After Decades of Lobbying, Finally Financial Advisory Title Protection for Consumers

March 25, 2022 by David Christianson

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Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, gather round. There is big news in the world of financial advice and investment management, a story which is more than three decades in the making.

Title protection is about to be proclaimed in Ontario.

“Huh?” you ask. What the heck does that mean? And why does it matter?

Well, I’m glad you asked.

Under the current rules in every province but Québec, everyone can refer to themselves as “financial planner” or “financial adviser”.

That’s right, nothing stops your favourite Uber driver from saying he’s also a financial planner and offering you advice. Real financial planners have been lobbying provincial governments across the country since the 1980s to get that changed, so that only people with proper accreditation, education, experience, compliance with a code of ethics, exam completion and ongoing professional development requirements could use those titles.

On March 28, 2022, a law will be proclaimed in Ontario restricting the use of those titles to people with such qualifications. That’s significant for several reasons.

At least 40% of the people who refer to themselves as planners or advisors practice in Ontario. Most of the head offices of their employers are in Ontario. As those organizations comply with the rules in Ontario, they will generally enforce the same rules for their employees across the country, one would hope.

As well, the other provincial securities commissions tend to follow the lead of Ontario in most regulatory areas. So, we can be hopeful that these overdue restrictions will be imposed on people and other provinces as well, for the protection of consumers.

Technically, the Financial Professionals Title Protection Rule is being implemented by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario.  It will approve the qualified individuals who will be authorized to use the titles “financial planner” or “financial adviser”.

Surprisingly, it appears they have not yet decided on the qualifying standards, or at least they have not announced the designations that will qualify. It appears this announcement will be made after the new rules take effect.

Several organizations have applied for authorization to certify people to use the new credentials. These include FP Canada (CFP and QAFP designations), The Institute for Advanced Financial Planning (R.F.P.) and Advocis (PFA and CLU).

All these designations require levels of training, proof of expertise, ongoing education and compliance with codes of ethics that put clients’ interests first. 

Limiting the use of positive titles like “financial planner” and “financial adviser” to such accredited people will go along way to helping financial consumers determine who to trust.

Are you listening, Manitoba?

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Dollars and Sense is meant as an introduction to this topic and should not in any way be construed as a replacement for personalized professional advice.

Please consult legal, tax, insurance and investment experts for advice on your unique situation.

David Christianson, BA, CFP, R.F.P., TEP, CIM is a Senior Wealth Advisor and Portfolio Manager with Christianson Wealth Advisors at National Bank Financial Wealth Management, and author of the book Managing the Bull, A No-Nonsense Guide to Personal Finance

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