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Researching Investments

Before investing, be sure you understand how the investment works and what fees and risks are associated with it. Talk to your advisor or do your own independent research to understand: 

  • How does the investment make money? Does it pay dividends or interest? 
  • What fees or commissions would I have to pay to buy, hold and sell the investment? What effect will these fees have on the overall value of my portfolio?
  • What has to happen for the investment to increase or decrease in value? 
  • What risks are associated with this investment? How easy would it be to sell the investment if I needed my money right away? Are there any restrictions or penalties involved if I want to sell? 
  • Does the investment fit my goals and risk tolerance? 

Make sure you understand the company’s business and whether it is making or losing money. If you are unfamiliar with reading and interpreting financial statements, ask your financial professional or accountant to review them with you.

  • How long has the company been in business? Investing in a company with little or no history or published information may involve more risk. 
  • Is the company making money? 
  • What could affect the company’s performance?
  • Are there any red flags in the financial statements? This could include increased expenses with no increase in sales, or negative cash flow. 
  • How is the company managed? Are there any ongoing legal issues with the company?

Information you can rely on

Disclosure documents, such as a prospectus or annual report, can be a good source of information about the issuer or company. 


A prospectus is a detailed document that a company must prepare in order to offer securities for sale to the public.  A prospectus contains detailed information about the company offering the securities and its operations, financial statements, a summary of the major risk factors that affect the issuer, a description of the securities being offered, and how the money raised by issuing the securities will be used. Your investment professional can provide you with disclosure documents or you can download public company’s or investment fund’s disclosure documents from the System for Electronic Document Analysis and Retrieval (SEDAR).

In certain cases, securities can be sold without a prospectus. These are called exempt market securities. When buying without the benefit of a prospectus, you don’t get the same amount of information on which to base your decision. Without this information you may be taking more risk with your money.

Exempt market securities are risky and are not for everyone. Strict rules apply about who can buy exempt market securities. Unfortunately, some issuers abuse the system by selling their securities to unqualified investors who don’t understand the requirements, risks, and resale restrictions that often apply to securities sold without a prospectus. For more information, visit our section on Securities Exemptions.

Simplified Prospectus

The simplified prospectus is a disclosure document that gives investors important information about an investment fund. They are available by request and you may want to request a copy of the simplified prospectus to help with your investment decision.

It includes information about:

  • A fund’s investment objectives and strategies
  • What the fund invests in
  • Who manages the fund
  • Risks
  • Suitability
  • Distributions
  • Sales charges
  • Management fees
  • Operating expenses
  • Income tax considerations

Fund Facts and ETF Facts

Fund Facts

Details about the costs and the level of risk associated with a particular fund can be found in its Fund Facts document or the simplified prospectus. The Fund Facts document is an easy-to-read, three- to four-page summary of the fund. Mutual fund companies are required to give investors a copy of Fund Facts before they decide to purchase a conventional mutual fund. Fund Facts includes information about: 

  • Your costs: How much it costs to buy and own the fund.
  • What you’re paying for: What portion of your fees are going to pay the investment professional.
  • The fund’s risk level: How the fund ranks on a scale ranging from low to high risk.
  • What you own: The shares and bonds the fund holds, and what percentage may be held in foreign securities.
  • The fund’s history: How volatile the annual returns have been over the past 10 years. It may help you manage your expectations of the fund during market shifts.

ETF Facts

Details about the costs and the level of risk associated with a particular ETF can be found in its ETF Facts document. The ETF Facts document is an easy-to-read, summary of information about an ETF. Your dealer (the firm) is required to deliver the ETF Facts to you no later than midnight on the second business day following the purchase of ETF securities. You can also consult the ETF Facts on the website of the company offering the fund, or ask your investment professional for a copy. ETF Facts includes information about: 

  • Your costs: Information on the ETF’s management expense ratio (MER), which is a combination of an ETF’s management fee and its operating expenses.
  • What you own: A snapshot of how the EFT’s investments are allocated.
  • The ETF’s risk level: How the fund ranks on a scale ranging from low to high risk.
  • The ETF’s history: How the ETF’s units have performed in each of the past 10 years (or in each of the years that have elapsed since its start date). 

Other Sources

You can also find information about the companies you invest in from a variety of other sources, including media, newsletters, analysts’ reports, and the company itself. 

Most public companies publish an annual report, which includes financial statements and Management’s Discussion and Analysis (MD&A). The MD&A is an explanation of events that affect the company’s performance and expectations for the coming year, and it may include information about significant events that took place during the fiscal year.