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The Money Management Newsletter: RSP Planning
I told you to transfer my RRSP/RRIF - What's the hold up?


Have you ever transferred an RRSP or RRIF between financial institutions and were left wondering why the process took so long?

In my experience the speed at which the transfer of registered funds takes place is directly dependent on the people involved. Immediately after you sign a transfer request you are normally removed from the picture after which everything is handled by other people who may not have as much concern about the timeliness of the proceedings as you.

Your signed document may not leave the new, receiving institution immediately as it may go through some record keeping which creates the initial delay. It is eventually mailed to the former, releasing institution which may require a few days in transit. More delays! The company losing the business knows where the funds are going because the name and address of the receiving institution are on the transfer form so the natural questions for them are: why are you leaving,why are you choosing that other company, and what can they do to keep your money?

At the releasing institution, staff may try to contact you to persuade you to change your mind figuring you must have been delirious to want to move your funds. If you work and they don't have your work number it may be difficult to reach you unless they have extended hours or someone stays late to reach you at home. Still more delays! If they can't convince you to keep your money with them the transfer is usually not done immediately by way of a post dated cheque but instead is often filed under the investment due date to be processed then. Again more delays! In many cases the branch may not actually process the redemption but rather it is forwarded to an administrative centre which may be in a different city or province. More delays!

Branch Staff may try to contact you to persuade you to change your mind figuring you must have been delirious to want to move your money

Transfers out are usually the last items of work to get processed so during busy times these may get put on the back burner. Since the funds are going to another institution and not directly to you there may not be any sense of urgency to process it. More delays! When the redemption is finally processed it is once again put back in the mail to the receiving institution.

As illustrated above several people may be involved in RRSP & RRIF transfers none of which have the same concerns as you over the speed of the transfer, and many days of delay can occur with each individual as they get around to handling your particular case.

The best method to significantly reduce transfer time is to insert yourself and/or your deposit broker/financial advisor into the process.

First, at the time of signing the paper work either directly on the transfer form or on an attached memo include the following words to the attention of the releasing company "this is my final decision, please don't contact me". (if it's not your final decision don't initiate the transfer).

Second, either you or someone else can hand deliver the transfer document to the branch of the releasing institution and obtain a receipt for it.

Third, instruct the branch that you will be back on the due date to pick up the cheque which you will hand deliver to the receiving institution or to your deposit broker/financial advisor. If you have allowed several days for processing time, having a cheque available on the due date should not be a problem. It isn't anyone's business as to why your money is leaving so don't feel obligated to tell anyone. Also don't feel bad; the releasing institution will probably charge you a hefty fee. All of the above can be done in a normal business fashion without alienating anyone at the releasing branch. However, if any delays occur call daily to stay on top of the situation. Complain to higher authorities if the delays persist and you feel that you are getting the run around.

If you were cashing in a regular GIC your money would be available to you on the due date...your RRSP transfer should not be any different. These methods might be more difficult if you work during banking hours, however if you become directly involved in some fashion I'm sure you'll notice the difference.

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25 Lakeshore Road, Oakville, On L6K 1C6.
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