In Canada, RRSP (a government tax-deferral plan) contributions must be made within the first sixty days of the year in order to receive a tax receipt good for for the previous calendar year's tax return. Many people space their contributions out through the year, but inevitably a large number of people forget all about their RRSPs until mid february. Thus, the period from about mid january through to the first week of march, or RRSP season, is the busiest time of year for investment advisors and bank rrsp plans, as people madly rush, a little like spawning salmon rushing upstream, to get their contributions in so they can get a tax receipt.

Some firms experience an eight-fold increase in RRSP business during this period, and come March 2nd, many a financial sector employee can be found having a good stiff drink saying "Thank GOD it's over!"

themusic, I gotta put in a little word here for the financial industry. They're not all blood-sucking money-grubbing vampires. Yes, brokers charge commission - and also usually provide good advice, good enough to make a decent return even accounting for commission. Sure, sophisticated investors could manage on their own - and they do, at discount brokerages - but there are a lot of people who'd just end up with a GIC barely staying ahead of inflation, or even not saving enough at all without the advice of a financial planner. Obviously some planners are better than others - always check out your broker with the securities commission for your province and if possible other clients of theirs - but for the most part, they work hard, do a lot of research, and want to help you retire in style.

Not that the CPP doesn't need a serious overhaul, but I think that private advice and the RRSP tax incentive program is helping avert the crisis, rather than worsening it.

RRSP season is, as yam points out, a little like salmon rushing upstream.

Hardly anyone ever stops to think how much money this puts into the bank accounts of "investment advisors", and the banks with RRSP plans. No matter how these plans are described--load, front load, back load, no load--what financial sector employee, all private sector, would do this for nothing!

I suspect if people really thought about how much money was diverted here, away from their own future, and how much money high income individuals shelter--at the expense of those not wealthy enough to take advantage of them--people would push for a truly equitable public sector plan; there is no profit in the public sector.

At present the Canada Pension Plan, like all public sector arrangements, is being bled to force us all into the anxious little hands of the financial industry--who laugh all the way to the bank.

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