New investment rules will expose financial advisor fees

New investment rules will expose advisor fees

A ban on trailer fees also being considered


As of tomorrow, financial companies will be required to provide people with an annual report that spells out in dollars what investment dealers and advisors have been paid. This is part of an initiative known as CRM2 and the changes apply to investment statements and are intended to help Canadians better understand how their portfolios are faring and how much they have paid for financial advice.

This latest change, made official on Friday July 15, 2016, is one of several amendments that are part of the final step to create a more streamlined, easily understood financial reporting regime. This process began in 2013 under what securities regulators have called the Client Relationship Model Phase 2, or CRM2.

CRM2? It’s a band-aid solution »

Brent Vandermeer, a portfolio manager with HollisWealth, says the new measures are important because they improve transparency across the investment industry.

“Especially in an era of low interest rates, low yields, sometimes weaker investment performance, it’s really important that a client is getting value for the cost they are paying,” he said.

Vandermeer said the dollar figure paid to advisors may come as a bit of a shock for investors who may not have considered it in those terms before.

“I think good advisors will have had that discussion with people,” he said.

“And those who haven’t, I think rightfully are going to be forced to have that conversation and really show whether they are in the right portfolio and how they are or not providing value.”

People will also receive an annual investment performance report that covers deposits and withdrawals from their accounts and the change in their value. It will also show the percentage returns for the previous one, three, five and 10 years.

CSA takes big step forward on banning embedded commissions »

Vandermeer said it is a good step forward, but there are still more improvements that could be made.

While the new statements will show how much investment dealers or advisors are paid, the new statements will not include the management expense ratio (MER) for investment funds. That information is included in the fund fact sheet that must be given to investors, but Vandermeer says it should be all in one place to make it easier for investors to understand their full costs.

Tea Nicola, chief executive and founder of WealthBar, an online investment firm, said financial advisors need to add value for clients to justify the fees they charge.

“When an advisor presents an invoice for a monthly bill to a client, it’s that constant reminder that you have an adviser, that you can ask them questions, that they are supposed to add value, they’re supposed to give you service,” she said.

Nicola said the changes are an opportunity for WealthBar as investors look for lower fee options.

“There will definitely be advisors out there whose clients won’t even flinch because they are getting value,” she said. “But there will be a portion of the people who are not aware how much their advisor is getting paid for their own account.”

3 ways to avoid paying bank fees»

The Canadian Securities Administrators announced late last month that it was preparing to take the next step in its examination of mutual fund fees.

The organization, which includes the provincial and territorial securities regulators, said it is looking at the issue of embedded commissions or trailer fees and considering banning them. Britain and Australia have banned the fees. The CSA plans to release a consultation paper later this year.