Types of Fees

Fees and other charges are a part of investing. Fees are typically charged by investment firms or registered investment advisers to cover the costs associated with administering investment products, operating your account, making transactions on your behalf or offering advice.


The CSA is moving forward with a ban on deferred sales charges (DSCs). The new rules which take effect on June 1, 2022 will prohibit investment fund companies from paying upfront sales commissions to dealers.

In September 2020, the CSA adopted a trailing commission ban for dealers that do not make a suitability determination, such as online trading platforms that allow investors to buy and sell their investments on their own. This ban comes into effect on June 1, 2022.

As an investor you have access to a wide variety of mutual funds and investment products, including no-load mutual funds, regardless of account size.  Before you purchase a mutual fund or any investment, ask about the fees and charges and how they will impact your portfolio going forward.


  1. Investment fees impact the overall returns (or losses) in your portfolio
  2. When you understand your fees and their impact, you can evaluate the true cost and suitability of the investments in your portfolio and the services you receive from your registered investment adviser.
  3. Knowing what you paid to buy, sell, or hold an investment in a given year can help you make better more informed investment decisions.

Some fees and other charges may be negotiable. The CSA encourages investors suffering from financial hardship to talk with their registered firms and advisers about relief options. Investors may also wish to inquire whether fees can be waived on the basis of financial hardship, including DSCs.


Here are some of the common fees and charges you should be aware of. Be sure to always ask your registered investment adviser and/or firm questions about their fee structure and how they impact your investment portfolio.  

Fees paid to investment firms or advisers

Management fees

Portfolio managers and many investment adviserscharge a fee based on a percentage of the portfolio’s value. This fee is negotiated at the beginning of your client-adviser relationship and pays for the cost of managing your overall portfolio.

Discount broker fees and other charges

Discount brokers vary in the services they offer and the amounts they charge. Generally, they charge a basic amount per trade, but may also charge additional amounts related to the number of trades and the size and scope of the account.

Brokerage commissions

These are amounts charged per transaction based on buying and selling stocks and bonds.

Fees for service

For fee-only services, the adviser charges a set rate and does not collect commissions.

Fees associated with mutual funds and ETFs

Management expense ratio (MER)

Each mutual fund and ETF pays its own operating expenses, including legal, accounting, and management expenses. The MER is the total of all expenses, expressed as a percentage of the fund’s value. You can learn more about MERs in the Mutual  Fund Facts or ETF Facts document.

Trailing commissions

The trailing commission is an ongoing charge for services and advice provided by your representative and their firm. Trailing commissions are paid out of the fund’s management fee. The manager pays this commission for as long as you hold the fund and the rate depends on your sales charge option. Higher trailing commissions can influence representatives to recommend one fund over another. Ask your investment adviser directly if the fund has a trailing commission, and how it compares to the commissions of other funds.

Trading commissions and fees

Like a stock, you will usually pay a trading commission every time you buy and sell an ETF. These charges vary depending on the investment firm or discount brokerage service you are dealing with. Mutual funds may charge a short-term trading fee if you sell a fund during a certain period.

Sales charges

Some mutual funds charge you when you buy your units or shares (called front-end load or initial sales charge) and others charge you when you sell (called back-end load or DSC). Charges paid at the time of redemption vary depending on how long you have held the fund. Information on DSCs for funds you hold must be included in your monthly or quarterly account statements and in your annual investment fee report. There are also low load funds, which have a lower sales charge when you buy your units or shares and a lower redemption fee when you sell them, as well as no load funds, which don’t charge a fee when you buy or sell.


These fees and charges will vary by firm and by type of service, so it’s important to understand how your registered investment adviser is paid.

Advisers and investment firms must explain the fees and charges that you will have to pay:

  • When opening an account
  • Before buying or selling an investment product on your behalf
  • After buying or selling your investment
  • In your monthly or quarterly account statements

You can find out exactly what you paid your adviser’s firm last year—and what the firm received from others—from your annual investment fee report, also known as the Annual Charges and Compensation Report.

Always ask your registered investment adviser if there’s a lower fee option that’s right for you. Some fees may be negotiable. Make a habit of asking your adviser about the fees you will pay for the products you buy and the services you receive.

If you use a robo-advisor or discount brokerage service be sure to understand what you are paying for when utilizing their services. Even though these fees may be less than you would pay a registered investment adviser, you may find unexpected fees or charges that can impact your investment portfolio.


The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) has introduced new requirements to ensure investors receive essential information about adviser fees, charges and compensation as well as how their investments have performed. These requirements are known as phase 2 of the Client Relationship Model, or CRM2.

Helpful Tools:

Know What You Pay When You Buy or Sell an Investment  – Before your registered investment adviser buys or sells an investment for you, they must tell you the charges you will have to pay for the transaction.

Know Your Investment Account Performance  – Every year your registered investment adviser’s firm must provide you with an investment performance report. This report will list all your investments, the return on your account, the market value of all deposits and withdrawals, the change in market value and rates of return.

Know the Cost of Your Registered Investment Adviser  – Every year your registered investment adviser’s firm must provide you with a charges and compensation report. This report covers account operations costs, transaction costs and amounts paid by third parties.