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How accurate are Canadian "Dummy" Financial Books?

4379 Views 5 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  MoneyGal
Jon Chevreau wrote an article in the weekend Financial Post on one of those Canadian "dummy" books. This one was called "76 Tips for Investing in an Uncertain Economy for Canadians for Dummies".

There's much content here, and I agree with perhaps 85% of the tips. This was a massive undertaking that runs 356 pages. But it's not the work of a single author. Two writers share the main authorship credit, Sheryl Garrett and Camilla Cornell. But many of the chapters were written by more than 70 individual certified financial planners and other money professionals.
Unfortunately, there seems to be many errors in this book. Here are some examples:

  1. Page 39 and Page 136: The book talks about a 10 to 20% “penalty” on RRSP withdrawals. But, there are no penalty on RRSP withdrawals. Instead, there is a withholding tax of 10 to 30%, NOT a penalty of 10 to 20%.
  2. Page 133 and 296. Sales sales of securities that “take place” on Dec 31 will count for the current tax year. If you followed this tip and sold on Dec 31, you would have crystallized capital gains or losses for the next financial year because transactions need three days to settle.

Has anyone read these "for Canadian for Dummies" books? Are the others in the series as poorly researched / poorly edited as this one?
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Here are some more:

Page 145 This is funny -- it says “after you maximize your RRSP and RRIF contributions.” But of course, you CAN’T contribute to a RRIF: it’s illegal.

Page 241 and 296. Page 241 says “for most people, mutual funds are the best way to invest in securities.” Then on page 296, it says “more than 75% of mutual fund can’t match the performance of their benchmark index.” Maybe they should take a stand one way or the other!

PAGE 313 says “At no later than age 70 you must roll your RRSPs over into a RRIF.” This is false — there is no “Must” about it; 2 other options are to cash out and pay tax; and annuitize
Not to mention that they got the age wrong. (Unless, of course, they rounded it to the nearest 10 years) 71 is the number they were shooting for I think.:)
Eagle eyes, guys! Wish I'd checked this forum before writing the review.

On rechecking the book -- and it's full of underlinings, so I definitely read it -- I see on page 128 that they refer to the Investment Dealers Association. Of course, for at least a year now, this is called IIROC.

That's relatively minor compared to your "catches" but hopefully the Dummies people will incorporate these corrections in a second edition. Clearly, there must have been some urgency to rush it out while the economy was still "uncertain" and as an author myself I'm sympathetic to the exigencies of publishing. On the other hand, to the extent "Dummies" guides are regarded as gospel, some of these errors need to be corrected because they could cost investors money -- those that don't frequent this forum.
Here are a list of all For Dummies Canadian editions:

The Business and Investing sections have some interesting titles. Has anyone read any of these books?

  • Stock Investing For Canadians For Dummies
  • Mutual Funds For Canadians For Dummies
  • Investing For Canadians For Dummies
  • Money Management All in One Desk Reference For Canadians For Dummies
  • Personal Finance For Canadians For Dummies
  • Stock Investing For Canadians For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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I haven't read any of those books and don't intend to.

The issue for the publishers is, I think, what kind of people are able to write that kind of material? Other than people like those of us who frequent these kinds of places, how many people are there who have both the knowledge base and the interest to write those kinds of books?

Those errors seem very elementary. But ... the majority of the people who sit the CFP exam fail, and it is not a particularly difficult exam.
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