Monday, September 28, 2015

How to protect yourself from financial fraud with BNN's Larry Berman

If you missed this morning's Berman's Call with Larry Berman, I was delighted to join him during his educational segment.  Also in on the conversation was Nicholas Cheung, Vice-President, Member Services with the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada discussing their financial literacy outreach.

Catch the segment and Larry's full blog here:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Who can be a financial planner in Canada? You may be shocked to find out.

Did you know that anyone in Canada, outside of Quebec can call themselves a financial planner?  No wonder thieves like Earl Jones, who scammed over 158 investors, and mostly seniors, out of over 50 million dollars, can exist for so long before being caught.  When the news broke, Canadian’s were shocked that anyone can hang their hat out as a professional and set up shop giving financial advice.  The lack of regulation has led to market confusion.

The industry needs to change this and Cary List from the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) are leading the charge.  Cary also serves with myself and 13 others on the Steering Committee for Financial Literacy.  In a recent conversation, Cary and I were lamenting about how the industry’s regulation or lack thereof is confusing for those of us in the industry – what about the public?  How are you supposed to know how to shop around for financial advice, check if someone is licensed to sell financial services products or give qualified advice?

I’ll be watching the FPSC to see what changes they’re able to have enacted in Canada’s financial industry.  If you’d like to learn more about their efforts, you can view their latest press release here.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Do you know who can ask for your SIN? Or your child's SIN?

With back to school activities starting, I’m getting a number of emails from concerned parents telling me that their kid’s soccer club is asking for their social insurance number.  Others are telling me that it’s a standard “ask” on sign-up forms for other children’s activities.  And for adults?  Many organizations such as some provincial hydro, credit card companies and many more are asking for you SIN when they have no business doing so.

Your social insurance number is a unique 9 digit number that is a key piece of your identity, and in the wrong hands, can benefit identity thieves greatly.  It’s such a sensitive piece of data that Service Canada has stopped issuing SIN cards.

Who can ask for your kid's SIN?

A SIN is only required when income is potentially going to be earned and will need to be reported to CRA (Canada Revenue Agency). In the case of your child, when you open a RESP (Registered Education Savings Plan), the government needs your child’s SIN as an identifier for one day when the money will be withdrawn and CRA will receive its tax.  As well, when your teen applies for a part time job, it’s acceptable for the employer to require a SIN number on the application.
Basically, if income will be earned by you or your child, now or in the future, your SIN will be requested.  In all other cases, it should not be asked for and you have the right to refuse such requests.

Here are just some examples where you should not be asked for your SIN:
  • A creditor such as a bank or on a loan or credit card application, 
  • Your local utilities company, 
  • Extracurricular activities for your children,
  • Your home and auto insurance company.
In reality, Canadians are being asked for their SIN and that of their children’s in the above examples and many other.  It’s incumbent on you to say no and refer to the Service Canada guidelines here -   If you feel pressured to provide your SIN or that of your child’s, you have a right to inquire how the information will be stored, safe guarded and at some point, destroyed.

I’ll be speaking about this subject and how to create a S.A.F.E. Financial Life – learn how to protect you family from identity theft and fraud -at an upcoming, cross Canada speaking tour.  The events are free to the public but fill up fast.  Reserve your seat in your city by visiting:

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

New record-high debt levels for Canadians - Kelley joins the Ryan Jespersen show on 630 Ched this Friday

Last week, Canadian debt levels hit new highs.  We now owe just about $1.65 for every dollar of disposable income we bring in (according to Stats Can last week).  Can you guess what that number was in the 1980's for example?  Just 66 cents for every dollar that we brought in.  Why?  Interest rates were in the double digits and having debt was expensive, not to mention a four letter word (as it should be).  Canadians were saving more and competing for mortgage burning parties with their friends and neighbours.

I hear it all the time from individuals across the country - money is cheap.  Why shouldn't I buy my dream house now, renovate it till it's perfect and check all the boxes on my bucket list before I'm fifty?

One answer.  We still have to pay it back.  And, if and when interest rates move, even a little, that cheap money will feel like a heavy burden to pay.

Join me on Friday morning, September18th on 630 Ched with Ryan Jesepersen as we discuss mounting debt levels, why even with this "cheap money" that should be paid off fast, 1/4 of Canadians are living paycheque to paycheque (BMO reported last week) and more seniors are retiring with a mortgage.  Tune in and call or text us with your questions.