By Staff | February 14, 2005 | Last updated on February 14, 2005
11 min read

(February 18, 2005) The Ontario government has appointed a panel to work on and advance the design of a common securities regulator following a unanimous vote from an all-party legislative committee.

Chair of the management board of cabinet, Gerry Phillips, says panel members will reflect a broad mix of perspectives to ensure they consider the viewpoints of investors, businesses and different regions in the country.

Lead by Ronald Daniels, dean and professor at the University of Toronto, the panel is charged with creating detailed design work on a common securities regulatory structure, including features to ensure a strong local presence and sensitivity to regional issues. The panel will deliver its final report at the end of June 2005.

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Mavrix files final prospectus

(February 18, 2005) Mavrix Fund Management has received regulatory approval for the Mavrix Resource Fund 2005 I Limited Partnership. The offering will close on February 24, with a second closing scheduled for late March.

The blind pool offering invests in the resource sector, with an emphasis on resource issuers engaged in mineral exploration. The partnership intends to focus on companies in the intermediate and junior resource sector and companies with advanced exploration programs. Mavrix says units of the fund are most suitable for investors in the highest income tax brackets. Minimum investment is $5,000.

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Banknorth shareholders approve TD deal

(February 18, 2005) Banknorth Group shareholders approved the proposal from TD Bank Financial Group to acquire 51% of the Portland bank’s outstanding shares. Banknorth’s president and CEO says the acquisition is a good deal for Banknorth shareholders, customers and employees.

“We now have greater resources to continue with our growth strategy in New England and beyond,” he says. The deal is expected to close on March 1, 2005.

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Sprott re-caps fund

(February 17, 2005) After opening the Sprott Canadian Equity Fund to new investment on January 4, Sprott Asset Management announced today that it will cap the fund to new investment as of March 1, 2005. The cap also applies to all existing unitholders in the fund except those with pre-authorized contribution plans.

As of January 31, 2005, the fund had assets of $728 million, according to Morningstar Canada.

The company first capped the fund in June 2004 “in an effort to maintain and maximize performance of the fund in order to achieve its objectives,” after it reached about $500 million in assets.

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Excel overhauls Canadian fund to invest in India and China

(February 17, 2005) Unitholders of the Excel India China RSP Fund, formerly known as the Excel Canadian Balanced Fund have approved a resolution to change the fund’s investment mandate in order to gain exposure to the equity and debt markets of India, China Hong Kong, Taiwan and other Far East countries.

Managed by Toronto-based Toron Capital Markets, the RSP fund invests in units of the Excel India Fund and Excel China Fund. “The clone fund is considered Canadian content and allows investors to invest in India and China without going over their 30% foreign content limit,” says Excel’s president and CEO, Bhim Asdhir.

The manager is allowed to maximize the allocation to India or China up to 80%, with the remainder invested in debt securities of Canadian issuers, derivatives and cash.

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Canadian markets see rise in foreign investment

(February 17, 2005) Canada was a popular place for foreign investors in December 2004. Foreign, mainly American, investors acquired $3.9 billion worth of Canadian securities. At the same time, Canadian investors sold their foreign securities, offloading $482 million in December.

Last year, foreign investors purchased a total of $53.2 billion worth of Canadian securities, the largest annual investment ever by foreign investors, driven largely by investment in Canadian stocks.

Healthy M&A activity lead to a record level of money being raised on Canadian equity markets and foreign investors increased their holdings of Canadian stocks by $35.8 billion over 2004, the highest level of foreign investment in Canadian equities ever.

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CRA extends tax season telephone service hours

(February 17, 2005) Until May 1, the Canada Revenue Agency is extending its hours of telephone service for taxpayers.

CRA agents will be available from 8:15 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. on business days and from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays to answer general tax inquiries during the income tax filing season. Outside of these hours, callers can access tax information using the automated touch tone information system. The services are available by calling (800) 959-8281 or (800) 267-6999.

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TFSA appoints former finance minister

(February 17, 2005) Janet Ecker, Ontario’s former finance minister, is the first executive director of the Toronto Financial Services Alliance (TFSA).

The alliance is a public/private partnership with a mandate to enhance and promote the long-term competitiveness of Toronto as a premier North American financial services centre. TFSA members include organizations representing the financials services sector, its trade associations, affiliated business services and academia.

Ecker is currently an advisor with the law firm of LeDrew Laishley Reed where she counsels clients on government relations, public policy and strategic communications. “Ms. Ecker’s appointment is a boon to the TFSA,” says Toronto mayor and one of the founding members, David Miller.

The organization was created in 2001 in partnership with the City of Toronto to build awareness of the industry and its contribution to the city’s economy, and to support Toronto’s international reputation as a financial hub.

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B.C. tinkers with taxes

(February 16, 2005) B.C. is cutting personal income tax rates for low-income earners and raising the corporate income threshold for small businesses. The measures were announced Tuesday in the B.C. budget.

Effective this year, individuals earning up to $16,000 a year will pay no provincial income tax and those earning up to $26,000 will pay a lower rate. The province is also reducing medical premiums for lower-income individuals, families and seniors.

“A senior couple with a net annual income of $30,000 will now pay over $900 a year less in provincial tax, compared to four years ago,” says B.C. Finance Minister Colin Hansen. “And a family of four with the same annual income will pay almost $1,300 less.”

Combined, the changes the tax and medical premium reductions will save lower-income earners $480 million over three years, he added.

B.C. is also increasing the small business corporate income tax threshold to $400,000 from $300,000. “This means small businesses will pay the significantly lower small business tax rate on earnings up to $400,000 each year,” Hansen explained.

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Clarington Corporate goes public

(February 16, 2005) Clarington Corporation today announced plans and filed a preliminary prospectus with regulatory authorities for an initial public offering of its common shares. The offering will include a treasury offering and a secondary offering, both underwritten by a syndicate of seven investment dealers, lead by RBC Dominion Securities and Scotia Capital.

This is the second time the company has attempted to join the public market. Clarington’s first announcement was in December 2003. Within two weeks it deferred, then postponed the offering before filing an application with regulators to cease being a reporting issuer.

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FPSC expands advisor radio campaign

(February 16, 2005) The Financial Planners Standards Council is expanding its CFP branding campaign with spots on radio stations in seven new markets, including Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Calgary and Edmonton.

The radio spots are supported by commercials during the three weeks leading up to the shows, quoting the likes of Albert Einstein, Henry Youngman and Oscar Wilde to illustrate the importance of financial planning.

The goal of the campaign, which also includes transit advertising and full page ads in lifestyle and business magazines, is to increase public awareness of the significance of CFP certification.

The radio shows feature partner CFP planners in a one-hour, ask-the-expert style format. Guests, stations and a schedule of show times can be found at

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Raymond James creates new executive position

(February 15, 2005) Investment dealer Raymond James has announced that Kevin Whelly is joining the firm to fill the newly-created position of senior vice-president, growth and development. Whelly, formerly of TD Bank’s private client group, is charged with supporting the firm’s aggressive recruitment goals for its private client business.

In a statement, Raymond James president Peter Bailey said Whelly brings more than 23 years of experience to the firm and a successful track record of building sales teams. The firm’s growth strategy involves recruiting both independent planners and branch employees under two different business models. It also offers a range of transition services for advisors interested in making the switch. Last year the firm recruited 50 new advisors to the retail team of 265.

“Our goal is to continue to grow aggressively,” says Bailey. “Over the next three years we plan to create a team in excess of 400 investment advisors, managing more than $18 billion in client assets.” Currently the firm’s assets under administration sit at $8 billion.

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HSBC joins CanDeal

(February 15, 2005) HSBC Bank Canada and HSBC Securities (Canada) joined online debt securities trading network CanDeal this week. By agreeing to a multi-year commitment to the network, HSBC joins six other Canadian investment dealers, including TD Securities, ScotiaCapital, RBC Capital Markets, National Bank Financial, CIBC World Markets and BMO Nesbitt Burns.

“I am delighted to welcome another first class financial services organization to the CanDeal network,” said CanDeal president Jayson Horner in a statement. “This development demonstrates our ongoing commitment to create an expanded pool of liquidity that institutional investors can access through CanDeal and it attests to the value that CanDeal has created for investment dealers as an effective means of serving clients.”

CanDeal’s online bond trading network serves both investment dealers and institutional clients.

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Bradley leaving PH&N

(February 15, 2005) After nearly 14 years at investment manager Phillips, Hager & North, Tom Bradley is retiring as president and CEO at the end of June to pursue new challenges. The firm enjoyed significant success during Bradley’s tenure as president, with assets under management growing from $31 billion in September 1999 to more than $50 billion today.

In a statement, the company said “while all of us at PH&N will be sorry to see Tom leave, change is a natural part of the evolution of a firm. Tom leaves behind a management group who shares his commitment to the highest standards of professional ethics and integrity.”

Bradley’s responsibilities will be transitioned to other senior shareholders and members of the firm’s board of directors.

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Blumont launches offshore version of hedge fund

(February 15, 2005) BluMont Capital has introduced an offshore version of the BluMont Hirsch Long/Short Fund.

Based in the Cayman Islands, the new fund, managed by Veronika Hirsch, is available in both Canadian and U.S. dollar denominations to investors not resident in Canada and the U.S.

BluMont says the fund’s launch is in response to the growing demand by international investors for proven and experienced Canadian hedge fund managers.

“Canada’s attractiveness to international investors has been buoyed by recent trends in world commodity prices, the rising value of the Canadian dollar and booming trade opportunities with Asia,” the company said in a statement.

The BluMont Hirsch Long/Short fund, established in January 2001, has generated an annualized net return of 17.8% and has more than $80 million in assets.

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Clarington launches Target Click funds

(February 14, 2005) ClaringtonFunds today launched the Clarington Target Click Funds with a range of fixed maturity dates, principal guarantees and the ability to lock in the highest month-end unit prices achieved over the life of the funds.

Guaranteed by Netherlands-based ABN AMRO Bank, the funds invest in Government of Canada strip bonds, T-bills and units of the ABN AMRO Global Exposure Fund.

The global asset allocation funds are RRSP eligible and do not count as foreign content in a portfolio. Fixed maturity dates in 2010, 2015, 2020 and 2025 are designed to meet varying investment time horizons for investors with a low tolerance for risky investments.

Management fees range from 1.15% to 2.60%. Minimum investment is $500.

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Consumers slowing their pace of debt accumulation

(February 14, 2005) Consumer spending has outpaced income growth considerably in recent years, and the trend will likely continue. However, TD economists say Canadians will slow their rate of debt accumulation in 2005.

In the latest edition of TD Consumer Pulse, a semi-annual publication tracking and forecasting consumer activity, found that personal savings rates fell to zero in the third quarter of 2004, contributing to record high levels of personal debt.

Despite the record high-debt levels (Canadians spent roughly 113% of their personal disposable income last quarter), economists say there is no debt crisis looming. Personal bankruptcies are down, mortgage and credit delinquency rates are low and debt interest costs remain low. Consumer spending is expected to grow at a moderate rate of 3% in 2005 and interest costs are expected to rise only modestly, keeping debt-service costs under control.

In fact, the report found personal wealth rose 10% last year in Canada, the fastest pace in almost a decade, driven by S&P/TSX gains of 12% and a 9% rise in the value of homes in 2004.

In the coming year, personal disposable income growth is expected to improve to 2.7%, up from 2.1% in 2004 and 1.4% in 2003. Personal savings will likely rise to 1% by the end of 2006.

“Consumers will continue to contribute to Canada’s economic expansion, but they cannot be looked to as the leading edge of growth,” says economist Eric Lascelles.

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Last chance to get life licenses from Advocis

(February 14, 2005) Advocis is pulling out of the exam administration process for life, accident and sickness insurance licenses, and encouraging members to challenge their exams by the deadline on December 31, 2005.

The association will no longer offer exams on behalf of the Financial Services Commission of Ontario after the end of the year. Ontario practitioners with Level I can obtain a full licence by successfully challenging the Level II exam. Those who don’t must complete the Life License Qualification Program to obtain their full life and accident and sickness licence.

Furthermore, the association is boosting exam fees in March, June and September. The Level II exam fee will increase from $100 to $150 on March 1, to $200 on June 1 and to $250 on September 1.

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CSA publishes comments on straight-through processing

The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) are publishing their responses to industry comments on straight-through processing (STP) discussion papers and related materials released last year.

Discussion paper 24-401 and proposed National Instrument 24-101 on STP, trade matching and settlement discuss the importance of post-execution functions, and build on previous initiatives to improve the securities clearing and settlement system in the Canadian capital markets. The notice also discusses CSA processes going forward. The CSA says it hopes to have appropriate rules finalized by December 31, 2005.

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Quebec regulator wins case against RBC Life

(February 14, 2005) Quebec Superior Court Judge Jean Lemelin upheld the position of the Autorité des marches financiers (AMF), ordering RBC Life Insurance Company to pay $32,520.30 claimed by the AMF.

The regulator says the dispute essentially focused on whether an insurance company can be held liable in the event a representative embezzles sums of money intended for policy holders.

In April 1997, a representative of the company, then known as Westbury, requested a cash withdrawal from a client’s life insurance contract, and forged the client’s signature to deposit the cheque into his personal bank account.

The AMF says the court ruled that an insurer is liable for any fraud committed by its representatives in their performance of their duties, and ordered the company to pay back the amounts embezzled by the Westbury representative.

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Firms switch to VirtGate management systems

(February 14, 2005) Agency management services provider CoViort Canada announced five brokerage firms have signed on to use the company’s Internet-based life insurance administration services known as VirtGate.

The online program allows firms to aggregate information, process applications, analyze options and deliver reporting in real time. The company says the “total integrated solution for advisor and policy management” processes more than 100,000 new Canadian life insurance applications each year. “We confidently expect this to grow to at least 150,000 by the end of 2005,” says CoVirt’s president, Tim Fitzpatrick. The agency management solution allows clients to track new business from anywhere they can access the Internet. Firms do not need to maintain a server or install specialized software. staff


The staff of have been covering news for financial advisors since 1998.