour, I was informed that I was allowed to resubmit my mutual fund purchase (yes, I had to resubmit the purchase, they could not simply reuse the rejected request).

What have I learned from this:

  1. I should follow my own advice, and move this account somewhere else, as I refuse to go through this inquisition again.
  2. TD needs to revamp their Mutual Fund Investing profiles to cover all Mutual Fund accounts held by someone instead of forcing folks to keep more than 5 investing profiles up to date (yes, evidently I have 5 investing profiles). Given the questionnaire has 12 questions and only 2 have to do with the specific investment that is the least that can be expected here.
  3. I should re-read my old posts and remind myself how painful these process can be.

A wonderful way to end 2015. For those of you hoping I write less whining and ranting articles this year, sorry, doesn’t look like that will happen.

{ 9 comments }

%d bloggers like this: