Do you want information about your investments?

May 2 2007 by Ellen Roseman

Canadian securities regulators have passed new rules that you only get information from stock issuers and mutual fund issuers if you “opt in.” They call it investor choice, but I’m afraid it may leave people in the dark.

Under the new rules, you get an annual request from the companies you invest in. Do you want to get its annual reports or interim reports? If you want them, you have to send in a special form. If you do nothing, you get nothing.

That’s worrisome, because it’s important to keep tabs on your investments. Even with a financial adviser looking after you, you may not get what you need to make informed choices. You can go to SEDAR , which is an electronic database of stock and mutual fund documents. But is that enough?

It’s easy to ignore or overlook these requests. Stock issuers often combine them with the voter instruction or proxy forms, sent out with annual meeting packages. If you don’t read carefully, you may just throw them out.

Investors often feel buried under a crushing load of paperwork. And they may wonder how many trees have been killed to send out this stuff, which often seems more like marketing than information. But I think they’re not well-served by the new opt-in rules.

What do you think? Are you getting too much informatioin or not enough?

3 comments

  1. Frank C

    May 3 2007

    I feel sorry for the mailperson shortly after the end of a quarter and my mailbox starts loading up with interim and annual reports. All that fine paper on which the reports are printed weigh a ton! I feel especially guilty when I don’t have time to read each one before the next one arrives and then on recyling garbage day, I begin to feel sorry for the garbage collector, after I feel sorry for myself for lugging the stuff out to the curb.

    Now, I choose what I want to read by going to the mutual fund or equity issuer’s website where the interim and annual reports are accessible. Mind you I don’t check out all the reports, just the ones that I feel need monitoring, but that was the same dilligence when I had “hard copy” version of the stuff for all the companies. A lot less guilt and a bit of hope that the money saved on printing less reports stays in the fund/company.

  2. Neil

    May 8 2007

    Ellen, my big gripe isn’t annual reports/prospectuses, but investor websites. I use TD Waterhouse, and it is like pulling teeth to figure out my net annual return. I’ve tried so many sites, entered so many silly Mutual fund codes… all I want is a monthly statement that factors in distributions, capital gains, sales etc and lists my net gain/loss for that month.

    I know they can do this, because they give me all the data.. but it is very difficult to account for.

    I think they do this deliberately because a) they are a low-cost operator and b) they have no interest in how you do, just whether you make more trades or not (commissions).

    IMO, well worth a look, if you are curious about being an informed investor.

  3. Gail H

    Jun 4 2007

    I worked for a mutual fund company. There were numerous requests from clients to stop sending out statements and reports and most gave “saving trees” as a reason. Others simply didn’t like the enourmous amount of superfluous information and the expense of producing and postage.
    The “Know Your Client” rule means keeping the investor informed.