Investing FAQs

Investright

The questions and answers on this page are common questions British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC) Inquiries staff field in their daily work. If you want to follow up on one of these questions, feel free to contact BCSC Inquiries.

Most Commonly Asked Questions

Check registration by searching the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) website. The National Registration Search page will show current and historical registration history for individuals and firms, including any terms and conditions that might be in place.

It’s important to do your due diligence before investing in any company. There is no formal prospectus and the shares are subject to resale restrictions and may not be able to be sold for a period of time. Private companies carry additional risks, including fewer disclosure obligations.

Before you invest, read what InvestRight has to say about investing in private placements.

Please include the following information in your complaint:

  • Your name and contact information.
  • Information about the company/individual who is the subject of the complaint.
  • The timeline of the complaint.
  • Whether other regulatory agencies have been contacted and, if so, which ones.
  • A narrative of the complaint.
  • Any documents or sources relevant to your complaint.

Read more about filing a complaint or contact BCSC Inquiries for assistance with making a complaint.

Advisor/Dealer Questions

Choosing and working with an advisor is an important part of being an informed investor. Read the Working with a Registered Investment Advisor section for guidance on choosing an advisor who’s right for you, and working with that person to fulfill your investment goals.

No, but we can give you guidance on choosing an advisor who is suitable for you and your investment situation. Take some time to read the How to Choose an Investment Advisor section on InvestRight.

Investment Questions

The BC Corporate Registry maintains records that may include name changes, location of records offices, past and present directors, and any articles of amendment for companies registered in British Columbia. If the company no longer exists, you may be able to find someone involved in scripophily, the study and collection of stocks and bonds, to purchase your old stock certificate.

Unless expressly permitted in the order, B.C. residents may not trade in the securities of a cease-traded company until the cease trade order has been revoked by the BCSC. Cease trade orders remain in effect until a company files the required documentation and the BCSC revokes the order. If an order remains outstanding for more than 90 days, the company must provide additional disclosure and comply with National Policy 12-202 Revocation of Certain Cease Trade Orders.

Company Questions

To raise capital without becoming a public company, you can rely on several exemptions. The BCSC cannot tell you which exemption is appropriate for your needs, but the Private & Early Stage Businesses section on the website contains a summary of the exemptions on which you can rely. Consider obtaining some legal advice to help you.

SEDAR (System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval) is a mandatory filing system for Canadian public companies. SEDAR provides free public access to continuous disclosure filings, including prospectus documents and financial statements.

You can also check the status of B.C. companies on the Reporting Issuers List.

To see if a company is cease-traded, check the National Cease Trade Order Database, or any outstanding or historical orders issued by the BCSC.

EDGAR (Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis, and Retrieval system) is the US equivalent for researching public companies listed on an American stock exchange.

SEDI (System for Electronic Disclosure by Insiders) is a mandatory filing system that collects the reports of all share transactions made by people who are considered insiders of a company. Regulators monitor insider trading to ensure securities regulations are followed. This is available at no cost to the public.

Shareholder Questions

The BCSC does not review or approve corporate governance issues such as the valuation and fairness of a transaction to shareholders.

If directors are proposing a transaction that may be to the detriment of shareholders, it is up to the shareholders to choose to vote against the proposal, or pursue their rights under the Business Corporations Act. The relevant exchange may also review the transaction under its policies.

You may wish to consider consulting with a lawyer if you are pursuing your shareholder rights and remedies or the return of your invested funds. You can obtain a referral to a lawyer by contacting the [email protected].

If you invested less than $35,000, you may also wish to consider pursuing civil remedies through Small Claims Court proceedings.

There are no specific requirements in securities legislation around holding an annual general meeting. Annual general meetings are a requirement under the Business Corporations Act. The relevant exchange may also have requirements regarding the timely holding of annual general meetings.

You may wish to consider consulting with a lawyer if you are pursuing your shareholder rights and remedies. You can obtain a referral to a lawyer by contacting the [email protected].

A cease-traded company must submit its missing filings and apply to remove a cease-trade order. If the company has been cease-traded for more than 90 days, the company will be subject to a review by BCSC staff. The company may be required to re-file if the statements need clarification.

If you hold securities of a cease-traded company, and you wish to trade those securities (e.g. disposition to realize a tax loss), you should review the relevant cease trade order and seek advice from a trusted professional. The BCSC has also issued relief so that clients may sell securities of a dormant issuer subject to a cease trade order to their investment dealer, if certain conditions are met.

If a company is not responding to your inquiries, you may wish to consider consulting with a lawyer for advice. You can obtain a referral to a lawyer by contacting the [email protected].

The terms and conditions regarding redemptions should be contained in documents provided to you at the time of purchase. Exempt market (a.k.a. private placement market) products may have specific terms for redemption.

You may want to contact the company to discuss its terms regarding redemptions.

If a company is not responding to your inquiries, you may wish to consider consulting with a lawyer for advice. You can obtain a referral to a lawyer by contacting the [email protected].

Questions About Filing Complaints

Please include the following information in your complaint:

  • Your name and contact information.
  • Information about the company/individual who is the subject of the complaint.
  • The timeline of the complaint.
  • Whether other regulatory agencies have been contacted and, if so, which ones.
  • A narrative of the complaint.
  • Any documents or sources relevant to your complaint.

Read more about filing a complaint or contact BCSC Inquiries for assistance with making a complaint.

Yes. While the BCSC would like to obtain as much contact information as possible from anyone making a complaint, we will accept anonymous complaints. Please consider, though, that the success of an investigation often depends on locating people with first-hand knowledge of the alleged wrongdoing.

You can use the BCSC's online complaint form to report your concerns about possible investment scams or visit the Report Fraud or Misconduct section to learn more about filing a complaint with the BCSC.

We will not give your information to other parties without your consent. For more on our privacy policy and use of information, view our Legal page.

Before pursuing action with a regulator, raise your concerns with the person who handles your account.

If you are unable to resolve matters with your advisor, ask the firm for information about its formal complaint process. In most cases, the next step is to write a letter to the firm’s branch manager or compliance officer. The firm should acknowledge receipt of your letter, investigate your complaint, and then inform you of the outcome.

If you are not satisfied with the registered firm’s response then you can complain to an independent dispute resolution service called the Ombudsman for Banking Services and Investment (OBSI). OBSI is independent from registered firms and provides impartial and informal reviews of investment disputes. OBSI’s services are free for you to use, and it can recommend compensation of up to $350,000.

You can complain directly to OBSI if the registered firm does not send you its written decision within 90 days. If the registered firm sends you its written decision within 90 days, then you have 180 days to complain to OBSI.

You can make an online complaint to OBSI here. You may also contact OBSI by telephone or in writing, and if needed, OBSI provides accessibility tools to assist individuals with disabilities. Visit this link for more information about OBSI.

If your firm is a member of the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) or the Mutual Fund Dealers Association (MFDA), you may also want to raise your complaint with them. A directory of member firms is available on both the IIROC and the MFDA websites.

You can complete a complaint form online or call their information lines for more information and assistance. The links on this page will take you to each organization’s contact information page.

If the registered firm you are dealing with is a portfolio manager, an exempt market dealer, or a scholarship plan dealer, then contact the BCSC through our Report Fraud or Misconduct page or BCSC Inquiries.

If you are concerned that you may be the victim of a fraud or theft committed by your dealer or salesperson, you may wish to contact your local police agency to file a complaint. If you need further assistance, please contact BCSC Inquiries.

The BCSC reviews complaints made against individuals or companies involved in trading securities in B.C. The BCSC evaluates the actions of these individuals and companies for possible breaches of provisions of the Securities Act. The BCSC may refer some complaints to other agencies, where appropriate.

Read more about filing complaints in the Report Fraud or Misconduct section.

Enforcement Questions

The BCSC has the power to make various orders relating to money and enforcement that staff frequently apply for these types of orders. For example, before a hearing the BCSC can issue orders to freeze funds. After a hearing, if someone has contravened the Securities Act, the BCSC can order that person to pay the BCSC the amount they obtained, or amounts they avoided paying, from the misconduct. Any funds collected under this type of order would be repaid to investors.

For more information, review BCSC's Returning Funds to Investors page.

You should speak to your lawyer about what steps you can take to try and get your money back. Depending on the type and amount of your claim, you may be able to start a lawsuit in a Provincial Court (Small Claims Court) or in the Supreme Court of British Columbia. You should speak to your lawyer (Lawyer Referral Service) as soon as possible because there may be a limitation period, after which you may not be able to start a lawsuit.

BCSC public enforcement and administrative actions can be viewed on the BCSC public website, in the Enforcement section. You’ll also find information on individuals and companies the BCSC disciplined in the Investment Caution List and the Disciplined List. You can also contact BCSC Inquiries for further information.

The Securities Act prohibits the BCSC from investigating complaints about events that occurred six years ago or more. Please see the Securities Act (sections 140 and 159) for more information about the limitation period.

In B.C., your shareholder rights and remedies are contained in the Business Corporations Act.