Ontario’s financial regulator has unveiled the two organizations that will be authorized to approve the use of financial planner and financial adviser titles under the province’s new regime to help investors ensure they are dealing with qualified experts.
The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario announced on Monday that two organizations – FP Canada and the Institute for Advanced Financial Education (IAFE) – have been authorized to permit individuals to use the titles “financial adviser” and “financial planner” if they hold certifications by either group.
The new rules, which were greenlit last month by the Ontario government under the Financial Professionals Title Protection Rule, were put into place to protect investors from unqualified individuals. Ontario was the first province to pass legislation for this.
“Officially being able to use the financial planner or financial adviser title will make it easier for these individuals to communicate their value to consumers and validate their education and expertise,” Huston Loke, executive vice-president of market conduct at FSRA, said in a statement.
“Consumers will also have confidence that the individual they are dealing with has a minimum standard of education, is being actively supervised and is subject to a complaints and discipline process.”
Financial advisers typically help clients manage their investments, while financial planners help clients prepare to meet a goal such as retirement or a child’s education.
About 100,000 financial advisers work across the country. But Canada has no legislated national standards for those who offer financial planning or advice. Outside Quebec, which has its own rules, anyone can call themselves a financial planner or adviser, regardless of certification, designation or educational background.
The rule will include four credentials for those seeking to use the professional titles in Ontario. Addition credentials could be added at a later date.
FP Canada administers the certified financial planner (CFP) designation, which is currently held by about 17,000 people in Canada. Ontario has about 9,000 CFP holders. FP Canada also administers the qualified associate financial planner (QAFP) certification, a designation launched in 2019 for people who serve a broader population of Canadians with less-complex financial needs. Currently, there are 1,900 QAFP professionals in Canada, about 900 of them in Ontario.
People who are already certified as CFPs and QAFPs will be allowed to use the title financial planner under the new regime.
“As a professional body working in the public interest, we strongly support the Financial Professionals Title Protection Act and the benefits it brings to consumers in the form of increased clarity and confidence,” FP Canada’s chief executive officer, Tashia Batstone, said in a statement.
IAFE, a subsidiary of Advocis, an industry group for financial advisers, administers the chartered life underwriter (CLU) designation, which has been approved as a credential for financial planners, and the professional financial adviser (PFA), for those who wish to use the title financial adviser.
Greg Pollock, chief executive officer of Advocis, said he looks “forward to playing an active role in raising the professional bar in Ontario” and hope to see other provinces “follow their lead.”
The new rule changes, which will be phased in over time, will make qualifications and credentials mandatory for people who work in the industry and refer to themselves by either title.
Both FSRA-approved credentialing bodies are responsible for overseeing and enforcing the conduct of their credential holders who use either title. FSRA requires credentialing bodies to have robust supervision processes and a code of conduct that requires credential holders to put the client’s interest first and ensures the fair treatment of consumers.
People using the title financial planner who are not currently certified will have a four-year transition period to receive the certifications necessary to use the title, while financial advisers will get two years. Individuals who were using these titles before and on Jan. 1, 2020, will be given “ample time to comply with the framework following its implementation,” FSRA said in a statement last month.
People who began using the titles after Jan. 1, 2020, will “have to get credentials from a FSRA-approved credentialing body immediately,” it added.