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» StrataBlog» Financial Literacy – Owners and Strata Corporations
March 20, 2015

Financial Literacy – Owners and Strata Corporations

 

The following is intended to benefit interested readers by promoting discussion and should not be construed as legal or tax advice.

Financial Literacy has become a topic for our times. It is well known that personal debt levels have been unsustainable for some time, and that fraud generally, and harm such as from financial abuse by loved ones and caregivers against seniors, are growing problems. In addition, the following findings give cause for concern:

2009 Statistics Canada:

  • 49% of Canadians have no budget
  • 31% struggle to meet bills and credit card obligations
  • 60% do not know how much their retirement will cost

2010 Task Force on Financial Literacy:

  • Half of adults struggle with math and numbers in practical affairs
  • Lack of awareness of life events impact on finances
  • Lack of trust and understanding of available financial information

Unprecedented in the world, in April 2014, Canada created the federally appointed role of Financial Literacy Leader, with a mandate to develop national strategy and provide the country’s population with better fraud protection and money management skills.

https://www.cpacanada.ca/en/connecting-and-news/cpa-magazine/articles/2014/November/Giving-currency-to-FinLit

Practically speaking, for Strata Corporations, Financial Literacy’s impact is in maintaining liquidity to manage and maintain your common property. The Strata’s interest is not best served when fees cannot be collected in a timely manner.

Our interest goes further to those of the Owners themselves; services that, while not contrary to Provincial regulations so far as we have been able to determine, tempt consumers with the option to use credit card accounts to maintain their strata fee obligations. In keeping with many other consumer stimuli, this approach assumes that because something is technically possible, it must also be in your best interest. Not so fast.

The fee (typically 2.75%) is justified as a small price to pay for the convenience; it is even suggested that the points reward system many credit cards offer would offset or exceed these fees. However, basic common sense should tell us that if such a core obligation as your strata fee cannot be maintained on a cash basis, more credit is not the answer.

The introduction of new financial intermediaries stretches the integrity and accountability of the trust fund environment, and should not be necessary.

In a typical professionally managed scenario, the principals consist of the Strata Owner, the Strata Corporation, the licensed brokerage, and the financial institution which holds their trust accounts.  These principals are fully capable of arranging pre-authorized and self-serve financial options and are accountable to applicable law. The introduction of a pay-by-credit card service presents three more entities: the service facilitator, the credit card company (Visa, AMEX), and an additional merchant gateway (similar conceptually to a “PayPal”, with a better example for this context being “Optimal Payments”).

 

Neil Sideen is a CGA/CPA and Controller at C& C Property Group Ltd.

C & C Property Group Ltd. is a strata property management companies with clients in the metro Vancouver area

 

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