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Manulife Financial / Private share swap with RRSP

1 Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

In summary, I opened up accounts at Manulife Financial at the 1075 West Georgia location in Vancouver back in 2006. At the time, I had purchased some private shares for a BC VCC called MVP on the direction of one of the financial advisors of Manulife. The strategy proposed to me was that after waiting 2 yrs to become capital gain exempt and the shares had a lift in price, I could swap out shares for RRSP tax free.
The main point is that my primary RRSP accounts have traditionally been with RBC. However, RBC only allows for up to 25% of one's RRSP portfolio to hold the private shares, whereas Manulife Vancouver allowed for 100% to be swapped out.

After waiting my full 2 years, plus an extra year to build back up my RRSP account after the economic crisis, I was in a position to swap out my RRSPs for the shares through Manulife. In order to do this, I started selling off my RRSPs between August 2009 and October 2009. I transferred over the RRSPs from RBC to Manulife. I was told that the swap would take approximately 10 business days.

However, after Manulife received approximately 75, 000 of my RRSP, the swap has been on hold since late October 2009 still to this day. I was told about a month after the transaction was started, that Manulife compliance department in Toronto was holding up my transaction as well as others because they no longer were allowing 100% and had "arbitrarily" changed the amount to 25%.

As a result, Manulife has frozen my transaction for 5-6 months and left me hanging.

After reading about IIROC and Manulife, I recognize 2 points:

a. Manulife is required to give a 45 day written notice of any change in policy or procedures to their clients. I received no such notification either verbally or written. My financial advisor was aware since July 2009 that I was going to be following through with transacting my RRSP portfolio from RBC to Manulife in order to do 100% of the swap. I would not have transferred my RRSP from RBC to Manulife had I been aware that Manulife was only allowing 25% of the portfolio.

b. Secondly, Manulife refers to "best practices" for their clients. I've been left hanging for several months with no resolution other than a call today with the suggestion that I consider transferring my RRSP portfolio to Research Capital where I can swap 75% of my RRSP for the private shares.

I feel that my transaction should be completed 100% by Manulife and that Manulife should consider compensating me for holding up my RRSP portfolio for 5-6 months. I paid penalty fees to sell the funds so that I could transfer them and I have also missed out on market growth.

Please advise me on whether I have reached the correct departments and if anything can be done to hold this institution accountable and/ or have them complete my transaction as suggested by the financial adviser I was working with.

Thank you for taking the time to review my situation.

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