Amid myriad regulatory proposals, criticism for sales tactics at banks and a potential shakeup of financial services in Ontario, some in the industry are moving ahead with investor education instead of waiting to see where the chips fall.

Read: Don’t miss important compliance reminders

That’s probably wise, considering research shows many investors don’t know, for example, what they pay in fees. A survey published in a newsletter by ATB Investor Services finds that only 46% of Albertan investors are aware that they pay fees at all.

And things might not be much better for those who say they’re familiar with their fees: 39% believe fees have a big impact on returns, 31% say fees have little impact on returns and 30% say fees have some impact. Whether those disparate responses accurately reflect the investors’ portfolios isn’t clear.

Further, 61% of Albertan investors aren’t aware of the intent or significance of CRM2.

ATB provides education on its website, suggesting that investors pose four critical questions to their advisors:

  1. What is your obligation to act in my best interest?
  2. How are you compensated?
  3. How will I be charged?
  4. What is your investment philosophy?

Also helpful is a video series comparing paying fees to paying for an airline flight. (“When you pay for an airline ticket, you pay for a number of built-in service fees along with the flight. Investments also have built-in fees.”)

Read: DSC alternative has limited merits

For its part, Advocis’ television ad campaign launches today to tell investors that a ban on embedded commissions could limit their access to financial advice (“proposed government regulations are putting your financial security at risk”). That’s in sharp contrast to CARP, which has a petition on its website to urge an embedded fee ban, as well as government action on a best interest standard. (Last week, CSA announced only Ontario and New Brunswick would keep working on a best interest standard.)

See Advocis’ client website on embedded commissions.

Readers: Are you an Advocis member? Do you agree or disagree with your association’s position? Email us.

The ATB survey involved 1,004 participants. Results are considered accurate to within +/- 3.5 percentage points. See the ATB newsletter with the survey results.

Also read:

Only 2 provinces ‘committed’ to BIS, but work continues: CSA

What do you do to make fees more transparent?