Despite charging some of lowest fees, the TD e-Series mutual funds may not be suitable for everyone because TD Bank RESP accounts are not set up to receive the enhanced Canada Education Savings Grant available for lower income Canadian families. Reader TS who had RESP accounts at TD sent the following note (slightly edited) about moving the accounts to Altamira (posted with permission).
Update on Oct. 12, 2012: Altamira is now owned by National Bank Financial. The contents of this post remains true of the National Bank RESP account as well.
After some initial confusion, I set up one family RESP account for each of my three children with Altamira and added the other two as beneficiaries. The Altamira rep was very helpful with the paperwork and even caught what looked like a mistake on my part in the transfer from TD (it wasn’t a mistake as I had transferred one kid’s amount to another on purpose to make the amounts deposited in the new accounts more proportional to the kids ages), but I was impressed that she caught it.
So overall I was pleased with Altamira, and very happy my kids will be able to receive the additional grants for which we are eligible. We have other business with Altamira and I have been happy with them because although their index fund MERs are a bit higher than TD (most are 0.5% I think), I find their online system, phone system, and monthly reports much easier to read/use. I don’t know what it is with TD as I find their reports much harder to read and track, and when I make trades within my account, it always seems harder than it should be. I know you’ve had good experience with them, and overall I am still pleased, but I am glad that I only have to call them a couple of times a year.
One more thought: Overall the RESP process just doesn’t seem that easy. My local TD banker told me that many people are missing out on all the free government money (here in Alberta each kid is eligible for $500 for just being born!) because they don’t ever set up an account. I am fairly good with numbers and have a decent investment understanding and I still found it a lot of work and confusing, so I think the government isn’t succeeding in getting the money to families who could really use it in the future. I hate seeing people miss out on good things like this. It would be interesting to know how many people do not get the grants for which they are eligible.