Little did I know when making this post complaining about BMO's policies regarding foreign exchange rates when buying and/or selling US securities in a registered account that much has already happened.
First, there was the $100 million dollar class action lawsuit launched back in August 2006 against BMO claiming that BMO has illegally forced customers to change foreign currency from Canadian dollars into US dollars or vice versa in registered accounts since June 2001 when the tax laws changed and began allowing foreign currency to be held in such accounts. You can register with the lawyers Paliare Rolland to be kept informed of the case's progress. Or you can sit back and keep an eye out for news, or just wait - I'm betting years - for a letter from BMO or the lawyer, saying the case has been settled for x amount and here is what you get.
The second development is the internal memo issued by BMO and reported by the Toronto Star in April this year to allow clients who trade in and out of US dollars on the same to take a single exchange rate for both the buy and the sell and thus avoid the buy-sell spread and/or any fees for the conversion. There is also a lower fee structure - down to 75 basis points (0.75%) or 70 basis points for all you folks who have trades over $30million. There isn't any notice or warning on the website about this situation, so BMO clients be aware - you must phone and ask for the single rate out of and into US dollars.
Maybe someday the big bank brokerages will manage to convince their software supplier to make the necessary changes to the program they all use in common to manage registered accounts. Apparently the bottleneck is the software and the supplier just won't change it (no it isn't Microsoft). Those of you at all familiar with the world of IT will not laugh and scorn but will quote the old saying, "God could not have created the world in seven days if he had had an installed base." Some who have had similar experience with the bugs that follow on new versions of software might just wisely note, "be careful of what you wish for, you just might get it."