Last fall our financial advisor at Investors Group told us he was leaving. Not long after, a letter arrived saying our account was now “orphaned” but folks were doing their best to find us another advisor. Eventually, another advisor took over the file for my son’s Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) but no one bothered to inform us.
It didn’t matter anyway. I was pretty fed up with Investors Group and in spite of news about a phase-out of Deferred Sales Charge (DSC) fees for existing DSC accounts, I still wanted out.
My boyfriend is pretty happy with his financial advisor and we liked the guy so in early December we started the transfer process. I figured it would take a few days, maybe a few weeks.
When we set things up, we explained a quick transfer was crucial because my son is attending university and would need the money to pay his tuition by the end of January.
Without going into detail, I’ve investigated things and I’m feeling angry and frustrated with the whole situation but also bewildered since the transfer is still not done and tuition is due on Jan 31st, plus my son needs his textbooks now and I’m going to have to borrow money if the situation is not resolved very soon.
Here’s a timeline of what’s happened with our file, based on my investigation:
- Dec. 2: opened file with new advisor
- Dec. 8: new advisor’s company set up our new mutual fund with new company
- Dec. 9: Investors Group does a trade for the money in the RESP
- First week of January: I follow up with new advisor’s company and am told transfer is not complete.
- 2nd week of January: New advisor’s company phones. Someone from support staff says Investors Group is one month behind with its transfers and is refusing to go any quicker. Maybe if I call Investors Group that would speed things up or I could request the funds so my son has his money?
- After hearing from the new advisor’s office, I phoned Investors Group’s local office and tracked down the guy who was handed our file. He says the new advisor’s office should have phoned him first and not dealt with Investors Group headquarters. Says he’s handled transfers and they take three days to complete. I relay this to the woman in my new advisor’s office and give her his phone number.
- Apparently, a cheque containing my son’s RESP funds was sent by Investors Group’s headquarters in Winnipeg to the new mutual fund company in Toronto by snail mail on January 12th. It still hasn’t arrived.
- On Friday (Jan. 20) the new mutual company says if they don’t see the cheque soon (they said they scan their mail and would know if it had arrived), they’ll ask Investors Group to cancel the cheque and reissue. They’ve apparently sent Investors Group several “notices of delay,” to no avail.
When we’ve dealt with the new advisor there’s been a lot of badmouthing of Investors Group for having such a slow process but when I’ve phoned Investors Group they’ve been helpful except for the bit about mailing all of our RESP money in an old-fashioned cheque via Canada Post by regular mail, no tracking whatsoever!
I don’t feel like anyone in this whole mess really cares about me or my son and the problems we’re having accessing the RESP money. There’s no one proposing a solution. (UPDATE: On Monday, Jan. 23, a customer service rep from Investors group offered to have the original cheque cancelled, reissued and sent by courier to Toronto but it would only get to Toronto next Monday or Tuesday. This was way too close to the Jan. 31st deadline for me and I decided to borrow money instead. The cheque has still not arrived and it’s unclear when this situation will be resolved). No one is forwarding the funds so we can pay for tuition and books. And because I’m not getting many updates on what’s happening, I’m looking into it myself.
If you’re leaving Investors Group, my advice is to budget a couple of months for a transfer. And be careful about transferring because I was charged DSC fees. Apparently, if your money is in a DSC fund, the fees apply for seven years from the last day you made a monthly payment, something I was never told.
I wish I had withdrawn my son’s tuition money before beginning this transfer. I had no idea it would be such a nightmare.
I’m calling Investors Group tomorrow to find out exactly where that cheque was mailed. If it went to the wrong address, I will track it down!