As someone who has invested in TD e-Series Mutual Funds both through a brokerage account at TD Waterhouse and my kids’ mutual fund RESP accounts, I’m somewhat mystified by the flak these funds sometimes receive. In a recent column, Globe & Mail columnist Rob Carrick called TD e-Series Mutual Funds “well-loved but frustratingly elusive”. Investors are apparently frustrated because they can’t simply walk into a branch and plonk some cash into an e-series Mutual Fund.

While I admit that setting up a TD e-Series account is not the simplest process in the world, my experience with establishing these accounts was very smooth. All I had to do was follow the steps outlined in the TD e-Series Mutual Funds webpage. It was no more difficult than, say, opening new brokerage accounts. The process involved a visit to a local TD Canada Trust branch to open a RESP account and one mailed-in application to have the account converted into a TD e-Series account. Hardly onerous or complicated, if you ask me. Once the initial setup is done, it is smooth sailing thereafter: it takes only a few clicks of the mouse to contribute cash or rebalance the portfolio.

I did find that fund salespeople at the local TD Canada Trust branch are not well informed about the e-Series funds. If a client walks into a branch and asks to open an e-Series account, they are likely to be met with blank stares or attempts to place them in one of the more expensive funds in the TD Mutual Fund line-up. TD Canada Trust is positioning e-Series funds as a direct-to-investor, online-only mutual fund. DIY Investors can’t complain too much if a local branch knows how to sell a 2.13% MER fund but is unaware of the existence of a 0.32% MER index fund.

This article has 25 comments

  1. Is it just me or when the account is converted to e-series you can still buy non “e-series” funds via EasyWeb? I assume the “e-series” funds are the ones ending with a “-e”?


  2. @Oli: Yes, that’s correct, the -e funds are the E-series funds.

    I will add that I’ve set up two accounts this way, and we only had a problem with one of them because we filled out the paper work wrong.

  3. You can still buy non e-series funds. In fact, it’s quite easy to end up in a non-e-series fund: if you get a salesperson from the branch to help you out one RRSP season, they don’t have access to the e-series, so they’ll put you in the “investor series” index funds instead.

  4. When I first got set up online, after having converted to e-Series account, I still couldn’t see the e-series funds as available options. I had to call in, and was told it was a “glitch” with all e-series accounts. I have my suspicions it is a “default glitch”, but the fellow set it straight right away though.

    Overall, pretty simple process – agree with CC’s assessment above.

  5. It’s not difficult, but certainly it is more difficult than it should be. Mail in a form? What decade are we in? I never had a problem setting them up, but things would have happened much quicker if it was just an option that you could select when opening up a mutual fund account.

    I was also met with blank stares from the MF sales person at TD. They should be informed about all of TDs products. They didn’t even know they existed, or they were just playing dumb in hoping I would buy the regular funds.

  6. That pretty much mirrors my experience, I had to explain to the TD person what I wanted and then help her find the documentation on the website that explains how to set it up. We then opened the RESP and she sent off the paperwork to convert it. A few days later I was told it was all set up. I did have an issue with not being able to buy any funds (I can’t remember the exact details) but a phone call sorted it out. I’ve been very happy with ever since (18 months or so)

  7. It’s true that setting up an e-Series account is easy if you know how to do it. For the typical person who has figured out just barely enough to know that fees matter, the experience at a TD branch is bewildering and frustrating. Customers encounter staff who deny the existence of e-Series funds or who suddenly become surly when the customer mentions the funds. Customers are often told that they have to go through an evaluation and are asked a series of questions that ends with a recommended asset mix of expensive funds.

    What makes opening an e-Series account difficult is that customers are expecting branch staff to help them, but the staff often don’t. If the customers knew to expect resistance, they might spend more time reading the e-Series web site to learn more about opening an account.

  8. @Michael: I suppose a lot of confusion can be avoided if TD puts in place a way to open RESP accounts that can hold e-Series funds online. That would eliminate the need to visit a local branch.

    @David Hayes: When I opened accounts for our kids, I never even mentioned e-Series funds at the branch. I simply opened a RESP account and asked them to park money in a money market fund.

    @Mathew: If TD positioned these funds as something you can buy at your local branch, I would agree. TD says these funds are low-cost only because they are sold direct to investors. I think it is bit unfair to expect local branch employees to know about these products.

    @Ben: I haven’t had many problems with e-Series fund accounts. I think I did call once to confirm that I had made contributions to the correct accounts. It was sorted out right away.

    @Potato: Exactly. Even if a salesperson wants to sell e-Series fund, they cannot. These funds are restricted to a some branch in Toronto, which is why accounts need to be set up to buy e-Series funds.

    @Oli: As @AKA pointed out, the e-Series funds end with “e”. Example: “TD CDN Index – e” is the e-Series fund.

  9. Hi CC,

    I agree with you trading e-series funds in your TD Waterhouse TFSA or RRSP is quite straightforward, I also take advantage of the low MER with e-series through my TDW TFSA. That’s fine for DIY investors.

    However the simplicity ends there.. If you are not financially savvy and don’t really understand investing, like a lot of people, then going into TD and setting this up is anything but simple. It’s a long convoluted process, that leaves investors feeling confused and isolated. In addition the “assessment questionnaire” that the above reader mentions is useless, and if you answer it conservatively you won’t be able to buy certain growth funds. On top of that TD Reps really don’t understand the products or how to purchase them. Once you get through all of this inconvenience, you then have to go home and figure it all out. For web professionals like myself that’s fine. Sorry, I disagree with your article, TD e-series are not easy to setup.

    On another note for extra confusion, you cannot hold e-series Funds in a TD Mutual Funds TFSA. I am truly hoping TD will be changing this, so I can avoid the $25 withdrawal fees that TD Waterhouse currently imposes on TFSA withdrawals.


  10. @The Dividend Ninja: We’ll have to disagree. The “useless” questionnaire is a regulatory requirement, not some roadblock set up by TD Bank. It is mandatory for all mutual fund accounts. If an investor says they want to be conservative then, of course, TD will not want to put them in an aggressive asset allocation. They are simply following the asset allocation the investor said she is comfortable with. How is that TD’s fault? For me the bottom line is simple. These funds are cheap because they are targeted at DIY investors. If an investor want some hand holding, TD Bank has slightly more expensive i-series funds. I don’t think it is very practical to expect top notch service with rock bottom fees.

  11. @CC
    In retrospect I agree with you about the questionaire re regulatory requirement 😉

    “I don’t think it is very practical to expect top notch service with rock bottom fees.”

    Why not? TD could take advantage of an opportunity here. All they need to do is setup a much better web page, have printed info in branches to explain the process better to potential clients. I don’t think that is too difficult to do, or that expensive as you might think. ETFs are able to do it with low MERs, so can TD!

    I think the problem is with the disconnect between TD Asset Managment and TD branches. For many people a TD Branch is their first exposure to investing – it should be a lot smoother. If TD can smooth out this process, they could attract a lot more business.


  12. IMO, investment advisors at TD should not be obligated to openly offer customers e-series funds but if specifically requested by the customer they should at least know the process/products and provide the proper forms to complete to get started. TD normally has great service and it is a shame so many customers experience difficulties with this.

  13. The root of the problem is that this web based product cannot be bought online. If you could simply do it yourself (ING seems to have this sorted i.e. regulatory requirements) then I don’t think anyone could rightly complain about about lack of support at the branch. A simple, ‘You have to buy those online, here’s the URL’ would suffice.

    However, if I need to interact with these people (transferring over a RRSP, opening a RESP) then they better know how to make it happen or I’m going to feel that it’s a hassle.

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  15. “I did find that fund salespeople at the local TD Canada Trust branch are not well informed about the e-Series funds.”

    I completely agree with that statement. As long as you don’t have any questions, it’s as easy as filling out a form and mailing it in. A pain since you can generally open most other accounts online or over the phone, but not hard.

    HOWEVER…try getting your money out of your RRSP under the Home Buyers Plan if your invested in e-series funds and it’s a whole different story.

    I didn’t think it would be so hard. I went to the branch and told them what I wanted to do. To make a long story short, they told me since it was e-series, I would have to do it though easyline. When I called easyline, they told me I had to go to the branch. So I got passed along until I got fed up. I got the name of a manager on easyline and I also spoke to the branch manager (who didn’t know anymore then anyone else). I made the branch manager call the manager at easyline while I sat in her office. Basically I said, you two figure it out because I’m sick of beling passed around. That did the trick.

    I really shouldn’t have to go to those extremes to get my money.

    After the fact, I did discover there might have been an easier way (of course nobody tells me this before). I could have sold my e-series and put my money in whatever money market fund, and then I could have done all the HBP stuff at the branch level very easily. God knows how I’m going to pay back this HBP…I guess I’ll do it in two steps again. Pay it back to a money market fund and then transfer it to e-series.

    For the love of God! Now I remember why I agreed with Rob Carrick when I read that article!

    • @Marc: I agree that TD e-Series Mutual Fund Accounts should have an established way (with forms & instructions available on the website) to withdraw funds from a RSP under the HBP. You should not be bounced around.

      The good news (I’m going out on a limb here, I haven’t done this myself) is that contributing your HBP funds should be easy. You make a RRSP contribution just as you used to before into your TD e-Series Mutual Fund account. You classify your contribution as a HBP repayment in your taxes. I think that should be it. (The usual disclaimers apply: Please double check and confirm everything. I do make mistakes).

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  17. CC…I checked it out and you’re right. You repay through your taxes.

    That’s a relief.

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  19. I realize this is an old thread but I am in the process of setting up an e-series account and was wondering about the questionaire. Is it better to answer the questions non-conservatively, so that I will have access to ALL the e-series products? I don’t want to limit myself to which ones I can buy. I am going buy a mix of (relatively) safe and non-safe, but I want to make sure I have all e-series open to me to choose from.

    If anyone knows how those questionaires work I would like to know. I made the mistake of answering conservatively one day (most peoples answers change these days due to news stories and fluctuations in the market) and my advisor wouldn’t let me buy certain funds I wanted to later. One reason for getting an e-series account is so I can do what I want with my money.

  20. I spent 6 weeks trying to open a e-series account. I’ve never encountered such incompetence in my life. I gave up and walked away. In 6 weeks all they accomplished was opening a mutual fund account. Going into the TD branch was worse than useless – I may as well have sent the forms in online. The TD bank rep insisted I didn’t need to fill out half the boxes on the form. That of course, meant the forms were sent back to me 2 weeks later. When eventually, a month later, I got an email telling me the e-series account had been open, I logged in to find no such thing. Furthermore, I discovered that the link that had been created between my bank and the mutual fund had been shut down. I found out another week later TD had done that because they had lost the voided cheque I had given them when I opened the account and insisted I provide them with another one. And then just to completely ruin my patience, they seemed utterly incapable of transferrring in cash I had sitting idle in another RSP. 7 weeks after filing for the paperwork for that, I found they were sitting on the forms because it hadn’t been dated (at the advice of the original TD bank rep) – and this despite sending the form back to me before for additional information.

    Maybe if you have an account with TD it is not so difficult, but if you don’t have an account with TD and don’t want to set up a brokerage account with them because you don’t want to pay the fees for either a savings account or having a brokerage account with under $50k in it because you can get such things cheaper/fee free elsewhere, then I would say setting up an e-series account is nigh on impossible.

    I have given up in disgust. I have chosen to carefully select matching ETFs instead, and I guess I will have to save and buy in bulk to avoid the trading fee. But… TD’s loss for making the process for opening an online account so insane in this internet world of ours. They just lost making money on my investments over the next few decades. And do you think I will EVER give them a second chance? Not likely! Do you think I will be recommending them? Unlikely!

  21. Can anyone please instruct me step by step how to transfer money out of the TD E-series TFSA or direct me in the right direction for how to do this? It would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    • @Linda: I did not know that TD e-Series TFSA accounts are possible. In any case, TD Mutual Funds should be able to help you (1-866-222-3456). You would simply sell your mutual fund holdings in a TFSA account and withdraw the proceeds when the order is settled.

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