By Staff | October 31, 2007 | Last updated on October 31, 2007
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(October 31, 2007) Clients who have problems with their Registered Education Savings Plans can now take their disputes to the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investments, but only if their plan provider is a member of the industry’s association.

The Registered Education Savings Plan Dealers Association of Canada has signed an agreement to allow the OBSI to mediate disputes, effective November 1, 2007.

“Each of our member firms currently does its utmost to resolve concerns raised by plan holders,” said Peter Lewis, chair of RESPDAC. “But up to now, a client had limited recourse if their dispute or complaint reached an impasse. OBSI provides an ideal solution for both sides.”

OBSI will be able to mediate disputes involving C.S.T. Consultants Inc., Children’s Education Funds Inc., Heritage Education Funds Inc. and USC Education Savings Plans Inc.

These companies account for more than 90% of the group plan business in Canada, and manage about a third of more than $22 billion in total education savings plan assets.

“It’s inevitable that there will occasionally be disagreements, and that’s where we can be of great service to both parties, at no cost to the individual consumer,” said David Agnew, ombudsman and head of OBSI.

Related article: OSC wants to educate investors about RESPs.

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U.S. couple files NAFTA claim over trust tax

(October 31, 2007) As if the fury of domestic investors were not enough, the federal government is now facing a challenge under NAFTA to last year’s decision to impose corporate taxation on income trusts.

Two American trust investors have filed the challenge, claiming that the decision cost investors on both sides of the border undue losses. The couple claims that American investors have lost $5 billion due to the tax announcement, while Canadians have lost $30 billion.

“This Halloween surprise to government is just one more example of how the Harper government did not do their homework when deciding to tax trusts,” said Gord Kerr, vice-chairman of the Coalition of Canadian Energy Trusts. “It has been a full year since the so-called Tax Fairness Plan announcement, and, one year later, repercussions and unintended consequences continue to be felt throughout Canada.”

Related article: One year later: Income trusts hang tough.

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New green fund aims to clean up

(October 31, 2007) There’s a new fund on the market aimed at environmentally conscious investors, and it’s leaving no room for doubt about its marketing hook. Kyoto Planet Asset Management today launched the Kyoto Planet Fund, which will invest in renewable energy and clean technology industries globally.

The fund is available only to accredited individuals and institutions and will invest in “both public and private companies,” according to the firm’s press release. Up to 25% of assets will target private equity investments, as many green technologies are still in their infancy.

“The Kyoto Planet Fund is unlike other eco-focused funds because it’s created and managed by the financial arm of a broader eco-focused company, rather than a large financial company simply offering an eco fund,” said Craig Basinger, CEO of Kyoto Planet Asset Management. “Our parent company, Kyoto Planet Group, has a number of different businesses all focused on combating climate change and promoting environmental sustainability, which helps Kyoto Planet Asset Management uncover unique investing opportunities by leveraging expertise from other Kyoto Planet Group business units.”

The company says that one-third of its net profits will be given to its affiliated charity, the Kyoto Planet Foundation, which will “distribute funds to environmental groups or projects that strive to solve climate change issues and promote issues of eco-friendly sustainable living.”

Related package: Doing good, doing well: A guide to socially responsible investing.

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Russell launches new fixed income pool

(October 31, 2007) Russell Investments Canada has launched the Russell Core Plus Fixed Income Pool, which is designed to give investors greater diversification while seeking higher return potential than a typical fixed income fund.

“The Russell Core Plus Fixed Income Pool provides a wider opportunity set by giving active bond managers the flexibility to find value beyond traditional sectors of the fixed income markets, such as non-Canadian high yield, currency, and global debt securities, such as emerging markets,” says Greg Nott, fixed income portfolio manager for Russell Canada. “It is ideal for investors seeking a higher level of fixed income return potential.”

In a separate release, Russell also announced new purchase options on its wrap offerings, offering low-load and front-end-load options on the Sovereign Investment Program and the Sovereign Diversified Monthly Income Portfolio.

Russell also introduced an Elite (E) Class offering, which reduces fees for accounts in excess of $500,000.

“We’re excited to provide more choices for advisors and further strengthen our product offering in the Russell Sovereign Investment Program and SDMIP,” says Russell’s David Bullock, managing director of distribution and marketing. “The new purchase options and new share class offer more flexibility for advisors to prospect for clients and grow their assets.”

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BMO teams with Inhance on SRI mandate

(October 31, 2007) BMO Nesbitt Burns is partnering with Inhance Investment Management to create a socially responsible Canadian equity mandate for BMO’s unified managed account program, Architect. The new SRI mandate is slated to be available by the end of November 2007.

“We are pleased to offer BMO Nesbitt Burns’ clients across Canada a socially responsible investment alternative,” says Inhance CEO Kerry Ho. “We look forward to working with BMO Nesbitt Burns to make responsible investing a robust part of their product offering.”

Related package: Doing good, doing well: A guide to socially responsible investing.

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Acuity seeks fund merger

(October 31, 2007) Acuity Funds is seeking regulatory approval for the merger of the Acuity All Cap & Income Trust, Acuity Diversified Total Return Trust, and Acuity Multi-Cap Total Return Trust into the Acuity Growth & Income Trust.

Assuming approval is granted, the merger should be completed by the end of December 2007.

(10/31/07) staff


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