Posted by Tim Stobbs on July 20, 2007
I recently go the single longest email question I have ever got from a reader. It’s so long in fact I’ve had to break it off into two parts and do a bit of summary on it.
Colleen a reader from Ontario got a bit of windfall of some money. She ended up investing with Financial Planner in Spring 2006 and is now has a large amount of money in DSC (Deferred Sales Charge) type funds. So if she pulls them out early she gets hit with a large charge to get out of under performing funds. That’s the bad news. The good news is she has taken this lesson is learning about investing herself and getting educated. As such she has two questions. Today we will have a look at the following question.
Q: Given recent creation of a Military Reserves Pension Plan, we have the opportunity to buy back all my husband’s previous military service. For his twelve years or so of service, the buyback cost is in the ballpark of $70,000. The Financial Planner says to make sure we invest the money in our RRSP’s first (through him of course) since we have the room and then transfer it to the military RPP. Reason being, we could take full advantage of deferring tax on that money through an RRSP. Now my understanding is that my own pension contributions through work defer taxes the same way. That is, whether in an RPP or RRSP, the contributions have the same tax advantages.
My concern is that this advisor has some financial incentive for himself in mind.
A: You are correct. When you put money into a pension plan your money has the same treatment as an RRSP for deferring taxes. So I would be questioning any advise this Planner is giving you as he seems to want to line his pocket with your money. If you feel the pension plan can offer a good rate of a return with low fees, then go for it.
Otherwise you might want to stick with a RRSP, but this time invest the money with someone else. You could start with a simple Couch Potatoe type portfolio made up with index funds from you local bank (shop around for who has the lowest fees (MER) on their funds) if you think you will be contributing on a monthly basis.
Either way I would stop giving your planner any more money and then have a hard look at the fee structure for the DSC and decide what would it cost you to get out of these funds sooner than later and take your money elsewhere. Often the emotional pain of living with those DSC funds can be an incentive to take your losses and move on to better things. After all if your funds are not doing well how much more money will you lose hanging onto them waiting for your DSC to drop.
I hope that helps. Any other ideas from other reader’s would be welcome. I’ll get to Colleen’s second question about investing for her kids next week.