Receiving financial information on your investments

As an investor, you may be receiving information in the mail about companies in which you have invested. You may be quite happy with that arrangement, but if you are not, rest assured there is something you can do.

When you first open an investment account, you are required to answer a couple of questions relating to receiving shareholder information. This is information that relates to the individual companies, trusts, mutual funds, etc. that you have purchased in your investment account. Based on your answers to these questions, your account would have been set up accordingly with respect to how much of this shareholder information is, or is not, mailed to you.

If you are currently receiving information you don’t want, check with your financial institution. You can always change the options for your account. Financial institutions may have different shareholder communication options available, but the majority follow the same requirements.

Disclosure of beneficial ownership information

1. I DO NOT OBJECT to the disclosure of my name, address, electronic mail address, securities holdings and preferred language of communication to issuers of securities held with you and to other persons or companies in accordance with securities law.

2. I OBJECT to the disclosure of my name, address, electronic mail address, securities holdings and preferred language of communication to issuers of securities held with you and to other persons or companies in accordance with securities law. I understand that by objecting to the disclosure of my account information noted above to issuers of securities that I hold with you, certain materials may still be required by law to be sent to me, and that I may have to pay the costs of having these materials provided to me.

Receiving security holder materials

3. I WANT to receive ALL security holder materials sent to beneficial owners of securities.

4. I DECLINE to receive ALL security holder materials sent to beneficial owners of securities. (Even if I decline to receive these types of materials, I understand that a reporting issuer or other person or company is entitled to send these materials to me at its expense.)

5. I WANT to receive ONLY proxy-related materials that are sent in connection with a special meeting.

If you enjoy reading the information issued by the companies you have invested in, then selecting “1” for disclosure of beneficial owner and “3” for receiving security holder materials would be the appropriate selections for you. Reading this information may be prudent for people who do their own investing and or for those who do not have access to the Internet or other resources.

If you are an investor that may not read this information and most often will discard or shred the shareholder documents you receive, you can easily arrange with your firm not to receive it. Selecting Option “2 “and “4” would enable you to reduce the information sent to you. And the fact is, if you have a wealth advisor, they are hopefully reading through all this information on your behalf.

Before you make a final choice you should also consider the environment and costs associated with mail coming to your postal box. Most of the information that is sent to security holders is available in the “investor relations” tab on the underlying company’s individual websites. Also, you have the ability to change your communication option at any time.

The concept of releasing ownership information may be confusing to some. When you open up an account at many financial institutions the underlying investments are held directly by the firm, in trust for you. As a result, the underlying companies that you have purchased may not know who the direct purchaser is unless you consent for your financial firm to release this information.

The release of ownership information refers to your name, address, electronic mail address, securities holdings and preferred language of communication. The only way the underlying companies may send you information directly is if you consent to your financial firm to release your beneficial information.

What if you object to the release of beneficial ownership information but you still wish to receive the communications. In these rare situations the communications from the companies you have invested in must send the information to the financial institution. The financial institution then must mail it to you as the beneficial owner. The obvious points to highlight are that the mailing costs would be doubled and you would expect this process to have delays.

The important thing to remember in all of this is that you need only receive information by mail if you want it. Contact your financial institution and they will be happy to help you make whatever arrangement in this regard that you desire.

For more information on all of this topic, search for NOBO, Non-Objecting Beneficial Owner or National Instrument 54-101 under a search engine.

Kevin Greenard CPA CA FMA CFP CIM is a portfolio manager and director, wealth management with The Greenard Group at Scotia Wealth Management in Victoria. His column appears every week in the TC. Call 250.389.2138.