Dear Doug: Unclaimed Property Legislation is “For the people” and will help you pay for promises

There’s approximately $2 billion+ in Unclaimed property sitting with various financial organizations across Ontario that needs to be returned to hard-working Ontarians but no one knows how to find those assets. That’s not right nor fair but also sad because a large portion of that would ultimately also serve the Ontario budget in a big way now and in years to come. All we need to make it happen is long-awaited Unclaimed Property Legislation.  Such legislation in Ontario would truly fit the definition of “For the People” but also for the Province.

Unclaimed property legislation is an important part of consumer protection – but missing in Ontario

Ontario is the single largest jurisdiction in North America without unclaimed property law to protect consumers. Such legislation is an important aspect of consumer protection which is why all jurisdictions across the US have had such legislation in force for 50 years or more. Unclaimed property legislation also exists across the UK, Australia, New Zealand and most recently, Kenya.   In the last 10 years legislation has been enacted in Alberta and Quebec. Both provinces like the US, offering a centralized database for searches but differing slightly in the assets that are included. BC has had legislation in place since 2000, but there is a voluntary element which is unlike any other jurisdiction.

There is no reporting of unclaimed assets which makes finding those lost assets difficult to say the least

But it is Ontario that remains the most disappointing outlier as Canada’s largest province where much of the financial sector is located. If you live in Ontario and you or a loved one have misplaced or lost a financial asset, the lack of legislation makes it hard to find those assets. If your Grandfather Jack made you a beneficiary on an insurance policy and forgot to tell you about it before he passed away you’re out of luck. There is no obligation for an insurer to look for beneficiaries even if the insured has likely passed, based on age. If your Mom invested in an Ontario Savings bond 20 years ago and she died without telling you, the bond is part of the $70 million or more in unclaimed/matured Ontario Savings bonds sitting idle because the Province has indicated, it’s “not their job” to look for bond holders even if they had the address to send a  T5 for tax purposes. If your Dad had an account with an Ontario Credit Union 30 years ago that he forgot about, it’s still there waiting for him there because Ontario Credit Unions have been waiting for the Ministry of Finance to tell them where to send inactive and unclaimed credit union accounts for more than 20 years. Section 182 of the Ontario Credit Union Act (1994) indicated that unclaimed accounts should be set aside but didn’t specify where to forward them.  Whereas, in the case of federally regulated banks, Canadian dollar accounts without activity for 10 years or more are forwarded to the Bank of Canada by December of each year and added to the unclaimed account registry available online.

Unclaimed Property Legislation would be a Win/Win for the people of Ontario and the Provincial treasury

Ironically, Ontario was the first Canadian province to pass unclaimed property legislation in 1989, in order to “safeguard the rights of owners of intangible property by providing a method for owners to recover, in perpetuity, their intangible property held by others. “  The program as envisioned was to rely on the services of the Public Trustee to administer the program on behalf of the province, “to hold and to return lost and forgotten property”. The Act also specified that unclaimed intangible property was to be used for the benefit of the people of Ontario until the property was claimed by its owner.  That’s the way it works in the US. In the US, despite central databases and proactive promotion to residents to look online for any missing money, a good portion of over $70 billion total in unclaimed financial assets helps support state treasuries, in particular education, infrastructure and health care. Indeed, in most US states, while claims can be made in perpetuity by legal owners or by their heirs, it’s been long considered good public policy to put unclaimed property to work which is why unclaimed financial property is a big and growing revenue generator ranking 3rd after corporate and personal tax. That makes unclaimed financial property legislation a win/win for owners and for government.

Ontario has had 2 false starts with Unclaimed Financial Property legislation and is about 50 years behind putting that legislation in place but the former Attorney General declared it “Not a Priority”

Despite the best interest of those who could benefit from Unclaimed property legislation, the statute for unclaimed property legislation in Ontario was not proclaimed into force after being passed in 1989 and was repealed 22 years later in 2011. The 2012 budget announced Ontario’s intention to try again and create an unclaimed property scheme that would mirror that of the US. But despite myself and other stakeholders attending and providing input to those consultations with the Ontario Ministry of Attorney General in 2013, there has been virtually no follow-up.  After making several inquiries, the only  response I could gather from the now former, Attorney General’s office was that it was “not a priority” This despite the fact that the proposed program for unclaimed intangible property could be fairly easily initiated utilizing the Uniform Unclaimed Intangible Property Act, which was developed by the Uniform Law Conference of Canada many years ago. The rules are written we just need it to move forward.

Ontario is a disappointing outlier when it comes to unclaimed property legislation despite an approximate $2 Billion in unclaimed financial assets

And so here we are in 2018 with Ontario remaining as the single largest outlier in North America when it comes to unclaimed property legislation.  That’s due to the fact that Ontario has an estimated $2 Billion + in unclaimed or lost financial assets in the form of unclaimed provincially regulated bank/trust/credit union accounts, insurance policies, share certificates, dividends, unclaimed wages, bonds, pensions and other property types including prepaid funeral deposits, utility deposits and tax refunds etc.  Without any legislation there is no duty for organizations holding unclaimed property to report on or to relinquish those assets or to look for those who have lost track of their financial assets (or the heirs of legal owners).

If you think that’s a lot of money here’s a comparable. The State of Illinois has had unclaimed property program in place since 1962 and has a population of about a million less than Ontario. The Illinois Treasurer’s unclaimed property program – now known as I-Cash  is currently safeguarding 15 million properties valued at roughly $2.9 Billion and working to reunite each with its rightful owner. 1 in four residents of Illinois who search the I-Cash database finds property to claim with an average claim of $1,000. 1 in 8 of residents living in Illinois has unclaimed property and in the last 2 years more than $300 million has been paid out to legal owners by a proactive Illinois Treasury.

No one loses track of their hard-earned and generally tax paid financial assets. It seems “UnCanadian” to do nothing to help

To be clear, no one loses their hard-earned and generally tax paid financial assets on purposeAssets generally become lost as a result of a tragic event, forgetfulness, missing or damaged records or human error. In Ontario because there is no law that requires the holders of unclaimed financial assets to look for the asset owners, generally they don’t.  Much of the unclaimed or lost financial assets owing may not be life-changing windfalls, but I believe that hard-working Ontario residents deserve to have one place to search & find those unclaimed financial assets. Given that it’s 2018, it should not be this difficult to move forward to do what’s right when it would benefit consumers, taxpayers, and our cash strapped government treasury.

It seems at least to me so very “UnCanadian” to not move forward with unclaimed property legislation and do what’s right for the people of Ontario when ultimately it might serve to also be an economic action plan in waiting for Ontario and help the new Premier pay for some of his promises.

Unclaimed Financial Assets in Canada

Ontario needs unclaimed property legislation


Budget Talk: The $2 Billion Ontario doesn’t seem to want

Ontario is seeking budget input from Ontarians but there’s been no action so far on an old budget item now worth $2 Billion

There’s approximately $2 billion in Unclaimed Property that is sitting with various organizations across Ontario that needs to be returned to hard-working Ontarians. $2 Billion would also serve the Ontario budget in a big way now and in years to come.

Ontario is the largest jurisdiction in North America without an unclaimed property law to protect consumers. While Ontario was the first Canadian province to pass unclaimed property legislation in 1989 the statute was not proclaimed into force and the legislation was repealed 22 years later in 2011. The 2012 budget announced Ontario’s intention to try again and create an unclaimed property scheme that would mirror that of the US where legislation has been in force for over 50 years. And yet, there has been no follow-up from consultations that occurred in 2013.  Why  ?

We submitted an 8 page document advocating for the rights of Ontario residents for this legislation during consultations in 2013. We and jurisdictions around the world feel pretty passionately that Unclaimed Property is an important aspect of consumer protection that is missing in Ontario. The estimated $2 billion + in unclaimed/lost financial assets for Ontario comes in a variety of forms including unclaimed bank/trust/credit union accounts, insurance policies, share certificates, dividends, unclaimed wages, bonds, pensions and other property types including prepaid funeral deposits and utility deposits etc..

Unclaimed Ontario savings bonds alone total more than $65 Million.  

The Law Society of Upper Canada (Ontario) has more than $3 Million in unclaimed trust accounts. No one knows what the total of Unclaimed accounts held by Ontario credit unions would total because for the last 20 years, Credit Unions have been waiting for further instructions.  Legislation would ensure that any organization in Ontario holding unclaimed or lost deposits or financial assets would transfer them to the Province and a comprehensive database would be available for Ontarians to look for those assets while the Province or a related agency would proactively look for legal owners.

Despite the fact that no ones loses track of their assets on purpose  and assets generally become lost as a result of a tragic event or forgetfulness, in Ontario there is no law that requires the holders of unclaimed financial assets to look for the asset owners. So no one including the Province is looking for you if your Great Aunt Martha purchased a life insurance policy for you or if your Grandma Shirley opened a credit union account for you when you were born. We would argue that`s not “very Canadian” .

Legislation would be a win/win for Ontario residents and the Province of Ontario as unclaimed financial assets are typically utilized by the government or jurisdiction that holds those accumulated assets until claimed. The USA has more than $58 Billion in Unclaimed financial assets being used in this way. Unclaimed assets are sadly becoming a larger part of the revenue for many states including most notably California and New York.
While facts are sparse given a lack of legislation across Canada (outside of Alberta and Quebec where legislation has been enacted), there has been an alarming increase in unclaimed financial assets in recent years. Given aging demographics and the digital world in which we live, that increase will probably rise significantly. So why is Canada and Ontario in particular so far behind other jurisdictions like the US, Australia, New Zealand, the UK etc?

More importantly, why is a cash strapped Ontario government not following up with Unclaimed Property legislation that they started re-discussing in 2012  ?

Does the government of Ontario really have too many other pressing priorities that might be as advantageous as Unclaimed Property Legislation both from a financial and consumer protection perspective  ?

It’s time for Ontario to catch up and do what is right for Ontario taxpayers/residents and their the Provincial treasury. Have your say during budget consultations with Ontario by linking to the Province of Ontario here   We have and we hope you will share this post with others if you agree with the need for Unclaimed Property Legislation in Ontario.

Lost bank accounts in Canada now top $626 Million

Another year, another alarming increase in Lost Bank accounts for Canadians

I am happy that the Bank of Canada this week, updated their website with the balance of unclaimed or lost bank accounts as at December 2015. Last year, I had to make 5 requests for the updated balance & the related database of individuals with balances owing to them as of December 2014. Only after I involved the CBC who without much hesitation did a program on the problem of Unclaimed financial assets in Canada did the Bank of Canada update the information on their site for the benefit of Canadians. I was thrilled about the CBC program that helped to shine a light on the problem of lost bank accounts and Unclaimed Financial Assets in general.  I was also quite relieved when the Bank finally updated their website in late April last year.

But while I’m happy about the prompt updating of lost bank account information for 2015; I`m disturbed by the increase again this year in the value of lost bank accounts last year.

Another $59 Million in lost bank accounts for 2015, making the overall balance owing to Canadians some $626 Million. 

That’s an increase of 10.2% which is similar to last year when $56 Million was added to the unclaimed bank account balance. Considering the population of Canada is some 36 million; the increase is substantial as it the total balance of $626 Million in lost bank accounts. Claimed amounts are dismal at $10-$11 Million for each of the last 2 years.

Check out the disturbing details of lost bank accounts that I have been obsessively passionately tracking for the past 8 or so years:

Too many lost Bank accounts are being held by the Bank of Canada

Too many lost bank accounts are being held by the Bank of Canada

Unclaimed Property Legislation for Canadians is an important aspect of consumer protection that’s missing for the majority of Canadians and advocacy for such legislation is a lonely battle despite the sheer magnitude of an estimated $6 – $7 Billion in Unclaimed assets in Canada. The Bank of Canada holds approximately $1 Billion between the $626 Million in Unclaimed or lost bank accounts and another $500 Million (+) in Unclaimed Canada Savings Bonds.  However, there’s an estimated $5 – $6 Billion or so in other Unclaimed financial assets that Canadians have misplaced like credit union accounts, trust accounts, insurance claims, pension funds, education funds, prepaid funeral deposits, savings bonds, shares/dividends etc.

It’s time Canada caught up to the US and the majority of other developed nations and provided citizens and taxpayers of Canada consumer protection in the form of Unclaimed Property Legislation. The US has had such legislation in place for more than 50+ years. Unclaimed Property legislation would ensure that all unclaimed financial assets are centrally held, reported on and most importantly, owners would have a better chance of being found.

It`s rather… UnCanadian not to have Unclaimed Property legislation in place for Canadians

No one loses track of their hard-earned financial assets on purpose. It’s generally the result of a tragic event or forgetfulness. It would ease the burden on executors that look for financial assets when an individual passes along. Reuniting legal owners with their financial assets would generate economic action. In cases where owners can not be found, unclaimed financial assets would supplement government treasuries that are cash strapped.  It’s a win/win for Consumers and Government to move forward with legislation. So why is Canada so far behind.

Please take a moment to look for your name or the name of your friends or family members using the updated Bank of Canada Unclaimed Balance data base

Bank of Canada Unclaimed Balance database


Dealing with digital property after death

Dealing with digital property after death can cause more grief.

Problems in dealing with digital property after the death of a loved are more common given the digital age we live in.

Such problems may also come with financial consequences. Indeed, if  McAfee the internet security company is correct, digital property may well be worth more than a car for the average Canadian ! A 2013 McAfee survey estimated the average Canadian owned some $32,000 in digital assets including movies, music, games, digital photos, communications and social media profiles and blogs. (They estimated the global average to be  $35,000 in digital assets.) Many of these digital assets come with complicated terms of service agreements which can be frustrating or impossible for loved ones to access. Depending on where you live, such agreements might even put loved ones in legal trouble based on anti-hacking or privacy statutes after their loved ones die.

The real problem is that people do die  (!) 

Estimates are that as many as 10,275 Facebook users and 5.700 iTunes owners die each day so dealing with those users’ digital property is an issue. The recent story of a widow in Victoria trying to access games on her deceased husband’s iPad highlights the problem. Shortly after Peggy Bush’s husband died , the 72-year-old, tried to play games her husband had purchased before his death.  Nothing short of a court order was good enough to be able to access those iTunes games including a death certificate or the will until CBC Go Public stepped in and Apple stepped up.

As the article points out, digital property is unique from other property owned by a loved one. While users of digital property own the material online for the most part, access to it is controlled by  providers like Apple. Providers set the rules when it comes to accessing what we put online and the content purchased. One solution is that providers should offer clearer, “plain speak”  policies dealing with digital property and access. The last time I checked, the I Tunes terms and conditions were some 28 pages long. I doubt even lawyers read them when setting up their I Tunes account.

Canadian laws need to be more clear about who owns or controls what is put online after someone dies. In the US, the Uniform Fiduciary Access to Digital Assets Act will hopefully solve the problem for Americans using the concept of “media neutrality“. Such legislation would give the account holder the power to decide what happens to his or her digital assets in the same way they do for physical or financial assets. Delaware was the first state to take the lead and enact such legislation but many other states have introduced such legislation for consideration. While I’m an accountant not a lawyer, I’m not aware of any such legislation being contemplated.

What steps can be taken to secure your digital property for your loved ones? 

There are a few key to do’s to safeguarding digital property  that I can suggest when it comes to digital assets or property:

Plan Ahead – make a list of important passwords and online accounts and specify what should be done with each of those accounts if you were to become incapacitated or die

Keep your list up to date regularly review your list for any changes (and additions) you have made

Store and share – store your list in a secure location and let family members/executors know how to access that list. Don’t make the mistake of listing all your online accounts and passwords in your will or power of attorney as they can’t be guaranteed to remain secure

Backup – ensure you back up your digital assets if they are stored online; backup data to a local computer or a USB or similar storage device on a regular basis.

Estate planning – work with an estate lawyer to update your wills and powers of attorney to include digital property. Given that only 56% of Canadians have a will – make a will if you don’t have one. Specify your wishes about what happens to your digital assets after death and provide consent /authorizations so that your loved ones/executors can deal with them appropriately. This would include password resets or recoveries.

LegacyTracker can help provide protection for your digital assets by providing a secure spot for you to safely store your online usernames and passwords. LegacyTracker also enables secure  sharing of your important information with loved ones, advisors or executors.


Unclaimed Credit Union accounts

$6 Billion in Unclaimed funds could spur a lot of economic action

The fact is: Canada is woefully behind when it comes to Unclaimed Financial Asset Legislation

Typically, Economic Action Plans that we are familiar with consist of infrastructure spending including roads and buildings costing millions in taxpayer money. But what about a different kind of economic action plan that would cost millions less but generate more than a billion of economic action?  This under the radar, economic action plan in waiting is about ensuring that each Province and Territory across Canada put into place comprehensive & consistent Unclaimed Intangible Property Legislation.


Unclaimed funds could spur a lot of economic action

Connecting or reuniting Canadians with the hard-earned/unclaimed (often tax paid) financial assets that they are legally entitled to is the goal of Unclaimed Property Legislation. And yet, the majority of Canada (outside Alberta and Quebec) is way behind in putting such legislation in place which also makes it difficult to pinpoint the actual value of Unclaimed Financial assets currently in Canada. However, experts estimate the total value to be between $6-$7 Billion. That’s a lot of cash that too many governments across Canada (outside of Alberta & Quebec) are failing to gather up, safeguard and share information on for the benefit of Canadians. That’s way too much cash that too many governments across Canada are failing to capitalize on for their own budgets as they do in other countries like the US. In most US states, unclaimed financial assets are now a major help to state budgets. California is estimated to use some $400M annually for their state budget from unclaimed property that’s still available to legal owners should they be found.

The Bank of Canada alone has on deposit approximately  $1 Billion in the form ofUnclaimed Canadian $ Bank accounts (from federally chartered bank accounts only) and Unclaimed/Matured Canada Savings Bonds. Unfortunately, no one is looking for legal owners despite the fact that information would be readily available from government records.

Canada Savings bond

Canadians are owed more than $400M in Unclaimed CSB’s

Check out a Fast Fact sheet on Unclaimed Financial Assets for some of the alarming facts on amounts owed to hard working Canadians.

Let’s face it.

Nobody sets out to lose their financial assets on purpose & people generally work hard for their money. However, as we know far too well, people can become incapacitated or die quite suddenly or forget or move or not have the financial literacy skills required to ensure that their money is properly safeguarded for their own use or for their heirs down the road. That’s why most of the Western World like the US considers Unclaimed Property Legislation to be an important part of Consumer Protection Legislation. The US has had such legislation in place for more than 50 years & currently holds approximately $58 Billion in unclaimed assets. Yes. $58 Billion. The difference is that a lot of this $58 Billion in the United States can be found on individual State websites. State Treasuries proactively look for the legal owners of those funds while utilizing those funds to supplement state finances. Given that the problem of Financial assets is growing at an alarming rate, Canada is way overdue in ensuring that Unclaimed Property legislation is in place across the Country.  All Provinces and Territories need to get on board.

Unclaimed financial assets come in various forms:

  • Bank accounts/Credit Union accounts
  • Over payments made to businesses or deposits such as Utilities
  • Stocks, mutual funds, bonds, and dividends
  • Funds reserved (undeposited) certified cheques, drafts or money orders
  • GICs or Certificates of deposit
  • Pensions
  • Insurance policy proceeds, Insurance refunds and amounts payable resulting from Demutualizations of mutual insurance companies
  • Education Savings plans
  • Prepaid Funeral deposits
  • Tax refunds
  • Mineral interests and royalty payments, trust funds, and escrow accounts
  • Contents of Safety Deposit Boxes-which may include valuables and sentimental items
  • Uncashed payroll cheques
  • Unused Gift Card balances

It seems reasonable that ALL  Canadians deserve to have their financial assets safeguarded by Unclaimed Property Legislation. We think reuniting Canadians (or their heirs) with their own money is the right (and Canadian) thing to do. It’s good for everyone including the economy to get this money back to rightful owners and back into circulation.

If you believe more Canadian jurisdictions should put consumer protection in place by way of Unclaimed Property legislation, please pass this post along and speak with both your MPP and your MP about the issue. As always, feel free to contact us for more information. As one of the few advocates for Unclaimed Property legislation in Canada we would be pleased to offer more information and to receive your help in shining a light on this issue.

Given the alarming value of Unclaimed financial assets in the US ($58Billion+) despite the existence of  Unclaimed Property legislation, we know that legislation is only part of the solution to reducing the risk of assets becoming lost or unclaimed. That’s why we’ve built a simple, secure solution that helps individuals and families better organize their important information in order to:

  • Engage more proactively in financial/estate planning
  • Enhance their level of emergency preparedness and
  • Help reduce the risk of hard-earned financial assets from being lost or forgotten

Get in touch with us anytime to learn more about the need for Unclaimed property legislation or LegacyTracker.

Canada’s own sunken treasure

A ship missing for 310 years was found off the coast of Colombia in the Gulf of Mexico  this past week carrying gold and jewels worth $17 US billion. It’s been called the “Holy Grail” of sunken treasures.

That’s all really exciting but the recovery will be difficult and already a bitter battle has arisen over what may be the world’s largest sunken treasure between Columbia, Spain and a US salvage company. The Columbian government is currently treating the wreck as a state secret to avoid further plundering.

While it’s hardly a State secret, sunken treasure in Canada does exist in the form of unclaimed property or unclaimed financial assets owned by hard-working Canadians. Yet, it’s barely easier to find and doesn’t get barely the attention it deserves.

There’s a Billion dollars in unclaimed property in the Bank of Canada between lost bank accounts and matured/unclaimed Canada Savings Bonds and no one is looking for the legal owners of that treasure despite the information naturally at the disposal of such a worthy crown corporation as the Bank of Canada.  While there’s a listing that is updated annually on the Bank of Canada website for unclaimed bank accounts, take note that those bank accounts are only accounts that have had no activity for 10 years and don’t include accounts in foreign currency.

More unfortunately, very sadly and for some unknown reason, no listing of owners exists for the $500+ Million in Unclaimed Canada Savings bonds.  Whereas the same can not be said for unclaimed bank accounts, Canada Savings Bonds can only be registered by individuals living in Canada so the entirety of this sunken treasure belongs to Canadian individuals and families.  It certainly seems “UnCanadian” for the Bank of Canada to 1) not look for those individuals considering that they have their SIN numbers at hand 2) allow Canadians to more easily find their hard-earned savings bonds.

There’s a multitude of other forms of unclaimed financial assets in Canada that make up sunken treasure in Canada. The estimated total of unclaimed financial assets in Canada total $6 Billion plus. That treasure is more difficult to find outside of the provinces of Alberta and Quebec where unclaimed property legislation actually exists (BC has voluntary unclaimed property legislation).

Generally, Canada is woefully behind in ensuring that consumer protection in the form of Unclaimed Property Legislation exists for all Canadians. The US and other countries around the world have had such legislation in place for 50+ years You can find a partial list of some of the other sunken treasure in Canada on our website as well as some of the places you can search

 Good Luck

Mortgage or life insurance

Is Mortgage insurance the same as life insurance?

No so much. Not so much at all. Mortgage or Credit Insurance is just not the same as life Insurance.

There are BIG key differences between mortgage or credit insurance and life insurance.

  1. Post Claim underwriting Underwriting for mortgage insurance is done AFTER a claim not BEFORE a claim by looking at health, age and any pre-existing conditions that might exist, during the application process. What that means is that an individual paying for mortgage insurance for any length of time could be found to be uninsurable only after a claim gets submitted resulting in benefits not being paid.  There’s no guarantee. Yes. It’s possible and risky. (Google scary life insurance stories)
  1. Beneficiary choice. With mortgage insurance, the lender is the automatic beneficiary; not anyone you might choose like a spouse or a family member.  Personal circumstances can and do vary when an individual dies. Paying off the mortgage may or may not be the best option; cash might be more important.
  1. Higher Cost/Declining Benefit: Mortgage insurance offers a declining amount of coverage (in line with your mortgage) for a typically higher cost that one could obtain level life insurance for. There are no discounts for being a non-smoker or being healthy as everyone pays the same price. Prices do also vary for mortgage insurance but there is less transparency in the marketplace so it’s hard to compare pricing.
  1. Portability:Mortgage insurance is tied to your mortgage and is therefore not transferable if you change lenders. Higher rates may apply when you start over with another lender. With life insurance there would be no need to start over. Life insurance offers stable & consistent coverage and often renewable/convertible options maybe offered on a term policy that will allow one to convert to a permanent policy without a medical exam.

These differences are significantly significant. and too significant to be left to chance.

The real key takeaway is that mortgage/credit insurance benefits creditors or lenders first; personal life insurance benefits individuals better.

Take time to investigate and learn.



The (Big) value of a Comprehensive Financial Plan

The slides that follow are from the Financial Planning Standards Council (Canada) of which I’ve been a proud member since 1999. The slides summarize a 3 year longitudinal study the FPSC developed to measure the impact a financial plan has on Canadians’ emotional and financial well-being and the impact of working with a CFP professional.

The impact of both are significant

Take a look and move forward with a financial plan

Mortgage Insurance is not the same as Life Insurance

How many consumers know that Mortgage Insurance or Credit Insurance is not the same as Life Insurance ?

Mortgage insurance or Credit Insurance is not the same as Life Insurance but I fear that too many consumers don’t know the difference.   A lot of Mortgage or Credit Insurance is sold by lenders when consumers purchase a home or take out a line of credit. Lenders know how to lend but I question lenders being the right ones to sell consumers insurance. Could it be that one of the reasons that consumers don’t know the difference between Mortgage or Credit insurance and Life Insurance is BECAUSE they have purchased it from their lender? I believe it’s quite possible.

There are key differences between Mortgage or Credit insurance and Life Insurance.

Here are 4 Big Differences :

  1. Post Claim underwriting:  That’s the way Mortgage insurance works. But what does that mean? It’s all about the timing of the underwriting.  Underwriting for mortgage insurance is only done when and if you have a claim. Life insurance by contrast is underwritten when you purchase the policy. What that means is that the individual buying the mortgage or credit insurance may not be covered when they think they are, because they may not qualify for the coverage when they buy it. Paying premiums but no actual coverage?         Yes. That sounds crazy and a bit risky. Not having complete certainty about whether or not mortgage or credit insurance will payout can really hang a cloud over a financial plan. Google  “Mortgage Insurance Horror Stories if you have a strong heart to read or watch some heartbreaking tales of those who experienced a family death only to have a mortgage insurance claim denied.  Or watch the video from CBC marketplace on mortgage insurance vs. life insurance     CBC Marketplace – In denial
  2. Your family is not the beneficiary: In all the flurry and stress that can accompany buying a new house and signing all of the paperwork that comes with a mortgage,  consumers can often fail to notice  that their lender did not mention the subject of a beneficiary. That’s because  the lender is the automatic  beneficiary of the death benefit in a Mortgage or Credit insurance policy.  A  false sense of security may exist that cash will be made available upon the death of an individual with mortgage or credit insurance. Circumstances can and do vary greatly when an individual with a mortgage dies; paying off the mortgage may or may not be the best option. Cash might be more important.
  3. Same Premium Cost/Declining Benefit: Most of us understand why there’s an increasing premium over the course of a life insurance policy to retain the same amount of insurance as one ages. It intuitively, makes sense. But that’s not the way Mortgage insurance works. In the case of Mortgage insurance, consumers pay the same (high) premium even though the coverage or benefit (payout) is actually decreasing as the mortgage is paid out over time.
  4. Mortgage insurance is not portable: When changing lenders, mortgage insurance does not move with the mortgage. Higher rates based on age might apply that need to be factored in. With life insurance there is no need to ‘requalify’ for insurance and often with a renewable and convertible term policy, it can be converted to a permanent product at any time without a medical exam.

These differences are significantly significant. 

I think that the differences between Mortgage/Credit insurance and Life insurance are too significant to be left to chance. Often consumers purchasing Mortgage or Credit insurance are doing so at a time of much stress; taking on debt is always stressful. When signing a mortgage, getting a line of credit or taking out a car loan, I suspect that many believe that they will be looked upon unfavorably by their lender if they chose not to take the insurance at the same time. It might have to do with the very serious looking waiver that needs to be signed when a borrower declines,

The Option is real Life Insurance for real risk management 

The vast majority of financial experts agree: Life insurance provides better coverage, more Flexible coverage and in most cases less expensive coverage to reduce the financial risk that occurs when a borrower dies with outstanding debt.

The staff that consumers deal with through a lender are not licensed insurance professionals. So it’s hard not to question… Why are lenders selling mortgage or credit insurance when they are not trained for the specifics?

At the risk of losing credibility, I’m going to admit (for the greater good), that I found myself ain the middle of a credit insurance misunderstanding a few years ago when an increase in a line of credit was required a few years ago, as we closed on a house before selling a house we were moving from. Here are some of the gory details that took place between ourselves and a Big Bank Lender:

  • No information on premiums was provided
  • No health information was requested (See #1 above re: the way underwriting works for credit or mortgage insurance)
  • Outrageously expensive premiums of varying amounts were added to a line of credit each month. While I made notice of them, I fear others may not have noticed or questioned them.  I did both.
  • When questioned; our bank manager could not provide any information about the premiums. When I suggested we would move our business elsewhere, she agreed to reimburse and she did so; reimbursing us in varying amounts between $300-$500/month like it was from some sort of petty cash fund.

That’s an odd and surprising way to gain reimbursement of credit insurance premiums. Getting reimbursed was my main priority at the time, but many questions stay with me even a couple of years later:

  • Why was the reimbursement made in this way?
  • How were those premiums calculated since they varied so much over the few months that they were charged?
  • Why was proper documentation of the mortgage insurance not provided initially or after the fact?
  • How many other consumers are paying outrageous Mortgage or Credit insurance that they have accepted either without question without realizing?

What I do know, is that change is needed.  At minimum, consumers need to be made more aware and more financially literate about the differences between Mortgage or Credit insurance and Life Insurance. Mortgage insurance benefits creditors or lenders first;  but personal life insurance benefits individuals better. 

Take time to investigate and learn.

Our LegacyTracker personal financial organizing tool provides the ability to organize, safeguard and share your important information and documents like life insurance policies, with loved ones or beneficiaries, executors or advisors.


Estate Mistakes from 4 stars that died too young

Estate planning is for everyone – avoid Estate Mistakes

The goal of estate planning is to leave what you have to whom you want the least possible cost in terms of administration and taxes. But, no one can successfully predict how long they will live; illness and accidents can happen at any age & when least expected. That’s why estate planning is important no matter the age (or stage). Too many families are caught off-guard and found unprepared when an incapacity or death happens and proper estate plans are not in place.

Estate planning is also not just for the wealthy; it’s important that proper estate planning & instructions be discussed and documented no matter the state of wealth. Indeed, estate planning can often mean more to families with modest wealth, because they can afford to lose the least.

I think there are profound lessons worth passing along from the estates of 4 very famous young stars who did not leave complete estate plans in place. Hopefully, others young or old, rich or not so rich can learn from these mistakes.

Phillip Seymour Hoffman (1967 – 2014)

A much-loved, versatile & celebrated actor, director, and producer of film and theater who won a best actor Oscar for his role in “Capote” in 2006. He died of combined drug intoxication. He was 47 years young.

Estate Mistakes:

  • His entire estate was left to his partner who was the mother of his 3 children,but he failed to create trusts for his children.
  • Because his partner was not his wife, the estate did not transfer on a tax-free basis.
  • By not setting up a revocable trust, his estate was subject to probate which caused further delays and costs and made his family financial situation, very public.
  • Estimated cost of estate mistake: $15 Million of an estimated $35 Million estate

Amy Winehouse (1983 – 2011)

The controversial yet undeniably talented British singer and songwriter known for her deep vocals and eclectic musical taste, died of accidental alcohol poisoning . She was 27 years young.

Estate Mistakes

  • She died “intestate” meaning that she did not leave a valid will.
  • Her estate passed by law to her “natural heirs” being her divorced parents. Her ex-husband who she remained very close to until her death; received nothing.
  • Her father was appointed as administrator and incurred considerable personal and financial burden in settling Amy’s complicated estate which included 6 music companies. The resulting cost to settle bills, debts and taxes ate up the majority of the estate estimated at $7 Million.

Heath Ledger (1979 – 2008)

The brilliant Australian actor and director died of accidental overdose of prescription drugs. He had just finished filming his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight for which he won many awards after his death including an Academy award. He was 28 years young.

Estate Mistakes:

  • He did not update his will following the birth of his daughter, Matilda
  • The beneficiaries in his will were his parents & 3 sisters with no mention of his daughter or his daughter’s mother
  • A filing of probate by his daughter’s guardians in Australia sought part of the estate held in Australian trusts worth approximately $20 Million. Much publicity around family infighting ensued until Leger’s father agreed to financially support his granddaughter

Paul Walker (1973 – 2013)

This young “heart throb” was best known as the star of the Fast & Furious movies and tragically (and ironically) died in a high-speed car accident that lead to a fiery car crash. He left a 15-year-old daughter and a tangled mess of finances & questions. He was 40 years young.

Estate Mistakes:

  • He established a revocable living trust for his 15-year-old daughter many years earlier, but he was noted as the only trustee with no successor trustee named. This has led to much debate between his own family and the mother of his daughter as to who will oversee the trust given that his daughter is a minor.
  • He had not updated his will in 12 years, a period over which his net worth grew significantly. Given the fact that his will had not been updated, there were no provisions made for his girlfriend of 7 years, who he intended on marrying.
  • While he established a revocable living trust for his daughter it was not funded fully during his lifetime so there has been considerable expense and publicity incurred that could have been avoided. It’s a common mistake to set up a trust but not do the actual transfer
  • Estimated cost of estate mistake: $5 Million of an estimated $25 Million estate

Better and more complete estate planning would have saved the estates of these young stars, millions in estate taxes. Better financial organization would have saved the families additional grief that comes with tracking down details and settling final accounts.

Better financial organization and peace of mind are goals behind LegacyTracker. When better organization is in place; better and more complete planning can take place.

64 Billion reasons to get your ducks in a row

Are your ducks in a row?

We think $58 Billion in unclaimed or misplaced financial assets in the US + $4-$6 Billion in Canada are pretty good reasons to get financially organized. These financial assets were no doubt hard-earned. A good majority of these assets may also be tax paid. $64 Billion or so waiting to be claimed by the individual that lost track or the legal beneficiaries of those assets; It’s a lot of money that could make a really BIG difference to many families and loved ones.

Unclaimed financial assets come in a variety of forms:

  • Bank or Credit Union accounts
  • Stocks/Bonds
  • Uncashed dividends
  • Utility deposits or refunds
  • Other prepaids, deposits or refunds
  • Trust distributions
  • Inheritances
  • Annuities/Pensions
  • Education funds
  • Prepaid funeral contracts
  • Mineral royalties such as oil, gas, or mining
  • Insurance policy claims/refunds
  • Contents of abandoned safe-deposit boxes

Unclaimed financial assets reside in a variety of places:

  • Banks, Credit Unions and Trust Companies
  • Insurance Companies
  • Share Transfer Agents
  • Pension Funds
  • Trust monies held by lawyers or real estate companies
  • Utilities
  • Funeral Homes
  • Investment management companies
  • Retailers (Gift Cards/Credits)
  • Government treasuries or agencies

While held initially by a variety of ‘holder’ organizations or institutions, unclaimed assets residing in the US or 3 of the Provinces in Canada with Unclaimed Property legislation in place will, after a set period of time, be forwarded to the State/Provincial or Federal treasury. Those assets will be safeguarded and reported into an online search base where hopefully the legal owners or heirs will find those assets and make a claim. Many US jurisdictions are very proactive about looking for owners.For example, many State treasury departments will engage in outreach activities at baseball games, summer fairs and shopping malls with the specific purpose being to find unclaimed money for visitors. It is common place in most US states to publish the entire database in the local paper, once or twice a year.

The US estimates that 1 in 10 Americans has unclaimed funds belonging to them

The US knows a lot about Unclaimed or lost financial assets because they have kept really good records over the 50+ years or so that they have had such legislation in place.The same can not be said for Canada despite how socially progressive Canada might be in many other areas.

Only 2 provinces in Canada (Alberta and Quebec) have comprehensive unclaimed property legislation in place and provide searchable databases. BC has a voluntary, less comprehensive system in place

The Bank of Canada has over $1 Billion in Unclaimed Money

The Bank of Canada on its own has over $1 Billion in Unclaimed financial assets in the form of Unclaimed bank accounts and Unclaimed/Matured Canada Savings Bonds. While there is a searchable database available online for unclaimed bank accounts which total over $532 Million, there is no such database for Unclaimed but matured Canada Savings Bonds which total over $500 Million. No one from the Bank of Canada s looking for those legal owners. We know because we asked.

Bank of CanadaThe amount of unclaimed financial assets is a staggering amount and so too is the rate of increase of financial assets becoming lost or unclaimed. The Unclaimed Bank account balance with the Bank of Canada increased by a net amount of $36 Million in 2013 or 7.3% making for a 5 year (net) increase of $181 Million. The value of unclaimed but matured Canada Savings Bonds increased $105 Million in the year ending April 2013.


Please get your ducks in a row

These alarming increases in unclaimed financial assets in combination with in Canada, a lack of comprehensive unclaimed property legislation for a majority of hard-working Canadians and their families should be sufficient evidence of the need to safeguard and protect information relating to financial assets appropriately. No one will safeguard your information as well as You can.

Helping with that challenge, is one of the core missions behind LegacyTracker.


How hard do insurers work to find life insurance beneficiaries ?

How hard do Insurers look for life insurance beneficiaries ?

Governments around the world are starting to take a proactive role in helping life insurance beneficiaries find the policies they are entitled to.

Unclaimed life insurance polices are a problem I’ve worried about for years and were a major impetus for developing LegacyTracker

Last November, France’s financial sector regulator fined CNP Assurances 40 million euros ($50 million) for failing to do enough to find the beneficiaries of deceased life insurance policyholders. They characterized CNP’s efforts as being highly insufficient . CNP who is the largest insurer in France (17% market share),  responded by saying that they really always intended to pay all those unclaimed policies.

In their press release after the news of their fine was released CNP also indicated that it has never derived any profit from unclaimed settlements…”income earned on unclaimed funds had been added to the sum used to pay all policyholders” As an accountant, I’m a bit puzzled by that statement but…onwards.

Since 2007, life insurers in France have had a legal obligation to try to find life insurance beneficiaries of unclaimed policies after a holder’s death.

Prior to 2007,  it was up to the heirs to claim the funds . That’s how it currently stands in Canada but this presumes that those beneficiaries or heirs know about a life insurance policy.  The Cour des Comptes public audit office in France indicated in a report last year that life insurers have been very slow living up to their obligations to find heirs since the 2007 law was enacted and estimated that unclaimed life policies might be worth at least 2.76 Billion. 

More info on the CNP story can be found here 

So, What about Canadian Life Insurance Beneficiaries ?

The majority of the western world has Unclaimed Property legislation in place which includes unclaimed life insurance policies.  However, only Alberta, Quebec and to a certain extent, British Columbia have Unclaimed Property legislation in place in Canada. In recent years, governments have really ‘zoned in” on the Win/Win Opportunity that such legislation provides to residents and their own treasuries.  There has been a gradual shift to tighten up the rules around what assets are included in such legislation. An example would be the inclusion of Gift Cards in certain states like New York and New Jersey. And, as is the case in the US, Governments are ensuring that life insurers work diligently to identify unclaimed life insurance policies based on death (“The DMF or Death Master File ) In recent years, a national multi state audit project has been underway which has so far resulted in the return of more than $2.7 Billion to beneficiaries and/or State Treasuries. Auditors actually determined that  insurers were using the ‘DMF” to stop annuity payments to deceased policy owners but not using the same files to find beneficiaries and to designate the policies as “unclaimed” Sun Life of Canada settled Unclaimed Property complaints with State Insurance regulators in November 2014 for $3.2 Million

Only 34% of Canadians have consumer protection in place in the form of Unclaimed Property legislation 

As well, the rules around life insurance policies in most jurisdictions in Canada do NOT include an obligation by the insurer to look for beneficiaries.

Each week I receive approximately 2-3 emails from folks that are looking for some guidance around finding possible life insurance policies. There’s not much I can offer to them outside of what I’ve already offered in earlier posts like this one which also included a  summary of the changes in the life insurance landscape over the years..another reason why finding a lost life insurance policy is made difficult,…another reason why legislation is needed and another reason why it’s important to safeguard & share important information about life insurance policies with loved ones and beneficiaries

Lost Insurance Policies can cause additional grief for loved ones

Ever changing insurance market


Get organized and reduce Personal Financial stress

Reduce personal financial stress by getting organized

A little organization can go a long way to reducing personal financial stress

A recent national survey conducted for the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) found that money is the leading source of stress among Canadians. Money and financial matters are a bigger stressor than work, personal health or relationships. 51% of women and 40% of men are losing sleep over financial worries and almost half or 45% are embarrassed about their lack of control over finances.   Highlights of the survey on financial stress can be found here 

Unlike other kinds of stress that can make your adrenaline go into overdrive and raise your energy level which can lead to a fight or flight response, financial stress is different. Financial stress often leads to a debilitating form of mental burden that is hard to shake and can have other long-term consequences of the very unfavorable kind.

What’s the answer?  How can you reduce personal financial stress?

  1. Breathe
  2. Organize
  3. Embrace Technology
  4. Review
  5. Simplify

Answer: All of the above and keep them going

Dealing with “cluttered” finances & personal financial stress can be debilitating

Organization is a key and positive first step to successful personal financial management & reducing stress that can help you achieve future success.  Organization & simplifying are both BIG stress reducers. Organization goes beyond where things are. Organization is about knowing what you have which is way better than not knowing and imaging the worst.

Knowing what you have is the first step in moving forward towards what you want to achieve and where you want to be down the road. Knowing what you have on an ongoing basis will help you monitor your progress and keep you motivated towards your goals.

Our web-based LegacyTracker personal financial organizer helps you reduce personal financial stress by helping you to organize and:

  1. Safeguard important documents by scanning/saving them inside LegacyTracker
  2. Enhance your peace of mind by sharing important information you wish to share with your loved ones or professional advisors
  3. Receive reminders and alerts about what you still need to do in terms of being organized around your personal financial affairs

Organization can also help you Assimilate, Eliminate, or Consolidate helping you to Simplify

The process of becoming more organized can better highlight the fact that you might have multiple accounts or providers that can be consolidated or eliminated which will mean less paperwork management and maybe reduced costs over the longer term. You might also find while you are organizing, that you have gaps or opportunities that you had not taken care of previously because they were missed in some of the clutter

Getting organized is a Gift to you AND your family in the short and longer term. Disorganized personal financial/estate information can cause additional grief, expense & stress inadvertently for a loved one that you care about. Helping a spouse or family member or friend organize their own affairs is also a gift worth offering.

Our LegacyTracker financial organizing tool provides the ability to share what you want to share with loved ones or advisors for that specific reason. LegacyTracker can help you and your family members reduce personal financial stress


Use technology to deliver Youth Financial Literacy

The comments below have been copied from a response mailed to the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada relating to their consultation on a National Strategy for Financial Literacy.

I’ve struggled with the problem that it’s taking far too long to deliver a National Strategy for Youth Financial Literacy in Canada.

I really believe that the problem is not about having enough resources or having enough organizations or experts that want to assist. As a Country, Canada is blessed with all of that. I believe that the real problem is the delivery of a Financial Literacy to Youth and the answer appears at least to me so obvious…

Let’s use technology to deliver Financial Literacy to youth who have grown up in a technology enabled world.

It’s not about generating more financial literacy resources – let’s expedite the delivery of those resources in an efficient and effective way…

bigstock-Financial-Literacy-Road-Sign-I-48133208 (1)

In 2005 the OECD had this to say about Improving Financial Literacy

Financial education can benefit consumers of all ages and income levels. For young adults just beginning their working lives, it can provide basic tools for budgeting and saving so that expenses and debt can be kept under control. Financial education can help families acquire the discipline to save for a home of their own and/or for their children’s education. It can help older workers ensure that they have enough savings for a comfortable retirement by providing them with the information and skills to make wise investment choices with both their pension plans and any individual savings plans

– OECD, Improving Financial Literacy: Analysis of Issues and Policies, 2005

That was 2005 but now it’s 2014 and almost 2015

9 years later…the need for financial literacy education is only more critical in a much more complex & “consumerism” oriented world that we all live in today. On  a personal level, 9 years later, I’m older, crankier and a lot less patient in waiting for youth financial literacy to become a priority. My oldest graduated high school in Ontario 2 years ago and my youngest son is graduating this year and neither can recall any mention of Money Management, Interest, Borrowing, Saving, Investing, Budgeting, Smart purchasing or financial planning in any of their courses outside of Accounting. I’m glad they came up in accounting as they should, but the problem is that not every student feels inspired to take accounting and in fact, accounting is not offered in every school in the Province. (That’s a different problem that I will refrain from talking about here). Both sons have indicated that there has been no hint of money or financial management matters or advice in any “ Integrated Way as the Ministry of Education in Ontario likes to promote.

Let’s just agree. The current patchwork theme of programs & integration into current curriculum that depends on motivated teachers & a variety of different resources & materials doesn’t work. 

My sons happen to be otherwise, lucky. They have taken accounting in high school in order to have a basic knowledge of how to account for money from at least a business perspective and their Mom is an accountant and their Dad is in finance. That leads to a lot of talk about money around the house and we can help make them financially literate. But what about other students?  Surveys show that the majority of families don’t discuss finance and money management at home. A designated financial capability program inside the curriculum across each school board is what’s required for our youth.

It’s critical for youth to have financial literacy skills.. It’s critical because life is a lot more complicated these days, where “consumerism” is rampant, marketing is aggressive & excessive, Credit Card applications are easy to come by and even the Government is in the business of supporting gambling, in the form of tickets, online betting, Bingo & slots. It’s critical for students to learn basic if not intermediate skills, to become good consumers and navigate the good from the bad. But it’s also critical to the future economy of Canada. It’s also particularly critical to have financial literacy skills in place for those 46% of youth who are expected to start a business after graduation.

The results of a study commissioned by the Investor Education Fund for both 2012 and 2009 make the case for how far we have not progressed in the area of  Youth Financial Literacy

IEF 2012 Survey on Youth Fin Lit

The results for 2012 show little if no progress over 3 years. Instead, the results highlight a greater need:

-Only 26% of students felt they were knowledgeable about money & that they made good spending decisions (28% in 2009)

-59% of students felt that schools should provide them with information on managing money after graduation (57% in 2009)

-70% of students thought it was important to learn about managing personal finance (64% in 2009)

And…39% of students felt prepared to manage their money after graduation (38% in 2009)

We are failing our Youth in the delivery of Financial Literacy which is detrimental to them & the economy of Canada long-term.

The question for me is not really about the need for generating more financial literacy resources. There are lots of great and unbiased materials and resources available:

  • The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) provides a Financial Literacy database of resources
  • EduGains provides resources for Ontario Elementary & Secondary School Educators
  • The Canadian Bankers Association provides resources for students across Canada
  • Junior Achievement provides tools and games and resources specific to youth
  • The Investor Education Fund provides money resources for students, parents & teachers

The question for me instead is more about those resources not being ‘delivered’ efficiently and effectively for the benefit of our youth in Canada. I think that it’s clear from the lack of progress to date as well as the urgency of the need that we can’t deliver financial literacy education by way of traditional methods for youth in particular.

I believe Financial Literacy education can be delivered efficiently and effectively without any further delay with the help of unbiased professionals & financial organizations using technology that exists today. Technology is changing the way we do everything else in our lives so it seems a natural solution (at least to me)

Leveraging technology enabled E-Learning to deliver a Canada wide Financial Literacy program has outstanding potential to benefit youth who have grown up in a technology enabled world. And while I’m not an expert, I believe e-learning offered in a classroom setting (termed “blended learning”) offers additional benefits. Teachers already have the experience required to facilitate active discussion and learning but the challenge of educating teachers on how to deliver financial literacy education in particular seems to be one of the large obstacles getting in the way of teaching financial literacy education in a traditional way.

I think so many people – myself  included – don’t feel we do this [handle money] properly in our own lives, so we would need the tools to confidently teach the  proper information to our students.

Comment from a teacher Reference: A sound investment-Report from the Working Group on Financial Literacy Ministry of Education-Ontario 2010 

We need to change the way that the delivery of financial literacy education is offered. Research has shown that blending online learning with classroom time is the most effective way to learn.


The Internet is plentiful with examples of  great e-learning providers, opportunities and solutions. Online learning already provides free world-class education for individuals around the world on a variety of topics.

Listed below are some of the significant advantages of using e-learning as compared to traditional learning which I would suggest would apply to a financial literacy e-learning environment geared towards youth.

  1. Quicker implementation. E-learning in most jurisdictions already exists with reputable organizations offering e-learning infrastructures already,  therefore, there would be no  need to invent or re-invent “the wheel”. Learning would not be restricted by the number of trained teachers.
  2. More Cost effective. For a number of reasons including lower delivery costs, less paper and a reduction in learning compression, E-learning is a more cost-effective way to deliver financial literacy across Canada
  3. It’s Consistent, Inclusive & Relevant. Regardless of the Province or the location of the School or the School Board education provided by E-learning would be consistent and equalized thanks to an Internet connection. This is a BIG one.
  4. Better Appeal to a wider range of learning styles. E-learning is facilitated through a variety of activities. A 9 year survey of literature on e-learning states : “Learners learn more using computer based instruction than they do with conventional ways of teaching as measured by higher test scores”
  5. Tracking progress is easier. Standardized testing can be easily included but e-learning lends itself to knowing when a student is having difficulty with a particular topic without them having to raise a hand. This is a BIG advantage over traditional learning.
  6. Less ‘teacher talk’ and more ‘student talk’. Who doesn’t like to hear their teacher talk but sometimes, you can learn more effectively when information is shared between students & ideas are exchanged. Blended E-learning makes that possible. A richer learning experience that is repeatable will help learners learn and retain the course content better
  7. It’s accessible. E-learning can be assessed anytime and anywhere including at home. Parents could also participate more actively (at home) in teaching their children about money and possibly fill their own gaps in financial literacy capabilities

I have provided below, 2 great examples of e-learning options that deliver Financial Literacy Education  that I hope you will take the time to review:

The Khan Academy who has done outstanding work in other areas of education has partnered  with the Bank of America on a financial literacy project they call Better Money Habits. This site has become a great resource for Americans to learn about and better navigate their finances  It helps consumers build their knowledge and understanding of finances through objective and unbiased videos and tools providing the opportunity to help them become more interested in savings and planning their finances.

MoneySense is a national financial education in Singapore offered by The Institute for Financial Literacy and Singapore Polytechnic & powered by Udemy (another much respected e-learning provider). The free financial education program  offers  an unbiased financial literacy education program to consumers to enhance their financial literacy over 3 tiers: Basic Money Management, Financial Planning and Investment Know-How

These are but 2 examples  of the quality of e-learning that’s already in place for financial literacy education. However,  I think these examples provide an idea of what Canada could deliver with the help of collaboration & cooperation between the various stakeholders:

  • Non-profit financial organizations & financial literacy leaders that have joined together to help move financial literacy forward to date by providing resources
  • The appropriate Federal & Provincial Agencies & Departments involved in Education.
  • Classroom based teachers who would facilitate delivery & discussion in the classroom

For the sake of our youth and our mutual economies, I think we can and must find the room needed in classrooms and curriculum for financial literacy education by prioritizing the critical need that we all acknowledge it to be.  Delivering it by way of e-blended learning inside the classrooms would be effective and efficient.  E-blended learning will eliminate any further delay & avoid the excessive expense that might otherwise be incurred to educate teachers first and/or require the hiring of additional educators across such a diverse and huge Country geographically.

A natural place at least in Ontario, I would suggest would be to add it into the Grade 10 Semester where students currently learn about Careers & Civics which coincides with the time when many youth are getting their first job. Splitting the semester into 3 topics to include Financial literacy education I think makes good sense.. Being financially literate is critical when you have a career and being financially literate involves being an active citizen and a smart consumer; which is an important part of Civics.  I understand that the BC Ministry of Education chose Grade 10 as the optimum

With respect to your specific consultation questions I would like to also offer the following:

  • I agree with the goals set out in the financial consultation paper and the framework proposed to promote a culture of financial well-being
  • The suggestions made above referring to an e-blended learning financial literacy education site for youth are my suggestion to the question of programs or services that are or would be effective for helping children and youth learn to manage their money
  • Surveys suggest that we cannot rely on parents to teach their children about money. A growing proportion of parents are in need of financial literacy education themselves or are newcomers to Canada. An e-blended learning financial literacy education site would help encourage and facilitate learning at home and may also benefit families as a whole

I hope some of the above will be helpful and constructive to your consultation process. I look forward to hearing more from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada with regards to your important consultations on a National Strategy for Financial Literacy in Canada.



Unclaimed Credit Union accounts

Unclaimed Credit Union Accounts in Ontario

Inaction is a disadvantage for Credit Unions in Ontario

There’s so much to love about Credit Unions but when it comes to providing Credit Unions an equal playing field in Ontario, I can’t help but feel that the Ministry of Finance is putting them at a disadvantage by their inaction. The inaction I’m referring to relates to their apparent disregard for Unclaimed or Dormant credit union accounts.  This inaction & disregard is not helpful to Credit Unions and it’s certainly not helpful to the client/members those Credit Unions serve.

Unclaimed Credit Union accounts can be hard to find

Unlike Unclaimed accounts held by federally regulated banks, Unclaimed Credit Union accounts in Ontario are hard to find unless you know the exact Credit Union you or a loved one dealt with.  Federally regulated banks are required to remit unclaimed accounts that have not been active for 10+ years to the Bank of Canada where a searchable online database is available; that database currently includes $532 Million of such accounts. What would be the total value of Unclaimed Credit Union accounts in Ontario ? I’m pretty sure that no one inside the Ministry of Finance or outside has any clue. And that’s the problem.

The Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1994 (20 years later)

One might assume that a similar system would be in place for unclaimed credit union accounts held in Ontario as there is for accounts held by federally regulated banks in Ontario. It’s 2014 after all and the Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1994 set out the guidelines for Unclaimed or dormant accounts in that legislation. But…

Alas…that’s not the case. While the Ministry of Finance expects that Credit Unions are following the rules around notifications to dormant or unclaimed account holders, they have not yet gone as far as having those Credit Unions remit those accounts to the Ministry as intended.


Why has it taken 20 years to direct Ontario Credit Unions to where they need to send all of those unclaimed credit union accounts that have been forgotten?

I’ve asked the Ministry of Finance again recently this question. After much delay the Ministry responded but failed to answer that very question.

Here’s their reply

  • The government recognizes the importance of ensuring that individuals who hold dormant deposit accounts at credit unions are aware of the status of their accounts and have access to the funds held in those accounts.
  • The Credit Unions and Caisses Populaires Act, 1994 requires that credit unions provide notices to depositors whose accounts are dormant at regular intervals. For example, depositors must be notified 2 years and 5 years after a transaction has last taken place in the account or since the depositor last requested or acknowledged an account statement.
  • We understand that credit unions have systems in place to ensure unclaimed deposits are properly monitored and that depositors are informed.  If an account is dormant for more than 10 years, credit unions are required to remit the amount to the Minister of Finance when directed to do so.
  • The Minister of Finance has not yet specified a date when the funds should be remitted to the government

We hope you will find the information provided useful.

Sadly, No. The information provided by the Ministry of Finance recently is not very helpful; not very helpful at all. And, most certainly, the inaction on the part of the Ministry of Finance with regards to Unclaimed Credit Union accounts is generally not helpful to Ontario Credit Unions or their members.

Let’s be clear: No one loses their hard earned/tax paid financial assets on purpose.

Ontario credit union members deserve to have one place to search & find their Unclaimed Credit Union accounts. Let’s get it done Ontario.