Can Anyone Invest in Canada’s Exempt Market?

That’s a good question – and the answer is no.  Not everyone is allowed to invest there.

That usually surprises people a little as they think, “hmmm… it’s my money, I should be able to invest it however and wherever I want.”  That is not the case in Canada’s private investment markets as there are restrictions when it comes to who can invest there – and also how much.  There are also very good reasons for these restrictions though, which I will explain a little further in this post.

Overall, in order to invest in the Exempt Market, you have to be either “eligible” or “accredited”.

You can read a previous post here to refresh yourself about these two terms and see where you fall. (The post will also tell you about investing possibilities if you are not eligible).  What it boils down to though, is that the majority of investors fall into the same category…

Eligible Investors

Here is a summary of an eligible investor in Canada:

  • Net worth of $400,000 or more
  • Annual income $75,000+ for the last 2 years and/or
  • Household annual income $125,000+ for the last 2 years

If you are “eligible”, it means that you can’t invest more than $100,000 in a 12-month period in the Exempt Market.

(Now, there are all kinds of caveats here because we would need to determine many things before you ever invested in the private markets, just to make sure it’s “suitable” for you.  There are also recommendations as far as your overall allocation – but I will touch on these items a bit more later.)

For now, and for illustrative purposes though, those are the requirements to be an eligible investor and if you fit the bill, you can (likely) invest.

Accredited Investors

“Accredited” investors have an interesting history in the Exempt Market – and particularly over the last 20 years when the private markets became a little more mainstream and retail.

Once again, you can refresh yourself about the terms in a previous post but suffice it to say that “accredited” investors have a higher net worth than “eligible” investors and have no restrictions regarding how much they can invest in the Exempt Market or how often.  The general premise being that they have the financial knowledge necessary to make wise investment decisions and can evaluate a private investment offering accordingly.

The truth of the matter is though, that just because someone has reached accredited status, doesn’t necessarily mean that they know anything at all about the Exempt Market or have any experience there.

Over the last decade, I would venture to say that there were many accredited investors that were over allocated into private investments – because they didn’t fully understand the Exempt Market itself or the higher level of risk involved. 

It is only through time and experience, particularly because the Exempt Market is still so new to the majority of investors, that we can see the best recommendations to make when it comes to private investing.  That’s also why it’s important to find an experienced Dealing Representative to work with.  They will understand the importance of treating an accredited investor, with little or no private investing experience, with care.

Are Private Investments Suitable for You?

If you are eligible or accredited, you can invest in the Exempt Market but that leads to the next step in the process which is – determining if these types of investments are “suitable” for you.  This would involve some discussion of course but I’ll give you a general sense of the information I would be gathering, including things like:

  • Your age
  • Your time horizon to retirement (or maybe you’re already there)
  • Your risk tolerance
  • Your financial objectives overall

All of these things help me determine if higher risk, private investments are suitable for you and your portfolio and – if they are – how much you should invest there.

How Much Should You Invest in the Exempt Market?

For eligible investors there are strong recommendations that you not invest more than 30% of your overall investment portfolio in the Exempt Market, and of that 30%, no more than 10% with one private issuer.

This can vary though depending on your own circumstances and you might find that, once you understand the higher risk nature of the private markets, these percentages are much lower, and a private investment might not be suitable at all for your portfolio.

You may also find that, if you have many years left until retirement, these investments can be an excellent choice to fill the higher risk/(potentially) higher return portion of your portfolio.

To Sum Up

I’m sure there are times when you reach the end of my posts and feel a little trepidation about making a private investment.  And that’s okay because my goal is to educate investors about the Exempt Market and it’s always best to start the conversation with absolute clarity about the risks involved.

It’s higher risk, it is difficult to get your money back before the end of the term because there is no secondary market to sell your securities and private companies do go through restructures and some fail all together.

There are definitely losses that have happened and there will be losses again in the future.




Always Leave on a Positive Note…

There are also excellent private investment opportunities in the Exempt Market, with well above average returns and profit-sharing opportunities available.  With higher risk comes the potential for higher returns and there have been many successful projects and funds that have done very well for investors. 

The most important thing is to work with an experienced professional in the industry that works for a very reputable Exempt Market Dealer.  This will go a long way to helping you understand the private markets, helping you find excellent investment opportunities, helping you find strong issuers that offer the investments and having a high level of diligence done on these issuers.

All of these items plus a strong understanding of the private markets will go a long way to ensuring your own success in investing!


I appreciate you reading my post and please contact me anytime.  I would welcome the opportunity to talk further.


Shannon Pineau
Exempt Market Dealing Rep
E: C: 403-872-4010 TF: 1-855-872-4010

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P.S. “Who Can Invest in Canada’s Exempt Market” is a big topic and I didn’t touch on:

  • Eligibility requirements by province.
  • Foreign persons that live outside of Canada wanting to invest.

I will cover these topics in upcoming posts but you can always contact me to find out more.


Wondering what’s available for private investment opportunities?  Here is a current list.

Looking for private Portfolio Management options?  I can help.

Successful Private Investments to Date (February 2019)

I spend a lot of time focused in on the high-risk nature of the Exempt Market and all of the potential things that could go wrong in a private investment.  I do this for two reasons:

1.)  There is always a possibility of loss when it comes to investing and I want to make sure my clients understand this up front – before ever making an investment. I never want anyone to head into a private investment thinking there is any kind of “guarantee”.

2.)  I want to keep the regulators happy – and the provincial securities commissions are much happier when I speak to the risk of private investing so that investors are fully aware of the risks involved.

You have only to look at my blog posts to see this for yourself – and that is also why I feel very happy to change it up a little:).  Because there have to be some big positives, right?  Why else would anyone invest here and why would I have worked in this industry for 12+ years?

Fortunately, there are all kinds of successful outcomes in the Exempt Market and many investors have been able to achieve well above average returns on their private investments.

Today, I am only going to speak about some of the investments that I personally have offered to my clients over the years through various Exempt Market Dealers.  There are, of course, numerous other success stories out there in the industry but these are all from personal experience.

Some of these investments have wrapped up completely, giving investors a complete return of capital along with high rates of return.  Some are ongoing with successful companies offering high returns over a lengthy period of time.

So, without further ado, here is the list of PRIVATE INVESTMENT SUCCESS STORIES…


Successful Private Investments That Have Completely Wrapped Up

Name of Issuer Description Result
This fund started in Sept 2012 and involved buying, improving and selling commercial real estate in the southern U.S. The fund completely wrapped up Dec 2016 and investors averaged an IRR of 13.5% before taxes and a 1.46x equity multiple.

Prestige Capital

(Calgary Airport Hotels)

 Hampton Inn

This investment started in 2011 with all investors as preferred shareholders earning a cumulative 8% annual return.

In Dec 2014, investors had the option to move to common share position in order to participate in profit sharing with the eventual sale of the hotel.  Approximately half of investors moved to common share position.

In Jan 2018, preferred shareholders were paid out earning 8% annual return over 6-7 years and all of their capital returned. 

Common shareholders are still awaiting a sale of the hotel to see a final result.

Secure Care Investments

This was a bond offering that started in 2013 and involved raising capital for a factoring company.

All of their investors had their capital returned in 2018 and made 10% annual return over 5 yrs.


Successful Private Investments Offering Ongoing Distributions


Name of Issuer

(+ Offering Closed or Available to Investors)


Date Distributions Started

Current Rate of Return

Frequency of Distributions



This issuer buys businesses and has built a portfolio of revenue producing companies.

Jul 2013

10% annual return




This fund started in 2014 and involved buying, improving and selling commercial real estate in the southern U.S.

Apr 2014

7% annual return


Hopitel Income Trust


This issuer provides infotainment and education platforms throughout hospitals in Quebec and Ontario.


Dec 2015

10% annual return


 Invico Diversified Income Fund


This issuer has a portfolio that focuses on income, energy and real estate. They have a variety of unit classes and terms available.  They also offer profit sharing potential.

Oct 2013

8-10% annual return + profit sharing potential


Prestige Hospitality Opportunity Fund


This issuer purchases branded hotels throughout Canada.  They offer regular distributions as well as the potential for profit sharing.

Mar 2017

4% annual return + Profit sharing potential


Secure Capital MIC


This issuer deals in 1st and 2nd mortgages with a focus in Southern Ontario.  They offer a set rate of return and have one of the most flexible redemption possibilities in the private markets.

May 2007

8% annual return


Triumph REIF


This issuer buys, improves and sells commercial real estate in Canada and the U.S.

They offer regular distributions plus the potential for profit sharing.

April 2015

Approximately 5-6% annual return + profit sharing potential.



If you are interested in learning more about any of our “available” investment offerings, please contact me anytime.  I will send you more information along with the Offering Memorandum for the investment.

Thank you.


Shannon Pineau
Exempt Market Dealing Rep
E: C: 403-872-4010 TF: 1-855-872-4010

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Wondering what’s available for private investment opportunities?  Here is a current list.

Looking for private Portfolio Management options?  I can help.

Would you like to contact me to learn more?  Please do!

How To Make a Private Investment Using RRSP or TFSA Funds

Most Exempt Market issuers allow you to invest using registered funds.  This includes RRSP’s, TFSA’s, RESP’s, RIF’s, LIRA’s and LIF’s.

A common misconception among investors is that they will have to pay taxes on their registered funds if they use them towards a private investment opportunity.  This is not the case as the funds are transferred between accounts and never leave the registered umbrella.

Here is the process:

– We use Olympia Trust Company for all of our clients that want to use registered funds to invest.  We would fill out the documents to open you up a self-directed registered account through Olympia Trust if you do not have an account already.

– Once the account is open, you can make a new contribution, transfer existing funds from another institution or a combination of the two.

– Once the required funds are in your account at Olympia Trust, then it is a matter of completing documents to make a private investment.

– Olympia Trust charges an annual account fee of $150.00 + GST and then anytime you make a private investment there is a purchase fee of $75.00 + GST.

This brings us to the next question…

Should You Invest In The Exempt Market Using Registered Funds?

With private investing, everything comes down to suitability, meaning – Are these types of investments suitable for you and your portfolio?  There are many things to consider here including your age, your time horizon, your risk tolerance and your financial goals.

Contact me today and we can talk more about this and decide if private investing is right for you!


Shannon Pineau
Exempt Market Dealing Rep
E: C: 403-872-4010 TF: 1-855-872-4010

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Wondering what’s available for private investment opportunities?  Here is a current list.

Looking for private Portfolio Management options?  I can help.

Would you like to contact me to learn more?  Please do!

The Exempt Market is higher risk and so it can be expected that, at some point in time, you may experience a loss on a private investment.  Whether it is a large or small investment though, losses can be very hard to deal with.

This is particularly true in the Exempt Market for a couple of reasons:

First, when an issuer runs into trouble, the losses can be quite significant.

Second, more often than not, losses can take a significant amount of time to realize.

With a stock, even if you are in a negative situation, you can still sell the stock and realize the loss.  You will likely still feel the same dismay at having lost money but it has happened and you can move on.  With private securities, the process can take a long time to wind everything down and crystallize what (if anything) you will be receiving back.  This tends to make it feel even worse because you continue to feel the loss through the whole wind up process.

So, if things don’t go as planned and you lose money in a private investment, should you continue to invest in the Exempt Market in the future? 

There’s a lot to take into consideration, and I’m here to help.

I’m going to lay it all out for you here – the pros, the cons – and then also make some recommendations based on your own particular situation.  After that, I feel you will be fully armed with the information you need to make an informed choice about your private investments.


Things change over time and it’s likely that your situation now is different than when you originally invested.  Here are 3 key things to consider right from the start:


It’s certainly possible that there have been some changes here, particularly related to oil and the economy over the last few years.

This review is important both to determine if you have funds available that you’d like to invest and also to determine if your “eligible” or “accredited” investor status has changed.


In the past, there were not a lot of guidelines here – for Dealing Representatives or Investors. There were no investment caps and no formal recommendations about how much an eligible investor should place in private securities.  There was also not a lot of history yet to guide these decisions.

In today’s Exempt Market, the Exempt Market Dealers make these recommendations for investors and WhiteHaven Securities (my EMD) recommends that “eligible” investors not invest more than 30% of their net financial assets in private securities (and that amount can be much less).  And of that 30%, not more than 10% in one particular investment.

With these percentages in mind, we can figure out how much of your current portfolio is made up of private securities and then adjustments can be made as needed.


Some of the key things to look at here are your age, your time horizon for investing and your risk tolerance.

It’s important to reassess the first two if you are nearing (or in) retirement, and very important to reassess your risk tolerance. It may have changed now that you have experience in the market and have seen some of the challenges over the years.


Taking this all into consideration, and looking at your own personal situation, I would be happy to sit down with you and make recommendations any time at your convenience.

But even if you are just going to read this post, I think you will be able to determine yourself if your situation has changed significantly in any or all of the areas discussed above.  Here’s what I recommend:

If your allocation to private investments is higher than 30% or even just more than you are currently comfortable with, and/or you are in retirement and looking for shorter term investments with instant liquidity and much lower risk, it is time to start diversifying out of the Exempt Market.  (P.S. If you land in this category, you can stop here and reach out to me.  I’ll meet with you, we can look at your whole picture and find some solutions to re-balance.  You’re also welcome to read on though – particularly if you feel you might want to revisit private investing in the future).

If your current private investments make up less than 30% of your overall financial portfolio, and you still have some years ahead to save for retirement, you may want to consider investing more in the Exempt Market. 



Even though you can invest more in private investments, after experiencing a loss, you might question why you would want to.

This is where I come in to help because I’ve been in the private investment markets for a long time and I believe I can put it all in perspective and also tell you about a lot of positive things that have happened over the years for investors:


This is true of almost any type of investment and particularly in a high-risk market.  There will be gains and there will be losses as this is the nature of investing.


Private investing is still very new to the average “eligible” investor. Generally, the ability to invest privately became mainstream around 2005 – 2008 and then came back strongly in 2011/2012.  To read a very Brief History of the Exempt Market click here but suffice it to say that every failed issuer and investment leads to the market becoming stronger and more transparent for investors.


You’ve gained experience in a market that can be very lucrative and is still largely unknown. This experience will take you forward and help you evaluate new opportunities.


Nothing is ever guaranteed but with less investment capital to go around, investors have access to the best investment opportunities that are available in this higher risk space.


Spreading your capital out among several issuers helps to mitigate your risk. With multiple, strong, experienced issuers in this market now, that is easier to do.


Regular returns

Early redemption options

Various terms

Different industries instead of such a huge focus on real estate


This becomes extremely important as time goes on. A strong EMD will perform extensive diligence on the issuers and investments and have a track record to prove that.  An experienced Dealing Rep will have seen all sides of the Exempt Market and will always work in your best interests.


If private investing is still suitable for a portion of your portfolio – the Exempt Market is, in my opinion, one of the best places to find the higher returns you’re looking for.  Here’s why.


Any type of investment loss can be hard to take but hang in there, reassess, re-evaluate and find the best opportunities to take your portfolio forward to retirement.  Whether you are looking for public or private investment opportunities, I will always help you every step of the way.


Shannon Pineau
Exempt Market Dealing Rep
E: C: 403-872-4010 TF: 1-855-872-4010

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Wondering what’s available for private investment opportunities?  Here is a current list.

Looking for private Portfolio Management options?  I can help.

Would you like to contact me to learn more?  Please do!

What Is One Of Your Best Options To Make Higher Returns?

Almost everyone, at some point in time, wants to make higher returns on their investments.

The Usual Suspects

For most average or “eligible” investors, investing generally involves one or more of the following:

• Setting up a RRSP or TFSA account at a bank and investing in mutual funds
• Investing in stocks through a broker
• Setting up a discount trading account and buying and selling your own stocks
• Having a pension at work
• Having a RRSP savings program through work

There is nothing wrong with any of these strategies. They all have pros and cons but ultimately, they are helping you save money towards your goal of a great retirement. That is excellent in my books.

With employer plans, they generally hold the reins and their goal is to do well for you, so you can likely just sit back and let that happen. For personal registered accounts, you have a lot of choices for what you can invest in and generally, at some point in time, investors go looking for higher returns if they are not achieving the results they are hoping for with mainstream investment products.

Starting The Search

When you start looking for higher returns on your money – and by higher returns, I generally mean in the 7% + range – there are all kinds of different options that you can pursue. Things like:

Stock related opportunities like day-trading, options, futures, penny stocks etc. There is nothing wrong with this it just takes time to learn about and more often than not, novice investors lose money based on emotion or speculations that don’t pan out.

Investment real estate. I really like this strategy because I think it’s an excellent one that can generate some great wealth over time. There is a big learning curve here though and being a landlord comes with challenges so there is a lot to consider. A sound strategy though if you can take the time to learn.

Investments in real estate projects found in other countries. There is a lot of opportunity to be found in some of these places, but things can change in a hurry as regulation can be sparse and plans can be difficult to execute.

Investing with close family, friends or business associates. This can often work out well for accredited investors that are in the know and have larger sums to invest in sound projects. For the average investor though, investing with a smaller player, these often do not go as planned. Rather than the double digit returns that were promised, there are often strained relations instead.

Multi-level marketing. This usually works out well for the person at the top and the super social. For most people though, it’s hard to make it off the bottom rung and easy to alienate friends and family.

Get rich quicker scenarios. These come in all shapes and sizes and are always lurking out there for anyone that is searching out ways to make more money. Investors always need to be wary – particularly if something seems too good to be true.

So then what should you invest in that can possibly give you higher returns?

In my opinion – you should look straight to Canada’s Exempt Market and here are the reasons why:

• From a risk reward perspective – it is higher risk and that’s why the prospective returns are so much higher. But here, those risks are very transparent and well explained.

• It’s very well regulated and within a safe country that takes its regulations very seriously. To learn more about this and how the market has evolved through years to get to this point – click here.

• In order to offer an investment to clients, issuers have to be accepted by an Exempt Market Dealer. The EMD conducts a rigorous diligence process on the issuer to ensure they are a strong company with a sound plan and a great likelihood of success.

• Coming out of the downturn, there have been fewer investment dollars and therefore fewer issuers available offering private investments. In general, the ones that are available are top quality and, while there are always exceptions, they are the issuers that investors want to work with because of their experience, their track record, and their results.

• Issuers that I have offered in the past that have paid out their investors have averaged 8-10% annual return over the life of the investment.

• I am here for you. I’ve worked in the private investment markets for 12+ years – I will make sure you understand everything there is to know about private investing and then help you decide if it is the right fit for you.

But is it Guaranteed?

So with all of these benefits – there must be some guarantee of success right?


There is absolutely no guarantee. It is a higher risk market and even with all of these safeguards, things can and do go wrong and investors can definitely lose money. It’s important to discuss all of this in the beginning to ensure that private investing is a good fit and also ensure you allocate the proper amount here.

On the other side of the coin though (and the reason investors continue to invest in the private markets), if you are well diversified across a few quality issuers, there is excellent opportunity for you to achieve the returns you are searching for. When we meet in the future, we’ll look at issuer results to date which will help to illustrate all of this for you.

There you have it. There are a lot of options out there to try and make higher returns on your investment but if you are looking for one of the most regulated, easiest to understand and safest (in a high risk space) places, along with a Dealing Rep that will help you every step of the way – you should definitely consider Canada’s private capital markets.

Shannon Pineau
Exempt Market Dealing Rep
E: C: 403-872-4010 TF: 1-855-872-4010

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Wondering what’s available for private investment opportunities?  Here is a current list.

Looking for private Portfolio Management options?  I can help.

Would you like to contact me to learn more?  Please do!

Welcome to Private Investing

Hello, I’m Shannon Pineau…

and I’m a Dealing Representative with WhiteHaven Securities Inc. – an Exempt Market Dealer.

Now if that just made sense to you, you can likely jump ahead in my blog posts a little but if you’re like most – you may not know a lot about private investing in Canada. And that’s just fine because that’s what I’m here for – to tell you all about it.

There are two things that I have learned from my years in the financial industry – that people want to make higher returns on their money and that they don’t have a lot of extra time to learn about how to do that. That’s why most people stay in mainstream, lower interest investments or, if they do decide to branch out, sometimes lose money in “get rich quicker” scenarios.

There is a much better alternative though and that is the Exempt Market.

Throughout my blog, I will cover all kinds of topics to explain private investing – in layman’s terms – and I will try to keep it short, sweet and interesting.

Depending on your level of investing experience, you can decide how much time you want to spend in Exempt Market 101. For those that are new to private investing, I really think this will give you a great introduction and for those who are more experienced, there will be lots of other topics to follow.

My goal is to make sure my clients have a great understanding of the private investment markets.

Armed with this information:

a) they can find those higher returns
b) they can clearly see the risks and rewards involved in achieving those higher returns

And back to my “most people don’t have a lot of time” point – I also want to make sure you can find everything you need in one place.

Canada’s Exempt Market can be a great place to find those excellent investment opportunities that haven’t always been available to the average investor – BUT – there’s more to the story!


Shannon Pineau
Exempt Market Dealing Rep
E: C: 403-872-4010 TF: 1-855-872-4010

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Wondering what’s available for private investment opportunities?  Here is a current list.

Would you like to contact me to learn more?  Please do!

The question "why"

The Exempt Market – Why Is It Called That?A big question mark

The “Exempt Market” is a relatively new term for investors and many aren’t even sure what it means. In the past we referred to it as the “private” or “alternative” market and many of the companies involved were doing real estate-based investments.

It All Starts With The Prospectus

To explain the Exempt Market in simple terms – if a business in Canada wants to raise capital they generally do so through a prospectus offering.  Most people will have heard this term in the past and I’ve included a lengthier definition link for anyone who hasn’t.

Basically, a prospectus details everything about the business itself and the securities they plan to offer to the public.

Doesn’t Everyone Use a Prospectus If They Want To Raise Capital?

To sell securities under a prospectus is very costly and onerous and not all businesses want to raise capital in this manner. Smaller, private companies that are looking to expand may not want to take on the process, time frame or expense of creating a prospectus. There are also many companies that want to raise capital but have no interest in taking their business public.

So, If a Privately Owned Company Wants to Raise Capital but Doesn’t Want to File a Prospectus, What Can They Do?


They can rely on an “exemption” to the prospectus requirements.

The most common exemptions include:

 – Selling only to accredited investors

 – Selling only to family friends and business associates

 – Selling a minimum of $150,000.00 per transaction

 – Issuing an Offering Memorandum (which allows “eligible” investors to participate – more on that in another post)

To Sum Up

Companies that raise capital from investors using one of these prospectus “exemptions” make up the Exempt Market.

Want to watch a short 2 ½ minute video that sums up the Exempt Market completely?

Click here.

Shannon Pineau
Exempt Market Dealing Rep

E: C: 403-872-4010 TF: 1-855-872-4010

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