‘Title Protection’ hopefully worth 35-year wait


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As I always told my kids, don’t be too anxious to get what you want. I believe the old saying is, “Good things come to those who wait.”

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/06/2021 (655 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

As I always told my kids, don’t be too anxious to get what you want. I believe the old saying is, “Good things come to those who wait.”

But I think real “financial planners” have now paid their dues.

What am I talking about?

Everyone in Canada, outside the province of Québec, can call themselves “financial planners” or “financial advisers.” There is no restriction on the use of those titles, and there is no protection for practitioners who have the professional designations CFPR or R.F.P. and actually practice financial planning.

This may soon change, at least in Ontario, where the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) has said such title protection may finally be in place by mid-2022.

The long wait I’m complaining about is the fact that the financial planning organizations have been lobbying every provincial government in the country since 1985 to make this a reality.

Québec, to its credit, has had title protection in place for some 30 years. In Québec, no one can call themselves a “planificateur financier” (financial planner) unless they have a diploma issued by the IQPF.

In fairness, with many competing interests and practical challenges, title protection is not an easy thing to implement. The Ontario FSRA is currently in the midst of another consultation with interested players.

Their proposal is to regulate the use of the terms “financial planner” and “financial adviser.” A central registry would be created to list the people qualified to use these titles, based on their FSRA-approved credentials from FSRA-approved credentialing bodies.

They also must decide on which similar titles would cause confusion and must therefore be outlawed, including titles like “financial adviser consultant,” “financial planning manager,” “wealth planner,” “wealth counsellor”, “money guru,” or “retirement counsellor.”

Existing titles with real meaning, like “portfolio manager” or “investment advisor” would still be usable.

Another debate is on which credentials and which credentialing bodies will qualify. The two I mentioned would seem to be obvious, with FP Canada (CFPR) and the IAFP (R.F.P.) the two organizations that have set the high standards for financial planners and have spent decades raising those standards to those of a profession.

There are trade associations that would also like to be part of the group and have lots of members who have the ear of politicians.

That’s why the Ontario government was smart in setting up an independent body (FSRA) to implement this plan, and why that body is wise to conduct thorough consultations.

Totally unrelated to this initiative is something called 31-103, a new set of rules for the investment industry developed by the CSA (Canadian Securities Administrators).

One of the provisions implemented before year end will stop investment advisers from using titles like “vice-president” and “senior vice-president”, unless they are elected officers of their companies.

No one can object to clarity and truth in advertising. Now we just have to convince politicians to adopt such an approach.

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.

David Christianson, BA, CFP, R.F.P., TEP, CIM is recipient of the FP Canada™ Fellow (FCFP) Distinction, and repeatedly named a Top 50 Financial Advisor in Canada. He is a Portfolio Manager and Senior Vice President 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.

David Christianson

David Christianson
Personal finance columnist

David has been a practising financial planner and life advisor since 1982, specializing in helping clients identify and reach their most important goals, and then helping them manage all of their financial affairs, including investments.

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