Ontario’s financial regulator authorizes new group to approve financial planner and adviser titles

Financial professionals in Ontario must obtain several more designations if they wish to use the title “financial adviser” or “financial planner” under new legislation passed this year, which the provincial government says aims to ensure that investors are working with qualified experts.

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario announced on Wednesday that a fourth organization – the Canadian Institute of Financial Planning (CIFP) – has been authorized to permit and oversee individuals to use the titles financial planner and financial adviser under the province’s new regime.

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.

Three existing CIFP designations were added to FSRA’s approved list: the Registered Retirement Consultant (RRC) for the financial planner title, and the Registered Financial and Retirement Advisor (RFRA) and Registered Retirement Analyst (RRA) for individuals who want to call themselves financial adviser.

Existing financial planners will have a four-year transition period before they are subject to the new rules, while financial advisers will be given a two-year time frame.

Prior to this year, Ontario had no rules in place for those who used either title. The new credential rules, which got the greenlight in March by the provincial government, were put into place to protect investors from unqualified advisers. Currently, there are about 100,000 financial advisers working across the country; outside Ontario and Quebec, which implemented its own rules for financial planners, there remains no oversight or regulation for either title in Canada.

Earlier this year, FSRA announced the first batch of organizations that were approved as credentialing bodies in Ontario, which includes FP Canada, the Institute for Advanced Financial Education (IAFE) and Canadian Securities Institute (CSI). Now, along with the CIFP, the four organizations have a tally of eight designations in total that have been approved for professionals to use.

FSRA’s executive vice-president of market conduct, Huston Loke, said CIFP met all of the regulators’ application criteria for both titles.

“By leveraging these existing licensing and professional designation bodies, we believe Financial Planner and Financial Advisor title protection in Ontario will significantly strengthen consumer protection while making it easier for financial services professionals to earn their credentials,” Mr. Loke said in a statement.

CIFP chief executive Keith Costello thanked the Ontario government for their “foresight in passing the enabling legislation for title protection” and encouraged other provinces to follow in implementing the new standard.

“Ontario financial consumers now have a wide selection of choices to get the targeted and wholistic financial advice that they require,” Mr. Costello added.

CIFP has been providing certification and education requirements for financial services sector for more than 45 years. Today, more than 13,000 securities and insurance professionals across Canada, including 5,000 in Ontario, already make use of their training and continuing education materials.

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