Last month, I was out on the road giving presentations to groups in New Westminster and Burnaby. As usual, both presentations generated lots of conversation and questions from the floor. The session in Burnaby was particularly lively, with everyone asking one or two questions each.

In this post, I am sharing a few of the questions from the sessions, and my answers to the attendees.

Is it okay for our pension fund to invest in private companies?

This is a great question because it demonstrates that people are paying attention to their retirement savings. It came up when we discussed the things that retail investors need to look out for if they are considering investing in a private company.

Generally, large funds that handle public service workers’ pensions (I was talking to retired teachers) are “accredited investors”, which allows them invest in private placements. If you have any questions about your fund, contact your pension provider.

Is it better to invest in a private start-up or a public venture company?

I began my answer by stating that we do not give advice about particular investments or investment strategies. I went on to say that, it is up to the individual investor to determine their risk tolerance and to assess the investment. You do this by researching the company, its management, and the viability of its product or service.

InvestRight offers information on how to do your research when investing in both private and public companies. Getting help from a registered advisor is also a good way to assess whether or not a particular investment is suitable for you and your portfolio.

What happens when I complain or report suspicious activity to the BCSC?

You can expect to speak with our inquiries staff first. They handle all incoming phone calls, e-mails, and online reports. They document the correspondence and obtain more information, if necessary. Complaints then go to the BCSC’s case assessment branch. This branch determines where to refer a complaint (eg. another agency, a BCSC investigator, another BCSC division, etc.). If there is insufficient evidence, they will close the file.

If the BCSC investigates a complaint and finds misconduct, it can take regulatory action. This type of action can result in market bans or fines. The Enforcement section on the BCSC’s website lists our current cases, and the CSA Enforcement Report shows cases from the past year.

The BCSC also has a criminal investigation team that can refer cases to Crown Counsel if evidence supports a criminal charge.

If you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment.

Suggested Reading

Investing: Back to the Basics

Reporting to the BCSC

In Your Community - July 2014

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