Frequently Asked Questions
Savings and investments
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Making an investment involves placing funds in a financial vehicle for a certain period, with the goal of growing your savings.
Cash means your liquid assets that can be used immediately.
Your principal is money in your possession that can bear interest or dividends.
Your investment horizon is the period of time over which you plan to hold an investment.
It all depends on your goals, investor profile and situation. For instance, if your risk tolerance is low, you may want to choose a conservative investment like a guaranteed investment certificate (GIC). If your risk tolerance is higher, you may want to leverage the growth potential of the markets by investing primarily in stocks. An advisor can give you personalized tips based on your goals and investment horizon.
Which investment strategy is best for me?
How should I invest my money?
What's the difference between registered and non-registered plans?
Although non-registered accounts offer no tax incentives, they usually allow for more flexibility as they have no contribution ceiling or tax limitations. Discover the main differences between registered and non-registered plans.
Which investments are least risky?
In general, a guaranteed investment certificate (GIC) is the lowest-risk investment, because your principal is guaranteed.
Depending on your investor profile, you may be interested in an investment solution like the NBI Secure Portfolio1 or the NBI Conservative Portfolio, or a liquidity solution. These investments focus on protecting your principal.
For personalized advice, make an appointment with one of our experts. They will help you find the solution that's best for you.
How can I reduce risk?
Diversifying your investments is key. Although they may seem unpredictable, markets go through cycles. It's normal for the value of your investments to fluctuate.
A good investment strategy involves investing in a range of securities based on your risk tolerance. This means that if a specific company or sector performs poorly, your portfolio will not lose all of its value.
I want to buy stocks. How do I get started?
Looking to manage your own portfolio? National Bank Direct Brokerage offers simple, innovative online brokerage tools for self‑directed investors.
Would you rather work with an advisor? National Bank Financial allows you to grow your wealth and achieve your goals with the help of an expert investment advisor.
What is an RRSP?
A registered retirement savings plan (RRSP) is a government-registered plan that lets you defer income tax on your contributions until after you retire.
Your savings will grow tax-free until you withdraw funds to finance your retirement, buy a first home or go back to school.
What are the advantages of an RRSP?
With an RRSP, you can:
- Invest in a tax-sheltered vehicle
- Reduce your taxable income
- Carry forward unused contribution room to the next year
- Build your retirement savings
What's the deadline for RRSP contributions?
You can contribute to your RRSP at any point during the year, and in the first 60 days of the following year. Contributions you make in January and February are deducted from your previous year’s income.
The contribution deadline for 2020 is March 1, 2021. Contributions made after that date will be deducted from your 2021 income tax return.
For more information, consult our list of important dates for RRSPs, receipts and tax slips.
How much can I contribute to my RRSP each year?
Your maximum annual contribution is equivalent to 18% of your income for the previous year. The maximum contribution for 2020 may not exceed $27,230. The maximum contribution for 2021 may not exceed $27,830. Check your government-issued Notice of Assessment for your personal contribution limit.
N.B.: You can also carry over unused contribution room from previous years. For more information, consult our page on maximum RRSP contributions.
What is the minimum age for contributing to an RRSP? What about the maximum age?
There's no minimum age for opening an RRSP. However, you must receive employment or business income to earn contribution room, and must be over 18 years old to contribute more than $2,000 a year.
You can contribute to your RRSP until December 31 of the year in which you reach age 71. However, you can contribute to your spouse's RRSP if they have yet to reach the age limit, or continue to save by contributing to a TFSA.
What types of investment can be placed in an RRSP?
There are three main categories of eligible investments:
- Guaranteed Investment Certificates (GIC)
- Managed solutions and investment funds
- Self-directed investments managed through a platform like National Bank Direct Brokerage
Need more information? Learn more about eligible and ineligible investments in an RRSP.
I'd like to make an RRSP contribution, but we're almost at the deadline. What should I do?
When do you send out contribution receipts for tax returns?
What happens if I overcontribute?
If you overcontribute to your RRSP by $2,000 or less, the Canada Revenue Agency will allow you to keep the money in your RRSP without penalty. However, this amount will not be deducted from your taxable income.
There is a 1% monthly penalty for overcontributions greater than $2,000, until the amount is withdrawn or your limit covers the excess contribution.
For more information, consult our page on maximum RRSP contributions.
What happens to my RRSP when I retire?
Once you retire, you have three options:
- Cash out all your savings out as a lump sum (income taxes will apply)
- Convert your RRSP to a registered retirement income fund (RRIF)
- Purchase a life income fund (LIF).
Your RRSP must be cashed out or converted by December 31 of the year you turn 71. If you fail to do so, the government will close your RRSP and your savings will be considered taxable income. Don't miss out—act on time!
When can I withdraw funds from my RRSP?
You can withdraw funds from your RRSP at any time2 and for any reason, but withdrawals are taxed. We recommend that you wait until retirement, when your income is generally lower, to start withdrawing from your RRSP.
You can also withdraw amounts from your RRSP without being taxed immediately to buy a first home through the Home Buyers' Plan (HBP) or to finance your education through the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP).
How do I use my RRSPs to buy my first home?
You can withdraw up to $35,000 from your RRSP through the Home Buyers' Plan (HBP). This means that couples can withdraw a total of $70,000 for a Down payment on a property. You can fund your Down payment without being taxed immediately, and take up to 15 years to pay back what you withdraw, interest-free. You’re basically lending yourself the money!
Learn more about the Home Buyers’ Plan (HBP).
How do I use my RRSPs to go back to school?
The Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP) lets you take money out of an RRSP to return to school and pay it back later, without interest.
The annual limit for the LLP is $10,000. You can even use your RRSP to pay for your spouse's education (although it cannot be used to finance your child's education).
Learn more about the Lifelong Learning Plan (LLP).
What should I do if I have a group RRSP or an account with an external broker?
Can I contribute to my spouse's RRSP?
Absolutely. For example, if you are over age 71 and can no longer contribute to your own RRSP, you can still contribute to your spouse's RRSP until the end of the year they turn 71.
Remember that the total amount you contribute to your RRSP and your spouse's cannot exceed your personal contribution limit.
Learn more about how to reduce your tax bill after retirement.
What is a TFSA?
What are the advantages of a TFSA?
How much can I contribute to my TFSA each year?
Annual contribution room
What types of investment can be placed in a TFSA?
What is the minimum age for contributing to a TFSA? What about the maximum age?
Can I have more than one TFSA?
Are TFSA contributions tax-deductible?
No. Your TFSA contributions do not reduce your taxable income.
However, you won't pay any taxes on your investment income. What's more, withdrawals are not taxed and do not affect your eligibility for certain government programs (an advantage if you're in a lower tax bracket).
What happens if I overcontribute?
If you make contributions in excess of the authorized limit, you will be required to pay 1% tax per month on that amount.
N.B.: If you withdraw funds then make another deposit the same year, you may exceed the contribution limit and be required to pay a penalty.
Are TFSA withdrawals taxed?
How do I withdraw from my TFSA?
Can I contribute to my spouse's TFSA?
What is an RESP?
A Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) is a tax-sheltered government-registered plan that lets you save for a child's post-secondary education.
You can also grow your savings by 20% to 40% thanks to grants like the Canadian Education Savings Grant (CESG).
What are the advantages of an RESP?
With an RESP, you can:
- Save up for the education of a child
- Grow your savings thanks to government grants deposited directly in the account
- Recover your savings if the child decides not to pursue their education
What is the maximum annual contribution to an RESP?
The maximum contribution is $50,000 per beneficiary for the duration of the plan. The Canadian Education Savings Grant (CESG) can add up to $500 a year, or 20% of the first $2,500 contributed.
Don't forget that unused grants can be carried forward starting from the year the child was born or 1998 (whichever is later). You can carry forward one grant per year, up to a total of $1,000 in grants per year.
Reached your contribution limit? Keep saving in a TFSA.
Are RESP withdrawals taxed?
The payments made from an RESP to the beneficiary are called Educational Assistance Payments (EAPs). EAPs are considered income that the beneficiary must declare.
If the beneficiary decides not to pursue postsecondary studies, the contributor can withdraw the funds contributed and the interest paid, but any grants will have to be repaid. You can transfer these funds to an RRSP to continue saving tax-free.
For more information on withdrawals, visit our page on using your RESP.
My child has chosen not to pursue their education. What should I do with the RESP?
You have two options:
- Designate another beneficiary
- Close the RESP
For an individual RESP, you can appoint a new beneficiary. If it's a family RESP, the other beneficiaries can use the contributions.
If you close the RESP, grants will have to be repaid to the government, but your contributions and the income generated in the RESP will return to you. You can transfer these funds to an RRSP to continue saving tax-free.
How can I maximize my RESP?
To optimize your RESP savings, start early so you save as much as possible before the funds are withdrawn. Ideally, you should open an RESP as soon as the child is born.
You can also take advantage of the government grants offered in your province. Make an appointment with an advisor to find out how to make the most of this plan and choose the best investments for your investor profile.
See our advice on maximizing your RESP savings.
What grants can I get for an RESP?
Different grants are available depending on your province and income.
- Maximum amount: $7,200 over the lifetime of the plan for each child born after 1997.
- Beneficiary age limit: 17 years old.
- Grants are equivalent to 20-40% of annual contributions (based on family income), up to a maximum of $500 per year per beneficiary.
- Unused grants can be carried over at a rate of one per year (up to a total of $1,000 in grants per year).
- You can only claim one year's worth of unused grants at a time. This means that the maximum annual contribution eligible for grants is $5,000. This contribution will earn you the maximum grant of $500 for the current year and $500 of unused grants from a previous year.
- Maximum amount: $2,000.
- Beneficiary age limit: 15 years old.
- Grant for children from low-income families born after 2004.
- $500 paid in the first year and $100 paid in subsequent years where the family meets income criteria.
- Maximum amount (received as a tax credit): $3,600.
- Beneficiary age limit: 18 years old.
- The basic amount is equivalent to 10% of net annual contributions to the plan, up to $250 per child per year.
Certain other provinces, including Saskatchewan and British Columbia, offer additional grants.
What are LIRAs and LIFs?
A locked-in retirement account (LIRA) allows you to transfer the funds accumulated in a former employer’s pension plan to an individual, tax-sheltered plan. In general, you can't make contributions or withdraw funds before retirement.
A life income fund (LIF) acts as an extension of your locked-in retirement account (LIRA) or supplemental pension plan. Funds transferred to a LIF are sheltered from tax and can be withdrawn to provide retirement income.
What is a RRIF?
You can then make periodic withdrawals, which are considered taxable income. The main advantage of a RRIF is that your remaining balance continues to grow tax-free.
If I quit my job, what happens to my pension plan or fund with my former employer?
You have several options:
- Transfer the funds to a locked-in retirement account (LIRA). When you retire, the funds can be transferred to a life income fund (LIF) so you can make withdrawals.
- Transfer the funds to your new employer's pension plan.
- Leave the funds in your former employer's pension plan and receive a pension after retirement.
What is a GIC?
A GIC is a guaranteed investment certificate. It's a low-risk investment with terms ranging from 30 days to 10 years. You will receive fixed or variable interest on your investment, depending on which option you have select.
The main advantage of a GIC is that your initial investment is guaranteed at maturity.
What's the difference between a redeemable and non-redeemable GIC?
Redeemable GICs can be cashed in before maturity. This means your funds can be accessed as needed, although the interest rate is slightly lower than that of a non-redeemable GIC.
With non-redeemable GICs, you'll need to wait until the end of the term to access funds. However, they offer a more attractive interest rate.
Learn about all our redeemable and non-redeemable GICs.
Should I choose a fixed rate or a market-linked rate?
A fixed rate is established at the start and doesn't change. This means that the return on your GIC is known from the start.
A market-linked rate can go up or down, because it's tied to the performance of stocks and stock market indices. It lets you enjoy the growth potential of the markets while protecting your initial investment.
What's the difference between simple and compound interest?
Simple interest is calculated on your initial investment only. This means interest is paid throughout the term.
Compound interest is calculated on your initial investment plus the interest generated, maximizing the return on your GIC.
My GIC is maturing soon. How do I renew it?
What is a GIC laddering strategy?
In general, the longer the term of your guaranteed investment certificate (GIC), the higher your interest rate. However, you will not be able to access your funds until maturity.
GIC laddering is an investment strategy that means you can access some of your funds each year while enjoying an attractive average rate. It's the best of both worlds!
Learn more about GIC laddering.
How do I withdraw funds from my GIC?
- Fill out the form on the Help and contact page from the left-hand menu in your online bank.
- call us at 1-888-835-6281
- visit a branch
If you have a redeemable GIC, you can cash in your investment before maturity in accordance with certain conditions.
If you have a non-redeemable GIC, you'll have to wait until the investment matures.
Managed solutions and investment funds
What's the difference between NBI Portfolios and NBI Funds?
NBI Funds5 are investment funds offered by National Bank Investments Inc. (NBI). They pool funds from many investors, which are then invested across different asset classes subject to market fluctuations and managed by world‑class portfolio managers.
NBI Portfolios are made up of investment funds offered by National Bank Investments Inc. (NBI). These well-diversified investments, designed to reduce risk while maximizing returns, are managed by some of the world's top portfolio managers.
Who manages NBI Portfolios and NBI Funds?
National Bank Investments is the leading bank-affiliated asset manager in Canada. We do business exclusively with external portfolio managers selected to meet our standards of excellence. You'll benefit from the expertise of some of the world's top portfolio managers, whose performance is rigorously assessed.
Learn more about our multi‑manager approach.
Why should I invest in an NBI Fund?
NBI Funds are available as a stand-alone solution or as a complementary investment. With an NBI Fund, you can:
- Leverage the expertise of some of the world's top portfolio managers.
- Select a fund based on such factors as its risk level and potential return.
Make systematic investments in your funds, i.e., invest small amounts regularly rather than a large lump sum.
Why should I choose NBI Private Wealth Management?
NBI Private Wealth Management is a premium discretionary portfolio management service. You can count on our team of professionals to make informed decisions so you and your family can enjoy peace of mind.
With NBI Private Wealth Management, you can:
- Invest $250,000 or more (as an individual or as a family)
- Access exclusive benefits
- Draw on the expertise of seasoned portfolio managers
Enjoy degressive service charges (the more you invest, the less you pay)
What are cash solutions?
Cash solutions are short-term investments that allow you to immediately access your funds. Your investment in a High Interest Savings Account or investment fund will earn interest at a competitive rate.
Learn more on our cash solutions page.
What type of income do NBI Funds generate?
When you invest in an NBI Fund, our experts will allocate your investment to a range of securities (stocks, bonds and money market instruments), based on that fund's investment policy. These investments can generate dividends, interest income or capital gains.
Tip: T3 slips (and RL-16 slips for Quebec residents) produced for each fund are in Canadian dollars, as required by the Canada Revenue Agency.
How are NBI Funds taxed?
For non-registered accounts, income and capital gains are taxed differently. Interest income is taxed in the same way as employment income. Dividend income from Canadian companies entitles you to an income tax credit that will reduce your taxable income. Capital gains are only taxed at 50% of their value.
Need more information? NBI Funds generate additional T3 slips (and RL-16 slips for Quebec residents) that set out all the information you need for your tax return.
I'm not a resident of Canada. Will I receive a tax slip?
You won't receive a T3 or RL-16 tax slip. Instead, you'll get an additional NR4 slip setting out your taxable distributions. Depending on your country of residence, National Bank Investments Inc. will withhold 15% to 25% of your distribution for income taxes. Capital gains distributions and capital returns are not taxable
Distributions paid are shown in box 16, "Gross income." Income taxes withheld on the distribution by National Bank Investments Inc. and paid to the Canada Revenue Agency are shown in box 17. These income taxes can usually be deducted from the income tax payable in your country of residence.
For more information, contact your tax advisor.
How risky are NBI Funds and NBI Portfolios?
Determine your investor profile to pinpoint your risk tolerance so you can make an informed decision.
You can also make an appointment with an advisor for suggestions tailored to your needs.
I'm looking to invest more than $250,000. What services can you offer me?
If you have significant personal wealth, NBI Private Wealth Management or Private Banking 1859 are good options
NBI Private Wealth Management is a premium discretionary portfolio management service that's ideal for people looking to invest $250,000 or more (as an individual or as a family). It allows you to access exclusive benefits, draw on the expertise of seasoned portfolio managers and enjoy degressive service charges (the more you invest, the less you pay).
Private Banking 1859, intended for high-net-worth clients, offers made-to-measure private banking to help you manage your personal wealth.
To determine if you're better off saving or paying off debts, you'll need to draw up an overview of your financial situation and plans. Next, you should consider what types of debt and investments you have. In general, if the return on an investment is lower than the interest rate on a debt, you should prioritize paying off the debt.
Learn more about managing your debts.
How often should I invest?
It can be hard to free up the funds to make a lump-sum contribution or remember to set aside money on a regular basis. A systematic savings plan is a solution that lets you save without effort.
You can set up automatic transfers weekly, monthly, or every time you get paid—whatever is most convenient for you.
What is a systematic savings plan?
Why can't I see my investments online?
How do I cancel an online investment transaction?
What information can I find in my portfolio statements and annual reports?
Consult your portfolio statements to monitor your portfolio's performance, see your asset allocation and view detailed information on your investments.
What about annual reports? Your performance report shows the return on your investments, while the fees and compensation report summarizes amounts collected directly or indirectly by National Bank for its advice and services rendered.
I don't understand my annual investment reports. Could you explain?
I don't understand my portfolio statement. Could you explain?
I've come into an inheritance. What should I do?