Canadian Financial Discussion Forums

by Mr. Cheap

I enjoy blogging. Twice each week, I have the chance to spend a bit of time articulating my position on a financial topic, then get a variety of smart people to respond with their $0.02 on the subject. Sometimes there will be a bit of back and forth on the day of the posting (or for really inflammatory controversial posts for weeks or months afterward).

Often the best part of blogging (for the blogger) is that we choose what is being discussed (for our own posts at least). Discussion forums become far more democratic where anyone can start a topic they’re interested in, and if they can attract enough interest, pick other readers’ brains and get some alternative points of view on the issue.

Five places I’m aware of, and have participated in conversations at, are:

  1. Canadian Business Online:  This is the grand-daddy and has been around forever.  Forums are focused on topics from taxes to stock discussions, frugality to starting a business.  Derek Foster will often interact with fans (and foes) here and whatever your question is, if it’s about finance someone can probably give you a decent answer or point you in the right direction.  It’s been around FOREVER and is quite large, so it can be a bit overwhelming for newbies.
  2. Canadian Money Forum:  I’m not 100% sure what their original motivation was for starting this (I would have guessed that running their successful blogs would have kept them busy enough), but the Canadian Capitalist and Million Dollar Journey started this up.  It’s like the Pepsi to Canadian Business Online’s Coke:  the choice of a new generation.  Very similar discussions, but quite a bit more intimate.  It gives a chance to interact directly with a number of bloggers as well as Canadian finance celebrities like Jon Chevreau.
  3. DRiP Investing Resource Center:  This forum is focused almost entirely on dividend reinvestment plans, but because of its focus it provides AMAZING information.  Basically anything you could possibly want to know about DRiPping is answered here.  Although the site supports Canadian and American DRiPs, most of the people there seem to be focused on Canadian companies.  They also facilitate stock exchanges between users (which allow investors to cut their investments fees down to almost nothing, although it’s more time consuming than using a broker).  The veteran members are very knowledgeable about DRiPs (and willing to help), but have a tendency to be unpleasant to some rookies (and to be VERY set in their ways).
  4. My REIN Space Forums:  The “Real Estate Investment Network” (R.E.I.N.) was set up by Don Cambell to sell real estate information and mentoring to aspiring real estate investors.  I heard one of his speakers at a seminar one time (and met a number of members through other venues) and didn’t get a good feeling about the organization.  The bulk of his talk amounted to generating goodwill by buying a turkey for his tenants at Christmas (wow).  It has been recommended to me on a number of occasions by other people I’ve met, so SOME people must find it worthwhile.  The forums have a public area, as well as a members-only area.  While I haven’t participated or read posts here extensively, there seems to be some good info (and knowledgeable people) posting in the public areas, so this would be worth checking out if you’re interested in real estate info.
  5. It Sucks to be a Landlord in Ontario!:  I just found this recently and I think it should be required reading for anyone who wants to get into real estate investing.  Basically it’s a support group for Ontario landlords, where they swap war stories and complain about how skewed towards tenants the province’s laws are.  It’s a great resource to give aspiring landlords a dose of reality (such as how little good giving your tenants a turkey will do).  There’s a few threads where they start beating the war drum to begin advocating on behalf of the province’s landlords, but I suspect that won’t amount to much (they’ve got a pretty poor choice of a name if they want to go that route).

It should go without saying (but I’ll say it anyways) that these forums are filled with regular people who, although well-intentioned for the most part, are as likely as Mike or I to give you incorrect advice :-).

Where do you go online to chat about finances in a Canadian specific context? Any experience with these (good or bad)?  Any suggestions for sites not mentioned?

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mike

I really like the Canadian Money Forum – lots of great discussion (despite the fact that Rob is not there).

I used to hang out a lot at the CB forums but not so much anymore.

Another great place is the Financial Webring Forum – incredible amounts of knowledge there.

http://www.financialwebring.org/forum/

2 Million Dollar Journey

Thanks for mentioning CMF guys! The motivation behind CMF was that readers were emailing me (and probably CC) about starting a forum, so we decided to give them what they wanted.

Rob, are you sure you’re not mixing up CMF with another forum? Norbert is not affiliated with CMF and I’m pretty sure you weren’t banned from it as I don’t recall you ever posting there.

3 Canadian Capitalist

Thanks for the mention guys. Like FT mentions, our motivation was readers asking us for a Forum. FT and I have been talking about this for close to a year before we decided to launch. We were very aware of the workload — it’s not as if I need to take on more work than I’ve already signed up for 🙂

@Rob Bennett: Million Dollar Journey and I run the Canadian Money Forum. It is entirely possible that you couldn’t sign up due to a glitch. The way to address a glitch is to contact us and we’d be glad to sort it out for you, as we have for many current members. It is unfortunate that you would jump to conclusions that the whole world is against you when there are far simpler explanations at hand. I mean “Campaign of Terror” & “threats of physical violence” & “internet predators”? Give me a break.

It is funny that you mention your views on withdrawal rates are being suppressed. We had a long discussion on precisely this topic on CMF:

http://www.canadianmoneyforum.com/showthread.php?t=96

I suggest you get your facts straight before making allegations that have no basis.

4 Tom @ Canadian Finance Blog

I love the Canadian Money Forum, MDJ and CC were the perfect blogs to come together to launch a site like this. Unfortunately I haven’t had much time to spend on there lately.

Thanks for pointing out the DRiP Investing Resource Center, I never knew about that one!

5 Nicolas

“Although the site supports Canadian and American DRiPs, most of the people there seem to be focused on Canadian companies. ”

Good point. The reason behing this is that it is possible to initiate DRIPs directly from some US companies.

I just love “It Sucks to be a Landlord in Ontario!” I should start an affiliated site called “It’s also true in Quebec!”

6 MoneyEnergy

Nice roundup of these sites. I think the Canadian Money Forum is off to a great start. I haven’t heard of the Ontario landlord site, though…. have to check it out for my future RE endeavours. I was also around the CB forums once or twice, maybe I didn’t like the format as much.

7 Steamer

RE: DRiP Investing Resource Center

This site is a great source of information for anyone wanting to get into Dripping. What some newbies see as meanness is often that nobody steps up to sell them all the shares they want in the first couple of hours.

Another example of meanness is newbies asking for a share of a company that does not have a DRiP and/or SPP and being told to do some research. Newbies also sometimes ask basic questions and are directed to the FAQ instead of having the question answered in the forum for the 1000th time.

When reading the boards, remember that many of the people have known each other for years and what may look like a nasty comment is simply friendly bantering.

8 Operabob

Mr. Cheap,

Thank you for noting the dripinvesting.org website.

I am somewhat taken aback by your comments:

The veteran members are very knowledgeable about DRiPs (and willing to help), but have a tendency to be unpleasant to some rookies (and to be VERY set in their ways).

This goes very much against the grain of what you said in the thread you were involved in.

I think the veterans here are similarly giving far more to the community than the typical member. I’ve been unbelievably impressed that there’s constantly a speedy response when someone requests a share of a company in the share exchange that doesn’t allow OCPs and a veteran over-and-over posts a link to the FAQ, the drip list, and asks them if they’re sure they want to buy that company. After responding a dozen times, I think it would be human nature to get hot under the collar and be abrupt with the newbies, and I think its awesome that the community remains so helpful and polite. Clearly all the old-timers have got the DRiPs they want set up, and they just show up here to help newbies, which is admirable.

Here is the entire thread for others to digest. You’ll note an incredible amount of time and expertise was given to you by the “old-timers”. Truth is newbies who contribute are very welcome at dripinvesting.org and we have virtually zero flame wars because we “pay-it-forward”.

http://dripinvesting.org/Boards/Read.asp?MID=96108&Thread=Yes

I suggest any difficulty you had was because you phrased questions before you had developed the vernacular the community was hearing/understanding from you.

Regards,

OB

9 Mr. Cheap

OB: Yes, I absolutely said that. And my comment makes perfect sense, given the context of the paragraphs ABOVE AND BELOW IT (re-pasted for convenience below) . This is entirely “with the grain” of what I wrote in both places. Perhaps you aren’t familiar with the word pugnacious?

An incredible amount of time was given to me by the “old-timers” who misunderstood what I wrote and picked a fight with me over something that was in their heads. My original question was concisely (and accurately) answered in the first response (by rascal), and I thanked her. The remainder of the lengthy responses account for the pugnaciousness. I’m not sure why you expect me to be grateful for “an incredible amount of time and expertise” given to misunderstanding and attacking me (and for the record, I’m not – I felt like the whole exchange was a waste of my time, which is why I haven’t allowed it to happen again).

I have personally witnessed a fairly intense flame war on the exchange board (when the guy out West, whatever his name is, claimed his “friend” was using his e-mail account to try and sell shares for a higher courtesy fee), so I think “virtually zero” is overstating it a bit. I never said anything about flame wars (in either post), so I’m not sure why you feel that’s an important point.

I suspect you have a paternal feeling about your community and you might not be wholly objective about it.

That being said, as I posted in both place, I *AM* incredibly impressed by the accumulated resources on the site (the faqs, list of Canadian drips, overview of running a group buy and articles are all wonderful). I’m also grateful for the times the veterans are polite and helpful (like Rascal was for me), AND the times they’re rude and helpful (which is quite often as well – I’d rather be treated rudely by someone on the internet than pay top dollar to a broker, but other people may be less willing to make this compromise). Heck, I’m even willing to accept when they’re rude and unhelpful (but sorry, I’m *not* going to be grateful for it, and I’m happy to warn other people what they may encounter at dripinvesting.org).

If you don’t like the reputation your community is building, perhaps it’s time to reconsider its norms?

I’ve had nothing but good experiences with the non-veterans I’ve interacted with (mostly through share exchanges). One of them was a four-pillars reader who contacted me when he saw my name in the forums, which was a delightful surprise.

I certainly wouldn’t characterize an entire community from one interaction with it. My characterization here was based on my interactions at your site, and the *many* I’ve read in the exchange board (I read it and the beginner board faithfully, I’m just not interested in interacting with your community more than necessary).

I stand by my description of the community in this post (and posted on dripinvesting.org). I hope this clears up any misunderstandings of disparities you may have had between my two posts (and thanks for being so interested in what I’ve written that you asked for a clarification!). If you (and the other veterans) are interested in making some changes to how your present yourselves to new members, I’d be happy to make some suggestions how you can present yourselves less unpleasantly and less pugnaciously (and if you want to keep the unpleasant and pugnacious elements of your community, I respect that choice too – I can understand if you want to restrict your help to newbies “willing to work for it”).


Years ago I used to be a SysOp on a BBS. For those too young to remember, these were electronic communities before many people had access to the internet. SysOps (short for System Operators) would run the boards where people would chat (in a very similar manner as we’re doing here), download files and play games. SysOps contributed BY FAR the most to the community (installing software, dealing with maintenance issues, paying for the phone line) and because of this had a great deal of power in the community, which could sometimes make them a bit pugnacious.

I think the veterans here are similarly giving far more to the community than the typical member. I’ve been unbelievably impressed that there’s constantly a speedy response when someone requests a share of a company in the share exchange that doesn’t allow OCPs and a veteran over-and-over posts a link to the FAQ, the drip list, and asks them if they’re sure they want to buy that company. After responding a dozen times, I think it would be human nature to get hot under the collar and be abrupt with the newbies, and I think its awesome that the community remains so helpful and polite. Clearly all the old-timers have got the DRiPs they want set up, and they just show up here to help newbies, which is admirable.

That being said, I think the “SysOp pugnaciousnes” creeps in as well and that some people responding to me haven’t read what I actually posted, and are getting upset by what they imagine I’ve wrote rather than what I actually have. Every learner can decide what they’re willing to go through to learn: having their words and intentions misrepresented in a much smaller price than many pay in the pursuit of knowledge.

10 Operabob

Mr. Cheap,

I have no desire to engage in an argument or be pugnacious with you. That said your statement just made:

I certainly wouldnt characterize an entire community from one interaction with it.

and the statement in the original item:

The veteran members are very knowledgeable about DRiPs (and willing to help), but have a tendency to be unpleasant to some rookies (and to be VERY set in their ways).

are contradictory. You say “the veteran members” not “some members”. You clearly painted us all which is a disservice to those that took the time to help you.

The reputation of our community is sound. If you were/are not satisfied that is a matter of self reflection but I am quite satisfied the the vast, vast majority of our members are extremely happy.

I hope you will come back and visit and get to know the personalities of the majority of the old-timers who spend hours and hours helping people with no other reward than personal satisfaction rather than dismissing everyone out of hand. Possibly you might edit your statement instead of unfairly painting us all with a black brush because you had a bad experience. As written it is an insult to a lot of very generous people. If I were a newbie reading your statement above I’d be wary of visiting which I’m sure you’d know is a mistake. We help people learn to put more of their own money in their own pockets and we do it without compensation or charge as long as they agree to do the same for others. I’m hard pressed to think of any other financial website around that can say that.

Should I write this website off because of one bad impression? (rhetorical)

I would also like to point out that dripinvesting.org has an incredible amount of inside humour. Sometimes posts meant as humour are misunderstood by new readers.

I reiterate: Newbie is an honoured term at dripinvesting.org. Newbies are very welcome.

I look forward to your next positive contribution at the dripinvesting.org.

OB off soapbox

11 Operabob

BTW and not wishing to beat a dead horse and to answer the question I think you were asking originally:

There are members who do spin out shares from existing accounts for $10 a pop.

However, we old-timers feel:

1. That is somewhat against the spirit of the site which is to not profit off of fellow members, but also (and possibly more important);

2. Spinning out shares for profit amounts to someone acting as an unlicensed broker. While we leave members to do as they wish on their own the old-timers do not wish to promote anything that might be illegal.

Therefore we encourage:

1. Straight trades
2. Group purchases where commissions are shared equally
3 Single trades. There is a $10 thank you for this but you get your $10 back when you pass to the next person, Therefore it is a zero-sum not for profit transaction. The $10 thank you truly started as a thank you paying for parking and lunch. In my own case people have often sent me Tim Horton’s Gift Cards.

Regardless, we are there to help people through hurdles. There will be hiccups. However, as a beacon website we do not encourage any activity that is outside accepted procedures.

Hope this finally answers your original question as I understood it.

OB

12 Mr. Cheap

You are mistaken that these statements are contradictory. If you’re interested in understanding, please re-read my previous comment (and if you just want to believe what you believe, that’s fine too).

As I said, I stand by what I’ve written. If someone is insulted by it, perhaps they should reflect on how their behaviour affects others and if that’s how they wish to behave in the future. For example, I’m well aware that this post has pissed you off, and I’m ok with that. I realize that posts of this nature will aggravate people with a vested interest in only hearing positive comments about something they care about, but I feel honest appraisal to the masses is more valuable than pandering to individual egos.

I don’t know how I could have been more encouraging about people visiting your site (although I feel I would be doing them a disservice encouraging them to visit without warning them about the reception they may receive). If you look above, there’s a comment thanking me for pointing out your site.

I certainly encourage readers to view the thread you’ve linked to, and read through a couple dozen posts on the exchange board, to get a feel for the reception they may receive (it paints a very clear picture of the reception I received).

We help people learn to put more of their own money in their own pockets and we do it without compensation or charge as long as they agree to do the same for others.

We (and the bulk of other personal finance blogs) provide the same service (the majority of us don’t charge and our only compensation is ads and / or affiliate sales, the same as dripinvesting.org uses). We do this with NO obligation that our readers pay us or perform ANY service in return (if our readers never pass along anything they read here we’re fine with that).

I would say that this post (and my comments) are representative of what Four Pillars has to offer. If you enjoyed this post, please come back. If you didn’t, don’t. We don’t try (or expect) to be all things to all people. I strive to provide honest, upfront reviews of the books, courses and websites I write about here, and the readers who return are people who appreciate this. You aren’t the first to be upset by my frankness, but I feel my duty is to honestly report to our readers.

I am (and will continue to be) a part of dripinvesting.org. My involvement is based on the contract you make VERY CLEAR with participants (that in return for receiving shares & information participants “pay it forward” with the shares they receive). I have attempted to “pay it forward” with information, and it was made clear that my participation wasn’t welcome (and so it ended). Once I have the share portfolio I am assembling, I will pass singles along to others than depart.

My understanding was that I wasn’t welcome on dripinvesting (which is fine). We have had people come and comment here that we aren’t interested in having as part of the community (angry Realtors and people who are angry at Mike for mentioning pre-payments on mortgages are two notable examples). We make it clear to them they aren’t welcome (often by mocking them), and they usually pick up on this and leave. If driving people like me away *isn’t* your goal (again, it’s perfectly fine if it is), then the way you are currently operating is harming your site. I honestly encourage you (and the other veterans) to reflect on whether your “humour” is having a positive effect on your site or not. I’m not sure how you became “quite satisfied the the vast, vast majority of our members are extremely happy”. How are you measuring the vistors who come, are turned off by the behaviour of senior members and leave never to return? We haven’t been able to figure out a way to a clear picture of our number of regular readers (RSS feed numbers or number of visitors in the server logs both have limitations). This post seems to be quite a shock to you and I posted substantially the same feedback in your forums.

Again, really, really, really, you aren’t under ANY obligation to make everyone happy. If you take a dislike to people like me and want to tell us to buzz off (which is basically what your community did), that’s FINE. I’d be careful about assuming that everyone who comes to your site is delighted, thankful and think you’re the greatest group of people ever to be on the planet. Probably a larger number than you believe are people like me who appreciate the service you provide, but think you’re a bunch of dicks. I’m a computer guy, and many IRC channels and forums devoted to helping people with hardware and software problems are the same. They’re really nice to help out random people on the Internet, but the price they often charge is being rude to the people they help (and people are happy to pay this if it saves them from buying a support contract).

Perhaps that is “contradiction” you can’t get over, that people can be good (helpful) and bad (rude) at the same time. They can (and they are). In “Collapse” Jared Diamond talks about a tyrant (in Hati I believe, I don’t have a copy handy) that was a brutal dictator and a committed environmentalist. He talks about how people can’t get their head around him being so noble from one facet of his leadership, and so brutal from another.

I’m happy to exchange shares on your site (and accept the obligation to pass along the shares I acquire once my portfolio is complete), grateful to George L Smyth for setting it up, and to yourself, the moderators and the established members who answer questions. But you aren’t a group of people I’m particularly interested in spending time with, online or off.

13 Mr. Cheap

OB: Thanks, that definitely does answer my original question (along with Rascal’s reply which would make an excellent point #3).

3. “It’s not quite that simple. When you transfer a share, you must get a signature guarantee from a bank and you must have a certificate issued to the new person. It is time consuming, can be labor intensive if the transfer is rejected, etc, and sometimes the value of your stock drops in the process.”

Which I read as “It’s not worth the PITA factor once you’ve done it a number of times”.

14 Operabob

Thank you for taking the time to respond.

You have not pissed me off I just feel your synopsis and replies do not represent reality.

I’ll leave it up to your readers to determine that for them selves.

OB

15 Norbert Schlenker

I’d like an opportunity to respond to some false comments directed at me by Rob Bennett above. I have a long history with Mr. Bennett, starting when he censored pointed questions I and others put to one of his confederates at the now defunct NoFeeBoards discussion forum. Bennett was stripped of his authority and banned by the forum’s owner for his abuse of power.

Nowadays powerless, Bennett is a troll of the first water. Paranoid and delusional, he infects discussion forums and blogs until the owners turf him for misbehaviour. The process generally takes weeks, sometimes months for owners who value free speech highly, but it is inevitable IMHO. Bennett will infect your site, turning any discussion even tangentially related to his own chosen monomania.

Allow me to rebut specifically just a few of Bennett’s lies. Most of what he’s written is twaddle but I’ll restrict myself to the outright falsehoods about me personally, just to keep things short.

Norbert Schenkler, a long-time supporter of the Campaign of Terror and a part owner of the Financial WebRing Forum, had me banned before I put up my first post.

This is laughable. My name is misspelled. I strenuously oppose Bennett’s Campaign of Terror. (He would have you believe that the Campaign of Terror is directed at him. Don’t be fooled.) I haven’t the authority to ban anyone from CMF. I have never communicated with anyone at CMF regarding Bennett (until now if they’re still reading).

I was banned from [FWF] because I posted honestly on safe withdrawal rates and other important investing topics.

Bennett was banned from FWF because he tried to do there what he tries to do everywhere: bend every conversation to his own personal project. Want a good example of what our moderators had to put up with? Look at this thread. Bennett goes on and on and on, at one point posting 14 times in a row on his favourite subject before anyone could get a word in edgewise. Look at the getrichslowly blog link that Bennett has made above: a 400+ comment thread almost half of which is Bennett moaning about his “persecutors”, while the actual discussion disappears and drowns.

Bennett occasionally blames me for his ban at FWF, another falsehood. Although I am a partner at the forum, I recused myself from that decision because of my history with him. The other partners banned him on the basis of just a few weeks of unrelenting nonsense and his demonstrated history of arson at Motley Fool, NFB, the Early Retirement Forum, and most seriously Morningstar.

Patience be with you all. You will need it. Like most bloggers, I value free speech very highly. Everyone’s free speech. When Bennett is in the room, he’ll be shouting loud enough to drown everyone else at the party out. None of you know it yet, but all of you will eventually reach the same conclusion: You have to throw him out for the good of the rest of the crowd.

16 nobleea

I have to agree with what Mike said. The Financial Webring Forum is fantastic. So many intelligent, civil debates and discussions. A wealth of knowledge.

I thank Norbert and his peers.

17 Rob Phree

I have to go with nobleea and Mike here — FWF is tops.

18 Thicken My Wallet

I think they are good forums. As for experiences with forums, you get what you pay for. Some of the advice is great, some is in broad generalities and some of it is the usual noise of the internet.

The larger question to me is do you start at a forum for advice on a particular matter? Maybe a topic for another post?

19 Operabob

MrCheap,

While I still maintain your original post is a blanket statement not in line with the reality of the vast majority of experiences at dripinvesting.org I have placed the following at our site:

Posters, please remember what it was like when you first came here.

Often, you didn’t know what questions to ask exactly and what links to click.

Yes, sometimes the same question is asked a thousand times even when the previous post has just answered the exact same question and it’s frustrating. It happens. Please roll with it.

You’re experiences are deeper now than they were. Please respect the same situation for the newer newbies. They have to learn too.

I’m reminded of our YM/YWCA where there’s a constant request for more signs. Our Y is now a sea of signs that nobody reads and even at that you have to know where to look.

If you don’t know what “FAQs” or see the link…well!

BTW: If memory serves correct, but don’t quote me, the principal person you had difficulties with was not an old-timer but was relatively new to the site.

Regards,

OB

20 Peter

A shameless plug J – check out my Canadian financial forums at http://forums.canadabanks.net

Regards,

Peter

21 zinymegan

Hey Guys,

I am a student (limited budget) and have seen a few offers for free ipods and iphones. Does anyone Know if any if the free IPhone or Ipod offers are actually legit? I don’t want to waste my time filling out a hundred surveys and was hoping to hear from someone who may have had some success with this.

Thanks

22 Irwin

No way of knowing if this page is still active as I haven’t seen any date stamps.

Is “Canadian Business Online” still an active form? Google search doesn’t reveal anything.

TIA

23 Irwin

that should be “active forum”

not “active form”.

24 Mike Holman

@Irwin – I have no idea. It’s been a few years since I’ve been there.

25 Irwin

Thanks for the reply, Mike.

Sometimes I browse through Cdn Money Forum, but lately there’s been a “newbie” throwing his/her weight around, posting on many of the financial threads … sure spoils the mood of the whole place. It’s only a matter of time before she self destructs.
Jan 17/12

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