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My experience with Investors Group a few years ago and buying their allegro moderate portfolio. Comments show the real Investors Group Review!

My interest in all things “finance related” all kind of started a few years ago when I went to a “free investment education session” from work sponsored by Investors Group. They were showing us these fancy charts about how your money can be compounded when held in mutual funds. They asked each one of us in the session to put our names down so they can contact us personally afterward to arrange a free individual session- they told us repeatedly that they are “commission free” so I trusted them.  Of course they never mentioned or compared their services other investment options such as discount brokerages like Questrade or Canada’s robo advisors (although they would have been pretty new at the time).

I met my “investment adviser” in one of the Investors Group fancy offices. The first thought that came to mind when I met my new adviser was that he looked like he was my age (repeat, I am 20-something). I was thinking to myself “er… I’m entrusting my hard earned back breaking money to this guy?” I asked him how many years he has been an adviser and I think he actually somehow managed not to answer my question by giving a circular question in return. Anyway, he was telling me about their “Allegra Moderate Portfolio B” and how it has performed well and how I should put my money in it. He was trying to convince me to transfer over everything I had in other investment companies to Investors Group and into this “Allegra Moderate Portfolio B”, so I could have more “diversification”. Because mutual funds are diversified.

I posed the question, so are you going to move my money out of this mutual fund if it isn’t performing up to par? He told me “I don’t have this kind of service for less than $10,000 of an investment” and then proceeded to try and convince me to move everything I had in other investments to Investors Group again.  Of course, a couple of years later I now know yanking money in and out of funds as the markets go up or down is not a smart solution, but the fact that he didn’t stop to educate me on these realities says a lot in my opinion.

Investors Group Review and Commissions

He and his associate were also really pushing the idea of leveraging: borrowing to invest, painting it as a “win-win” situation. It may be not too bad of an idea now; with the interest rates at rock bottom, but the interest rates were way up there when I was working with investor’s group a few years back. They were pretty pushy about it.

No commission huh? (a few years back, I knew NOTHING about MER’s) Apparently I learned afterward the higher the portfolio, the more commission the advisers get. AND their MER’s (management expense ratios: money they charge you to ‘manage’ the mutual fund- investor’s group will get a cut, and the advisor will get a cut) are known to be quite high. They range from 2.7% to 2.9%. So even if you don’t make money or are losing money, you are losing even more money with the high MER! I also heard that they make more commission off larger portfolios (hence his trying to convince me to move my life savings into his hands) and that they make money by lending you money to invest (the leveraging piece of it).

Then, to top it off, I got an email to say that my investment adviser left Investors Group about a year into watching the money invested on my statements slowly dissipate, and I was orphaned. Pretty soon after, I sold my RRSP mutual fund with investors group for (25% less than I put in) and moved it over to a self-directed discount brokerage.

I learned my lesson- not to be bullied around with flashiness, pizazz, and salesperson speak . I guess they aren’t half bad, but I just didn’t like their pushy style. I guess I realized I have a bit of a “DIY” mentality when it comes to personal finance.  Even if you don’t share my DIY mindset though, I really think that the time of high-fee advice has come and gone.  You’ve got big banks and investment firms buying pieces of companies such as Wealthsimple instead of doubling down on their mutual fund verticals (although the overall funds invested in mutual funds still dwarf these alternatives).

Updated for 2020

I had to laugh recently when I opened a pseudo-textbook at a high school I was in for a conference.  It had some generic money title and when I flipped open the front page there was message from the Investors Group CEO staring me right in the face.  I thought to myself: You wouldn’t let Monsanto sponsor your biology course and write that textbooks would you?  How is this any different?  Of course once you peaked inside the resource, there was some ok stuff on budgeting, paying yourself first, etc (I grudgingly admit), but there was nothing on the different types of investment options, or different types of investment advisor compensation models out there.  AND there was nothing in the book about how anyone can call themselves a financial advisor – that the only term that offered even a modicum of protection was “fiduciary”.  I don’t know why I expected any different, but it was still sad to see our educators depending on resources like this.  The insane conflict of interest that allows a massive corporate mutual fund machine to put their name all over financial literacy could not be more obvious.

Read the comments below for a thorough look at the debate on how financial professionals should get paid.  All I know is that IG continues to charge some of the highest MER fees in an industry and non-coincidentally, they have oodles of money to put their name on everything from textbooks to new sports stadiums.  Guess where all that money comes from guys?  Here’s to hoping that eventually, robo advisors, online banks, and the rest of the FinTech world force traditional companies (IG certainly isn’t alone in their faults) to become a whole lot more competitive.

Readers: Have you had experiences with Investor’s Group or similar investment companies? Have they been positive or negative?

Article comments

Candis says:

I believe they recently came out with a clause that they have to disclose all fees to thier customers. We have been hassled by Royal Bank to switch over to them for all pur investments and they claim to have lower Mers however I did ask IG about this and they said that it will seem that way as thiers are all pooled together where as other companies have thiers separated. Not sure how true this is or not.
We are currently still with IG and haven’t had any issues. Have been with them for 7 or 8 years now.

Stephen Gauld says:

I contacted my advisor to let him know we have decided to take control of our money with self directed investing. I asked if their were any DSC fees associated with any of the funds he has invested our money into. He did not answer the question. After moving our money to a self directed account elsewhere, I saw DSC fees for the RRSP and LIRA accounts that were obscene (in the order of thousands). I immediately reached out to my advisor and he says he “was fairly sure I emailed the DSC fee schedule”. Of course, he did not. I voiced my displeasure and requested a refund at least in part since my advisor acted in his best interest instead of his clients. I have not recieved a response from him nor from his superior whom I also emailed. What is worse is my “advisor” was a friend whom I tried to give some business to years ago when he first started out.

Very shady and not forthright with fee inquiries.

ELO says:

I had the same thing happen to me. My IG advisor put me in funds with DSC fees even when I had specifically stated I didn’t want this. When I took my money out of IG my advisor simply refused to tell me what the fees would be. Finally had to escalate things to the divisional supervisor who eventually agreed to refund our DSC fees. The refund offer only came when I stated that, if fees weren’t refunded I’d keep the money in IG until the DSC had expired (about another 2 years), but I’d still expect to meet with my idiot advisor every 6 months, as I had been through my entire time with IG, which were going to be awkward and uncomfortable meetings as the advisor had lied me. I guess giving up the $1,000 was better than having to deal with a disgruntled customer every 6 months for 2 years. Good luck with getting your DSC fees back. IG is the worst!!

Nicole says:

I Haven’t had an advisor for a few years now. I have had a hard time tracking down anyone to talk to. No phone numbers. Just email that took a month for a response. Why am I paying fees? We are trying to set up a time to talk but she is in Toronto and I am in BC. I just want my money because they Haven’t provided a service for me in years.

Nicole Rawkins says:

I Haven’t had an advisor for a few years now. I finally emailed someone and it took her a month to reply. I have to try to figure out a time to call because she is in Toronto and only works till 4:30 and I am in BC. I want to move my money. I should be paying ZERO fees with this “service” of nothing for at least four years now. I just want my money returned.

Gordon Wood says:

They have basically turned off their phones (every call goes to voice mail with a message of we will get to you when we get to you) and don’t respond to emails. It is now impossible to get hold of anyone. Good luck getting any money that you have invested.
They are blaming it on Covid for staffing shortages and having to work from home.

Terry P M Pitz says:

Hi Gordon, give me a shout (invest@deltacreek.net) I can help you with your problem at IG.

Francine Girard says:

My account has been transferred from a FA that I liked and had a lot of experience in IG investments to a new FA coming from the banks. So far my new FA offers me insurances, mortgages and when I want to discuss investments she gets a more senior FA involved. Recently I have had forcefull recommendations, treats and surprises in dealing with this person. Right now I lost total confidence and wouldlike to change FA. When asked why I got transferred she told me that she bought my account from my previous FA and that they are fully being paid commisssions. That was a shock !! We are being traded on the market without our knowledge and without our say in choosing a FA……WOW THAT WAS A SHOCK !! My money is important to me and I sure need to have confidence in my Financial Advisor and YOU ???

Robert Stevenson says:

The biggest rip off going, these crooks should be put in jail for ripping off seniors out of their retirement funds

JC says:

Robert, im curious, can you say more about how they do this?

Cj says:

High fees and high pressure sales. Try to keep up

Joel says:

Very nice to see that IG Wealth Management had a lot of critism… but best of all the company IG actually listened to their critics.

Complaint : DSC fees
Solution : while still legal in Ontario today… IG discountinued the use of DSC in 2016
Complaint : Commision advisors
Solution : Progressively transitioned off commission since 2016, now compensated by asset under management. The Client and Advisor has combined interest for your investment to perform and grow as advisor comp is linked to size of growing assets.
Complaint : High MER
Solution : has been reduced below banks for most funds.
Complaint : too many series A, B, J… etc.
Solution : ONLY OFFERS low cost series U/F since Jan 2020 no exceptions…
Complaint : Poor Return of IG funds
Solution : 2018 IG are no longuer managing investment inhouse. They have contracted the best of the best : FIDELITY, BLACKROCK, MACKENZIE, AGF etc…
Complaint : Young unexperienced advisors that don’t last and it seem IG hires just about anyone.
Solution : Selection process has been tightened, less than 1/20 are approved to the second stage of the hiring process.
Complaint : Low quality service, slow to respond
Solution : Teams of advisors are put in place for clients, not only individual… plus supporting product specialist : investment, insurance, mtg etc…
Complaint : Bad Financial Advice
Solution : Starting 2016, ALL IG advisors new or experienced, must acquire their QAFP and CFP within 4 years of employement…. For those who don’t know, CFP is the high designation of financial planning attainable, 3 year study program and less than 3% of Advisor manage to attain this designation. Again, IG attracting and retaining only the best advisors in the industry
Complaint : My advisor make too much money from my portfolio…
Solution : The IG model has been shifting lowering fees significantly since 2016,.. in 2021, If you have a 10,000k invested with IG. Your IG Advisor nets (before tax) aprx 20-30$ per year…
Complaint : My advisor has not been mooving my money around to try to make me more.
Solution : lol I’m not even going to answer this one, just google how investment funds work.
Complaint : My advisor does take the time to put a plan in place for me, guide me in financial choice, and educate me on my options.
Solutions : 70% of all IG clients must have a financial plan continually revised with clients. Failure results in reduction of advisor income.
Complaint : IG tries to push mutual funds
Solution : IG has a full product shelf, Mutual funds, GIC, High Saving Account, and SINCE 2020 ETF!! and all advisors required to license to offer ETFs.
Complaint : IG is not the best place i can put my investment to grow.
Answer : IG is the single biggest investment firm, by FAR. This is not by chance. and 2020 was the biggest growth year for IG, both HighNetWorth clients mooving in and Experienced Advisors choosing IG. Again, not by chance. the model has changed, the quality of product has changed. All because IG listened. Changed doesnt happen overnight but IG has been changing since 2016.

Disclosure : I have been an Independent Financial Advisor since 2011, and in the past no way would i have join the IG organization. In 2017 i started hearing about changes IG where making. i educated myself on the new direction Jeff Carney, Then CEO was taking. In 2018, after 7 years in the industry i move to IG. Think what you want, but this is the best thing for me and my clients i ever did. IG is on a great path to success for both employees and clients.

And last but not least :
Complaint : I just want and want an easy, low cost, online platform, ROBOadvisor to help me invest money in the right direction and get.
Solution : IG has invested evilly in ROBO advisor technologies and platform to offer product to investors who require less sophisticated advise yet want and have the ability to Invest money efficiently. YES I AM TALKING ABOUT THE NUMBER 1 RATED ROBOADVISOR PLATEFORM IN CANADA !! WEATHSIMPLE !!! THANK YOU IG !! IG BIGGEST SHARE HOLDER OF WEALTHSIMPLE 41%!!! IG has been instrumental in the develpment and improvement of the platform and has been pushing hard to get this to as many canadian as posible.

I hope this help some of the concerns i see in this tread. … Cheers, and happy investing 🙂

Elo says:

I left IG in 2018:
a) DSC fees – yes they were discontinued in 2016. The last of the funds with DSC will run out in 2023.
b) Commissions – they may be transitioning out of commissions but still had them in 2018. When I asked my new advisor that I was switched to in 2018 how he gets paid he indicated he gets paid by commission.
c) High MERs – they have been slowly lowing MERs but to say MERs are lower than banks for most funds is simply false. They are not.
d) Only offer low cost U/F since 2020. Low cost compared to what?
e) Poor return of IG funds. Yes they can offer a whole range of other funds. Problem is you’re not going to be kept around as an advisor unless you push IG funds before other funds. My last advisor I basically had to talk to the director of the branch before my advisor would even consider non-IG funds. That was in 2018.
f)My last advisor (2018) had 6 month experience and was hired by the branch director because he was good friends with him. His previous experience was selling advertising for sask411. Not much in the way of experience to manage a portfolio. To date he still does not have his CFP.
g) Teams of advisors. No. Just no. Unless your rich you get an advisor who’s really just a salesperson. Teams are for wealthy investors.
h) Starting in 2016 all advisors must be working towards at least their CFP. True. but its’ far more than 3% of advisors that attain this designation.
i) I would highly doubt that an advisor is making just $20 to $30 off of $10,000. That 0.2 to 0.3%. Every advisor would need more than $25,000,000 in managed funds just to make ends meet.
j) Just check out Morningstar to see how IG funds compare with other funds.
k) I agree Weathsimple is a great for the investment industry. One of the few things I agree with when it comes to IG.

I agree that IG is a large company. A lot of the change has come about simply because if IG didn’t change they would be in trouble. The investment industry is changing. Jeff Carney saw it and implemented changes that were needed.

I took a Free Retirement Seminar from an IG advisor back in August 2020 on the advice of a friend who still works at IG. What I saw in this seminar was the same junk peddled to me back in the mid 1990s by my first IG advisor. Things like “If you invest 10,000 in your 20s chances are you’ll be a millionaire by retirement” and “You can get 10 -15% returns on your investments because that’s what the S&P has been averaging lately”. All complete bunk. When I tried to ask a question on fees what I got was “there are fees on everything. We’re competitive. Next question”. When advisors can’t answer questions on fees (and I’ve yet to meet an IG advisor that will give an honest answer) it’s not a place to invest. IG has made some changes but they still have a ways to go. My advice is still to stay away from IG.

Joel says:

a) DSC fees – yes they were discontinued in 2016. The last of the funds with DSC will run out in 2023.
-Yes this is correct
b) Commissions – they may be transitioning out of commissions but still had them in 2018. When I asked my new advisor that I was switched to in 2018 how he gets paid he indicated he gets paid by commission.
-IG consultants are compensated by Advisory fee annually based on assets under management. Commission still apply to some products, but rarely amounts to more than 5-10% of a consultants income… This was put in place exactly for the reasons you mention, IG doesn’t want salesmans, they want competant long term advisors that build long lasting relationships w clients and grow assets.
c) High MERs – they have been slowly lowing MERs but to say MERs are lower than banks for most funds is simply false. They are not.
-YES THEY ARE! hard to explain if you don’t know what “series” are…. IG now only uses series U.
d) Only offer low cost U/F since 2020. Low cost compared to what?
-low compared to all other series.
e) Poor return of IG funds. Yes they can offer a whole range of other funds. Problem is you’re not going to be kept around as an advisor unless you push IG funds before other funds. My last advisor I basically had to talk to the director of the branch before my advisor would even consider non-IG funds. That was in 2018.
-again, you are talking 2018, things have progressed and this is no longer the case…
f)My last advisor (2018) had 6 month experience and was hired by the branch director because he was good friends with him. His previous experience was selling advertising for sask411. Not much in the way of experience to manage a portfolio. To date he still does not have his CFP.
-unfortunate situation… but look him up, id bet he is now working in a team format…
g) Teams of advisors. No. Just no. Unless your rich you get an advisor who’s really just a salesperson. Teams are for wealthy investors.
-Close to half of all consultants are now working in Teams and All individual consultants have product specialist they share between each other. This is fact.
h) Starting in 2016 all advisors must be working towards at least their CFP. True. but its’ far more than 3% of advisors that attain this designation.
-I attained my CFP last year and that is the number that i was given. and being in the industry since 2011, yes it sounds about right as it is not a requirement of bank employees…
i) I would highly doubt that an advisor is making just $20 to $30 off of $10,000. That 0.2 to 0.3%. Every advisor would need more than $25,000,000 in managed funds just to make ends meet.
-LOL i find this one funny… You are 100% correct. 25Mil is not nearly enough to survive… Yes the average IG consultant manage ALOT more than 25.
j) Just check out Morningstar to see how IG funds compare with other funds.
-Again, “series”… the series IG now uses are U… in the MorningStar, they almost all rank 4-5Star.
k) I agree Weathsimple is a great for the investment industry. One of the few things I agree with when it comes to IG.
-Yes WS is great! Sorry you feel that way about IG; but people grow and change and so do companies… resistance to change = death 🙂

ELO says:

Good to hear IG is changing but more change is needed. Top company with complaints to MFDA in 2019 doesn’t suggest everything is great at IG. My experience at the IG retirement seminar suggests advisors still try to fudge numbers to make sales. The moment an advisor won’t be honest about facts or won’t be truthful about fees I stop listening. Glad to hear you love IG Joel.

ELO says:

I owe you an apology. Yes, I can see that IG has lowered the MER but this is partially due to unbundling of the advisory fee from the MER. Am I correct in that clients now pay an advisory fee on top of the MER. Most MERs I looked at in the U series ran from 1.0 to 1.2%. So what is the advisory fee that a client with say 100,000 would pay per year? Is it only 0.2 to 0.3%?

Francine Girard says:

Right now IG wants to transfer all my funds to ‘U’ series. Will I incur more fees and like you say what will it cost to et out of IG ??

ELO says:

So an advisory fee of 1.35% on investments under $250,000 and 1.25% on investments under $500,000 per IG website. Gets progressively lower the more you have to invest but investments under $500,000 would probably be about 98 to 99% of investors. Couple this with MERs between 1.0 and 1.2% and you get average fees of 2.25% and 2.55%. Yea, the MERs are lower than bank MERs but than banks have advisory fees embedded in the MER. Technically correct saying IG MERs are lower than bank MERs but not a fair comparison. No matter how hard IG advisors try the culture at IG keeps them trying to fudge numbers. The more things change the more they stay the same!

Dreamer says:

IG Reporting in – small book of business. Very slowly growing, I deal with a lot of younger folks as I’m younger myself and really good at minimizing costs (finally not broke all the time after a half decade doing this). Starting consultants get under 0.5% of their book of business. Sales bonuses exist for years 1-4, but aren’t paid upfront by the client at all.

For the low net worth investor, as of Q1 2021, the advisory fee is 1.35% and the mutual fund MERs range from 0.68% to 1.23% in their new account platform. Also authorized to sell a lot of Mackenzie’s product shelf, which includes various index funds and index ETFs – a great option to lower the MER costs.

Compared to a DIY portfolio, advisory firms will always be expensive. It’s always good to know exactly how much you’re paying, and to whom you’re paying it.

Bill says:

The only way a independent Financial Advisor would leave the Independent Advisor channel would be because they where unsuccessful and could not achieve it in the real world of Advisors. Less pay, pour company reputation and a now (ex CEO) Jeff Carney that has left the company in many multiple million dollar lawsuits for their wrong doing to clients, advisors and a few managers. Your welcome to pretend this is a good company but your factual wrong on many of your points. So your potentially a corporate head office employee in charge of trying to do damage control vs being an actual advisor in my opinion.

ELO says:

There is currently a lawsuit before the courts launched by 2 former IG regional directors claiming wrongful termination. The underlying argument is whether directors and advisors are employees or independent contractors as they are currently treated. I’ve always argued with advisors that they are far from being independent advisors. Why would IG keep an advisor around if they acted independently and recommended what was best for their clients. IG only keeps advisors around to sell IG funds. That’s not an independent advisor and certainly isn’t an advisor who acts in a fiduciary role. That’s an employee selling for IG.

Monica says:

Hi everyone, reading the comments below and I would like to offer some personal insight/experience on transferring out of IG funds without incurring the insane dsc charge.
I work at a bank brokerage in the gta and previously worked at IG (somewhere around 2016-2018) so I have some kind of understanding of both sides.

1) last units of DSC funds mature Dec 31, 2023

2) You can transfer out the units in kind however, you need to be mindful that you cannot make switches to other IGI funds while you wait out the DSC to mature

3) 12% fee free is not available once you transfer out of IG in kind (sucks! I learned that the hard way!)

4) your new advisor doesn’t have to sell all the IG units and incur the dsc penalty charge, they should have done their due diligence and transferred out in kind first. If your advisor went on the website and call the customer contact line, it actually mentions a dealer services broker phone number.
All they have to do is call and ask (Can get you the phone number) To get all the DSC details, fee free units and maturities. I’ve done this for tons of clients!

If your advisor is at a bmo bank branch vs. Nesbitt burns , you can’t hold these in kind at the bank branch but you can at nesbitt. Same goes with all the other banks, so be aware the exact entity you’re transferring to.

6)if your IG advisor doesn’t respond to you on this request, you can call to request this info yourself. It is cumbersome but you just have to know the right questions to ask. When are my dsc funds maturing? What is the DSC charge? How many few free units do I have? – the operator will provide this info to you per fund in your account.

5) if your advisor faxed to the correct place, it shouldn’t take 4 months. Never had this kind of issue, Although it’s manual process, it always taken 3 weeks to 1 month. You can sent complaints to the regional director (contact should be listed on your statement) or you can complain to the MFDA regulator.

6)Your fund codes should mostly consist of A (dsc), B (no load) J (dsc or no load) series. You only get J series if you have more than $500k of family invested assets. Although when I left, I heard they were going to lower that threshold.

6) I have yet to transfer out the iprofiles (mf wrap product with advisory fee) or their U series (pretty much a workaround for F class funds without being iiroc).
They are trying to move everyone to these “fee based” platform so I’m not sure if these will complicate your transfers. Clients who converted to these products might still have dsc’s that have not matured yet so please inquire the dealer services line and get the full details.

Hope this helps!

zarifa says:

Hi there,

I am an investor on my own, I would like to move my portfolio to a wreath management company what do you recommend??

Lisa Jackson says:

Hi Zarifa,

We’d recommend checking out a robo advisor. More information here:


Jodi DeJong says:

I had an account with Investor’s group and am not impressed. It’s pretty much a pyramid scheme. I knew more about finances than the advisor did but invested with them as a mutual friend recommended them. When I moved my money I found out this “advisor” had shared some of my personal financial information with others! Incredibly unprofessional!

Kevin Bryanto says:

I am in the midst of trying to get out of my Allegro moderator… took a 36% hit on it a couple of years ago. IG rejected my transfer request three times now on technicalities.

I’m going to start looking for ways to escalate within the org some how.

Lyndon says:

There are few ways to escalate anything in IG. You can talk to your consultant who I’m sure trumpeted the fact that he/she was an independent advisor which is great until there is an issue and than he/she becomes useless at resolving anything. You can speak to the division director who is probably the same person who hired your advisor. You can talk to the compliance department….oh no you can’t because there is no number listed. You can write a letter ( no e-mail either) to the compliance department and they might get back to you in 3-6 months with a decision. Hmmm, it’s almost as if IG really doesn’t want to deal with complaints. Good luck.

Alan says:

Reading through the comments I find many errors and mistruths mostly due to being uninformed.
Not defending IG in anyway as they are a terrible company that hangs on to a model that has long been out of favour. Yes I did work there for many years so I am very familiar with their short comings.

I am now an independent IA and have watched my business flourish since I’ve dropped the name from my business card.

To simply in point form the issues with IG’s platform;

1) Not independent and makes most of its profit from their higher than average MER’s on its poor proprietary product shelf. Yes they’ve added some third party offerings but not all that is available and worst of all they charge an additional % on the original funds MER
2) Most advisors are under MFDA and not IIROC. You are only are offered 1/3 of the investments available in Canada.
3) because of this they are losing assets at a rate never seen before….not good if you are a fund manager…or company for that matter. Slow death while negatively effecting clients along the way
4) Higher than average MER’s that are not justified. I now use some great funds that justify their MER
5) Layers of unsuccessful, not experienced managers that try and build the companies assets not improve fund performance. Don’t be fooled when you are transferred to a manager as they are advisors that are not successful.
5) The latest report on their web site shows another negative month(June 2020) when it comes to net flows. This has been going on for years.

My advice is transfer out “in kind” (if you still have DSC’s or capital gains) and work with someone who can offer everything including stocks and ETF and ALL the funds available to fully licensed advisors. If you own iprofile (something they pushed heavily) get out now as they will soon close that product off to “in kind” transfers.

Feel free to ask any questions as I am more than willing to offer any advice….and to those suspicious I am not looking for new clients I just want people to be aware and informed that there are options.

Thank you and lets find a vaccine soon!

Mary says:

What do you mean by transfer out “in kind”?

Alan says:

An “in kind” transfer is where the investments you hold in your portfolio are not sold when the account is moved to someone else. This is different than a cash transfer where the investments are sold and the cash in the portfolio is moved. You can than sell them on the new platform after you explore tax or deferred sales charges. In either case the funds are not deregistered eg in an RRSP so there are no tax issues.

Danor says:

Alan, thinking of moving out from IG to self directed. What’s your experience/knowledge with in kind transfers to CIBC or TD for example?

Russell says:

Alan, are you now with SLF? If this is true, then you were my FA at IG and you were like the rest, no communication, minimal financial planning skills. You left IG because you could not bring business in.

Lyndon says:

No surprise at all that the top investment firm with the most complaints filed with MFDA was Investors Group with 38 complaints in 2019. 40 complaints were resolved in 2019 with 23 in favour of the investor. I’m guessing IG won’t be proudly advertising this award in their offices!

margaret landsberg says:

I have been scammed of a lot of money from 2 fake brokers and after speaking to loads of compares and people I decided to give dimitru a.t ivtcysec-recovery,tech a go. They are NOT scam artists and although we are still working on the banks, I think they are doing a great job. SO far their initial letter to one company got me back nearly £10,000. Although, after being scammed I didn’t believe any review I read of anybodies, I stand by these guys…worth a try in my book and I am glad I am using them.

Nunja says:

haha, that doesn’t sound like a scam comment at all. You should have said, “I got back $ 100,000” … it would be more convincing.

Frank says:

These guys are a collecting bunch of thieves save your money they will take it when you make it

stuart says:

Please all people go to facebook and join Investor group grief. Im looking for all support and people story that have had dealing or problem with IG wealth. thanks stuart

Bill says:

Can’t find your FB group. You should have over 1,000,000 people in this group I’m sure.

Nic says:

Hi, thank you for your article. IG is honestly the worst. In 2014, I was young, gullible, and of course drank the IG kool-aid, so I opened my RRSP and TFSAs with them. Your paragraph on the commission rang true for me. I knew about the high MERs, but was informed that the commission fees were tied into the MERs. Upon inquiring about it again in late 2018 when they had to declare (under Canadian law) the fees upfront, I was provided an email from my Financial Advisor which stated “Wouldn’t you agree that the services we provide are the impeccable?” and “We consistently monitor your portfolio.”. Okay, lets be straight here. All you did was deposit a cheque into RRSP and TFSA. No changes in the portfolio what-so-ever. In addition, I’ve met the guy three times in 4 years! So you’re telling me that an annual cheque deposit, a monthly mass update email costs, and a short talk in his office cost a few thousand dollars?
I got out in late 2018 with a little snag. Because of the astronomical DSC fees associated with releasing the funds (7 years), I had to Transfer-in-Kind the entire portfolio to my financial institution. I’m stuck with the IG portfolio until at least 2021/22, but at least I am not paying a commission fee. I also have complete autonomy in my accounts, and am working with a FA who doesn’t charge a commission as I am a regular client.
So, to those who are out there, shopping for investment institutions …. my advice is to do your homework.

Lyndon says:

Financial literacy should be mandatory for all high school students!! My story with IG goes back to the mid 90’s when I started investing with them. Like many people who have posted, I was young, gullible, and simply didn’t know better. Basically the only financial advice I had ever received was from my parents who advised me to “try to save 10% of your income ever year and max out your RRSPs”. Not terrible advice but also not all that helpful. I certainly didn’t know what an MER was. My financial advisor told me that there were no costs with investing in mutual funds, which was common for financial advisors to do at the time, and I believed her. I have since educated myself and have left IG. What is so shocking to me, with all the changes in regulations and rules for financial advisors to abide by now, is that IG advisors still tell the same crap to clients that they did 25 years ago. Just last year I left a comment on an Investors Group ad that I received on Facebook for people considering investing with IG to do their homework. My comment basically said that IG charges some of the highest MERs in the industry and that “advisors” are no more than salespeople who look out for themselves before their clients. I received an imessage through Facebook from an advisor working out of IGs Lloydminster office. He tried to explain to me that there are no fees paid by people investing in mutual funds. He explained that commissions are paid by IG to advisors and MERs are paid by the funds and not by the clients. Are you f**king kidding me!! Why is the MFDA and IIROC not cracking down on stuff like this which is still rampant in the investment industry.

Tony C says:

It was over 4 months to get mine transferred (5 years ago), and they tried to steal $300K in the process. It was only when I called their top local manager and personally threatened him with legal action that he somehow managed to ‘find’ my money and it transferred 2 days later. Of course by holding out so long my investments were down even more.
These people are CROOKS! You have to talk tough with them, they will talk tough back, you have to be TOUGHER. I’m really surprised they are still in business, that whole industry operates in a grey area (legal vs scam?). Although I will never trust another human being again where money is concerned (you shouldn’t really), I have had FAR better results at TD Bank private investment. Besy of Luck!

Cheryl says:

Well, at the moment, I am truly p*ssed off at my Advisor. I have not heard from him personally since this fiasco with Coronavirus began. In fact, whenever there is communication between us, it it me who initiates contact.
Not once have I received an email from him advising what’s going on..what is suggested etc. Instead, a blanket information sheet is in the email from IG itself. Of course it appears as though my Advisor’s name is on it, which is reality it is not. I have contacted IG & asked for another advisor. Already & have had communication from her, & she has sent the paperwork to have my portfolio transferred to her.
I’m also of two minds not to sit for much longer waiting for the markets to turn around. I don’t think they will. I’d rather have the bulk of my TFSA sitting in a safety deposit box instead of losing it all because of what’s happening due to the virus. I don’t give a rat’s a*ss about the RRIF’s. We all know that once we become a certain age, we MUST draw from our RRIF’s at a minimum of 1xyear. I’ve already made my withdrawal for the year,so if all is lost in the RRIF’s, I can’t withdraw something that’s no longer there. What is the Govt’s stance should something like this happen? Nobody knows the answer, but my new Advisor said she’d certainly make inquiries.

Lyndon says:

Not defending IG but my guess is that your Advisor would have advised you to do nothing and wait for markets to stabilize. This is the advice that any good advisor should give during turbulent times. I agree that he should have contacted you but frankly there isn’t anything he could have done to help with losses. Moving investments to safe havens (not sure what that would be other than US cash) only after the loss has happened doesn’t solve the problem of there being a huge loss. Governments aren’t going to do anything as it is the investors responsibility to understand the risk in the investments that they are investing in.

Lyndon says:

Just going to add another real life example to illustrate why any “Plan” devised by IG is pure garbage. During my time with IG I lived through several drops in the stock market. What was frustrating about my investments with IG was that if there was a drop of say 20% in the stock market my investments would drop by usually 22-25%. Now, when the stock market rebounded by 20% (usually next year), almost always my mutual funds would go up by 10-15% and would lag behind what the actual market was doing. Any “Plan” devised by IG has no protection in it for market crashes and their funds are so crappy that they very seldom will come close to what funds in their respective categories are doing (hence the 1-3 star ratings on Morningstar for IG funds). IG advisors will simply say that crashes and rebounds happen and investors have to ride out these “short-term blips” as investing is for the long term. In the recent crash that happened because of Covid, if I had stayed with IG I would bet that this is exactly what would have happened. My investments, if I had stayed with IG, would be down 22-25% at the moment. With my current financial advisor I have a properly balanced portfolio that has hedges in place to mitigate losses during a downturn such as the one being experienced at the moment. As a result, while the market is down over 20% my investments are down only about 8%. You will never see this kind of result with any investment with IG. IG is simply the worst!!

ShazT says:

That’s excellent!! What kind of costs are you paying with your current FA? Did you end up going with a FA through a bank and was there a cost of moving your funds from the IG portfolio?

Lyndon says:

When I made the choice to leave IG I considered banks, Wealthsimple and Questtrade, and a few other investment companies. I settled on working with a FA with an investment company in my area simply because of the service they provide. They don’t work on commissions but there is a 2% yearly management fee that will go down to 1.75% shortly. Based on the results I’m seeing with this downturn I think I made the right choice. There were some DSC fees on IG investments but I got the local IG director to waive them so I paid nothing to transfer investments out of IG. My previous IG advisor had retired and I got stuck with an uneducated advisor. Literally had been working for IG for 6 months and, based on our first meeting, it showed. He came to our first meeting prepared with some flashy graphs and analysis sheets but when I asked questions on what he was presenting to me all he could say was that the computer program he uses generates the data and he doesn’t know how the program does it. Yikes!! As the DSC fees expired in two years I think the director just wanted me gone rather than have me meet again with the new advisor. Maybe not all advisors at IG are terrible but I’m certainly not going to trust the advice of someone who doesn’t understand what he’s presenting.

Nic says:

Responding to: Lyndon, April 21, 2020 at 12:55 am post. This is precisely what is happening to me right now. As noted in my post (Nic, April 7, 2020 at 3:54 pm, and thank you for responding to that post) I am somewhat “stuck” due to the DSC fees although having successfully transferred to my financial institution. Today is June 1, 2020. The majority of my IG plan investments are still sitting in the red, even to -12%. Everything else which is not IG related, has already rebounded and are sitting in the positives. IG is infuriating. To whoever is reading this and considering IG? RUN!!!

Lyndon says:

Sorry to hear this. I take little comfort in knowing that I wasn’t the only one this was happening to. For anyone who is considering trusting their investments in IG, just don’t!

John DeVries says:

Can I ask what FA you are using
I am in GTA
Thank you in advance

Lyndon says:

Not in the GTA so it wouldn’t be of much help to you.

Mike says:

A while ago i requested to move my RRSP from IG to another financial institution. It will be 2 month tomorrow . i understand it takes time , but 2 month ….
the reason im moving my investments from IG is because of very poor performance. i’ve been investing with IG since about 2006 and i put more money into it myself. Every time i spoke or met my IG adviser (on the regular basis)- i was told that its just the market now, leave it where it is and i will go up…. we are talking about over 10 years…. Highest MER i ‘ve seen so far. that makes me think that IG is trying to keep my moneys in the funds that work better for IG.
stopped my contributions a few years ago and was waiting for the market to go up so i can at least get back what i invested. 1-2 month ago would be a perfect time. now that everything is down in the last few days i might be screwed by IG again….
Yesterday I attempted to call IG customer service. automated message informed me that the call volume is higher than normal and i can leave a message or do it online and someone will contact me with in 24-48 business hrs. I choose to stay on the line and talk to the rep. after about 5-10 mins the system said that they don’t want to waste my time and want me to leave a message. and the system cut me off and did not give an option to talk to a rep.
i filed a call back request online right after. this morning i got an email asking for more information of a nature of my request…. not a phone call…

Lyndon says:

I left IG in 2018 to go to another financial institution. When my current financial advisor found out that I was moving my portfolio from IG he explained that most financial institutions take 7-12 business days to transfer a portfolio but IG usually takes somewhat longer. It took 3.5 months for IG to transfer my portfolio! Transfer request had to be faxed to them 4 times. First time they said they never received it and two other times they said it was incomplete but couldn’t tell me what was incomplete so I sent it to them again and again and again until they accepted it. Their so called “customer service” is also terrible.. Any company with a complaint department which only accepts hand written letters (yep…you can’t e-mail them) doesn’t want to handle complaints. My compliant, which IG was to respond to in 90 days, took seven months for IG to respond to! The response from the complaint department consisted largely of a cut and paste from a letter I received from my previous advisor. IG really is the worst.

Steve B. says:

As the posters above mentioned….why are IG advisors always on the defensive? Try as they may to hire advisors with books it never happens….why is this?

The limited product shelf is there so IG gets the MER. Having been gone now for a few years my eyes have really opened to the fact that the fund offerings at IG pale (performance) in comparison to what is offered out there.

Why would any established advisor move their book to an inferior platform of investments and take a pay cut to do so? They have now eliminated the group matching savings plans as well. Are you still paying $100 a month for the coffee fund? Close to $400 a month for the antiquated IT service they provide? Office space? The layers of management still taking a cut of your hard work? Yes the division managers and regional director make an excellent living off your assets….is it deserved? Most failed at being an advisor so let’s make them managers! The Whitby office is the perfect eg of this as the regional director and several directors are young and lack experience. Is this who you want managing your money?

Top advisors are now leaving IG in record numbers….with this comes the selling of IG funds in the 100’s of millions….a month! Don’t believe me? Look it up.

Stop defending IG and start defending your clients by moving your business to a platform where they can best be served…..oh and you’re defence of “we do planning”…..um we all do planning!

Thank you

Sean says:

Hey @Young, thanks for the great read!

This past year, I was lucky enough to be offered a 5% company match RRSP with IG. I went to sign some documents, assuming it would take 1 minute, and ended up spending an hour getting very overwhelmed by terms I had never heard of before. Right after that meeting I booked it to the library, and took out the first 5 books I could find on investing. I picked away at them, but didn’t complete a single one. Fast forward a few months, I began actually educating myself, completing 12 books over 4 months.

I have been trying to set up a meeting with IG for 2 months, and finally have one set for two weeks from now. I want to go over what my portfolio is, what my options are for portfolios with lower MERs, why I was given the option of one portfolio, IG Core Portfolio Balanced Growth Series B (with a 2.6% MER), and if I can do a yearly withdrawal to an RRSP with another institution with a low MER, or any fees for that matter. I would like to know what to ask, what to look out for, and any other advice you may have in preparing me for this meeting. I am excited, know way more than I did when I first went in, but am not as comfortable as I’d like to be.

Thank you for your time!


Lisa Jackson says:

Hi Sean,

It sounds like you’ve done a great job prepping for this meeting! If you’re looking for an easy and enjoyable read, check out Andrew Hallam’s best-selling book, “Millionaire Teacher.” It has a chapter on deconstructing the financial industry and some of the tactics they use to upsell financial products. It would be a good book to add to your reading list. Good luck!

Jim F says:

Working at IG you are always on the defensive and having to answer for all it’s faults. Hey IG reps why is this?
No one in the industry with a book of business goes to IG…that tells you something.
Every advisor starts their practice there and when they are successful they move on.
As the poster above revealed …successful consultants are leaving now more than ever and taking valuable assets with them.
If you have over $100 000 in investable assets leave IG behind. They are one notch above Priamerica in products and knowledgeable advisors.
To the senior IG advisors commenting…..if you haven’t done so leave like the rest of your colleagues. The business model is antiquated.

Jill says:

From 2018 through 2019 IG has lost more advisors than anytime in history. Many of those were top performers with the largest books. When they move to a different company they take 100s of millions with them. If this trend continues-which it will as the industry evolves, how does a fund manager invest when there are negative cash flows?
Every advisor that leaves tells the truth about IG and it’s high mer’s and limited product shelf to every client who tell 100s of others.
It’s a sunset business model.
Take your money and run.

Norm Walsh says:

It doesn’t really matter whether you deal with questrade, Vanguard, i-shares or TD e series funds they all eliminate those hi mer’s that you get from mutual fund companies. For mutual funds with very low mer’s Mawer and PH&N fit the bill.

romper says:

Thanks everyone for sharing their experiences – this is quite helpful and informative.
I have a quick question. Needless to say, I am (rather “was” as of now) with IG. The person we worked with at IG has been quite wonderful thus far. In the beginning, I had little idea as to what MER meant – but I am ready to accept this as my mistake/responsibility for not knowing . Only issue I had was, I was never given a straight answer with respect to my tax burden (this is relevant to me, as I am US citizen working in Canada). I got spooked and took the decision to leave IG. The question I have is: Does IG mutual fund investments count as passive foreign investment company/PFICs? If yes, then I guess I would be a little ticked off – as finance advisors, isn’t that what I am paying for?

Kyle says:

I’m no IRS expert, but I’m pretty sure that it does Romper.

Dave C says:

Ex IG rep here (20 plus years) and share that the IG platform was fine for many years and not much different than the rest of industry. However things change and so has the industry. IG has not and continues to serve its shareholders and management, it is after all a corporation that needs to make money and not necessarily for the client. It is a dinosaur, big, old and on the verge of extinction. While for most I don’t recommend DIY as there are many options. Fee for service platform insures independent objective advice as the advisor is paid by you.
Do your research.

norm walsh says:

Tom, why not drop into financial Wisdom Forum and ask your question.

Tom says:

I already have a substantial amount in IG unfortunately. I recently started using Nest Wealth for the balance of my investments and am happy there. Im planning to move my IG funds to Nest wealth. Wondering though if it makes sense to keep them there until they mature (2022) to avoid the DSC hit. Lots of advice here about not investing in IG but would you also advise to pay the DSC’s (penalty fees) to get out? Im about 4-5 years away from retirement.

Kyle says:

This is a tough question Tom. Those DSC fees should be illegal. How bad are the fees? If it were me, I’d honestly bite the bullet and pay them. NW might even help out with them if you talk real nice!

Norm Walsh says:

Whenever I see the Questrade ad on tv I immediately think of the fellow selling mutual funds as a IG rep.

Kyle says:

HAHAHA! I do as well! “Well, those numbers don’t sound right”.

norm walsh says:

Further to my above comments, not long ago I did a comparison online between a Investors dividend fund and a Phillips Hagar and North dividend fund(which I own) I assumed $50,000 invested in each for ten years and I think the PH&N fund returned more than 11 thousand in that ten year period.

norm walsh says:

Some excellent comments here, it’s plain and simple high mer’s will eat up your profits very quickly. I would encourage any newbies here to drop into the financial Wisdom forum. there you will find many of Canada’s sophisticated investors. there is nothing to be sold there just solid information. Best of luck to all and stay away from high Mer’s and any deferred charges.

Peter says:

I had an advisor there at investors group called ******* [editor: redacted names for legal reasons] from Winnipeg. He has a CFP but it does not ensure he knows anything about money or how the stock market works. He tries to be a savvy investor but he didn’t sell me. I found out he drove a coke truck for 10 years and then took a simple test in less than a month and became an advisor for his dream company investors group. The only useful thing he has done for myself and my family is sell me a term insurance policy. Anytime I asked him hard questions about his outrageous fees, he told me they would come down if I gave him more money. Like a quarter millions dollars more. His attitude is rude and very condescending to myself when I ask any questions I research. He often takes weeks to call or email me back simple questions. I do not know how this guy still has a job there but I would highly recommend to stay away from this guy and his company. He only books appointments with people to try to sell them more product. He never listens or cares about anything other than how much money you have. Buyer beware. Go online and sign up for Wealthsimple or go to your local bank. This guy and company treats people like a number and is very rude.

Patti says:

Investors Group sucks! I would never, ever, ever invest with them. I am a middle aged woman with a sizeable portfolio, because I have been investing since my mid 20s. I use Scotia Mcleod and love them! My mother, who had terminal cancer and passed away in November 2016 used Investors Group. She liked them because they were nice to her. It was a disaster closing out her accounts! It took me 3 months to get cheques. Investors Group charged $2,000 in service charges! It turned out they never topped up her TFSA in 2015 and 2016 even though I directed them to, so too much was in her RRIF (which was taxed). Plus the account was worth about 15K less when my mom died in November 2016 than in September 2016, according to her investment statements. How does an account lose that much in just two months? It should have been in safer investments, since my mom was elderly and had terminal cancer. Investors Group is the worst.

Kyle says:

That’s really really sad Patti. I’m sorry for your loss and negative surprises that accompanied it.

Amanda says:

Very interesting read. I’ve always wondered what other people’s opinions were on investors group.

Investors Group is really looked down upon as an employer in business schools. They are known for taking literally anyone and everyone on as employees. No formal training is required to be an investment advisor with them. I definitely wouldn’t trust many of their “investment advisors” with my money.

AarontheAdvisor says:

I don’t know how long this blog has been up for but I’ve been reading the comments. It also is one of the first hits when I google “Investors Group Reviews”. It’s sad the first one is so negative.

I’ve read through many of the negative experiences here and I can’t justify what you’ve gone through. Finances are usually kept close to the chest and when you trust someone to help you with making good decisions but get burned instead, it leaves a really sour taste in our mouths.

I of course am an Advisor with IG. I have no problem stating that, I have no problem with people saying nasty things. Reason being is that I know what I offer my clients and other Canadians. I know what my “competition” does and how there’s bad advisors with bad advice only looking out for themselves at other insitutions as well. (How else do you think I get new clients?)

Without going into much more detail I’ll offer ANYONE reading this some time with me. You can explain your situation and I can try to help you navigate IG or anything else so hopefully we can rectify your situation.

I am in Ontario and I cannot legally practice or give advice for other Provinces so if you do wish for help I can find someone in your Province.

Here’s my e-mail I’ve set up strictly for this. I’m keeping myself somewhat private as I don’t want trolls or anyone else bogging down my work e-mail.

Contact: aarontheadvisor@gmail.com

Kyle says:

I’m interested to see if Aaron is able to help anyone navigate their issues.

Tony says:

Hi Kyle:

I am all new to investment and been talking to a friend who just joined IG for possible investment. I stumbled here why trying to figure if it is a go or not with IG. After much reading, I am so discouraged to go ahead with the investment plan with IG but would love the DIY option. Like I said, I am all new with no finance background. What is the meaning of DSC, MER etc? Please advise me where i can start?


Kyle says:

Hey Tony, take a look at our “start here” page, download our ebook and then ask me if you have any questions. You might also want to check out our robo advisor article and see what that’s all about. Do your friend a favour and tell him to break out on their own and be their own boss!

Scott says:

I have read many of the postings. People may want to do some homework. Investors Group NO LONGER HAVE DSC Fees. All funds and Portfolios are No Load. One posting said IG funds MER’s are 2.7% to 2.9%. That also is not accurate. As far as Commissions go, any time a Consultant switches funds with Client permission they are not paid a commission again. There is absolutely NO CHURNING.

Kyle says:

Scott, this was a recent change – does that excuse years of charging DSC fees to financially illiteracy.

Also, please become familiar with your products before you make absolute statements. It is true that some of your funds are not in the 2.7%-2.9%, they’re actually higher than that sometimes as shown here: http://fundexpressweb.rrd.com/investorsgroup/files/en/F022_IPIFC.pdf

Why any financial advisor that cares about their clients more than their own wallet sticks with IG is beyond me.

peter says:

Is there any update on the current state of affairs at IG in 2016? The articles I have seen about the horror stories at IG all are pretty old like 2012 and 2011. I think I saw one from 2014 and the fees to transfer out of IG made it expensive so the person stayed to avoid the transfer out fee. Amazing that people would pay so much fees and take it without complaining.

Kyle says:

I agree Peter. If you look at many of the comments in this post, many of them are from 2015 and 2016.

Bruce says:

Totally agree with results bring matched to the quality of the investor to a point. I switched to BMO Nesbitt Burns years ago and had moderate returns. Eight years in I learned that they forgot to transfer all of my RRSPS from the other investment compnay ($8K) Received a letter from Inveco saying “hey these are untouched in 8 yrs”. No apology from BMO. After changing mortages from TD to BNS (Nova Scotia) I decided to transfer my LIRA and RRSP as well. Paid huge commission fees to BMO and not a peep from my investment guy of almost a decade. So far so good with BNS. Oddly the person I liked at BNS just went to IG.

Chris says:

Yes, that is a direct quote.

Kyle says:

That’s incredible. I think you have a really serious legal case there Chris. Maybe that a read through the comments on this thread and see where to best go for your case. I’d say that email correspondence is pretty damning in that it obviously reveals some real ignorance.

Chris says:

By the way, IG advisers have not contacted me for 10 years. The only thing I received for the past 10 years was a statement every three months.

Chris says:

When I asked the IG adviser why both my RESP and RSP funds performed so badly for 16 years. Here is the answer.

“About the performance of the funds depends of the risks you take in the moment you made the Investments If you for example take High risk you can gain or lost a lot of money the problem is when people lost money they don

Kyle says:

Wow… that’s a direct quote Chris?!

Chris says:

I put $7,700 RRSP and $7,200 RESP into IG funds between 1997-2000. After more than 16 years of investment with IG, I have $5,200 in RRSP and $3,600 in RESP. What kind of investment is that? My advisers have not contacted me for many years. I am very disappointed with IG. Even I put those funds in GIC, I could have more than $20,000 by now instead of $8,800.

Kyle says:

A very sad story Chris…

Ed Painter says:

I would avoid IG like the plague. My wife left a firm and needed to move her pension fund into a locked RRSP. My brother was with IG so we decided to transfer the fund to IG. Unfortunately we found out three years later that he was much less lnowledgeable than we thought and after some estate problems he sggested we move my wife’s portfolio to another advisor. We did not want to and proceeded to transfer it to another investment management firm. IG tried everything to keep us from transferring it and after 7 months we have exceeded. Unfortunately even though this was their decision it ended costing us 5K in fees and it appeared no one was looking after it as it decreased in value 15%. When someone mention IG we run. This is likely one of the the reasons that the best they have rated in the JD Powers Survey is #10 in 2015. They are rated at the bottom end of average on the the scale.

Kyle says:

And it’s not like that scale is full of “world beaters” to be honest Ed.

Gary says:

Okay so what did his age have to do with any of this? Oh and mutual funds are diversified, if you have money with other funds you are over diversified. The market goes up and down, most people sell when it goes down and buy when it has gone up, this fellow wasn’t managing your money a professional money manager was. Just saying 😀

DCInvestor says:

From what I have heard and experienced, Investors Group is a great place for a novice Financial Adviser to get their start in this profession. However, the good ones don’t stay for long. You might be lucky enough to find an IG Adviser to who attempts to understand your personal financial situation, explains things truthfully and in terms that can be understood. There are good and bad ones out there so you need to do your homework. In my case I had been with IG (also downtown Brampton, ON office – same as DC above). The Director was my adviser, but he nearly always sidestepped them and yacked about foreign economies. Had a really bad situation last summer with dishonesty in their office and complained to corporate. The result of their “investigation” was all was OK on their end. I am certain the Director and his team are selling lots of investments to naive investors, so why would IG reprimand a top seller? Anyway, I pulled out at a great cost to me, but now with BMO Nesbitt Burns and doing very well. However, I got lucky this time as my current BMO Adviser seems to know what he is talking about and makes things easy to understand.

Glynis Peters says:

Oh dear…..I am with IG and my husband is with BMO….he wants me to move everything over….my niece is also looking for advice as she starts to invest…..and this thread has been both useful, depressing and confusing…..the IG consultant is actually someone I have known for years and I trust her completely but the BMO adviser has been adamant that the MER is excessive and my husband just feels “safer” with a bank….how am I supposed to know what to do ?????

Kyle says:

Well Glynis, the good news is that it is quite likely the BMO advisor is not going to charge you any more than the IG advisor. The bad news is that they’re both charging you and your husband way too much relative to the value their providing in my opinion (in fairness, others would say that the value of their advice is subjective). How about this, take a look at our free eBook Glynis (which we make no money off of) and let me know if you have any questions or if anything is unclear. I think by the end of that book you’ll understand why I take the aggressive stance that I do.

dc says:

I have used IG for several years. Take note that they charge very high management fees and may charge the highest in the industry. The IG office that served me was from downtown Brampton. The director there was not interested in responding to help solve my problem regarding the integrity of someone in his office. Furthermore, he would not clearly explain why my account had taken a significant drop in value. I have switched to a different provider at great expense to me because this is the time IG will nail you big time for management fees.

IG client says:

I wanted to ask the IG employees here a question. I met an ex-advisor and an ex-client who told me that even with the DSC funds the client is permitted to withdraw 1% of their total investment fee free every month, that is 12% per year. So if the client had $100,000 they could withdraw $12,000 in a fiscal year. How does one go about doing that? My advise claimed to have never heard of it.

Kyle says:

This is relatively new IG Client, but if I’ve heard of it I’m going to go ahead and guess that your advisor has as well. Ask yourself this – what incentives does your advisor have to help you pull your money out? The more money you take out the less he makes… Just saying, basic incentives at play.


I had a friend who was starting a second career with IG. He came to my house with his trainer to do the pitch. My wife and I both agreed we did not trust the trainer but surely we could trust our friend. Unfortunately he too had consumed the IG kool-aid. We knew nothing about mutual funds and MERs. We have since educated ourselves. My wife had a company investment plan with Great West Life (GWL). These are good plans because the MERs are negotiated as a group buy, so volume equals discount. So the GWL MER was .9% and the funds had a good return, better than the IG funds we were sold. Our financial advisor gave us terrible advice. We moved everything into IG with average MERs of 2,7% three times the expenses, and our investment was locked in for 7 years. So over the 7 year period we paid about $30,000 in extra fees! We paid for steak and got baloney. Plus the money that could have been made by reinvesting that $30,000 and the GWL funds performed better. God what a mistake. There are many companies that do not push DSC funds. I think the problem with IG is systemic. There are too many stories from people who wised up for it to be isolated. Think of the vast majority who have not wised up. Any ways glad to see the back of IG.

Kyle says:

I couldn’t agree more CDN Investor. “Sold steak and got baloney”. A perfect analogy. The problem is that IG could present you as a successful customer in the right light as far as spinning stats goes… I just wish more people knew about this stuff. Any interest in handling your own investments now that your done with IG, or are you going back to GWL? Just FYI, IG has the same parent company as GWL does… Check out this organization chart for more details: https://www.powerfinancial.com/en/about/organization-chart/

Dylan says:

I work for IG as a student, so I do not really have any vested interest in the company but there are a couple of things I will say.

The first is that it is very true that the industry needs to be more regulated. The consultants I work for have their CFPs are quite educated, ethical, and transparent with their clients. However, there are many consultants who are poorly educated, and just out to make money. It all depends on who you are with. For our practice personally, approximately 60% of our book is no load, or B series, meaning you can withdraw without a penalty. As for the comissions, when you DSC a client (A series) it is somewhat true that you are compensated higher. What I mean by this is that the comissions are approximately 3-4%, whereas with no load you get a much smaller comission every month. However, if the money is with us for more than 7 years, no load or B series funds actually become more profitable to us.

When our clients are younger (below 45) and investing for retirement, or the long term we do prefer to DSC them. The reason for this are: When investing for retirement, you should not be planning to take your money out in the next 7 years anyways, the MER charged for an A series fund is slightly lower, and obviously we receive our commissions up front. When a DSC is done for this purpose, and clearly stated and explained to the client, I do not have any ethical qualms with it.

As for the high MERs, the MERs on our funds generally range from 1.8% to 2.8%, with most funds being over 2%. There are certain funds (iProfile) and other high net worth funds with MERs below 1%, but there is an additional advisory fee to that. When you compare this with the banks that are generally somewhere in the 1.1% to 2% range , yes the MERs at IG are higher but this is somewhat misleading as the bank’s mutual funds usually have an advisory fee as well, so the total cost is similiar. The bottom line of the bank’s is to sell you on more debt, whereas companies like IG make more money when you grow your wealth and net worth. IF you can find an advisor you can trust, and who is competent I believe you would be better off at a company like IG over a bank, just because there is more incentive for IG consultants to make your money grow, over a salaried bank employee. That being said there are obviously other options out there, but for someone without the time to DIY or expertise it all depends on the consultant.

Keeping all that in mind, if you are looking to invest in mutual funds, the best course of action would be to buy them directly from the dealer themself, rather than use a broker. This of course takes time and knowledge in finance and investing, both of which not many people have. And obviously there are some better options out there than mutual funds, although some mutual funds have been known to beat the market. As an unbiased observer from the inside, that’s my 2 cents.

Kyle says:

So IG doesn’t make more money when you’re advised to take out investment loans and then to invest those loans in DSC funds “for your own good”?

Dylan says:


Yes we certainly do make more money when we advise someone to undergo a leverage and reinvest those funds in DSC, or in no load funds. The differentiator here comes down once again to the consultant. Many of our educated clients know how risky leveraging can be, while others do not. Ethically it is up to us to educate them on the risks and benefits of a leverage and advise them accordingly. We have certain clients who are leveraged, but these are clients who are high risk investors and have wanted to leverage themselves. For our practice it is extremely rare to DSC someone when they are leveraging debt to invest, because that makes an inherently risky investment manouvre even riskier.

When the recession of 2008 hit, we had many angry clients, and rightfully so. To be frank, it is easier for us not to have to deal with that type of situation, both in terms of workload and the emotional drain, therefore we are not looking to gouge our clients. We want our clients to do well, and there is no need for us to encourage leveraging to make more money. I will say that we are in a different position than many of the consultants at Investors Group, as the book we manage is a little over $80 million and so we have enough paperwork to handle as it is, and we make enough money as it is. Due to the situations that can arise with investing loans, we tend to ensure that our clients know exactly what they are getting into, because we prefer not to make our lives busier if problems do occur. But once again, my point is it totally depends on the consultant.

Kyle says:

Fair enough Dylan. Thanks for stopping by and giving us another valuable perspective in this whole debate!

Nicola Ramsey says:

My parents invested money with Investors Group decades ago. When I was granted POA over their affairs, I tried to find out what was in the account. They refused to tell me. Now my parents have died, the executor and the lawyer have been trying to get information- for nearly a year. They will not tell them how much is in the account. The will went through probate two months ago. They told us we needed to go into their office in Victoria even though the executor of the will lives in northern Alberta. Then they said even if he went in, they wouldn’t be able to give him any information. They claimed to have no way of knowing what was in the account. Based on this experience, I would never invest with this company.

Kyle says:

Wow… so many stories…

Alin says:

Hi guys, I’m new to investing and have just recently started reading about mutual funds. I didn’t even know what MER’s were a week ago! But I’ve learned lots and found the comments on here very informative.

Since I’m still new to investing and don’t have the know-how about choosing stocks personally, and since I don’t want my money to just sit in a chequing account, I was wondering if anyone can give me some advice if the following 3 companies are good to invest with: Mawer Balanced Fund, Steadyhand Founders Fund, PH & N Balanced Fund. I have about $25,000 to invest and should have about $50,000 by the end of the year.

Any advice would be much appreciated as I have an appointment on Monday with a investment advisor at my local CIBC bank. Thanks!

Alin says:

Hi everyone, I’m a 30-year-old with very little experience in investing. I first heard of an MER when I went to the bank to open a RESP last week, and the advisor helping me discussed putting the funds I deposited it in a mutual fund. I only deposited $2500 but have about $25,000 to invest currently sitting in my chequing account. By the end of the year, I should have roughly $50,000.

I have since read multiple hours on mutual funds and MER’s and finally found this website where I learned a ton of information. I don’t see myself as actively buying stock and etfs since even though I am a fairly well-educated man and have time to read a lot, I am too timid in trading myself, other than on a very small scale with money that I could afford losing.

I have a question for you guys. I read about 3 companies that I would like your guys’ opinions on: the Steadyhand Founders Fund (MER 1.34%) managed by Tom Bradley, the Mawer Balanced Fund (MER 0.98%) managed by Greg Peterson, and PH and N balanced fund (MER 0.9%).

The returns all seem fairly good, for example, The Mawer Balanced Fund returned 11.2% over five years.

Do you guys know anything about these companies and funds and would recommend them?

Kyle says:

Sorry for taking a while to get back to you Alin. How did the meeting go? I’ll say this, what a fund has returned over 5 years is almost irrelevant. Have you checked out our free ebook yet?

Alin says:

Hi Kyle, thanks for your response. I’ve since read a ton on mutuals funds and spoke with the advisor about changing the mutual fund he sold me. Apparently the MER was 2.56%! for a mutual fund he sold me that I put $500 towards, and the same mutual for 1.8% since it was in a RESP. I told him I’ll go with the Mawer balanced fund at 0.96% MER. I also asked him a lot of hard questions and he said he even learned some things from me. (TFSA is apparently going to double this year from $5500 per person to $11000 per person). It pays do your own research as people tell you what they’re paid to tell you. I am wondering about your last comment though, that how it performed the last 5 years is not important. Can you explain? And where can I get the free book?

PS don’t mind the last message (it’s kind of a repeat of the first), I thought the first didn’t post so I rewrote it more condensed.

Kyle says:

Yup, I actually wrote an article about the TFSA thing 16 months ago…

The thought on the last five years not mattering is that it isn’t really a reliable time frame by which to judge investments. Many fund managers can go on a “hot streak” for five years that is mostly due to luck or macro economic stuff that is totally out of their control. It’s much more scientific to look at how mutual funds as a whole have done over multiple decades of performance.

To sign up for the book simply click “ETF Investing” at the top of our site, or click here.

Taylor says:

Investors Group, as a company, is a sham. I used to work for them and was an advisor recruiter. You’d think that calling people and offering them a job would be an easy job. It wasnt. Mostly because their whole offer absolutely sucks.

First, you start at 100% commission after 3 weeks of training. As a platform to build a practice, this is OK in and of itself.. Except they force you to lease a laptop for about $250 a month. Then you have to pay your share in the office expenses, which in my branch came to another $150 a month. Want an office? More money down the tubes. Need a brochure to give to a prospective client? $3-$5. You get the message. What an expensive way to work.

The author makes some points, some which are a bit off and others that are absolutely bang on. A “leveraging proposal” that they teach their reps to make is the same every time. Own a house? Peel out the equity and stuff it into their mutual funds, and write off the mortgage interest as an expense.

The problems with their leveraging proposal are as follows. First, they usually put you in a “no fee” deferred sales charge mutual fund that will cost you as much as 5% to sell if you want to close out the arbitrage strategy and cover the debt in the case mortgage rates were to spike or markets tank. Secondly to that point, if interest rates rise, equity markets tend to fall which means again you could be left underwater, especially when you add in the DSC fees you might have to pay to close it out. The least horrible outcome is if markets fall, leaving you underwater, but interest rates fall at the same time as the BoC tries to juice the economy. Your underwater, but at least your payments fall along with it. Third, by investing in this manner for income, you are missing out on the ability to write off the biggest expense you are paying – the MER on their fund. A fee based portfolio of preferred shares would give you a better arbitrage.

Dont get me wrong, using leverage is a valid investment strategy – for the right people who want to take on more risk – and with the right investment product, of which Investors Group mutual funds with their poor performance and high fees are not, especially when they’re DSC. Key to any leverage strategy is the ability to have a quick exit strategy so you can cover the arbitrage.

Next, the 20-something advisor that you invested your money with was most definitely a rookie, and probably was starving to death. Marketing financial services products to 20-somethings smacks of desperation. Nothing personal against the guy nor anything against 20-somethings, but the biggest demographic with the most money out there is the baby boomers; this guy was chasing $10,000-$15,000 accounts. He had probably tried anything and everything else so he decided to try the easiest smallest fish to put gas money in his pocket.

The worst part of Investors Group is that they disallow any funds that are not Investors Group funds. They also took their entire mutual fund portfolio off of FundServ. Why did they do that? Here’s why. Joe Client decides to transfer his account to another advisor, say a bank-owned brokerage. They transfer the funds in-kind where the new advisor has to slowly dribble the money out of the poorly performing product, because of the high DSC fees that will have to be paid if Joe sells it all right away. So by coming off of fundserv, Joe Client is FORCED to sell the entire position to move the money, incurring the DSC fee or just staying put to avoid paying the fees, albiet unhappily. What a business model.

Investors Group does have one meaningful purpose. Helping young people who have a desire to build a financial services practice who can’t be hired by anyone better. Once they get a $10 or $20 million book of business, they are ripe for a payout to jump ship to a more reputable firm that wont ding them $3-$4 for every brochure and forces them to buy the letterhead they put their letters to clients on.

“The Plan” explanation is hogwash. A healthy chunk of IG advisors dont have any financial planning accreditation such as a CFP. They use a software package called NaviPlan, which is available to, and used by, tends of thousands of other advisors at firms ranging from your local bank branch to a high priced botique stock trading firm. Even worse, they use a hamstrung version, and very few of their reps know how to use it beyond the most simple of it’s functions. I was a NaviPlan trainer for RBC, and part of my role at IG when recruiting was to produce these plans for the advisors who couldnt figure out how to use the software at a nominal charge to the branch. Few used the service.

Your better off going to your local bank branch for accounts under $100,000, and your bank-owned or independent brokerage for anything over $100,000. And a word of advice- if your advisor can’t get you to firmly and clearly understand what your investment strategy is and why it is right for you, find a different advisor. Different strokes for different folks.


Kyle says:

Pure awesomesauce. Thanks so much for the insight Taylor. I had assumed much of this put wouldn’t print it without some firsthand proof. Thanks for sharing.

Standard IG Modus Operandi says:

Terrific insider insight Taylor. I’m sure all the IG advisors like Don who’ve been drinking the kool-aid for a while would love to refute your comments but they seem pretty ironclad. Nice work.

Hof says:

There was a time, back in the day, when these captive salesforces did attempt to train career agents. However those days are long gone.

Today, they’re more of an affinity marketing organization, with new recruits serving as bait to delve into Mommy and Daddy’s pocket book, under the guise of helping little Johnny with his new “career.” In today’s ruthlessly competitive market, with over 100,000 “advisors” crawling out of the woodwork in Canada, few of them last more than a year or so.

As Taylor says, getting these recruits to sign up is undoubtedly very a hard sell, with an abundance of complaints and negative information easily accessible on the internet to even a moderately diligent prospect. The blatantly fake reviews on sites like Glassdoor only serve as further red flags.

Kyle says:

100,000 eh? That’s crazy Hof. Thanks for stopping by.


I want to lay to rest many of the questions and apparent unawareness of the financial industry as a whole.

First, Steve above makes an incredibly valid point about the time and energy that goes into managing a portfolio. That’s part of the reason people have a trusted proper financial planner, so they can enjoy what they want in life and not worry about their finances.

Second, IG isn’t just about a place to hold your investments its about a full financial plan. How do you know that what you are doing on your own is helping you reach your retirement goal, in the most tax efficient manner.

Third, IG also offers various insurance to help you protect your financial plan and your loved ones should, heaven forbid, anything happen to you. This insurance can then be part of your estate plan which will allow for you to leave a legacy after you are gone.

Fourth, every mutual fund has an MER – but with IG you are receiving so much more with a full comprehensive financial plan, which in general is serviced annually.

What’s important to take from this is that you should have a TRUSTED and PROPER financial planner. Most people find the best way to start a relationship with an advisor is through a referral from someone who has already been well taken care of. IG is the largest financial services company for a reason.

Kyle says:

Advisor – have you read the rest of this thread? I’ll respond in kind:

1) Ok, slightly relevant. If you want to trade a relatively small amount of time for hundreds of thousands in sacrificed returns over the course of your lifetime, you are at least getting something there.

2) This statement is ridiculous. If you are actually saying that all advisors from IG or any other company that is based on commissions are giving better advice than what you could simply read on your own or pay a fee-only planner to give you, you’re kidding yourself.

3) IG offers overpriced insurance plans that people often don’t need and would be much better off going with cheaper, basic term options – but those options don’t pay nearly the commission so guess why they don’t get recommended as much?!

4) But IG MERs are amongst the highest in the industry and you’re actually not getting more with a “full comprehensive plan” as 80%+ of that is common sense anyway (ie spend less than you make etc). Also, most of Canada’s broad ETFs have almost no MER at all… so that is the comparison I’d rather make.

What’s important from this is that you understand the incentive behind your advisors compensation and that you make an educated decision on if the incredibly high MERs represent a good value for the inconsistent and often middling advice you’re given.


Kyle, if its common sense why isn’t everyone doing it. Professional athletes pay a lot for their coaches, guess what at IG you don’t pay extra. Find me a mutual fund with a MER less than .64%, we have it. Please do you research first!

Kyle says:

Oh don’t worry Don, I’ve done my research. Your Canadian equity mutual funds mirror basic ETFs and charge Canadians an incredible amount. Read my free eBook for more details – or in your own words – do a little bit of research – instead of trying to parse details to manufacture an argument that just isn’t based in reality.

Teresa says:

Not young but still thrifty. 27 years ago started out with IG; realize now the 5% upfront fee was highway robbery. Paid the price to transfer out as the funds my advisor put me in underperformed the general market and index substantially.

Opened a bmoinvestorline discount brokerage account and decided I’d have the fun myself losing money. Best move I ever made. Discount brokerage accounts are now very competitive – this one – no minimum $$$ amount – $9.95 per trade, big list of eligible stocks for DRIP if you prefer to reinvest dividends automatically, including ETFs which I believe are trade free to buy currently. I hold individual high quality stocks, a few Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs) and a few speculative companies. Many ETFs exist – ishares.ca, bmo series, vanguard – dividend ETFs, canadian exchange (XIC) – MER is around 0.15%, sector – for example, XEG (oil and gas), XFN (financials) and country specific ones. XIC is in the top performers by return in the realm of over 10,000 mutual funds. 90% of mutual funds do not beat their respective benchmark index because of high (often hidden) fees and MERs. Check out globefund.com to filter funds.

Nice part – you have the control, ease of execution, you decide whether you want to trigger cap gains (not at the mercy of “mutual fund redemptions”) affecting your personal tax situation.

Freedom 55 soon with a nice income flow in place. Kudos to the younger people looking to their future.

Kyle says:

Hey Teresa, you’re definitely preaching to the choir! Have you checked out our free ebook that explains why index investing through cheap ETFs is the best bet for almost all investors today? What did you think?

Steve says:

I apologize for interrupting the IG and industry hate-fest but people need to put things into perspective. If you enjoy spending hours every week researching stocks to pick, then yes you can probably save on fees. No different than if you replace your own brakes on your car. Most people can’t even balance a check book much less plan and invest for their retirement. If you want some real facts, it’s been proven many times that people who use an advisor are significantly wealthier than those that don’t. If you go to Dalbar.com you will see countless studies that prove that active traders/investors earn significantly “less” returns than those that buy and hold. The index returns were 8.21% over the past 20 years and the average investor captured 4.25% of that. That’s half of the actual real return. I find it comical that people are complaining about a fee here and a fee there to try and save 1% of an MER when the average person loses 4% of the actual return.

Kyle says:

Steve, your creating a straw man argument. The choices aren’t spending hours and hours picking stocks versus 2.5% MER mutual funds, it’s passive index investing using basic ETFs versus the mutual fund argument. The index average you quoted is easily attainable with about two hours of work per year if that. I find it comical that you (just as the financial advisors in this thread) refuse to acknowledge the fact that correlation is not causation. Just because people that cared enough about their money to get an advisor decided to save more than people who had no thoughts about money at all does not mean that the advisor caused the increased savings rate. Statistics 101.

DIY Guy says:

Where do you invest your money Steve?….

Last week’s dip provided a small buying opportunity in great companies that had entered “oversold” territory. In one week I added 6% to my entire portfolio without any serious risks and guarantied profits.

This strategy has proven to be very successful for me over the last 4 years of DIY investing. Consequently it shortened my retirement timeline by at least 10 years (65 years old to 55 years old) with highly conservative expectations.

Please Steve, car breaks really? As much as a mechanic can gouge someone its never worth risking your life to save a few dollars per year or maybe a couple of thousand in your life. My time spent picking stocks will save me millions in lost returns imposed by fees and biased advise.

I agree that not everyone can do this and that is really unfortunate for those people. Good luck to them

DIY Guy says:

Thx Kyle, however Mutual Funds or simply “Funds” give me the willies – too many unknowns and variables for me. Buying a single well researched stock gives me the confidence to invest until the expected profit has been realized. For me, taking profits off the table is productive and gratifying and never again will I buy and hold long term and certainly not mutual funds. A solid correction will come sooner or later, take a look at the historical data and the last 16 years have been a roller coaster ride to say the least. RRSP’s, 401k’s, Pensions… all overexposed to Mutual Funds. To each his own and GLTA

Kyle says:

Just so we’re both on the same page here DIY Guy – you know that index funds and index-based ETFs are passively managed right? They’re virtually no unknowns (or “unknown unknowns” as the political class would say) or variables. The products track the overall index and are very transparent. They can’t change mid-course even if they wanted to. I agree, market corrections will come and go – likely a dozen or so at least during my investment timeline – but a broadly diversified index fund that covers multiple sectors and geographical considerations will give me much more protection against a downturn then trying to pick stocks will. Of course I will also not have the chance to do exceedingly well like a stock picker would either, but the index vs stock pickers debate doesn’t really have anything to do with RRSPs or mutual funds. All of that being said, if you prefer your method and that’s what motivates you to maintain a study long-term outlook then you’re ahead of most of the game. Cheers.

DIY Guy says:

Well said Kyle and thx

TB says:

IG mutual funds are overpriced and often underperforming. IG advisors often have no related education, experience or training.
Whoever is running this website, and most of the people making comments also seem to lack expertise or even common sense in the area.
Picking a handful of ETF

Kyle says:

If you actually read the comments TB we’re pretty consistent in saying the problem is more structural in nature and not exclusive to IG. That being said, I disagree with you about overpaying an advisor being the better move. We simple need to do a better job educating people. If we can pass down wisdom on how to buy a used car, we can do the same with a basic low-cost index portfolio.

DIY Guy says:

Yes most firms mentioned above are better than IG and that goes without saying. However managing your own investments blindly or with an IG sales rep should never be an option to start with.
Not sure about ETF’s… Stocks are great and have been my best investment vehicle by far.

Kyle says:

DIY – I would qualify and say index-based ETFs (or even index mutual funds for that matter).

DIY Guy says:

Hang in there Rob,

My DSC’s were a couple of thousand dollars and I was just glad to pay the penalty to be done with them. My former IG sales representative also told me that SWP’s were not possible… You see this kind of behavior is revealing of their practices, I’m sure some are honest and competent, however the risk of being their client is too high IMO.

You’re right Kyle, I actually believe that this company has a damage control department or internal policy – a cult mentality where they do and say almost anything to protect their pyramid type business model. Randoms might be one of them and many others from this board. Most of their clients have no clue about finances and investing wisely so how can they end up here with hard headed arguments in favor of high MER’s, DSC’s and less than average performance mutual funds? Makes no sense at all. Look if everyone knew how their compensation structure worked, from “advisor” to division director to upper management, they would avoid them as everybody gets a piece of your money. If you don’t stay in the pyramid long enough you lose money = DSC or long term MER fees. Either way its costs too much.

The argument about people not having enough time to manage their own investments simply baffles me. If anyone stops to think about how much time they’ve spent shopping for a TV, CAR, APPLIANCES or for anything then why not invest your time in your financial future! Apart from marriage and having children, DIY investing has been the most fulfilling and rewarding experience of my life. I see the world in a different light as I’m much more in touch with our world and how I realize how incredible the human race really is. Seriously I went from a MF sales rep promising me hopes and dreams to taking control of my own destiny in establishing a retirement timeline that I can actually see and understand for myself.

Financial markets have been on a bull run for a while now so these investment firms are easily achieving acceptable rates of return for the moment. Obviously much less than a fee based advisor and much much less than an astute DIY investor. Above all the security of knowing that your hard earned retirement fund is under your watchful eye day in day out is simply priceless. Actually their is a price, its called an MER and if you dare change your mind that’s called a DSC.

We’re all very happy that markets are doing well. However does everyone remember 1987, 2001 and 2008-09?? Not for the purpose of doom and gloom but to highlight the benefits of being protected going forward with limited exposor to equity mutual funds. As mentioned above not all of your portfolio needs to be invested at the same time. For myself right now I hold approximately 25% stocks, 25% US Money Fund and 50% in cash. The cash is there for buying opportunities + protection and the US fund is there for US stock purchases where exchange rate fees are waved within this service. Believe it or not my annual rate of return over the last 4 years is 18% since going DIY. The best part is if a correction happens, big or small, my retirement savings won’t disappear or suffer a 60% loss. I can sell and buy stocks instantaneously opposed to calling someone and wait a week to re-balance mutual funds which have already lost significant value. For those who think mutual funds are less risky than stocks – please look up the term “window dressing” at investopedia and simply look at your past portfolios after each correction.

At the end of the day everyone is entitled to their opinion and this is mine based on my own experiences. It may be different for others who may find value in MER/DCS fee Mutual Funds. Good luck to all

Kyle says:

I just want there to be some transparency in the market. How can things be efficient when so few people actually understand how much money they are paying every year?

You raise a great point about shopping for appliances vs understanding your retirement investments. The great thing about a basic “couch potato” or broad-based index portfolio is that I just spent about as much time researching my next smartphone as I will organizing my investments for this quarter – it’s literally that easy once you have the basics down.

Matt says:

This still reeks of so many people who really have no idea what is going on.

SWP – stands for Systematic Withdrawal Plan. I don’t know of any programs where SWP have any bearing on DSC fees whatsoever. It’s just a plan that you can set up, where periodic payments are made from your account to your bank account.

I think the “discounts” that you refer to, are likely 10% free unit redemptions. Most mutual funds allow for you to redeem 10% of the units you start with at the beginning of the year, free of DSC charge, regardless of whether the DSC schedule is expired or not. Most will redeem those units first, before charging fees. i.e. you can request a 100% redemption, and they will charge DSC on the last 90% only. To be safe, you’re better off requesting a 10% free unit (or better yet, all free unit) redemption first, then redeeming the balance. This is done to allow for some people who are drawing from their accounts on a regular basis.

As I think was mentioned earlier, if it’s December, it’s great timing. Redeem all free units, then it rolls into January and you get another 10% free. If you don’t redeem in December, the 10% free units do not roll over to the new year.

If you’re going to transfer out (in cash, not in kind) from anywhere, it’s worthwhile calling the mutual fund companies and asking if you have any free units of any kind.

Rob says:

After 10 years with IG I have finally had enough, back in Oct 2013 I advised my Executive Financial Consultant/Adviser that I was going to transfer all my money out of IG.
He let me know that my total cost for leaving IG would be over $19,000 in DSC’s.
I asked him if there was anything we could do to lower that amount, he of coarse said NO.
After doing some research I came across something called SWP – Systematic Withdrawal Plan.
SWP allows the investor to withdraw 12% yearly, Fee Free! from funds that have DSC’s.
How the SWP works is you would be able to withdraw 12% off the top of the previous year-end value (for me it would have been Dec 31, 2012)
So I asked my adviser about SWP, his response was that the SWP would Not help me in what I was trying to do!
Which was to reduce my DSC’s.
After educating the arrogant ass on how the SWP works, he picked up the phone and called Head Office to prove to me that I was wrong.
Within minutes he was apologizing to me, I believe at that point he realized that I wasn’t the naive person he met 10 years ago!

In Dec 2013 I used the SWP to withdraw 12% & in Jan 2014 I set up another SWP for 3% and then transferred my entire portfolio over to Scotia iTrade, Total DSC’s after the SWP’s over $16,500!!!

If I decided to do nothing and stay with IG my fees this year would have been at least $15,000.
Also since switching to ETF’s my fees are now 0.20% compared to 2.58% on average with IG
Lets see $15,000 vs $1,200/year and my adviser makes nothing from me ever again!

Over the coarse of the 10 years with IG my Adviser (its killing me to refer him as that because he has never given me Any financial advice over the years, I give him money and he locks me in for 7 years, that’s it)
I realize everyone needs to make money and I don’t have an issue with that.
My issue is everything needs to be transparent, the difference in fees between IG Dividend Fund Series A & the ‘no load’ version is 2.4% vs 2.5% and for that huge savings (NOT!) my adviser receives an upfront commission of 3 to 4% and you are locked in for 7 years.

A few years ago I sold a rental property and handed over $200,000 to my adviser. He made it sound like I would be saving a huge amount in fees if I would lock in, Never telling me it was a measly 0.10% a year in fees. Looking back now and knowing ALL the information I would Never have locked in! I would have instead bought the Same fund BUT the No Load version.
Lets see hear I save $200 a year in fees and my adviser receives $6,000 to $8,000 in commissions. Win/Win right??? I think NOT.

I should have known back in Oct 2013 when I had to educate my adviser about the SWP that this wasn’t going to be a smooth transition out of IG.
Since Oct 2013 the mistakes that have been made is unbelievable!!
This is what I wanted my adviser to do:

-Dec 2013 Use the SWP to withdraw 12% across the board on ALL accounts with DSC’s and move the money to the same fund but the ‘No Load” version.

-Jan 2014 Same as above but the most I was allowed was 3% (3% per quarter) Oh and by the way after phoning 3 different IG’s, head office and my adviser I received 4 different answers!!! on the amount allowed to withdraw in Jan. Just comical
Try it out for yourself, phone different IG’s and ask the same question and you WILL receive different answers.

-Middle of Jan 2014 transfer All accounts to Scotia iTrade

I did All the homework so you would think it would be simple for my adviser to follow though, Right?


What a mess! LOL I can’t believe I am actually laughing.

He has admitted to me he messed it up and was going to summit a claim to his errors/omission insurance,
So he sent me a spread sheet showing the amount I would receive but after taking a closer look at it, I realized the numbers were wrong Again.
Believe it or not but he said he was getting annoyed with me because I kept finding more of his mistakes! LOL
I have now really had enough!
I have contacted the Regional Manager and he has contacted Head Office to start an investigation.

I would really appropriate some advice from the people who have gone through the investigation process with IG.
After reading through all the posts here I realize its going to be a long process but I’m ready for a good fight! once I sink my teeth into something look out!

Kyle says:

Good luck Rob. Thanks for sharing your story for everyone else to learn from. Hopefully someone here can give you a hand.

Randoms says:

I have been with my investor for several years now, my portfolio with them have been generally sitting at between 5 to 9 percent growth for the past couple of years. I am moderate conservative so I am have about an 35 65 allocation majority in fixed income. The years at ig my portfolio returns are beating market standard of around 5-6 percent.
If you are saying simply I don’t provide numbers that I am ignorant of their mer, well I don’t care if their mer 2 or 3 percent, if I had to put my time into doing everything myself I really don’t think u can always get a 5 percent gain anyways
I feel the trade off is acceptable, I am making money, I am saving time to spend else where why is this wrong? If you got all the time to do your own investments great, again not everyone shares your luxury.
On your comments if providing a fair point if view, yes you have ig employees speaking, sure but seriously read all the previous posts, pick out those who actually explain it’s perspective and those who are complaining. Can you honestly say people are getting a fair balanced approach to both sides? Also really doubt people share the same enthusiasm as sharing with others their good experience as with complaints. Personally I hear way more complaints these days than people actually saying they are grateful.
My point of view is whether it’s ig or manulife or banks or anywhere else, so what they charge high mer, I am pretty sure the bottom line for people are making money, spending less time to do it, and knowing they well prepared for retirement, I could careless about their fees. They can charge 3% and if they make me 8% gain so what? I’d rather take that 5% with only 5-10 hrs put into it a year than 5% do it myself and invest hundreds upon hundreds of hours to manage everything myself. Am I wrong?

Kyle says:

I guess you can make the argument that you are not technically “wrong” in an absolute sense Random. There is a degree of truth to the idea that you are aware you’re paying fees and you are satisfied with the product/service you’re getting in return. I’m making the argument though that I think it’s a really really bad trade for most people. Have you ever calculated what you’ve actually paid in fees? Statistically most Canadians have no idea on real numbers because 2.5% “looks small”. If you look at the sacrificed returns identified in previous comments you might gain a bit of perspective. Would a fee-only product not make much more sense and be much more transparent? If you’re a moderately conservative investor your returns should have been much higher over the past two years to be honest (The 3yr average annual return on the S&P 500 is nearly 17%). Your hesitation to really examine the MER numbers worries me from a consumer perspective. I’m not sure what evidence or theories you’re pointing to when you state things like, ” I really don

Standard IG Modus Operandi says:

So what do you propose for the people who apparently aren’t aware of how much 2-3% MERs represent? Don’t pretty much all mutual funds have a management expense tied to them? Is there a way to buy mutual funds without paying an MER, or buy stocks without having to pay a brokerage fee? If people are comfortable sacrificing 2-3% gains to have a professional manage the funds, when they could be banking those gains fees please share with all the secret of the goose who laid the golden fee-free egg.

Kyle says:

No problem Standard. There is no solid gold goose or egg – well there are – you simple do a little reading on what index funds are. But I realize that isn’t a real solution for people. So instead I recommend paying a fee-only planners – someone who is extremely transparent with what they are offering, and interested in providing a long term plan and then doing simple maintenance. They have no financial incentive to move you into one investment over another – which is huge when you think about it. IF you want to eliminate MER fees while getting easy diversification check out our free eBook on ETFs. The fees on my portfolio now average .08%.

Randoms says:

When I leave my finances with my planner my results are much better when I did it myself. Besides I see the end numbers I could really careless if he charges more fees.
Not sure what’s the issue, when I do everything myself management fees are basically the cost of my time. With my limited knowledge if I get lucky great but again I have no luck. With a planner I’d rather pay him the fees which I don’t even see, the end investments earn me more money than I am paying him and I get my time back. Sounds like a good trade.
But that’s my feeling. If you feel otherwise I am not going to persuade you otherwise.
All I want to say is I had great success with my planner, wanted to give the other side of the argument considering this post is on saving Generation Y, how are you gona save them when you aren’t providing them sufficient information and biased misinformation?

Kyle says:

I actually had to laugh at the sufficient information part. We back up everything on here with solid math and then published over 300 comments from all comers – some of which were even IG employees! If that is sufficient information I don’t know what is.

Your trade off is merely an opinion that you don’t back up with facts. You more or less admit you have no idea of the dollar figure you are paying your figure (“I don’t even see”). How is that relevant information at all?

Randoms says:

All I am saying is that I have great experience with my advisor. Not saying I am forcing you to get one. Is that wrong, I can’t have a good advisor because I have to be like most people here? That’s some closed minded thinking.

Kyle says:

Nope, not at all Randoms. I’m saying that if you’re not open to the idea that you advisor is taking quite a chunk out of your returns then it is you who are closing yourself off to a wealth of possibilities er… the possibility of wealth?

Randoms says:

I am loving these arguments.
IG is a financial planning company, they make their money off of their plans and their customer service they provide for you.
Banks are banks, they give you advice and provides you with products but they don’t plan for you.
With all institutions no one is guaranteed to be winning all the time. If You lost money with IG due to their investment decisions, it’s not guaranteed you could have done better with a bank.
People have the do it your self mentality, sure we are all egotists we all think we are capable of doing things with our vast and comprehensive knowledge in the field right? In reality I really doubt we all have enough time to grasp the intricate details, for the average person it actually reduces your risk of losing money if you have a planner who can at least give you some advice. Saw the ipsos Reid study.
Also people complain about fees at these institutions. First you really think banks don’t have these fees? Brokers don’t charge you these fees? They all do, but the money you pay should provide you with the service you get. How many times had TD or RBC called you as a client asking for your goals in life and what are you saving up for? Do they tell you how much you are paying them?
Love some people feeling so self righteous and expecting good customer service at the cost of nothing. There is no such thing as a free lunch. If you don’t want fees do it yourself.
I know it’s your hard earned money, and when you see the stocks you got are going down, it can rip a hole in your heart; but know this. We are Canadians, we buy high and sell low. That’s why a majority of us aren’t making money on stocks and that’s why we are here complaining. After working with my advisor he told me to keep an eye on the end goal and who cares if the stocks are down? Put more money in, good time for rrsp contribution. The economy is going to end positive in the long run, this way I will buy low and sell high.
Sure if you are a genius and can cut risk and have great returns, by all means ignore these planning firms. Also send me your number I would love to have you invest for me, I’ll gladly pay you as long as you can make money for me. But I really doubt anyone out there fits they category. Sure you can get lucky, but how many of us has that kind of luck?
Not saying all these firms are meant for you, you are all people who should be able to make rational decisions (or at least I hope you are ). You should choose what’s right for you what’s not, my advisor told me all the risks I could face with him and without, I decide if I work with him or not. I am assuming those who worked with advisors shares a similar experience, and no one had a gun pointed at their head saying they had to do this and that.
Just finding all this shifting of fault for our own ignorance unfair.

Kyle says:

So you’re telling me you have one of the magical advisers that actually chooses funds/products that beat their benchmarks? Statistically very doubtful!

ron robinson says:

We have been with IG for 12 years and my portfolio started with about 1 million dollars. During the 9/11 disaster we lost about 400,000 and then after 2008, after making it back up to 750 000 we dropped to 350 000 During these times we were supposed to be living off the funds and so withdrew approx. 50-60000 per year. We now stand at 400000. Is this typical of the mutual fund history of clients.

Kyle says:

As much as I’m not a fan of IG mutual funds, that’s a more a product of the overall market than the specific fund. Isn’t that a pretty aggressive drawdown rate?

Matt says:

That’s a product of two things. First, the worst possible time someone could possibly enter into the market. Entered into at the height. Additionally, 9/11 was in 2001, so that was 13 years ago, not 12. If the money was invested before then, could be talking closer to 14.

So, doing the math (using 12 years), withdrawing $50 to $60K a year, that’s $600K to $700K withdrawn. At worst, that’s breaking even. AT best, a modest gain. If they have in fact been withdrawing for 13 years, closer to $50K to $150K gains.

That certainly isn’t a good return. But again, market timing is certainly at play there as well. Hard to tell just how much without specifics.

DIY Guy says:


I feel your pain, maybe not on the same level but I definitely understand how you feel. The mutual fund sales pitch is purchase for long term, keep buying on a dollar cost average and understand your risk tolerance.

However many important factors are never highlighted, mentioned or disclosed by the sales representative. IMO most MF reps are just clueless about how markets really work and will sell you whatever big blue is pushing. Others are basically selling you an MER and hope you never find out. A very small portion of MF holders do well, at least from my own experience and what I’ve seen in my 25 years of investing.

So these ignored factors have tough me alot about eliminating the real market risks. Its funny, every “advisor” will go through a lengthy explanation on how to avoid risk but then recommends to clients 80% equities?!? On top of that, 100% of the client portfolio is exposed to markets offering hardly any protection or cash to buy dips. The MER fee is a killer long term, especially with 1 million dollars, that is $25,000 per year @ 2.5% MER.

In 2004 my advisor had put me in a US large cap mutual fund when the US/CAN exchange rate was $1.40 Unbelievable… the fund needed to perform 43% for me to only break even! Needless to say that I lost big time on that as well. Too many stories like these unfortunately but we live and learn right?

Good luck

Standard IG Modus Operandi says:

Holy crap! For a high net wroth client they did not take care of you at all. I am soon coming to the end of my 7 year period with IG and will be glad to go. Best thing I did was stop monthly contributions to IG. As long as you are making them then your 7 year period keeps going on and on. About 40% of my RRSP investments are with IG and the rest with TD Waterhouse. I will transfer my IG holdings in kind to TDW once I am free and clear of the 7 yr period and can escape the greedy clutches of IG without penalty. TDW has plenty of no load funds plus you can set up your own portfolio watch online. You can also set stop loss triggers which is what you should have done with your $1M at IG. Sorry you got burned by the crooks at IG but you are not alone.

zig says:

If you have 500K (or at least close) try TD Wealth (Private Investment Advice). This is NOT your typical branch level advisor – these people have good credentials and are a totally separate part of TD Bank.
I went there after leaving IG and I’m finally making money! I too am drawing a fair chunk out of my portfolio annually (40-50K) but my balance is actually increasing (while currently parking 19% in cash). Bear in mind this is not a `get rich quick` deal – just solid investing.
No mutual funds, NO DSCs, no pushy salesmen. You have access to investment vehicles that places like IG or any bank advisor could not offer you. Take managed portfolios (sometimes called `mandates`)for example, which give you access to some of the top money managers around. You will have all of the individual stocks, bonds, REITs, etc. in your account as based on the current model portfolio associated with the mandate. Total transparency and at a much more reasonable fee than any managed mutual fund. You can also negotiate fees with your advisor.
Another example of how these guys are different from IG – if your (TD Wealth) advisor thinks `now` is not the right time to get into an investment, take additional equities for example, the he will tell you so and keep that money aside, deferring any commissions he would have otherwise made.
BTW – I am not associated with TD Bank or TD Wealth in any way – just a happy customer.

Matt says:

No offense, you may be a happy customer, but you’re a clueless one. You are the perfect example of why people need to start doing some research on their own, and know what you’re getting into, even if you’re using an advisor.

“Managed Portfolios” is just another word for asset allocation type programs. You’ve just bought yourself into a whole group of mutual funds. And you’re MERs, fees, etc, are no different.

Go to google, type in TD Managed Portfolios, and you’ll find out in about 30 seconds that it’s comprised of mutual funds. Just about every brokerage, and many mutual fund companies, including IG, offer them, with various different labels.

Kevin says:

I was with IG as an investor from 2001 to 2010, then I decided to pull everything out and become a full DIY investor using TD Waterhouse as my on-line broker.

I can tell you that the few years I have been DIY, the experience has been rewarding and comforting. My portfolio bloomed once it had escaped from the oppressively high MERs charged by IG. I have beaten the TSX composite ever since I left IG, something I could never have even dreamed of while in their clutches.

Looking back on my whole IG experience, I am horrified at the “advice” that I was given and the products I was sold. There was never a basic discussion about asset allocation; I was told to stay away from bonds (during the greatest 10 year bond market in recent history); and I was made to pay $300 to buy or sell a single stock in the portion of the account that I ran myself.

Once I explained to my advisor that it was time for me to leave, he agreed that I didn’t need any help choosing investments.. in fact my portion of the portfolio was easily outperforming his choices. What then followed was a 4 month horror story where I had to end up making daily phone calls to IG head office to get them to GIVE ME MY MONEY and complete the transfer of the funds ( in cash, which is easiest) to my shiny new TD Waterhouse account. They do not like to give up accounts that run into the high 6 figures, as these are rare, and the MER profit they make on them is significant.

Finally, with the cash in hand, I planned my asset allocation and invested in a handful of CDN market tracking ETFs, some individual blue-chip dividend paying stocks, and bond ETFs. I only need to spend about an hour a week to manage the portfolio, and I do a monthly performance report and make adjustments to balance assets and geographical exposure depending on the market conditions.

The bottom line is that managing your own portfolio is not rocket science, though IG and others in the investment industry would have you believe otherwise. If my job depended on you believing this, I suppose I would act the way they do.

I realize that 95% of the people out there have no interest or inclination to manage their own investments. My advice to them is at least get educated on what you are paying to have this done by someone else.

Kyle says:

$300 to buy a single stock?!!!! That’s insane. Incredible story. Thanks for sharing. I agree – managing your own portfolio is not rocket science. If you have a minute Kevin, I wouldn’t mind getting your opinion on the free ebook we offer here on the site.

Dave says:

Hi I work with investors group first no matter where you go there is an mer fee second at investors group they do the full plan insurance mortgages investments full plan up to the age of 99 and beyond they help with my estate planning and also with my personal goals I’m confused as to the bad experience that you had they have made me a lot of money good luck

Kyle says:

Dave, if you use ETFs there is no MER. Again, it comes down to value for sacrificed investment earnings.

Jane says:

I am very familiar with investors group and very confident in the company. From the sounds Of it you had a bad experience with the consultant not the company. A few years back no company or mutual fund was out of line with what the markets were doing from what I seen. And it is a known rule that a consultant would have to explain MERs and pay structure. I have an excellent advisor who discloses everything and has done some really great things for me. Like advising me to get a will and holding me accountable :-). Encouraging me to wait and the markets would come back because never in history have they not. (And they did and then some. He talked me out of dealing with my money with emotion and think intellectually about it. E/Q .. I/Q I think is what he called it). And MERs have to exist because i dont expect him to do all the work for free and every fund in royal bank, cibc, bmo …… EVERY SINGLE mutual fund has an MER. The thing i like about investors group is that they have no closing out fees and many of the extra fees that are charged by other institutions as well as banks. But brokers i hve found can be the worst if they are not a reputable Company. and they offer so much more then any bank because they are liscenced different. Oh and did i add they gave me an awesome interest rate on my mortgage and made it possible to pay my mortgage off 3 years early. So I think when people complain about a company quite often your actually complaining about the consultant. There are bad apples in every company and I think it’s our responsibility to do our homework. Every person in IG is self employed. As far as I am concerned. If it indeed the situation you say is as true as you say then you have the right to hold him accountable through the MFDA. So instead of hurting the company and painting a bad picture of them. Maybe hold the consultant liable.

Also. He was right about te eggs in one basket. Honestly??? Do you believe that IG buys anything different than RBC OR BMO OR …… ??? Think about it. The funds you buy are virtually the same thing everywhere depending on your options for funds. In order for a fund to collapse there would have to be 50 +\- depending on what type of fund you buy a portfolio fund or an individual fund. All the banks would have to collapse. There would have to be an Armageddon and all stores not operating and economic breakdown. Also. You are not buying IG. you are buying things like Costco, WalMart, Epcor, Bell….. Depending on focus of fund. The list is enormous. And we’re you aware that if you use a consultant in IG to work with your money you can never own IG shares. Also if you deal with RBC you cannot own RBC….. Get the picture!! See! All things I learned from my IG consultant!!!!!!

DIY Guy says:

Please honestly… which of the following experiences would you chose or avoid??

My experience at IG from 2000 to 2008

– initial investment of $50,000 + average $10,000/year in RRSP contributions ($130,000 total)
– average mutual fund MER 2.8% paid annually over 8 years
– return of $10,000 after 8 years of IG planning…
– DSC penalty paid $2500 upon departure
– total profit $7500 or 5.75% for 8 years of investing

My experience at RBC from 2009 to 2010

– initial investment of $137,500 + $20,000/year in RRSP-TFSA contributions ($177,500)
– average mutual funds MER 1.75% paid annually over 2 years
– return of $20,000 after 2 years of RBC planning.
– DSC penatly paid $0 (zero) opon departure
– total profit $20,000 or 12% for 2 years of investing

My current DIY low cost self directed account from 2011 to present

– initial investment of $199,000 + $59,000 in additional RRSP-TFSA contributions
– Stocks only – average cost currently at 0.45% of total portfolio
– return to date and total profit of $72,000 or 28% after 2.5 years of DIY investing
– no mutual funds and no ETF’s.
– Buy on dips and corrections, blue chip dividend stocks, momentum plays on commodities and currencies, take profits accordingly… stay disciplined.

I’m a 41 years old self employed man. I spend about 12 hours per week working on my investment strategies. Of course its not easy, I have lost some but obviously my gains have outweighed my losses and thankful. I am cash poor (savings first) and live in a modest home with a small mortgage. To be noted – I had spent 2 years (2009-2010) while an RBC client to study the financial markets. I virtually traded stocks on Google finance to get my feet wet and never looked back. Most people I speak to always say “I don’t have time…” to each his own oh and guess what? An mutual fund salesman has all the time in the world.

Due your diligence regardless of who and how you invest your hard earned dollars. Just remember this; regretting your investment choices upon retirement age will be much too late.
Good luck folks

Standard IG Modus Operandi says:

Well after many battles with my “Certified Advisor” I was able to move a bunch of my Allegro holdings last week into other IG funds but I had to stick to the A Series funds. I hate all their damn restrictions, but as I am not making any new contributions, at least this transaction does not automatically restart a new 7 year period.

My expert advisor now wanted to put me in into funds whose recent Daily Closing price was almost double that of what my Allegro portfolios were. Stellar advice!!! Not only had I already lost money with those Allegro dogs, but now she wants me to have a fire sale and get half the units because her new picks were double the unit price.

I did my own research and listened to what most economists were saying. That being that the CDN economy will slow down this year while the US will grow so I diversified between funds with funds with strong blue chip companies and good dividend earnings.

Some of her responses defied belief: “You are the only client that I have ever had who has gone to these lengths to compare investments and dissect my recommendations” Are you kidding me? Not only are your recommendations what put me in the whole, but you’ve also done nothing to help me recover when there are many funds at IG that have recovered and grown 20-30% in the last 3 years while I’ve been missing the boat.
“For most of our clients, the 7 year time horizon is not a problem”. Really?? She should read this blog for a dose of reality.

I am already over $1000 ahead of my position when I switched funds last week. Had I stayed with the Allegro garbage, I doubt if I’d be up even $100 more. Now I’m not an advisor so do your own research if you are making your own picks, but if anyone is interested here’s how I spread my holdings out over the following:
10% IG FI Canadian Equity A #348
10% Investors Dividend Fund A #283
12% IG Beutel Goodman Canadian Balanced Fund A #320

13% Investors U.S. Dividend Growth A #575
15% IG FI US Large Cap Equity Fund A #787
15% Investors Core U.S. Equity A #836

7% Investors Euro Mid-Cap Equity A #343
8% Investors Global Financial Services A #358
10% Investors Global Dividend A #521

I know there may be some “certified advisors” who may jump all over this and slam me for giving advice but f*** ’em… If my certified advisor wants to pay me back all the money she lost plus any gains that I’ve missed, then I’ll retract that statement. Caveat – Again I am not an advisor, I am just sharing.

Matt says:

Whoa. The share price of a mutual fund, or any stock, isn’t really very relevant on it’s own. To put it in perspective, if there are two apples, you can buy a part of one apple for 2 dollars, and another for 1 dollar. But the part that you’re buying for 2 dollars might be half the apple, while the one for one dollar is split between 50 people. Which would you rather? It’s the same with stocks, and in a sense, mutual funds. A cheaper share price really means nothing, especially with a mutual fund. The performance (by %), is how you should be comparing mutual funds.

Susanne says:

Hi Matt,

Can you clarify something for me. If the statements says the funds were reinvested, was a commission paid again?


Matt says:

“Reinvested”? I would need more context than that. A dividend reinvestment? What exactly does it say?

Tanya says:

I am a mutual funds advisor (not with IG) and yes, all mutual funds have fees and no, there is not one advisor who does not receive something from those fees.

But think of it this way -when you go to buy a sweater at H&M, or Walmart, do you go to the cashier and ask them how much THEY get paid from what’s reflected on the price tag? No. But you’re ok to pay the taxes willingly to buy that sweater.

The MERs are much the same. There are three different sales charges :
Deferred Sales Charge (DSC-which is back-end and yes you are on the hook for 7 years)
Low Load Sales Charge (LL which is also a back end but you are on the hook for 3 years roughly)
Front End Load (FE and it is usually a percentage anywhere from 0% to 5%)

If the rep sells you a mutual fund on either a DSC, LL, or FE at any percentage above 0, the fund company will pay him or her a commission which is an advance. To recoup that commission, the FUND COMPANY will charge an Management Expense Ratio (which would include trading fees) that can range anywhere from 0.7% up to 5%.

Now back to DSC or LL – if you purchase on any of those schedules, it is deemed that you had advised you do NOT need to withdraw from the fund (ie: require money from it) either within 7 years or 4 years.

IF you DO withdraw within the 7 or 3 years, yes there will be a percentage deducted from the funds you withdrew. Every year, that percentage decreases, so after the 7th year, no fees to withdraw from a DSC and after the 3rd year no fees to withdraw from a LL.

If you purchased on a Front End schedule (anything other than0%) then the sales charge is deducted off what you put in at the beginning and you will NOT have a fee to pay at redemption.

I (as a financial advisor) try to look for mutual funds with lower MERs (range from 0.77% to no more than 2.5%). The way i see it, the lower the risk of the fund, then the MERs should be lower as well. As they get higher, then the management of the fund is more in depth and I am therefore ok with the 2.5%.

So it’s not just Investor’s Group – RBC, BMO, CIBC, anyone and everyone all charge the same fees and MERs – it is up to the REP to choose the best fund and lowest costs for the client.

PS – I used to work in mutual fund Compliance, this is why I choose the lower MERs.

Teacher Man says:

Thank you for acknowledging your place in the industry right up front Tanya.

Here is why your Wal-Mart analogy is completely wrong – the cost of the cashier has already been included in the price you pay for the sweater. This is the same right across the sweater industry. This allows consumers to easily decide what sweaters offer the best value for their dollar. This is the polar opposite of the commissions structure. I have no idea where you’re going with the taxes which makes no sense at all in the analogy and introducing taxes to the argument certainly doesn’t help any case for mutual funds.

There is no data that shows your correlation between higher MERs and “more in depth” management. It simply doesn’t exist. There is no data that says paying more in MER fees will give you access to better fund managers (See my above comments for more details).

I do agree it’s an industry-wide problem (as I’ve stated multiple times), but your weird analogies and false logic are the very types of arguments that are destroying the retirement nest eggs of Canadians everywhere.

Standard IG Modus Operandi says:

WOW! is there an echo in here?

“Anyway, he was telling me about their

zig says:

I also believe the Investors Group mutual funds are truly junk, not just because of their dismal performance numbers, but also because of the way they are sold (DSC with minimum 7 year hold), and with the excessively high MERs taking most or all of the profits, there is nothing left for investors (victims). I have looked at some scenarios involving the

Scott says:

Investors Group DSC schedule runs out in 7 years and the 5.5% penalty only applies to withdrawals within the first 2 years (which is explained to client).

The Allegro Moderate Portfolio A has an MER of 2.57%. I’d like to see your math and how you turn that into a 30% or more cost in 7 years.

zig says:

Here you go Scott,

Check out Investors group’s own published returns (I’m sure you prefer these) at


The Allegro Moderate Portfolio-A fund had average annual return of 0.77% over the last 5 yrs while the index they are benchmarking against returned 5.03% over the same period. Now if you do the math you should see what I’m talking about…

Richard says:

I’m so surprised at all the negative Comments. and Saddened.

Yes I work for IG, and no, I’m not a crook in a suit. If any of my clients experienced anything close to what some of you have then I could not sleep at night. I have a family and a conscience and a moral compass & ethical beliefs.

Yes all our Funds have Management fees which come off the top and performance is quoted net of fees, so if a fund is making 4% then 4% is what you’ll get. The MER or Management fees are taken out already, and yes they pay me and my collegues a trailing commission.
Much like any other Mutual Fund company out there so don’t panic, it’s normal practice.

Sometimes though you get what you pay for, sometimes, higher fees means better management, so don’t forget that before you pound all your money into low fee ETF’s or e-Series stuff at the bank. This money is not managed. Nobody’s watching it so you do get what you pay for (In fact if nobody’s looking at the fund I think you’re paying for nothing right?)

So No-Load Vs DSC. Big issue, I know, and if your consultant didn’t discuss DSC fees with you then yes I’d say you’ve been badly served and have a right to complain. I know in a lot of cases the discussion was had but forgotten when it came time to withdraw money. Personally I have the discussion and let the client choose and then have them sign a piece of paper stating whether it’s no load or DSC.

If you lookup Investors Group on the Better Business Bureau, you’ll see that for the whole country we only have a handful of complaints lodged in the last 3 years, with over a million clients being served that’s pretty good in my opinion. Take a look at your Mom & Pop Plumber down the road (if they’re even registered) and you’ll see a lot more complaints.

Any-hoo, no organisation is perfect and no one person is either. I always say to a prospect that it’s not who your advisor works for, it’s whether they work for you that counts.
I know firms like Primerica and Edward Jones get ripped on a lot and it’s hard to defend them with the poor training and support they receive but there are good advisors at those firms too, I’ve met them, you just may not be lucky enough to find them & get stuck with some newbie.

Conversly I’ve heard some real horror stories from client leaving Banks and the utterly poor service and woeful advice they received there so it’s the same in every financial firm.

Bottom Line folks is find someone you trust, ask all the right questions. If you think you’re being deceived then get it in writing and at least if you’re right then you’ve got something to take to court.

Sorry again for all the bad experiences listed. I wish you were all my clients and you wouldn’t be on here posting these horror stories. I wish you all the best.

Teacher Man says:

Richard, I appreciate the fact that you are a “good adviser” and are more upfront with your clients in regards to fees. I do have to correct one statement however, you said, “Sometimes though you get what you pay for, sometimes, higher fees means better management, so don

zig_screwed_too says:


You are correct about the absence of IG complaints on the BBB website…you are wrong in assuming this means that IG is keeping clients happy. I personally received HORRIBLE treatment at IG; from my former ‘consultant’, from his boss, and from their utterly useless compliance dept. So why don’t I have a complaint on the BBB site? Well, I sent them a lengthy complaint with all of the details of how I was ripped off and they directed me instead to the MFDA and the OBSI, saying that complaints of this nature do not fall within the mandate of the BBB. So I guess the lesson to be learned here is never ASSUME (you know what happens)…
BTW – MFDA investigated and found that my former ‘consultant’ (salesman) had violated securities regulations and ethical codes of conduct; he is being disciplined. OBSI is currently investigating.

Also, I did NOT get what I paid for. If I had gone with my own judgement, instead of giving in to an aggressive and incompetent salesman who had the nerve to call himself ‘professional’, I would be worth at least $80,000 more today.

Richard says:


I really hope your labor of frustration bears fruit soon and that you’ll share the outcome with all who read these posts.

I personally couldn’t sleep at night or look my kids in the eye if I treated someone like this, but then i know there are ‘advisors’ (aka salesmen) out there (in all institutions as Teacher keeps reminding us) that will sleep like babies on their big whacks of commission cash.

But that’s not me nor is it all of us, heck teacher, do you have an article on Realtors yet? lol now there’s a nice gig if you can get it 🙂

Take care & best of luck

FYI (I said ‘sometimes’ you get what you pay for, not always, i know, i’ve been burned before too)

@ Teacher, I can’t find those studies you mentioned on the Correlation between MER’s & Performance. Have you posted them here or could you re-post please?

Teacher Man says:

Hey Richard,

Haha, interesting that you mention an article on Realtors. We definitely have one, and it’s probably the most controversial on our site after this one. Realtors seem to believe we’re picking on them too!

As far as the studies I’ve mentioned, I can’t remember their sources off the top of my head (which I know sounds suspect) but here is a fairly in-depth study by a great Canadian blogger. Here is another solid study on the phenomenon. It makes sense if you think that most mutual fund managers are either closet indexers, or are simply on a run of good luck and will revert to the mean eventually anyway right?


Scammed by IG says:

I complained to BBB about Investors Group and all they did was refer me to the Office of Superintendent of Insurance. My advisor refused to return my calls about transferring to Qtrade. IG wouldn’t let me transfer in kind and charged me $1200!

Richard says:

Sounds like you withdrew DSC’d money which carries a withdrawal fee which is quite obvious in any literature you were posted but probably never read.(Have a look and you’ll see the letters DSC next to your old fund names and in the pamphlets you’ll find a section on fees.)

Your consultant should have told you about the fees, both when you invested and also when you withdrew.

Now this is the same in any institution, it’s your advisor, not the company that’s to blame. You can get a template from most institutions on claiming back “ill-gotten” DSC funds, but be warned, if your consultant has proof they talked to you about it and you just don’t remember then you’re at fault.

If you’re sure the fees are all new news to you then go to http://www.investorsgroup.com/en/1387.aspx
and lodge a proper complaint saying you were never informed of the DSC fees at any stage and they’ll give you your money back (probably)

They’re more interested in helping people than ripping them off, unfortunately the same can’t be said for all the advisors out there, some of whom just aren’t doing a good job.

Best of luck, again, if you were truely wronged I hope you get it righted

zig says:

Hi Scammed,

This forum is a little like a country music song…there’s always someone hurt’n more, and this is unfortunately the case if you are one of the unlucky ones who’ve dealt with IG or any other crooks like them.

They charged me (DSC penalties) in excess of $30,000 to transfer to a reputable (I hope) institution, TD Waterhouse. I was at IG for less than 2 years and never made a cent; they actually lost about $25,000 for me through their incompetence and greed. Nobody at IG returned my calls or emails either, and when I did manage to get the boss of my former ‘consultant’ on the phone, he was rude and lied to me, and it just turned real ugly. I have never been angrier in my entire life and the end result is that I no longer trust anyone.

Not sure what the “Office of Superintendent of Insurance” is but if you want to complain about IG, you need to contact the MFDA (Mutual Fund Dealers Association) and after they have completed their investigation you can forward your complaint to the Ombudsman’s office (OBSI). The OBSI can actually recommend compensation for damages by IG, whereas the MFDA can only reprimand your IG salesman. The one thing you should know up front is that MFDA will make you go through IG’s ‘compliance’ dept., which is a total joke, but at least after 3 months you can proceed with the others who are not biased.

Teacher Man says:

“Like a country music song” hilarious!

zig says:


I feel obligated to point out that you are incorrect about some items in your posting:

1) It is not ‘obvious’ in the literature…unless you think putting the relevent information in the middle of a book of mis-numbered pages is obvious. And by the way, it doesn’t help getting the literature AFTER you’ve invested and therefore have already been scammed.
2) They will probably NOT give back your DSC penalty money – I KNOW – I’ve been through this! Try MFDA and OBSI, or a good lawyer if there is enough $$ at stake.
3) I wish they (IG) were “more interested in helping people than ripping them off” but this, again from experience, is simply untrue. I was ripped off rather severely by my IG ‘advisor’. The MFDA found him in violation of securities rules and ethical codes of conduct and have taken disciplinary measures against him (RC – Niagara office). All the while, IG compliance insisted he did nothing wrong…Huh?

The following is simply MY idea of how the IG machine runs, and may not reflect reality (legal disclaimer):

IG relies on huge amounts of new money coming in (from new clients) to keep their little empire running. They do this by employing a very aggressive sales force and constantly hiring new salesman to keep up with the high turnover. Once a salesman has exhausted his own social network of relatives and friends, new clients become harder to find. He may have to turn to selling used cars or something alse.
Clients usually discover soon after investing that they have been screwed, but the client turnover is not as high as one might expect. Why?
Because all of the clients are conned into ‘investing’ their hard-earned money in DSC funds and the heavy, slowly decreasing penalty structure scares most into sticking around for a while. I must admit, that part was rather ingenious (in a devious and unethical way). This creates a nice, safe ‘buffer zone’ between money in -> money out, and is something that traditional ponzi schemes could have benefitted from.

IG also makes huge profits by charging some of the highest MER’s in Canada. Have you ever wondered why most IG mutual funds are at the bottom of the heap when it comes to performance? Well, good mutual fund managers cost a lot of $$, so if you hire underperforming managers you don’t have to pay them as much, and of course IG gets richer.

There is also the additional revenue from selling life insurance (at a premium rate), and the various leveraging schemes that IG has conducted in the past.

I see them as the Bernie Madoff of the north.

Geezer says:

I retired as an IG rep with 26 years of service to my clients. You can avoid sales commissions with IG but you cannot avoid fees, albiet hidden to most who don’t educate themselves as to how to determine what they are ( Prospectus, IG website, asking etc. ). If it is to be a successful undertaking there will definitely be costs and advice and service is not free. If you want to do this yourself and think IG is making a killing then get a broker to buy their stock. In the past three years IGI has gone above and below it’s current share value and hasn ‘t made gains other than re-invest dividends. On the other hand, most of my retirement savings is in IG Dividend Fund which has returned over 7% as a three year average in IDF A, B, and C funds – after the management expenses have been taken. If you think there is a free lunch out there you are wasting your time.

Teacher Man says:

Nothing’s free, but why go to a high-priced restaurant that serves worse food than Mcdonalds?

Ian Gledhill says:

I think you are all a brotherhood of money thirsty pigs. My sister invesred some money with your rag tag operation and got burned before I got wind of it. Can’t wait to sick a lawyer on you assholes. Go out and get jobs rather than trying to rob the elderly. Hope all of you skags end up with the Earl Jonses and Bernie Madoffs.

zig_screwed_too says:


I feel your pain and totally agree with you. I was initially ripped off (by IG) for about $50,000. Disgusted and angry as hell, I initiated transfer of all of my remaining money to a major bank.
Even before I started the transfer, I filed a lengthy complaint with the MFDA and after about 6 months of investigation they concluded that my former IG ‘consultant’ (RC – Niagara office) had violated MFDA rules and ethical codes of conduct. They slapped him with ‘disciplinary measures’ and his name is now flagged for the forseeable future.
It looks like this really pissed off their management. They slapped me with about $30,000 in DSC penalties on redemption and managed to ‘misplace’ $300,000 of my hard-earned life savings…More than 10 weeks have passed and they are still keeping my $300,000! I should mention here that they zeroed out my IG accounts 2 months before!! They have ,in essence, stolen my money.
The people at my bank say they have never seen anything like this done before. I have been in communication with the Police (fraud unit) and will be paying them another visit if my money doesn’t arrive by tomorrow evening.
The OBSI have also started an investigation of IG on my behalf. I will pursue a lawsuit after OBSI complete their investigation and I am making plans to have my case aired on TV.
I hope this might supply you with some ideas.
BTW – IG compliance is a complete waste of time but is a necessary step before going to MFDA or OBSI.
Please let me know if are planning a protest or class action suit.

Good luck and fight the good fight!

Nasir says:

I am tax preparer, I always advise my clients to inquire about fees before opening account with any financial organization. Also suggest to park the funds in Cash or GIC’s ( I dont sell any GIC’s or any investments). The tax benefit alone is more than what the investment will bring with the added risk.

The author has posted an original experience. lot of new clients who lost with IG now realize that cash parking with a self directed no fee account would have given a better result.

Scott says:

For what purpose are these clients saving the money? I honestly hope you are not advising clients to park money in cash or GICs that they are going to use for retirement (perhaps decades down the road). If they are going to use the money in the short to mid-term, absolutely cash or GICs has a purpose, but to advise someone to put long-term money (10+ years) in cash or GICs is a losing proposition once inflation is accounted for.

Do your clients understand why they lost money with IG? If they talking about losses resulting from the crash in 2008, they likely would have lost money no matter where they had money (assuming it was in equities). Even broad index based ETFs lost money in 2008, so it’s disingenuous to blame IG (or any institution) for those losses.

Teacher Man says:

Hey, we agree on something else Scott! This is absolutely true to anyone reading. ETFs would have likely lost just as much as most mutual funds that year. The large MER fee on top of the market crash probably stung extra hard that year though I bet eh?

Chris says:

If I may make one last comment, I would like to try a slightly different approach. First of all, thank you for publishing my comments, as I know you could have just have easily moderated them and not had to reply at all.

Second, I have to apologize for criticizing the “business” aspect of your website, because I do believe that your interest here is much more than that, and your website is full of great information. What you make off of your website is completely irrelevant to this conversation, but here is why I brought it up;

You “rip into” advisors quite often, for the way they get paid and the lack of advise that they give, and I will 100% agree with you that in a lot of the case that is true. But, that does not mean we are all bad, or that we all make a killing off the backs of others. In fact, for the ammount of work I put into each client, I make very little, because I always do what is right for them, even if that means reccomending a product I don’t get paid on, or in a few cases, reccomending my services are not the best fit for them. I hope that you can at least appreciate where my frusturation comes from?

Fee based consulting, yes I agree that the compensation structure for commission based advisors is not transparent enough in the least. Here is the problem, not a lot of people are willing to pay for advice, when they think there is a better alternative elsewhere (Commission based, bank) because they dont understand how the compensation is built in. I have to say there are arguments for both fee based, salary based, and commission based… but to save an argument, I wont get into that. You say the compensation for commission based is misleading, and I agree. I would love to go fee based, I would probably make a lot more money in fact, if I only thought it would work for my practice. The truth is, people will run from $150 an hour, even if there really paying more in an MER. I realize im talking in circles a bit here, but hopefully what I’m saying is clear? Do away with commission based, then yes it would make sense.

Yes I can pull articles that support my points as well, but I think we have both stated our positions, and though we disagree on some things, I don’t think it would be any benefit to continue the debate. I understand your position, and in many ways agree with you, I only wanted to point out that there are always two sides to a story, and that much of the horror stories, one way or another, that people read online are not the “whole” truth.

Why is it that we don’t have a basic course in school for basic financial literacy? This is something I ask myself every day. My own chosen occupation aside, because what I do wouldn’t be nearly as valuable, but most of what we do and try to get people to understand every day could have easily been learned by someone in 1 semester at school. If there is one thing I am behind you on, it is that…

@David –

It sounds like you are happy with the service you are getting, and I really hope you are with someone who is looking out for your best interests. One thing though, regarding your mortgage, IG mortgages work very similar to the banks, the fee structure for getting out will be similar.


I would reccomend doing your research before making any descisions or jumping into financial planning as a proffession. From someone who has been down that road, it is a over-saturated market, and it is tough for even the best and experienced planners to start right now. If you do, you have some options, start at a bank, entry level or slightly above, learn the ropes and work your way up, it could take some time, and you will likely be doing mostly transactions and sales, not a lot of planning (until you reach fp level). You could try to find an independant or fee based consulting firm to take you on, but for someone with little or no experience, I would love to hear your story if you did ( no sarcasm intended, I actually would like to hear), or you could start somewhere like IG (just an example, commission based). I will tell you right now, most people who start in commission will not make it to there first year annaversary. Sadly, until you establish yourself enough to build on a refferal basis, the job is a lot of sales. The training is very good, and you will become competant enough fairly quickly to deal with basic investing concepts, but if your not willing to work 60 hours per week for little pay, and spend hours working on plans for clients that you may not make a cent on, this route may not be for you.
If you really want to be a financial planner, I would suggest this. Find a CFP you can work for, even if you start as an assistant, then an associate. Learn everything you can, but you will still be getting paid at the same time. When you have enough knowledge to provide confident and valuable advice to people, then doors will open for you, and you will have options.

I hope that I have wrapped up my participation here, agreed and disagreed with this particular post, but overall to thank you for the education you are trying to provide, the basic financial literacy that many Canadians lack. Just keep open to opinions to support both sides of the argument, for not every aspect of mutual funds or advisors is pure evil.

Teacher Man says:

I like the new direction your going here Chris.

I guess I can appreciate your being frustrated at being painted with the same brush that other advisers get painted with in your industry. So what it really boils down to is actually something we both agree with – financial literacy. If more people were financially literate enough to understand the various compensation models (which really should not be that hard in my opinion), then it would allow honest advisers like yourself to charge more of an open and honest premium for your services and allow for an open market where pricing was easily comparable. I’m sorry that you are handcuffed by the sticker shock of $150 per hour people going crazy. To me, a comprehensive financial game plan for most young adults is easily worth $1500-$2000, and after that, “yearly checkups” wouldn’t be nearly as much. I think that people like yourself would ultimately be more happy with this structure as well.

Here is the other great reason you should go fee-based Chris. All other things being equal, you can’t tell me that many of your clients would not be better off if you used low-cost ETFs to balance their portfolio instead of mutual funds. If you put this much effort into an internet convo I think there is a very great chance you do keep your clients’ best interests in mind, but as you stated, you still have to get paid right? If you were paid upfront, you could get their equity exposure, their bond exposure etc, for much less over the long-term. Plus, you wouldn’t have to settle for the crappy benchmark-trailing returns that most mutual funds give. The debate between indexes and mutual funds just from a structural point of view is not even a debate to me. When you look at the incentive mutual fund managers have to try and make short-term windows to get bonuses and attract more capital it encourages all kinds of weird behavior. On top of that, many of them closely mirror the broader indexes anyway, and then just charge you an arm and a leg for it.

Thank you for being honest with David and FP, perhaps you should open up your own blog? I follow a couple fee-based guys, and I’m even a fan of Ed Rempel who is a *gasp* commission-based adviser! He presents the best case for picking mutual fund managers that I’ve seen yet … still hasn’t convinced me though.

Finally, I appreciate the *bi-partisan, reaching across the isle approach* (sorry too much US election coverage). I still think that guys like you that obviously want to help people and are willing to work hard would thrive under a more transparent model, and would eventually get more of the compensation that is going to undeserving mutual fund managers right now.

Future Planner says:

Thanks for the reply David,
Indeed you are right I will not jump immediatly into financial planning with no experience whatsoever and I don’t have the credentials anyway, so I believe I do need to work in the business for a number of years before really giving any advuce to any customers. However, I really have to ask you where you got the info that the market was over-saturated. I don’t mean to pry, but in the interviews that I passed, most of the interviewers turned very interested when I mentionned that getting CFP credentials was part of my plan for the comming years, them (and I mean all the organisations I visited) stating that there is a lack of qualified CFP professionals in the workforce and most organisations are looking for them. Note I say certified planners and not the base financial adviser – which there are plenty of.

David says:

I have been with Investors Group for many years, where they separate themselves from the pack is the full holistic planning.

I know we are not getting returns of 12% like 15 years ago, we should be happy with 3%, at Investors Group this is what I am receiving, based on my risk tolerance.

There is not a firm out there that can compare to the service I receive with this company. You can have the banks and their hidden fees, why do you think they keep recording record profits every year, off of your back.

Have you ever tried to get out of a mortgage with a bank, talk about fees.

Not with Investors Group. I have my investments, mortgage and insurance with them and they are top notch.

Shame on anyone slamming them, they must work for the compatition.

Teacher Man says:

I have no idea what you are talking about with banks and hidden fees when you are paying huge MERs!!!! This is what happens when no financial literacy is taught in our schools…

If you thought there was truly no fee for breaking your mortgage you definitely should have done some more reading before you signed your mortgage contract.

Future Planner says:

As a future bachelor in financer, i am interested in a career as an advisor and later financial planner. i approached many insitutions for a job, and I liked the idea of building my own ”business” and finding my own clients that IG offered rather than have the ”here is a list of clients, now sell products” that banks seemed to go with. However, reading this blog it seems people have a fairly negative view of advisers in general and is definitely making wonder if I shouldn’t choose another career.

Teacher Man says:

Check out the Financial Post today. I think advisers are fine, just go with a fee-based compensation system so everyone understands what they are paying for.

Future Planner says:

Thanks for your reply. I just checked out moneysense.ca that gives a list of fee-only planners in canada.
I have to ask, how in the world can you actually sell those hourly fees to the common guy who wants to start investing and wants help? I mean 150$/hour is going to make me run the other way very fast. I understand in the case where you have a good enough amount to invest, and I also realize that commission based service is shady with hidden fees and especially conflict of interest the advisors and the mutual funds they work for, but for the little guy, it looks daunting. Also, isn’t the point of investing using money now to make profit later? If you pay someone now, you have less money to invest to now which again for the big leagues is fine but for the small investor seems like a turn off … I want to point out I’m not trying to defend one side or the other like some of the other posters here I just want to hear your opinions on the subject.

Teacher Man says:

Fair enough Future Planner, your response is actually a great one! If everyone could see the fees they were paying they might get a lot more motivation to do some of this stuff on their own! First of all, there is some truth to what all of these pissed off investment advisers are saying on this thread in that there is a lot of value in a professional giving you a holistic view of your financial situation. Taxes, insurance, investments, wills, and many other financial products can be confusing for people, and rather than investing their own time, it could be well worth it for them to pay for this advice. It will likely pay for itself several times over. I’m a huge advocate of the cliche, “No one cares about your money more than you do,” and consequently I recommend education yourself from a variety of sources that I have detailed all over this site.

HOWEVER! Think about the incentives a commission-based salesman has to plan your finances a certain way. Are they really going to recommend products that don’t make them any money? If they don’t (which of course they don’t, they must get paid some way) then how much is this bias advice costing you in the long run? Check out the calculation I did in response to other comments on this thread to see how many people will lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in future earnings as a result of MER fees. It is true that some of these returns are indeed sacrificed by paying $150 an hour as well, but it isn’t even close in the long run.

Think about it, what does Moneysense have to gain by recommending this to people? I’m sure mutual funds would pay them way more to pump their products right?

Justin says:

@ Future Planner – To start off a career I wouldn’t advise any job as an advisor to be honest. If you are fresh out of school, you don’t really know a whole lot to be advising anyone, unless you already have industry experience. There is a lot of pressure to build up a list of clients on your own and make sales when you first start out. For some of these places you only get compensated with whatever commission you receive on your sales as opposed to a salary. A good place to start is a similar job with a salary, or a combination of a salary and commission, that way if you don’t like it you can at least ride it out until you find something else.

Future Planner says:

Hey Justin,
Thanks for the reply. I just got a job offer that does just that – I think I’ll go with them. Build some expertise a couple of years and then switch to my own fee-based practice once I get CFP credentials and contacts in the business. It just seems like the most ethical pratice and I believe transparency is the way to go when jusifying the advice you’d be giving to anyone.

Teacher Man says:

Sounds like a great plan “planner”. Who knows, maybe I’ll be one of your first clients if I need some specific advice in a certain area like Wills! To me, that’s the real beauty of fee-based, you only have to pay for what you need.

saddened says:

Also churning is exactly as you say “Churning, when an advisor makes a trade in an account that has little or no benefit to the client , but benefits the advisor”. But from my understanding with institutions like IG or Edward Jones or Sunlife. You do not get charged for funds moving. So churning in one of these institutions would have to be to move from a DSC fund with matured units and taking those matured units and putting them into another DSC fund with a brand new schedule. Other than that, it is brokers that are more commonly known for “churning” because with financial institutions they are more regulated and because they dont charge for individual transactions (like a front end load, or initial sales charge) it is almost impossible to do unless your client has been with a consultant for more than 8 years which opens the door for that to happen.

A consultant gets paid on a DSC, in one lump sum because you are committing to 8 years before withdrawal. The MER is lower in these accounts. Or you can go into a NL which has a higher MER. and the consultant gets paid over time. BUT there needs to be full disclosure and you as a consumer need to be the one to make that decision. Basically the company gives you a discount for staying the long term.. which is the whole purpose of “long-term” savings. and even in a DSC, there is an amount you can take out every year without fees. But if it is meant for long term. I would rather have the discount and service. But i would research my consultant first. and feel it out. All initial meeting with each company is complimentary and there is no rule against meeting with them all.

Alex says:

Saddened, FYI investors group doesn’t accept any transfer in kind request for a client that has signed with IG since July 2006, so when you say that people didn’t research properly, I think you’re the one who doesn’t have his facts straight…and this is only at investors group

Chris says:

You are partially right, it is not that they dont accept in kind transfer requests, it is that IG has cleverly set up there funds so that they cannot be held anywhere but investors group, (which is a simple way to put it, i know there is a lot more to it than that so lets not pick apart the technicalities)
Brokers can hold IG funds though from my understanding, just the same as Investors Group IGSI can hold non-IG funds, (Something that many clients arent told, because the consultant doesnt get paid on them)

I understand what a lot of you are saying on here, and I really dont want to keep posting here because it is frusturating for good advisors to deal with arguments like this, where facts are twisted and bent and are usually the result of a misunderstanding and bad representation on behalf of the client. The truth is there are good advisors and bad advisors, and I would reccomend staying away from any advisor who has a practiced sales pitch. Financial planning isnt about how high MERs are whos products are better, if thats your main concern, then open a self directed account and do as teacher man says, do the research yourself, and give yourself a basic understanding of finance. I will agree with him on one thing, there is a serious lack of financial understanding in this country. However, for those who dont want to think about there finances and plan, and want it taken care of, IG is a good a choice as any, because really it comes down to the advisor, a good advisor doesnt get questions and complaints about MERs, just as I never have, because he provides full planning and proper service to his clients. That is how they justify the slightly higher MERs, which I might point out have recently been lowered (theyre still high, but slightly more competitive,)
A good advisor will save you more in tax each year and in retirement, that MER wont matter as much, there are good years and bad years for the market, and investing isnt always about out-performing a market, because in most cases, a portfolio wont, however, a good portfolio may underperform the market in up times, but will not tank with the market in periods of market loss.

I would like to here how negative returns compound, since this has been referenced several times. Since you own “units: of a mutual fund, and you can not “lose” those units, how do losses compound from negative returns? You can gain more units from income being reinvested (therefore buying more units) but how can your losses compound? In fact, in periods of market downturn, my clients come out further ahead, since they are buying units at a discounted rate, when markets correct they now own more units, therefore giving them a better return and earning them more dividends and income in the future. If an advisor rebalances properly, and can keep there clients in the markets in a market downturn, they should come out further ahead. It is the people who pull there money out when the markets tank, ( and a suspect that is what a lot of people on this thread may have done, but ive been wrong before) that will always lose money, and belong in a GIC (or risk tolerance equivilant) at a bank.

Someone told me to “wake up to the real world”, which although I find it unnessarily insulting, I find it much more humorous. Thank you for the advice, I will drink some coffee and let you know if it helps. Seriously though, I do live in the real world, and I am quite aware of the pros and cons of our current mutual fund structure and the stricture at IG, you were screwed, there is no doubt about that, but what I have been saying this whole time is that it is a problem with misrepresentation on behalf of your advisor, and to blame IG for all your problems is making you look foolish, accept some responsibility for not doing your research beforehand and getting fooled by a flashy sales routine, stop blaming everyone else at IG for your problems. If everything you said is true, you would have no problem winning a legal battle against your advisor.

Teacher Man, I really dont care how eloquent my replies are, I have never had to “justify” my services before and I am not going to now, my service to my clients has always spoken for itself, and I work hard to keep my clients satisfied and put there needs first, but I have no problem defending others, because what you are doing here is respresenting every advisor that works for Investors Group as being bad, which is untrue. If this thread is not meant to be about IG and instead about mutual funds and dealers in general, than stop referencing IG. In the case I would in fact have to agree with you on many things, as I do believe that under all the complaints here there was a good hidden message, but it has been completely shadowed and lost.

Losses are only realized when you take the money out of the fund, if your at such a loss, I would reccomend taking a look at how the market is doing in general, weigh that against how your portfolio is doing, rebalance if needed then do what a lot of smart investors do and wait for markets to recover, if you pull your money out in cash, as so many do, I can guarentee you WILL lose money.

Im sure someone will have a witty comment about MFDA regulations and fees and compare it to diy investing, but I will close here, if your main concern is fees and MERs and your the type of person who will pull there money out if it goes down, then self invest, hell, buy this guys book, because you will never be happy at IG or with most advisors for that matter, if your the type of person who doesnt want to have to learn about investing and actively manage your portfolio, then do your research and dont pick a company, pick an advisor, and pick one that discloses everything upfront, doesnt promise anything, except to act in your best interests and do what is right for you.

“screwed”, if your looking for promises, I hear GICs are promising about 1.5%, (or about -1.5% after inflation), maybe you should look into those.

Chris says:

Its seems that I have written a reply longer than the original article, which makes me realize how much time I have wasted on this, I do however hope I get my point across to anyone who reads this thread, my appologies to anyone I may have offended, except those who tried to belittle my posts, in those cases, I hope you wake up and smell the real world.

Teacher Man says:

Again for brevity purposes I’ll respond to your misleading statements in point form:

1) “Slightly higher MERs” If you consider MERs that are 40X or 4000% higher on basic S&P 500 funds to be “slightly higher” then I guess our definitions of “slight” are different.

2) “A good advisor will save you more in tax each year and in retirement, that MER wont matter as much, there are good years and bad years for the market, and investing isn’t always about out-performing a market, because in most cases, a portfolio wont, however, a good portfolio may underperform the market in up times, but will not tank with the market in periods of market loss.”

-As I showed in the above conversation with the IG advisers, most investors will likely lose tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of dollars in costs over their investing “lifetime” through mutual fund MERs. Pretty tough to save most people that much on taxes. Also I have no idea what you are talking or referencing with “good portfolio” statements. Ridiculous and misleading statements. I have cited specific studies that show mutual funds consistently under-perform their benchmarks. IT IS THAT SIMPLE!

3) “Compounded losses” means that all the money that MERs take out cannot stay in the market and compound long term. Again, pretty simple concept unless you’re trying to skew facts.

4) Thank you for half-supporting my point on the overall structure of the mutual fund industry. If you read the comments you’ll see that I’ve consistently held this position (as well as in my eBook where IG is not mentioned). I believe the reason this thread keeps getting slanted to IG is simply because it is ranking high in the search engines for the term “Investor’s Group” as opposed to “mutual fund pros and cons” or something similar. I’ll take this opportunity to reiterate that IG is only one of the more blatant offenders in an industry that is incredibly unfair to consumers and makes a mockery of transparency.

5) Your point about losses and market timing are again irrelevant to the fact that the majority of mutual funds under-perform their benchmarks even BEFORE their high MERs are taken into consideration. It’s a structural flaw that gives incentive for risky behavior as opposed to long-term thinking.

6) There’s no need to by my book because it’s free.

7) No idea why you assume DIY investors will automatically pull money out at the bottom of a market cycle, but mutual fund investors are impervious to irrationality.

8) I’ll leave you with this. If you want a decent adviser with proper motivation to do what’s really in YOUR best interests – then go to one that tells you what they will charge you upfront! Just like pretty much any other business in life.

Chris says:

I can only hope that people reading this article and its responses have the intelligence to see both sides of the coin here. Your blatent arrogance and the way you portay yourself as an expert on this subject are what makes you look ignorant. You would get much more support in your topic, if you presented it in a “matter of choice” format.

1) Your comparisons and math mean almost nothing, You are comparing apples to Kiwis, an S&P 500 index fund has its place, but to simply buy units of a fund without either knowledge or advice is setting ones self up for dissapointment.

2) I suspect that you believe all business’s and people run and operate for free? That is what your suggesting, most advisors make a lot less than you seem to think, and just as an FYI, most of the advisors I know that make the most money on a per client basis are FEE BASED.

A “good portfolio” could reference one that may underperform the market in a bull market or market recovery, but doesn’t perform as badly in a bear market. That is the problem with following an index, in my experience most investors act irrationally and emotional in a market downturn. What would you suggest for planning if your following an index? How does one be sure the markets wont take and the investors lose 30% right before they are about to retire?


Teacher Man says:

First of all don’t take my word for it, here is yet ANOTHER recent article detailing that people are finally waking up to the ridiculously non-transparent world of mutual finds in Canada:


Here is a great quote from the article:

Chris says:

Its is quite sad the responses to this post, the fact is that ALMOST all of the “horror” stories on here are as a result of ignorance on the clients part. I hate to tell you but every mutual fund has an MER, regardless of the fund company, and these MERS are what pays for the management of the funds, and the advice and guidance of your consultant whether it be with IG, a bank, or anywhere else. Almost everything stated in the article is false and twisted, and the author hasn’t got a clue what he’s talking about.
I hate to tell you, but its finding the right advisor that is the important part, all advisors have access to similar products, its the advice and the planning that makes the difference.

Most of these “FEES” that people are talking about, are ignorance on their part, Investors Group is not the only company that uses a DSC fee schedule, and they have no load funds as well for every fund, so it should never be an issue if clients pay attention to what their advisor tells them, I have a feeling that a lot of people here are also confusing the “tax” that they are paying for withdrawing from there RSP’s early for fees. Some people just dont understand no matter how much you tell them.

I would like you all to take a moment to think about something. There is a lot on here about MER’s and how they are “taking” your money. So what you are all saying is that you expect to invest in a mutual fund, which is a managed pool of money and assets, and you expect to have that managed for free? and you expect the advice and service from your advisor to be free as well? So he shouldn’t get paid then? Try telling you doctor that.

A few more quick notes.

You cant churn a mutual fund at Investors group, there are no trade fees for mutual fund… you clearly dont know what your talking about.

If you want free open a self directed account, invest in stocks and ETF’s, good luck managing your own portfolio and diversifying, im sure you know much more than the experts that have been managing funds for years as a full time job

Consultants legally CANNOT “promise” a return, that is one thing that is 100% NOT OK, but once again, this is not by any means local to Investors Group, this happens everywhere

There are many problems with Investors Group, as well as other Investment companies all over Canda, but I have to say a lot of the crap in this original post and the replies is completely bogus, as an advisor who has seen many different sides of the industry, there are pros and cons everywhere, between companies and different advisor styles, fee based and commission based, its simply a matter of preference.

Teacher Man says:

Chris, please read several comments before you make the same argument. Here has been my consistent position from day 1, along with a few things your argument fails to address:

1) IG has somehow become a symbol in this argument which is really more a discussion about the mutual fund industry in general. You’re right about there being MER fees on all mutual funds, however they are MUCH lower through the TD E-series funds for example. This adds up quickly when compounded.

2) The question boils down to if advice and planning (which can be 98% covered with a couple hours of reading for most people) are worth the huge compounded losses MER funds produce.

3) Guess what products will not have any DSC funds? E-Series and ETFs.

4) Last time I checked doctors didn’t hide their fee tables, they are very similar to fee-based planners… which I suggest.

5) I will definitely diversify my investments on my own, and it isn’t that hard to do. Read the free eBook man, I truly believe I could teach most 16 year olds the basics of asset allocation and easy diversification. Not that hard. John Bogle has shown time and again that the vast majority of mutual fund advisers will not beat the market, it IS that simple.

6) Go figure, you’re an adviser, who would have guessed?!!

The advisers before you were much more eloquent in creating reasons why their services were necessary and justified high MERs btw.

saddened says:

Mutual Fund Advisors are not trained to “beat” the market??
They are there for those people who do not want to do it on their own.
So apparently, from what you are saying, every consultant in every industry is overpaid, because really.. you can read up and learn on your own. Well you can do that for every area of life.

Advisors are there for a reason. An industry exists, because not everyone wants to do their own research. And also with proper planners there are benefits because of tax, estate, risk management.

But if you want to do all your own research fine. But why knock the industry that people choose to use.. Obviously a lot of these people dont even do the research to understand what their complaint is, why would they do constant research for accounts regularily. The research that is happening now could have been avoided if they would have researched what to be aware of before they even chose a consultant.

But yet the companies get blamed now!

Teacher Man says:

Again, you falsely represent the parallels between other industries and the current commission-based model in Canada. If financial advisers simply gave quotes and were all fee-based (which would allow for a much more efficient market) I would whole-heartedly agree. There is just simply no less honest compensation system than the one in this industry and all of the negative firsthand testimonials on this comment board show that.

Scott says:

So, your opinion that a few dissatisfied customers is a reflection on an entire company. How many people have expressed negative opinions about their IG consultant here, 10, 20? There are over 4,600 IG consultants, I can guarantee there are a few bad apples in that group but to tarnish the whole company because of them is silly. Can you name any industry that has perfect employees across the board?

How is saddened falsely representing the parallels between other industries? Investors Group is about holistic financial planning which includes tax planning, estate planning, risk management (insurance). You are the one that is creating the false comparison when you compare IG MER to an ETF MER. When was the last time your ETF company helped you with cash flow planning or any of the previously mentioned services?

I was a client for 10+ years and I believed in what the company does so much that when the opportunity arose I decided to become a Consultant.

I can think of many less honest compensation systems, for starters anyone who is paid by the taxpayer (including teachers). I have NO choice but to pay my taxes whether or not I want every “service” they offer.

All of my clients know exactly how I get paid and, if they choose DSC funds they sign a statement that clearly shows the penalty for withdrawing before the DSC fees have expired. My median client has around $30K in assets, that means they are paying between $500-700 per year in fees (MERs on fixed income funds aren’t 2%+). Do you know how much a fee only planner charges, it can easily hit $3,000-$4,000 for an initial plan, so no I don’t feel bad about “locking in” my clients.

Teacher Man says:

Again, your comparison to teacher compensation is ridiculous Scott. My salary and all benefits are completely public. You can read my entire contract online in plain speak if you want, there is even a handy salary grid if that is all you really want to know. Absolutely anyone has the ability to vote for representation that will lower my salary (see Wisconsin’s case). There aren’t many compensation systems that are more veiled. Go ahead and show anyone the sacrificed returns they are losing out on and they are shocked because this is rarely ever shown to them properly.

If those compensation numbers you discussed are correct, and you aren’t getting any bonuses, or money for recommending insurance products, and IG doesn’t charge the person any other fees, then the comparison makes sense. If that is the case (highly unlikely) then why in the world wouldn’t you go to the more transparent fee-only planning model? Also, $2,000-$2,500 is the common average from what the research I’ve done, and what Moneysense magazine claims. That’s fro the initial plan, and then $200-$300 per year after that (you can see how that equals out pretty fast).

Zig_screwed_too says:


I will take a moment to recount my own experience with my (former) IG ‘financial consultant’ as it applies to your comments…

1) My IG advisor did NOT tell me that we were elligible to invest in no-load funds, in fact he was not at all clear about how he was being paid or about the implications of DSC funds; in fact he put all of his clients into them automatically (admitted to it after the fact).

2) I know the difference between taxes and fees. I was drawing on my unregistered account.

3) In exchange for paying for the ‘advice and service’ of my advisor, I was given a $50,000 loss for YE 2011. In addition, I will be charged approx $30,000 DSC to take my remaining assests to another financial institution. Honestly man, do you think this is worth paying for???? REALLY?????

4) My IG advisor DID promise me a + 5 to 6% return. He delivered a stunning LOSS instead…

5) I ASSURE YOU the original post is certainly not crap and that none of my replies are bogus. This is a REAL loss delivered to me by a con man masquerading as a financial advisor and I am stuck living with it!

Hey Chris,

Wake up to the real world

saddened says:

This is obviously a consultant problem, not a IG problem. And if you are right as a consumer, then you will win your case most likely.

saddened says:

oh and you wont be charged anything to move to another institution, if you move it “in-kind”.. and promises of return are illegal. Why would you want your advisor to do something illegal. You want promises??? Obviously you havent done your research and you are complaining when you dont know all the rules. Maybe he did do you wrong. But now you know it is illegal and that would be my first warning sign if I was picking a bad consultant. If he made promises for what he could get me, I would run the other direction. He obviously would be dishonest and willing to say what he could to get me as a client..I would rather experience some losses and trust that my consultant had me where I needed to be.

Screwed says:

So your an advisor, well maybe you should get out the mfda rules and study them again. Try rule 3 in the notices section mr-0065. Churning, when an advisor makes a trade in an account that has little or no benefit to the client , but benefits the advisor. Our advisor did exactly that , we gained having our money tied up for years , he got the big instant pay day. Probably why they offered me my money back immediately ,YU THINK . As far as being ignorant you are correct , that is why we go to the so called experts and expect to be treated honestly and fairly and sure dont mind paying for real honest service. I owned an autobody collision shop for 25 years and I will tell you for sure I could wambousel you on a repair to your car in a heartbeat how could you know what I know, and if you brought your car to me for a repair , would you take the decades it would take to learn or would you expect to be treated fairly and pay a fair price with no false add ons. My customer satisfaction and retention was always in the high 90% this speaks for itself . What do you think IG,s numbers would be.

saddened says:

It saddens me to see that you are blaming IG for your consultants unprofessionalism. Actually, client retention is very high for consultants within any organization who treat their clients right and give proper advise. There is a legal obligation for full fee disclosure at all times with all companies and if as a client you are not doing your own research, then some of the blame must lie with yourself. You would not go to a dentist who did not know what they were doing, but sadly there are some who are not very good and do a terrible job. I have seen people get screwed through all associations. So I have to ask “was it your consultant or the company that screwed you?” and I think more research needs to be done on consumers parts when choosing a consultant. And look up and make yourself aware of things to be aware of. I am a consultant and I will not disclose who I work for because these are my words not the company i work for. But it is sad to see how real the fact is that a negative comment travels way faster then a positive one. Within my organization I have seen consultants with successful client retention for generations. And I have seen and dealt with accounts that were not set up properly. But I have also seen this in all companies. And I have also seen people make their own mistakes and loose plenty of money on their own making decisions that they didnt research. If you cant even research and check into the professional you are going to use, then what makes people think that they are going to make the right decision when it comes to the thousands of funds and businesses/stocks.

If you are willing to research and investigate on your own time and are confident with your decisions than great. But advisors are there for people who do not have the time or will to do it on their own. I am not niave enough to think that I am a doctor, and I dont want to learn to be one… which means I need one. So when I picked one out, I took my time and asked for some referrals. and It is too bad that this negative situation has happened. and it is wrong to not have full disclusure from a company. But I have found that sometimes, because people dont understand and do the proper research, they end up with a bad advisor (with any company) So I feel it is innappropriate to identify a particular company, when really the problem was the consultant.

Teacher Man says:

I believe the high client retention rates are directly proportional to the lack of financial literacy in Canada. If no one truly understands the compensation model or the systemic under performance mutual funds versus the overall market, then no one will wake up and take control of their financial well being. You don’t need to make the “right decision when it comes to thousands of funds and businesses/stocks,” you simply need to do “average” and you will beat almost every mutual fund out there. It’s scientifically proven. Just Google “Dalbar mutual fund study”.

Chris says:

Once again, to reiterate what others have said over and over again, it is impossible to churn money at IG, there would be no benefit whatsoever to the consultant, once you are in a DCS fund you can move in and out of any other IG fund you like without changing the DCS schedule. Even if the assets are matured assets, in “C” funds, it is impossible to take those and re-set the DSC schedule and get paid again.

Screwed says:

Zig from screwed. You can complain to obsi ( ombudsman) @ 1-888-451-4519 i think this is phone number or google them . Mfda can not award you restitution but obsi can. You must complain to them by 6 months from compliance answer to yor complaint.It sounds like were talking about a serious amount of coin, BASTARDS.I have been studying mfda rules and regulation on their website for 2 weeks now very interesting. The compliance department phoned me wondering why I hadn,t taken their offer of dsc refund and signed GAG order with witness. I told them what I had been doing with 150 hrs of my time in the last 2 weeks and was putting together a substantial complaint to the mfda and obsi and was not interested in their halfassed atempt to quite me.When i started quoting several sections of mfda rule and the instences that their snake oil salesman and even themselves had violated she said she would be more than happy to reopen my file. I suggested to her that she first finish the intial investigation and answer the 80 percent of my concerns she ignored contrary to mfda rule she is obligated to fully investigate all complaints verbal or written . First rule i caught her breaking . Dont give up man spend the time and i am sure you to can beat them with the rules they ignore.

Zig_screwed_too says:

Hi Screwed,

I hope you put a good fear into them! You should also add the 150 hrs of your time to your settlement demand…
Thanks for the words of encouragement. I will be sending a formal complaint to OBSI next Monday; MFDA is moving very slowly (still in initial stages after 3.5 months).
I replied to compliance and told them I would make my fight public; they said they would send a reply ‘shortly’ but so far no word after a week.
I’m starting to make arrangements to transfer out of IG.

Susanne says:

Join us in a picket of IG. See my response to Zig done today.

Zig_screwed_too says:

I retired about 18 months ago and invested my pension payout with Investors Group. Our ‘financial consultant’ promised us a 5 or 6% annual return, even though I thought he was being too optimistic. This all happened just before the last market meltdown (2011). I told him that I had a strong feeling that the stock market was about to crash but he assured me he had spoken to his top ‘experts’ in head office and NOW was the time to invest, otherwise I would miss out on some big gains; besides, I should trust his advice since I was paying him for his ‘professional’ services. Well, that was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made! Within 2 months I had lost over $60,000 by letting him invest my hard-earned money!
I filed a complaint with their compliance department but they sided with my consultant (they also work for Investors Group). He is still under investigation by the MFDA. I also found out that he had stuck almost all of my money in DSC funds and that if I want to transfer my remaining money out to another institution, I will have the pleasure of paying Investors Group a 5.5% penalty on the balance of my portfolio. Also note that I did not receive a prospectus until AFTER I was fully invested and when I asked for a copy of the booklet (probably a prospectus) that my consultant was referencing before I invested, he told me it was proprietary information.
Is Investors Group legit or just some kind of a huge pyramid scheme? I am seriously nervous about this.
Is it better for me to pay the DSC and get out of there, rather than wait out the penalty? (BTW – their mutual funds have high MERs and lousy returns)

Teacher Man says:

5.5% DSC PENATLY! Wow… how is that legal? Proprietary information? Really? Man I’m so sorry to hear this. Thank you sir/ma’am for sharing your experience and allowing us to learn from it.

Screwed says:

Zig , it sounds like you have a sizable amount of money to take out of IG, I have an idea for you . The company i transferred our rrsp,s to said they would by dsc funds and as they would get the big upfront payday, they would refund the entire amount to me thus i would have lost nothing. Your money will still be tied up in dsc but if you have a proper advisor this won,t be a problem as he will be working in your best interest and when the clock ticks down he will invest in no dsc funds. You should be able to find a company that will do this because this is truly in your best interest good luck.

saddened says:

#1) they should have disclosed the DSC and had you sign an agreement
#2) depending on the size of your porfolio 60000 is a big loss and you are possibly in to high of a risk category, which you should have completed a questionairre to determine if this was appropriate for you.
#3) DSC funds allow you to hold a fund with a lower MER.. So the 5.5% decreases over time and it is meant for long term money that will be sitting there so that you get more compounded growth (a discount for agreeing to stay with company long term)
#4) If you are unhappy, you can move your money “in-kind” to another institution without penalty
#5) IG is not a pyramid scheme
#6).. this sounds like a consultant problem, not an IG problem.
#7) research, research, research. It is consumers like this that have a bad experience who make every consultant out there who is doing a good job and doing what is right for their clients seem bad. And that is soooo wrong

Teacher Man says:

I do agree with you that this is not ONLY an IG problem. It is a mutual fund compensation model.

Zig_screwed_too says:


1) I recently learned that this actually started five years ago, before I even knew what ‘DSC’ meant…I started dealing with this so-called ‘consultant’ (Ron) when I ‘inherited’ him after my previous consultant retired. While closely looking over my statements after realizing that I’d been taken advantage of (early 2012), I realized that Ron had taken ‘old’ money that I’d had with IG for many years (no DSC) and stuck it into a DSC portfolio. HE DID NOT mention anything about this to us, only that we were going to get far better returns under his ‘expert’ management.

2) According to our (now former) advisor, we were placed into conservative to moderate conservative investment categories. Yeah, a losing year on the markets really gets amplified when the fund company (IG) takes their 2.5 to 3% cut, even though they did nothing but lose money for us. Man, I wish I could find a high paying job that even rewards me for poor performance!

3) Yes, the DSC funds are offerred at a great discount and certainly present us with a wonderful opportunity to save lots of money and enjoy compounded growth (Sarcasm). I can’t believe this because I am not on herion…
As an example:
IG Alto Moderate Portfolio A (DSC) MER = 2.64% ,
vs IG Alto Moderate Portfolio B (NL) MER = 2.74% ,

I am not Einstein, but to me it looks like the miniscule fractional savings only amount to about $100 anually per $100,000 invested, whereas the DSC (which starts at 5.5% for the first 2 years) can set you back $5,500 if you have to take the money out early. Do you believe that saving $100 is worth taking a $5,500 risk? If so, come down to Niagara and check out our casinos.By the way, the ‘compounded growth’ was all negative.

4) I’ve spoken to two other institutions and no, I cannot transfer funds “in kind” from Investors Group, since they are propprietary.

5) How can you be sure? Bernie Madoff had tens of thousands of people believing in him for many years.

6) I had hoped that it was only a consultant problem, but their compliance dept. responded saying that he had done nothing wrong and that they support his methods. To me this indicates that this must be IG’s business model.

7) I used to work up to 60 hrs/wk and attend university while working (about another 30 hrs/wk) before retiring. If I’d had the time to “research, research, research” as you suggest, then I wouldn’t have needed an advisor to look after my investments. I thought they were supposed to do the research?

I am usually opposed to government intervening in the public’s affairs, but in the case of the mutual fund industry and financial services in general, I think we need more regulation. If the fund companies could keep their sales people in line with commonly held ethical standards, then we wouldn’t have the ‘wild west’ mentality that we currently witness. It is a sad situation.

Screwed says:

Zig, Your new consultant is in violation , as mine of rule 3 , specifically notice mr-0065 churning also switching . These rules on the mfda website are very user friendly , for the lamen to understand plain english, your advisor should have got you to sign a client consent form for the actions you mentioned also given you a disclosure form which mfda suggests they get signed. It also states that even with these 2 things done , it does not defend them if the trades were not in the clients best interest and the obvious reason was for him to make money. It even uses your situation as an example of wrong doing. Since I telephoned compliance and quoted several violations of rule that even they had broken and told them I was putting together a substantial complaint to obsi and mfda and was now very familiar with the rules they ignore, they are so accomodating it makes me puke.They ask you for all the info you have so they can determine what little you actually know about the rules they have broken. I see you mentioned the falls was from Brantford myself, now okanogan bc. Keep slaming them , they just want you to go away.

Zig_screwed_too says:

Thanks Screwed,
Compliance has been using amateurish stalling tactics with me, just like my former consultant had.
The MFDA rules provide some interesting reading. I have sent compliance an email throwing these rules at them.
I am editing my complaint files to reflect these violations by my former consultant and submitting to OBSI this week.

saddened says:

One more thing.. All funds and their prospectus can be found on the internet. search funds. All funds are legally disclosed and their information. Like I said.. do your own research research research. Your consultants should know this information. and if they dont, then go to another one until you find the right one. Shop around. and then when you find a good one, stick with them. and noone can guarantee rates of return, it is illegal. If there was some magic secret that could guarantee you amazing gains, then wouldnt more people be richer then they are.

Teacher Man says:

Yup, and if more people simply kept their own gains they would be richer THAN they are as well.

Zig_screwed_too says:

I am going with Teacher Man’s advice and keeping my gains / avoiding high fees. I will be managing my own (simply structured) portfolio through a discount brokerage (TD) instead of PAYING some knucklehead of a salesman to lose my hard-earned money for me!

Teacher Man says:

I can’t take a whole lot of credit beyond recognizing a good approach when I seen one!

Screwed says:

I was waiting for a rebuttle from some of these upstanding IG advisors. What this advisor did in our rrs,p portfolio,s was called CHURNING he made a trade in our account that had little or no benefit to us but got him a 4 grand pay cheque, this is noted in the mfda rules and regulations section 2.1.1 mr-0065 and is totally against the rules. As i said the number of people that have told me their stories I would say the score would be IG 2% Screwed 98%.I would like nothing more than to have 500 people picket one of their offices ( I will make the signs ) , maybe CBC Marketplace or 16-9 would go and put these guys on the hot seat.

Teacher Man says:

Not a bad idea with a little marketplace attention. I should mention though Screwed that I honestly believe it’s an industry-wide thing and not unique to Investor’s Group.

Zig_screwed_too says:

Please let me know if you are seriously considering picketing one of IG’s offices with a large group of unhappy (screwed) investors. My wife and I will happily march around all day! I think these people are real crooks and I know my former consultant (RC) should have been a used car salesman (instead of a mutual fund salesman posing as a financial advisor).

saddened says:

Im not an IG consultant, but I am a consultant. i find it frustrating that you make assumptions. Negative comments travel way faster then positive ones. That is a known fact. And I am sure if you had your proper statistics, that you would not be lying or assuming on the internet because of your experience.

like i said .. it always comes down to the consultant and the consumer… NOT the companies you choose to deal with??? what is so confusing about this.

Teacher Man says:

Not it actually comes down to the industry compensation model as a whole.

Scott says:

Actually, moving from no load to DSC funds is not churning because the client does benefit from the lower MER. Churning would be taking DSC funds that had expired (i.e., been there for more than 8 years) and re-investing them in such a way that it triggered a new DSC schedule.

I’m not saying what he did was right, but it’s not, by definition, churning.

How many people have told you their stories? I could drum up 1,000s of people who have positive experience with IG and that’s only from my region of 35 consultants. There are 4,600 consultants across Canada so you could probably find hundreds of thousands with positive experiences.

Screwed says:

Ok hang on to your wallets. Feb 2009 met with ig advisor for the purpose to discuss my wife and i drawing down our rsp,s monthly before we hit 65. His suggestion was to leverage 200 thousand to invest and us our rsp,s to pay the loan thus we would not pay tax on monthly redemption and only pay capital gain on the huge upside we were going to make on the 200.Sounds like a (PLAN). We transfered in some of our rsp,s and the ball was rolling. A little background, we had sold a bussiness on a share sale 2 years earlier and invested some on a monthly income fund elsewhere which is our paycheck, the way the fund is structured is very tax efficient allowing our accountant to give us yearly dividends of a substantial amount with very little tax. At the advice of IG advisor we bought dsc series funds he said that was best for us( LIAR ) . In dec 2011 we cashed the leverage account and payed 12 thousand in fees and payed the loan out. When this fantastic investment was over we had paid 20 thousand in interest to solutions bank, indirectly owned by IG out of rsp,s . We cashed in at 232 thousand so the interest and fees had taken the 32 thousand above the loan payment.Over the period we owned it , there was tax on capital gains tax on rsp withdrawal , not the golden investment we had been talked into.Our accountant told us just to withdraw the monthly from our rsp,s andthe tax will be minut, should have talked to him first.Oh but were not done yet , the rsp,s we put with IG IN 09 in there b series no dsc funds , 80 thousand of them had been moved to dsc funds by mister advisor . We found this out in July 2012 when we moved them to a real financial planer. So our option was to contact there compliance department in Manitoba by MAIL , i thought this was 2012. So me being me made up signs that said INVESTORS GROUP SHAME ON U and drove to their office and picketed the place, yes my wife and I were pissed off bad!!! Well down comes mister division director and says he wants me to come in his office and do a conference call with the manager of compliance in Manitoba, oh no snail mail guess we got there attention A. So we continued picketing for several more days much to there dismay. Then we got a response from compliance offering us 4 thousand they took in fees on our rsp,s. along with a gag order that has to be signed and notorized by us and we are not allowed to discuss any part of this again. That to me takes the cake. In the time we were picketing we had dozens and dozens and dozens of people stop listen and then tell us there horror stories of dealing with IG. So at this time we are filing a complaint with the MFDA ( mutual fund dealers association) which holds them accountable for their actions also the ombudsman in charge of financial institutions. In light of all the people who approached us and told their stories you dont have a snowballs chance in !!!! of telling me its a good company,and they can JOKE on their gag order. Thankyou for the opportunity to vent.Oh and this is WITHOUT PREJUDICE.

Teacher Man says:

I’d say it’s with a little bit of DESERVED prejudice eh Screwed? They recommended leverage to the max in order to throw into high MER mutual funds, who would have guessed? Picketed the office? That’s classic! Thanks for sharing your negative experience on behalf of our readers.

Scott says:

It’s sad that you thank one person for a negative experience yet when others post positive experiences with IG you reply with “I really want to know what kind of kool-aid they serve at presentations.” You clearly only want your readers to share the same negative feelings you do rather than be open to the idea that IG does help many Canadians.

Teacher Man says:

There is probably some merit to what you mention there Scott, I am obviously slightly bias on this issue. I would like to point out though I’ve published everything that everyone has written, regardless of what viewpoint it has been from.

Jeremy says:

Go brother…let me cheer you on. You got what I did not. Barring the picketing, I did almost everything possible to get my DSC back. That compliance thing they have in Winnipeg is a _____. This whole way of doing business sucks. In the year that I have moved from IG, I have made up my losses.
And BTW was your advisor a chap with initials GG? This guy was a salesman, not an advisor.

saddened says:

This is a consultant problem not a company problem.. why does everyone blame the company and not hold the consultant accountable. Its like going to Walmart and getting double charged for something by a clerk, then leaving and realizing and then just freaking out and telling everyone about it instead of going back and seeing if you can talk to management about it. If you go to the lower people, they may say that they cant refund you because there is no proof. But if you go higher up then they may end up refunding you to keep you as a customer. So was this a clerk problem or a company problem??? Obviously a clerk problem, and a customer problem because you didn’t check your receipt before you left.

So this may be confusing, but its to show that there are bad people in every company. Do your research. Hold yourself accountable. Did you know you can move money “in-kind”? and it wouldnt have taken much research to find that out. So everyone panicked and moved money and didnt bother to find out the most efficient way to do it??? hmmm.. is it just the advisors fault or could the client have done a bit more research and maybe went to the right channels for the proper answers

if you know what your talking about and know what the real complaint is then most companies are willing to work with you..

Teacher Man says:

Nope, terrible analogy. At Wal-Mart prices are displayed for you to consider before buying. Very transparent and a very easy consumer contract to understand. The exact opposite of the current mutual fund-pushing model.

Screwed says:

If your an advisor then you should have tried to transfer accounts from IG for customers before. IG has this figured out and everyone I talked to in the industry knows you can not transfer IG mutual funds in kind 90% of the time. In our accounts there were 2 fund that could be and of course they had a measley thousand bucks in them.Every where we went td,bmo,royal bank , private firms were all aware of this before we showed them our portfolio,s . As far as the advisor being bad you are correct every industry has morons, BUT mfda rule states the company MUST have policies and procedures to detect conflicts from branch to head office. Trades of 5 thousand and more should be looked at by branch management, more than 5 trades a month should be looked at. In our case he took one and a half year old money and moved it into dsc funds, he did 7 trades in one day in my wifes and 4 in mine, one trade in mine was 19 year old money , so where was the branch management and head office management. I again will say this is why they immediately offered our money back. To sweep this under the carpet and did I mention i have to sign a gag order never to discuss this again ,what kind of crap is this , i thought we lived in Canada.

Scott says:

The reason you can’t transfer out IG funds is because the planning advice you receive is built into the MER and if you go to another institution you wouldn’t be receiving that advice.

What your consultant did was wrong, that’s why compliance immediately gave your money back, that shows the system is working. Branch managers are not able to thoroughly investigate every trade, can you imagine how much time it would take to phone every single client and ask them if this is exactly what they wanted to do? Branch managers look for obvious errors but a dishonest consultant could initially get a trade through that is overruled down the road by compliance (as in your case).

Screwed says:

I to was a customer of IG , dealing with compliance department as we speak . I think your readers would be in shock when my experience is told , as for their advisors sham on you.

Teacher Man says:

I’m sorry in advance you had to be put through the ringer “Screwed”. Thanks for sharing your story with our readers.

Client says:

I’m an IG client, and I’m very happy with the advise. They sit down and acually plan your investments based on your goals. Your dealing with one person and they give advise for the longevity of your investment, never has my advisor been pushy on investments or investment leveraging, they give advise and it’s always up to me to decide. As for service charges, there is none….. and DSC you do get charged if you pull out before 7 years but those charges go down every year. DSC is everywhere even at banks when you lock assets theres a charge to take it out before maturity. GIC,RRSP’s there meant for retirement when you are going to invest for 7 or more years and your not going to use the money till you retire, the MER’s are less on a DSC. The other choice is a No-Load, which means you can take your money out anytime with no charge, if you have a good advisor he will put your short term reserve and money you may need in a No-Load and your retire money in a DSC.

Banks don’t care were your money goes as long as you invest. Has anyone had an employee of a bank sit down and acually make a plan for your future and show what you can do and how to invest for your retirment?

Were there is an investment, there is MER. Whether your at a bank or any type of investment company MER’s are there. You think the person who created the mutual fund for the bank is doing it for free? The rate of return has the MER already taken off and those MER are there when you invest anywhere including banks.

Anyway as you can see I’ve learnt allot from my advisor, and he watches my accounts so I don’t have to worry about any relocating money when the time is right. My money has grown more at IG then anywhere and they do everything for you…… estate planning, life insurance, no charge checking accounts, morgages and on.

Oh and a mutual fund is a pool of investments with a number of different invesments inside of it, so a mutual fund is the idea of diversification. you put all your money into a mutaul fund and it’s invested in many diferent area’s. The idea is if one of the funds inside drops then you only loose a small percentage but if other funds go up it will equal it out or even rise.

Hope this helps for all that want to invest wisely and with the right people.

Teacher Man says:

I really want to know what kind of kool-aid they serve at presentations. Did you even bother to read the article before writing this comment?

I’ll be brief and just point out the factually wrong things that I’m sure you were told:
-DSC is NOT everywhere!!! Please read my ETF book for details
-I agree that no loads are better, but to paint it as the only choice is ridiculous
-Banks don’t care as long as you invest but commission-based mutual fund salesman do?
-Your MER comments are ridiculous. Please refer to my book or any of the comments above. MERs can be a huge drag on investment returns. That’s just a fact.
-Mutual funds can be diversified, but most of the time most people own way too many mutual funds that just own the same companies over and over again. Also ETFs give you much more efficient diversification for a much cheaper price. Don’t let anyone tell you different.

Clearly your adviser had a lot to say, not sure if you learnt “allot” or much at all though.

DYI Guy says:

Hello everyone,

I’ve been visiting this blog from time to time and reading the comments since the beginning of 2009. Its a form of “entertainment” for me in a sense as it never seizes to amaze me how financially ignorant I used to be and how most people still are! Seriously, with blogs like these and thousands of other web pages and articles blatantly telling investors to avoid high MER’s and DSC’s (among other misleading and unethical practices), I simply can’t understand how Investment firms like Investors Group are still around.

I used to be an IG client for many years until 2010. I made annual contributions to my RRSP over 8 years and the service was, personable at best. My adviser was a good friend and trusted he had my best interests at heart but that quickly faded when I learned about the fees only years later. You see, in the first year someone might invest $5,000 or $10,000 and a 2.7% MER might not look that bad on the bottom line. However when the RRSP adds up to $100,000+ (due to forced savings and not MF performance) the 2.7% MER is evidently detrimental to long term growth. Unfortunately most of us have gone through this painful experience of wasting valuable years in bad investments and it needs to stop.

The information given here by Young, Teacher and others like them is very very valuable advice for everyone. IMO high MER/DSC financial consultants/advisors should be considered Mutual Fund sales representatives. Their sales training is the best in the industry and they will defend themselves and counter argue any challenging questions you may have. I mean they have an answer for everything whether good or bad. Right Scotts?

Be careful folks. Take the time to understand everything about your money and where it is. You’ll never regret it

Teacher Man says:

Thank you sir! Feel like coming back to comment more often?!

Johnston says:

Hi I have been following this blog for quite a while and have found it very interesting and valuable. I think Scotts, Teacher Man and Young have all made very compelling arguments and I think all are correct depending on the circumstance. Teacher Man you are absolutely right, if someone wishes to DIY, buy low cost ETF’s trade them on their own, and manage their own affairs, I think the math is clear. Over a long period of time you just cannot justify the high MER’s. On the flip side though, as Scott has pointed out, many people just will not or can not do this themselves and you cannot underestimate this. I agree most people would be better off with a fee only planner but most people starting with a small account would be hesitant to go this route.

I would like to share my own situation and perspective. I love investing, have read all the books, and could be a DIY. In fact I have my own online brokerage account where i trade my own small stock portfolio. My main portofolio is with an IG advisor. This is someone who I started with 12 years ago. The reason I went with him over other advisors I interviewed was mainly on how he handled himself in regards to my questions around fees and his compensation. I have pushed him hard over the years and have several 3rd party funds and investments and have never received any pushback. The advice he has given me has been good, including insurance, tax and estate.My net worth has grown considerably with him and my portfolio weathered 2008 very well. He was a godsend when my sister in law passed away and left 3 young children on their own. His help in setting up trusts for the kids, getting her estate finalized, ect was amazing. (and free of charge) In reality I know I could probably liquidate my holdings with him and set up a couch potato ETF and do just fine. But here is the rub, I have a wife and a family who are not capable of doing this. If I were to get hit by a bus they would be screwed. I trust my advisor will look after them. That piece of mind is worth a few percentage points to me any day. Again I appreciate this may not be for everyone and some say may be unwise, but I am content with my decision. Anyhow as I mentioned my portfolio is now large and I am currently in discussions with my advisor on how to lower my investment cost and as always I will hold him accountable and see how we make out. I think the reality may be if you dont need an investment advisor, educate yourself and should be fine. If you do, find a good one, educate yourself and hold him/her accountable. Thanks again for this great blog.

Teacher Man says:

Thanks for the detailed comment Johnston, I appreciate your input! It sounds like you found a proverbial diamond in the rough. Just out of curiosity, if you were starting to invest today, would you be drawn to a fee-only advisor that showed all of their compensation up front and gave you a quote first? I agree that advisers can be very valuable, and I’m sure that as I grow my assets I’ll probably get some help around the edges myself, but I hate the idea of hidden compensation, and you have to admit that the vast majority of investors don’t have nearly the knowledge that you have, and would not be nearly as capable at choosing a proper advisor. I’m glad that a well-read dude like yourself is picking up something of value on this blog, and also glad that all of that typing that I and “The Scotts” (how great is it that they are now lumped together nicely?) did is not in vain!

Johnston says:

Hi I think if I was starting all over as a young man again and did not have a lot of money to invest to start I would try something like the ING index funds.They are relatively cheap at 1.07% and they allow you to basically get a couch potato portfolio with little cash and you can contribute small amounts on a monthly basis. Plus they do the rebalancing for you. Once I grew my assets and became more confident I would determine if I wanted to DIY or use an advisor. If I went DIY I would probably liquidate the ING funds once my portfolio was big enough and then set up and ETF portfolio. I think however I would want to go the advisor route, especially with a family. I would then do what I did several years ago and look for the best advisor possible. I would definitely lean to fee only but wouldnt exclude commisioned advisors in my search. Again I am confident in holding my advisor accountable so I would try and find the best combination of fees and service. Back when I first started investing not only were there no ETF’s availabe there wasnt even an internet. I think the great thing about today is that there are so many products out there and so much info, including blogs like this, even the commisoned folks will have no choice but to provide good value. Thanks again and good luck on your investsments.

Teacher Man says:

This sounds like a very practical path Johnston and I think great advice (although I would definitely due the TD Index Funds which have much lower MERs). I think you raise an absolutely great point about the access to information available today absolutely levelling the playing field. As far as my investments go, luck isn’t a big factor since I will happily take the market average all day long ;).

Mac says:

I’ve been in the financial planning business for more than 33 years and reading some of the comments reinforced what I have thought for many years….people generally don’t have a clue as to what is important in achieving financial success. My God, if it was fees none of us would ever enter a bank, borrow for a vehicle or home or have a credit card! It is not any particular institution or advisor….all institutions have their strengths and weaknesses and if you look at the big picture, you will pay pretty much the same in fees, MER’s and other costs, all things considered. People love to hate huge successful companies like Investors Group, who by the way must have done something right for their client base or they wouldn’t be leading the industry. You can also purchase third party mutual funds through IG on their MRS platform with no sales charges. If you have a stock portfolio you can park it with IG at no cost and you do the buying and selling yourself with a direct line to the trading desk. You pay the same brokerage fee as with any other stock brokerage firm. (I know this because I like to know what my strongest competitors are doing! )We love to hate banks and insurance companies as well. The truth is it’s a competitive world and that’s good for us all. Pick an advisor or institution you are comfortable with, have them explain “Asset Allocation” to you, consistently put money away and leave it. The end result is a comfortable life.

Teacher Man says:

I love how all of these financial advisers are advocating using MERs and using these ridiculous talking points to try and justify the industry.

For anyone still reading this back and forth check out my eBook on why these ideas are bogus, but if you aren’t satisfied with that check out anything by John Bogle (the creator of Vanguard and one of Forbes 4 most influential investors), or Andrew Hallam, Rob Carrick, or anyone of the dozen best Canadian personal finance websites on the ‘net. We are all saying exactly the same thing – Canada’s mutual fund industry is ridiculous. We have nothing to gain by advocating low cost ETFs and index funds (I’m giving my book away for goodness sakes) so why would we lie? On the other hand, ask yourselves the motivation of the mutual fund industry.

Pick an impartial advisor if you need the help, but even better, please take a few hours and do a little reading! No one cares about your money more than you do!

Andrew says:

Hello everyone,

My name is Andrew and I am a financial advisor at National Bank. I just read this blog along with the many comments posted and I just wanted to clear a few things up.

Yes it is true that you pay fees when investing in mutual funds at Investor

Andrew says:

This reply obviously not being for scott or teacher man who obviously know all of this, but more for the people who posted the first comments and might not be able to follow Scotts and Teacher mans conversation.

PS IG MERs are above industry average. And the problem with IG is not that they have higher fees, but rather that they build their business model on sales numbers rather than on client needs. By hiring anyone and everyone who walks through the door and just throwing them into the sales without a base salary, they basically ensure that at least a percentage of their advisors will be incompetent, because even if they are good salesmen, they will always care first and foremost about how much a certain sale will bring in. Don’t get me wrong though, some IG advisors are great, some people with years of experience have moved to IG because they offer good compensation if you earn good sales. Moral of the story, make sure you do your research before choosing an Investor’s Group advisor

Teacher Man says:

Hey again Andrew, I would argue that high fees are a pretty big problem as well. Just a 1% different in compounding over a 30 year horizon makes a massive difference to your overall wealth. I do agree with your criticisms and overall impression about many of the individuals who work at IG however (although to the Scotts’ credit, they are very persistent and knowledgeable about their sales pitch).

I think the moral of the story is to stay away from financial advisers that are not fee-based!

Teacher Man says:

Thanks for the clarification Andrew. You’re right that IG MERs are not unique (although at the time this article was written they were amongst the highest in Canada, which also effectively means the highest on the entire planet). I don’t want to get into this whole debate again, but I think I’ve pretty conclusively stated the case above in favour of passive investing, and the Scotts pretty avidly pointed out the benefits of mutual funds. I will never be convinced that the few benefits you get from mutual funds are worth anywhere near the cost of the average mutual fund MER. For 2 hours or less of reading, the average person could figure out passive investing and limiting transaction fees and slaughter the returns of over 90% of the mutual funds available in Canada long-term (and that is an extremely conservative prediction).

For anyone that wants to read about mutual funds and compare them to passive investing please check out my eBook. Also note that I have yet to see a personal finance blogger out there who support the Canadian mutual fund industry in the least.

Jeremy says:

I switched from IG to Scotia McCleod. They are fee based and it is charged quarterly. I am extremely satisfied with them and have actually begun to see traction in my portfolio, when te markets have been down. I would be happy to share te name oft advisor if you do desire

CB says:

This was all very informative, thank you very much to the Scotts and Teacher Man and everyone else who participated. Does anyone know what investment group charges just flat fees for services and not MER’s? Thanks in advance!

Teacher Man says:

I’m glad the debate has helped someone! If you find out the answer to your question CB I would love to hear it.

Scott says:

Since when are facts propaganda? That study was not done by Investors Group and the surveys were done by Ipsos and Polara (in case you haven’t heard of them, they’re just little companies that do surveys on just about everything). Just because you disagree with something does not make it propaganda.

Absolutely, I will not disagree with your mathematical facts. What you forget/ignore/fail to grasp is that there are many other factors involved other than just mathematics.

What happens if Investor A waits until he is 40 years old to start. Using your same 7.7% return, he would have $127,768. I have no doubt that I have clients now that would otherwise have not started investing. You know as well as I do the power of compounding and even a 10 year difference with your higher annual returns means a lower net worth.

What happens if the markets tank 20% in a year (which isn’t uncommon especially when considering a 35 year time frame) and the DIYer gets scared and moves into money market funds and misses out on a rally? There is a great book called The Behavior Gap that shows that the average investor over a period of a decade trailed the S&P index but 4% points (of course, you’ll probably dismiss that as propaganda as well). Sure, you can attribute some of that to fees but that doesn’t explain the full difference. If I can hold a client’s hand and keep them in the market in bad times, that has value that cannot be underestimated.

Sure, $138,000 looks big and scary, but those are dollars 35 years in the future. In today’s dollars, assuming 3% inflation, that difference is around $49,000, still a large number but that works out to $1,400 per year. Better yet, if I tell my client to invest $100 extra a month, that difference is eliminated. What does your typical hourly based fee planner charge, $150, $200, $250? I can tell you that between initial setup and implementation, ongoing monitoring, annual reviews, major life change events, etc, 10 hours per year isn’t unreasonable.

I absolutely believe my clients should be educated. As reported in Canadian Business, a recent survey (I know, more propaganda) found that only about half of Canadians knew about the recent changes to mortgages. Guess what percentage of my clients knew about it? 100% because that’s the kind of thing I inform my clients about in my weekly email. I’m sure there are many Canadians who don’t know what an RRSP or TFSA are but do you think those are things haven’t explained it to my clients? Don’t tell me that planners like to keep their clients in the dark.

I will NEVER claim that absolutely everyone should use my services. In fact, I know that you and others who visit this site (and other financial sites) will not find value for money from my services. I’m OK with that, you aren’t my target market. There are some DIYers out there like your fictional Investor A. But the simple fact is MANY people (more than you think) do not want to take the time to pour over investment books like you and I do. Those are the people who benefit from my services because if a planner doesn’t approach them, they likely won’t do anything now and perhaps not for a long time.

That is the basic bias in your argument. You believe that everyone is like you when it comes to getting enjoyment out of immersing yourself in the world of financial planning and investing, The fact is, it’s simply not true. I’ve been reading financial books since I was 15 (The Wealthy Barber might have actually been one of the first ones I read). It wasn’t until I really started talking to other people about it that I realized how little desire there is out there for people to do it themselves. That’s the same with many things in life, my brother is a mechanic and enjoys tinkering around, I on the other hand can’t be bothered to learn enough to change my own oil (and trust me, it’s not a matter of not HAVING the time to learn).

Contrary to what you might think, I’m not here to solely defend Investors Group. When they announced the reductions in MERs I was cheering in my head (I didn’t think it would go over well if I cheered out loud at the meeting). Absolutely, your site (and others) offers great advice and I have no qualms with the vast majority of your posts. But I know there will never be a time when 100% of the people out there will take the time to get informed. Your opinion is that I’m taking advantage of them, my opinion is that I’m helping them. If I can help a client find an extra $100 month, you will focus on the $2.50 that IG takes, I will focus on the $97.50 that the client wouldn’t otherwise have.