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Over a third of British Columbians are anxious about their investments, which contributes to an ignorance about investment fees according to a new poll commissioned by the British Columbia Securities Commission (BCSC).

The online survey of 500 investors in the province finds that 36% report being “overwhelmed” by investing decisions, and 39% said they don’t read their account statements because of the anxiety they can cause.

Traditionally, securities regulators have focused on disclosure as the primary strategy for ensuring investor protection, but they are now considering more substantial measures, such as banning embedded fee structures, and raising conduct standards.

The BCSC is stepping up its efforts to educate investors about the importance of understanding their investment fees.

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“We know from previous research that many B.C. investors still don’t know they pay fees, let alone how much they pay. We don’t want anxiety to prevent investors from having important conversations with their investment advisors about fees and how they impact investments,” says Pamela McDonald, director, communications and education, BCSC, in a news release.

One out of every five investors (21%) surveyed said that a better understanding of basic investment principles would help lift their anxiety. Investors also identified that a better understanding of investment jargon (16%) and a better understanding of the products they hold (22% would alleviate anxiety.

“We’re launching the next phase of our public awareness campaign this week to educate investors on the importance of investment fees, because fees are one of the investment principles that investors still don’t understand,” says McDonald.