Planning for your child’s future education is a big deal. Figuring out where to invest money to help pay for college can cause many sleepless nights.
Adding to the stress is the recent news of plan dealers like Global RESP. The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) banned the company from the markets, but why?
Could this happen to other scholarship plans, and what’s being done to protect investors?
The scholarship plan dealer Global RESP, along with its investment fund manager, Global Growth Assets, Inc. (GGAI) will begin an exit from capital markets.
Global RESP and GGAI both admitted to breaches of the Ontario securities rules and regulations, along with compliance failures.
In addition, the founder of Global RESP breached an order imposed in 2014 banning him from performing director and officer duties.
Global RESP Corporation is a registered scholarship plan dealer that acts as a distributor for registered education savings plans.
However, due to compliance deficiencies, the OSC banned Global RESP Founder Issam El-Bouji and GGAI from continuing as registered plan dealers.
GGAI will continue to serve existing customers of the Global RESP scholarship plans.
GGAI is only allowed to act as the investment manager for Global scholarship plans and can’t distribute any new units unless it’s to an existing subscriber.
Both companies are responsible for paying underpaid beneficiaries, including enrollment fees of at least $900,000.
GGAI’s board is now comprised entirely of independent members, and they had to hire a third-party consultant to review their operations and compliance.
According to Advisor’s Edge, “[GGAI] subscribers’ investments will continue to be professionally managed, and the company remains committed to ensuring that families across Canada continue to receive the quality of service the companies have been providing for years.
[GGAI] is committed to living up to its obligations to its subscribers and to fully complying with the OSC rules.”
What Were the Compliance Deficiencies?
Throughout the years, Global RESP encountered several regulatory violations that put investors at risk.
Some of the deficiencies found included conflict of interest missteps, failing to meet Know Your Client (KYC) and suitability obligations, and not reimbursing enrollment fees per the prospectus.
In addition, back in 2014, an imposed order banned Mr. Bouji from performing duties of an officer and director.
The OSC found that Mr. Bouji breached this order and acted as vice president of sales, where he continued to recruit, hire, and fire employees, clearly violating the order.
A press release from the OSC explained their decision. “Persistent and serious regulatory violations puts investors at risk.
This settlement holds Mr. Bouji and the firms accountable for their misconduct and supports parents who save for their children’s education.”
A registered education savings plan helps you save money for your child’s future education. The investment can grow tax-free and won’t be taxed when distributed.
The Canada Education Savings Grant (CESG) pays each child $500 per year if you contribute the $2,500 maximum amount. In total, each child could potentially receive $7,200 of grants from the government for education savings.
Parents aren’t the only ones that can open an RESP. Grandparents, guardians, relatives, and friends can each set up their own RESP’s for the benefit of your child.
One of the most common questions parents face is what to do with their RESP if their child doesn’t go to school? Before making a hasty decision and deciding to withdraw the money, consider these options.
- Keep it open. You can keep a RESP open for up to 35 years, sometimes 40 depending on the plan, so don’t rush to close it up. Maybe your child doesn’t want to go to school at 18, but that may change down the road.
Also, “schooling” doesn’t just mean a full-time university or college setting. You can use your RESP for part-time schooling, trade schools, and other apprenticeship programs.
- Transfer to another child. If one child isn’t going to use the RESP, you can transfer it to another tax-free. However, to make the transfer without a penalty, be sure there’s a common beneficiary under both the transferring and receiving plan. That beneficiary must be under 21 and a sibling of the original recipient.
- Transfer to an RRSP. If you aren’t going to use the money for higher education, you can still keep it as an investment. You can transfer up to $50,000 to an RRSP. However, the grants and earnings on those monies will be returned to the government.
To make the transfer, the beneficiary needs to be at least 21 years of age. The RESP also needs to be in effect for 10 years.
- Close the account. If none of the above options work, you can close out the account, but you’ll need to pay tax on the investment earnings. In addition, any grant money has to go back to the Canadian government.
Global RESP and its investment fund manager GGAI breached orders from a 2014 ruling and faced continued non-compliance issues with Ontario securities law.
While the companies are working to resolve these concerns, the Global RESP founder and GGAI aren’t allowed in the capital markets.
This situation is concerning if you’re starting to save for your child’s future education.
Conducting your own research on the scholarship plan dealer and talking with financial experts can help you make sound decisions on saving for the future.
If you’re looking for more ways to stash cash, check out these Ways to Save Money.