Tracking your investment costs

To really know your return on an investment, you have to factor in your costs. Your total return is what you make after you pay any fees and charges.

Common investment fees

You may have to pay fees to buy, hold or sell your investments. You may also have to pay accounts fees and fees for advice. Some common fees include:

  • sales charges if you buy or sell a mutual fund
  • management fees and operating expenses (known as the management expense ratio or MER) if you own a mutual fund or ETF
  • trading commissionsCommissions What you pay to a broker or agent for their services. Often called a “sales commission”. For example, you pay a fee to someone who buys or sell stocks or real estate for you.+ read full definition when you buy and sell a stock or an ETF
  • fees for selling an investmentInvestment An item of value you buy to get income or to grow in value.+ read full definition early or transferring an investment
  • account feesAccount fees The fees you pay to a financial institution for transactions and other services related to the operation of an account.+ read full definition, such as trusteeTrustee A person or company that you appoint to manage the assets of a trust. You can name more than one trustee.+ read full definition fees for registered plans and fees to close an accountAccount An agreement you make with a financial institution to handle your money. You can set up an account for depositing and withdrawing, earning interest, borrowing, investing, etc.+ read full definition
  • fees for the advice you receive.

You may also have to pay taxes on what your investments earn.

Your account statements will tell you about many of your costs and fees. Others may not appear on your statements. Ask your adviser or investment firm about all of the costs involved in your investments.

Key point

To figure out your total return on an investment, you’ll need to factor in your investment costs.

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