November is Financial Literacy Month. It’s a great initiative, but in reality, every month is a good time to learn about personal finances. As you gain more knowledge, you’ll become a better saver, spender, consumer and investor.
Being financially literate touches almost every aspect of life. This article will consider some of the basics, giving you a foundation in case you wish to learn more about topics that are most relevant to you.
It can pay to shop
The world of financial products is more complex than ever, given the growth of online platforms. With so many financial institutions and so many offers to consider, it can be overwhelming.
Before making a decision, shop around and weigh your options. Let’s say you want to open a bank account. Conduct an online search and learn what services each bank provides and what features each account type offers. Do you require a physical branch nearby, or will you do most of your banking virtually? Based on your circumstances, determine which account best meets your needs.
Similarly, credit cards come in all shapes and sizes, so shopping around can help you find the card with the features, rewards, fees and interest rates that work for you. Shopping around for the right mortgage is also crucial because purchasing a home is a major long term financial commitment. Since mortgage rates and conditions vary by institution, careful shopping can make a big difference over the long run.
Know your rights and responsibilities
To satisfy regulatory requirements, financial institutions use clear, plain language in their contracts and other documents. For instance, banks provide easily understood information about their credit products, while investment managers publish materials like a Simplified Prospectus and Fund Facts document that highlight a product’s key features and risks. You should read these materials before signing any agreement, as understanding all terms and conditions will ensure you know what you’re getting into.
If your financial institution experiences insolvency, there are safeguards to help protect your money. For example, the Canadian Investor Protection Fund (CIPF) provides clients with limited protection for assets held by investment dealers that are CIPF members. Similarly, the Canada Deposit Insurance Corporation (CDIC) provides limited protection for eligible deposits held at CDIC members, such as banks, credit unions and trust companies.
Watch for scams
Protecting assets is the responsibility of every individual. Fraud and cybercrime are on the rise, targeting those who are vulnerable or careless. Scammers may call, email or text you, posing as a someone from a recognizable company or government agency. They often use aggressive tactics and threats that pressure you to provide banking or credit card information. If you question the identity of someone claiming to represent a legitimate organization, get their name/contact details and call the organization to confirm.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) ensures that federally regulated financial organizations comply with the appropriate measures to protect consumers. The FCAC also provides information to help you understand consumer rights and responsibilities, as well as how you can spot and avoid scams.
Understanding investment products
Everyone wants to build wealth for the future, but there are many investment products to choose from – and some are highly complex. Your advisor can help you choose the right solutions that best match your investment objectives, time horizon and risk tolerance.
If you don’t have an advisor, do your research as there are many options. Some people try investing on their own, but usually lack the necessary time and expertise. Others may use “robo advisors” that offer lower fees but typically provide limited services. For most investors, it makes sense to work with a professionally accredited advisor – one who offers personalized advice that can help them stay on track to meet their long-term financial objectives.
We can help you navigate the financial marketplace as you work to achieve your wealth goals. Speak with us today.
This article is a general discussion of certain issues intended as general information only and should not be relied upon as tax or legal advice. Please obtain independent professional advice, in the context of your particular circumstances. iA Private Wealth Inc. is a member of the Canadian Investor Protection Fund and the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. iA Private Wealth is a trademark and business name under which iA Private Wealth Inc. operates.