Financial planning week

Financial Planning week is coming....

and you can make your voice heard

October 16, 2015

As we get ready to celebrate Financial Planning Week in November, there are some exciting things happening related to the profession of financial planning.

One of those exciting developments is the ability for you to make your voice heard on the topic of the regulation of financial planning, so please read on.

I differentiate the profession of financial planning from the industry of financial services and investments. Financial planners who act as professionals accept that they have a fiduciary duty to their clients, which is not the position taken by the broader investment industry.

However, in all provinces and territories outside of Québec, any person can call himself or herself a “financial planner”, as the use of the term is unregulated.

The securities commissions and their delegated self-regulatory organizations definitely regulate investment sales people, and they have developed guidelines for which of those can call themselves financial planners. However, anyone who is not registered as an investment salesperson or a registered representative can use the term “financial planner” with impunity.

This has meant a serious gap in consumer protection. The main financial planning organizations in Canada formed a Coalition four years ago to convince the provincial governments that only qualified financial planners, with education, experience and ethics, should be allowed to use the term.

If you are dealing with a financial planner who has the designations R.F.P. or CFP, you can be assured of those qualifications, and the fact that these advisors satisfy continuing education requirements each year.

The Ontario government is now actively looking at how to set up a regulatory regime for the term “financial planner” and anyone who purports to be providing “financial planning”. Here’s where you come in. The FPSC (Financial Planning Standard Council) has made it easy for Canadians to make their voices heard on whether or not a license should be required before an advisor can offer and practice financial planning. Go to www.financialplanningforcanadian.ca and you will find a survey.

That website provides a number of other resources for individuals, employers and educators.

The FPSC will compile the results and make them public in time for the seventh annual Financial Planning Week, November 15-21. One of the events is a keynote address by the Ontario Minister of Finance Charles Sousa.

For those of us who have been committed for years to making financial planning a licensed and regulated profession, we hope to hear the results of the Ontario government’s request for input into this topic, and hopefully some substantive news.

While that esoteric stuff makes us excited, maybe we can also get you excited about improving your personal financial knowledge and situation.

I encourage you to use Financial Planning Week as a catalyst to get you going to review, or start, your own comprehensive financial plan.

It’s like housecleaning for some; not exciting to start, but amazing to be finished!

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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 financial planner and advisor with Christianson Wealth Advisors, a Vice President with National Bank Financial Wealth Management, and author of the book Managing the Bull, A No-Nonsense Guide to Personal Finance.