Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Financial Post: Firing the investment specialist

Previously, Mr W and I had been dealing with an investment specialist at our local credit union. She answered all our questions and we were both pleased to move our RRSPs to be managed through the credit union. But then she left. And I had an uneasy feeling. A letter arrived in the mail in the fall saying the new person would be calling us to discuss our investments soon. Nothing happened. I hadn't received a statement for a very long time, so I decided to make an appointment to discuss my RRSPs and to start the process of opening an RESP for the baby.

The new investment specialist and I did not hit it off. He was late to the meeting, unprepared to talk about my RRSP (ok, the little it is, but still it is my money), had no advice on what to do in "these financial times", and could not set up an RESP because he had to leave at noon. We definitely got off on the wrong foot when he couldn't tell me how much I had originally invested (my principal) compared to what I had in the RRSP today.

He did show me his top 4 mutual funds for investing in an RESP. When I asked about management fees he looked surprised and said I was the first person ever to ask him this. Really? Three of his top 4 mutual funds contained at least one major holding of oil from Alberta oil sands. When I questioned the stability and long-term outlook for oil, again, he looked surprised and asked why I would be worried about this. Since Mr W has worked in the oil patch we tend to follow things closely, and right now things are the worst they have been in a very long time. It does not mean it won't rebound, but with the US, a major buyer of this oil, continues to push a "Buy US" attitude, these companies may never reach the capacity they enjoyed at the height of the summer last year.

I left the meeting feeling very unsettled with another appointment for the weekend to set up the RESP. Once I got home though and talked it through with Mr W we realized it just wasn't going to work. I went online to one of my favourite financial bloggers, Four Pillars, and read through their RESP information. Because Four Pillars and Canadian Capitalist are very clear on how they set up their RESPs I finally understood the advantage of investing in index funds, and managing our own portfolio. As well, MoneySense Magazine, which I received in the mail that day, had an article on the Couch Potato Strategy, giving me more confidence to take this path. I called the investment specialist back (he didn`t answer of course) and left a message to cancel our meeting, saying simply we had decided to look at other options.

We have not set up the RESP yet, being embroiled in mortgage refinancing right this second, but we will soon take the money out of the savings account for the little guy and get it all worked out.

1 comment:

nancy (aka money coach) said...

Good for you for diving in yourselves re: RESPs.
For a long time now, I've personally done all my own investing. While there have been a couple goofs, on the whole I've done just fine (relative to the bigger picture, of course) and even when I've blown it (like buying Martha Stewart stock) I know why I blew it and I learned.

There is so much info available now from people without vested interests in making something attractive, that I think we can all make up our own minds.

One idea, btw, that I've had, is to set up some kind of community site where we get to co-contribute, and maybe do online chats ... I dunno. But it could be pretty cool. I'll keep you posted.

btw, "west coast wooly", hi from yellowknife, NWT :)