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3 Questions To Ask Your Financial Advisor

This year, Canadians will receive two new annual reports with information about how well their investments performed and the fees that they pay. Investors are encouraged to read their reports and discuss them with their financial advisor. Here are some suggestions to get you started:

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1. How is the performance information different from what I have received before?

There are two main ways to find out your “rate of return,” which details how well your investments performed. Chances are that the statements you've received in the past only reported performance on a “time-weighted” basis. This is the best way to compare your fund to other similar funds overall, but doesn't tell you how you've personally fared.

The new report uses the “dollar-weighted” method. This method considers when you put money in or took it out of your account, so each investor may have a different personal rate of return. Ask your advisor which method was used for your account in the past, and if your new report provides only dollar-weighted calculations.

2. What services do I receive for the fees that I pay?

There are a number of services you can expect at any life stage. These include providing you with account information, guiding your financial plan, and buying and selling units of a fund. Beyond these basic services, someone starting out might receive advice based on their needs; for example, paying off student loans or saving for a house. Someone preparing for retirement will have different needs, which might include reviewing insurance coverage or preparing for post-retirement.

Ask about the services that your advisor offers for the fees you pay. A financial advisor can help you map out your goals, risks and possible rewards, and then help you choose the right investments for each.

3. What is my mutual fund's management expense ratio?

You can find out your mutual fund's MER by asking your advisor. You can also look it up online in your fund's Fund Facts document. The MER expresses the cost of a fund as a percentage of the total assets of the fund, not just your own holdings. In Canada, a mutual fund's MER typically includes all the costs to the investor, including the costs of running the investment fund and delivering it to investors like you.

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