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Dealers and advisers – know the difference

“Dealer” and “adviser” aren’t just titles – they’re legal terms that describe a range of people who can trade in or give advice about investments. They refer to different registration categories and come with distinct education and experience requirements.

  • Dealers can buy and sell investments for you, but they have to get your permission first.
  • Advisers can give you advice and manage your portfolio.
  • Some advisers can make decisions about your investments without asking you first if they have your permission in writing. This is called discretionary authority.
  • Firms and individuals can be registered as both dealers and advisers – they can also be registered for different things (for example, to offer a wide range of products and services).

Not all titles are created equal: Titles like financial adviser, financial planner, investment consultant, and investment specialist aren’t legally defined terms or official registration categories. Some advisers or dealers may have designations that allow them to use specific titles, such as Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Accountant (CA) or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). Checking registration tells you what specific products and services they are (and aren’t) qualified to offer you, regardless of title. Learn what these titles mean, and what education and experience is required to get one.

More Related to this Story

Dealer and adviser qualifications

Learn what different dealer and adviser categories mean using this infographic that shows what they’re allowed to sell and what individual requirements are needed to qualify.

Where advisers and dealers earn their qualifications

  • Canadian Securities Institute (CSI) Global Education Inc. – The CSI provides courses for people who are or want to become registered dealers or advisers and those who want to be registered mutual fund salespeople. Learn more about the CSI.
  • CFA Institute – Provides courses for people who want to be registered advisers. Learn more about the CFA Institute.
  • IFSE Institute – Provides courses for individuals who want to be registered mutual fund dealers or exempt market dealers. Learn more about IFSE.

Content in this section is provided in partnership with Investor Education Fund, a non-profit organization founded and supported by the Ontario Securities Commission that provides unbiased and independent financial tools to help Canadians make better money decisions. To find out more, go to: GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca


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