Ahhh, the 90’s!
It was the days of MC Hammer, Nelson Mandela and “Irrational Exuberance”. It was also the time that an obscure, little known type of investment called a mutual fund started to become a household name. With the interest rates hovering at historic lows, many “GIC refugees” started flooding in to these investments that promised higher returns. The amount of money that went into the mutual fund industry was staggering.
That was 20 years ago. Clearly things have changed… music, locations of sports teams, and my waistline. But there’s one thing that hasn’t changed, Canadian’s infatuation with mutual funds. Have mutual funds deserved all the love we’ve given them? Well, that’s for you to decide, but many people question the long-term performance of their mutual funds.
Maybe that’s part of our identity as Canadians. We all have mutual funds but wonder WHY we have mutual funds.
Let’s fast-forward to today and we find another burgeoning financial phenomenon. Enter the Exempt Market. Now just to be clear, the exempt market is NOT a specific product like a mutual fund. It’s actually named for HOW the products are purchased. Just like mutual funds, which are sold through a mutual fund dealer, these exempt or private investments are purchased through an exempt market dealer. Some more popular investment structures in the exempt market are real estate investment trusts, flow through shares, mortgage investment corporations and limited partnerships.
It’s understandable that you may not have heard of the exempt market, given the distribution of these products only formalized into the exempt market within the last 3 years. Before that, outside of Ontario, there were really no registered dealers who were approved by the securities regulators. Ontario had Limited Market Dealers until the forced transition to an exempt market dealership required by the National Instrument 31-103.
Just how popular is the exempt market? Well, it’s growing and growing fast. Last year, the people placed about $140 Billion into the exempt market, as reported by the EMDA. To put that in perspective, in the same period, net sales of mutual funds was about $21.2 Billion, as reported by IFIC.
In the coming weeks, I’ll write about the exempt market as it relates to raising capital for businesses as well as participating in unconventional investments for qualified investors.
Marty Gunderson is a self proclaimed Exempt Market geek. He has served in a variety of leadership positions in the industry, from sales to issuer to dealer. He is the founder of www.BetterReturns.ca, a site that highlights a few quality exempt market offerings. Contact him at marty (at) idealeader.ca