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How to become a better do-it-yourself investor Add to ...

Hi, Gail. I am in my mid 40's and my employer has our pension with Sun Life. As employees, we have the opportunity to invest in an RRSP through SunLife at reduced fees (they are around 2% for us). They are encouraging us to move all our RRSP investments over to them because these "reduced fees" are a great advantage. Unfortunately - they are only offering specific mutual funds to invest in. I presently have my rrsp mutual funds with the Bank. Do you feel this is a good idea? I am concerned this may be a selling tactic - as it is hard to compare apples to apples when they are not selling the same funds. BlackRock Funds (former CII?) compared to Scotia Bank Funds. Thanks.

[Comment From Gail]

2% MER is not a great deal. You can do better. The Mawer Balanced RSP fund for example has an MER of about 1%.

[Comment From Lloyd ]

What is the best place to put cash in an on-line account?

[Comment From Gail]

No money market funds. High interest online savings accounts pay around 1.2%.

[Comment From ]

my online broker does not offer a US side in my rrsp. Is it worth switching so the dividend stays in US funds?

[Comment From Gail]

To finish off where to put cash. Here are some examples with minimums CIBC Renaissance High Interest Savings Acct. ATL5000 $1000 Altamira Cash Performer AIS100 $1000 Dundee C$ Investment Savings Account DYN500 none Manulife Bank Investment Savings Acct. MIP510 none ICICI Bank HIISA IBN100 $1000 B2B Trust High Interest Investment Acct BTB100 none RBC Investment Savings Account RBF2001 $500

[Comment From Gail]

To answer the US dollar RRSP question, it depends on how many US dividends you receive. It may be better to push your existing broker to get with the program (TD Waterhouse are you listening?)

Darcy Keith - Here are a couple related questions concerning credit unions - and the safety of investing in them:

[Comment From ]

Is the Guarantee provided by Provincials Credit Unions for GIC as good as the Federal CDIC ?

[Comment From Ken ]

How safe are Credit Unions (outlook financial) in Manitoba. They claimed that our deposits are 100% guarantee without limit.

[Comment From Gail]

Short answer I can say. However, I personlly think the risk of the provincial deposit insurance corporations not delivering is low.

[Comment From Kevin ]

Any reading materials that you could suggest to us who are looking to invest?

[Comment From Gail]

Well, being totally biased, my book No Hype- The Straight Goods on Investing your Money (second edition is just out) is a good place to start. In the Resources section of my web site www.gailbebee.com I have a list of useful references that goes well beyond just books.

Darcy Keith - I'll just add to that by saying we have some great information here at the Globe Investor site for investors wanting to learn more. You can start exploring by clicking on the Investor Education tab near the top of the screen. Or, click here to see the main entry page. Many videos, columns and articles on becoming a smarter investor, no matter your sophistication level

[Comment From Victoria ]

What criteria or personal knowledge levels woudl you recommend for an aspiring direct (online) investor versus going with a broker who will handle trades fro you?

[Comment From Gail]

Learn the investing basics (stocks, bonds, ETFs ,mutual funds, how markets work etc. ) Know yourself, make sure you have the time to do your research. Understand the risks of investing. Always, think for yourself. That's a starter list!

[Comment From Hugh ]

If one wants to buy US securities, is there a low-cost way of converting currency? If I remember correctly, anks seem to charge 2%, online brokers charge 1%. Surely there is a cheaper alternative.

[Comment From Gail]

You could look to the independent currency conversion firms, but then you have to move money around and it takes time.

Darcy Keith - A follow-up question now from Rick on high interest saving accounts:

[Comment From Rick ]

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