Financial Planning Standards Council

Financial Planning Standards Council

January 13, 2014 13:33 ET

Time is Right for Recognition of Financial Planning as a Profession

Current environment leaves consumers vulnerable

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Jan. 13, 2014) - On January 10, Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC®) presented its recommendations to the Ontario Ministry of Finance during their consultations to review the merits of tailored regulation of financial planners. These consultations follow the Ontario Government's commitment in the 2013 Fall Economic Outlook and Fiscal Review to undertake a review of this topic and to consider the appropriate regulatory framework for doing so.

President & CEO Cary List spoke on behalf of FPSC, a not-for-profit organization that develops, promotes and enforces professional standards in financial planning through the granting and enforcement of the Certified Financial Planner® certification. (Click here for a full transcript of List's remarks.) List is also Chair of the Coalition for Professional Standards for Financial Planners, a group of four organizations including the Canadian Institute of Financial Planners (CIFPs), Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC), the Institute of Advanced Financial Planners (IAFP), and the Institut québécois de planification financière (IQPF). The Coalition has developed and published a statement of principles by which it feels financial planners should be bound and is in the process of releasing a proposed regulatory framework for the financial planning profession.

List identified two fundamental problems:

  • Studies have clearly demonstrated that Canadians are not getting the financial planning help they need, from qualified, professional financial planners. This is partially the result of a lack of understanding of how to identify a qualified financial planner and of what they should expect of a financial planner and/or a financial plan.

  • Today's unregulated financial planning environment leaves consumers vulnerable and at risk of receiving advice from individuals holding themselves out as planners but who have not had to meet any qualifications based on accepted, unified standards of ethics, competence or practice. The term "financial planning" is too often used as a sales pitch to sell product and the title "financial planner" is used haphazardly throughout the industry. The majority of those people in Canada who imply through title and/or advertising that they are financial planners are in fact licenced and qualified only to give advice relating to product recommendations or purchase. An expertise in product advice gained from licensure does not equate to competence in financial planning. Nevertheless, studies have shown that consumers believe it does.

"The solution we propose is simple," said List. "Codify in law the professional certification structure, governance and oversight mechanisms that already exist in practice, but that are currently voluntary, and make them a requirement for all who wish to claim financial planning as their own."

List's comments included the following specific recommendations:

  1. The adoption of a single, unified set of standards for financial planners and financial plans so that consumers will be protected by knowing their financial planner has the necessary professional competencies and will act ethically with due prudence and professionalism.

  2. The adoption of a unified definition of what is a financial planner and financial planning and what constitutes a financial plan so that consumers understand their importance and know what to expect when seeking out a financial planner.

  3. The establishment of title and holding out restrictions. Only those who have demonstrated their competence by meeting a single, unified qualification standard and ongoing professional ethics and continuous professional development requirements should be permitted to call themselves financial planners. As a result, consumers will cease to be at risk of poor or inappropriate planning by those who have not met minimum competency standards.

  4. Financial planner accountability to a professional oversight body that understands financial planning and professional obligations and that represents the public interest. Standards-setting for and oversight of financial planners should not be placed, on a piece-meal basis, through product and product advice-based regulation. A professional model for financial planners will provide confidence to consumers that their interests are represented and protected by a cross-sector body that is expert in financial planning and expert in the establishment and enforcement of professional financial planning standards.

"A professional self-regulatory model for financial planners, with a single unified set of standards of competence, practice and ethics will instil confidence in financial planning and financial planners," said List. "This model, including standards established by experts who know and understand financial planning, must be administered through a governance structure that includes both practitioners and members of the public."

FPSC and its coalition partners have been working diligently to bring forward a single unified set of minimum standards required to hold out as a financial planner and unified definitions of what constitutes a financial planner, financial planning and a financial plan. These standards and definitions are based on those already enforced and accepted by over 22,000 licensed or certified financial planners in Canada. The standards and principles that the Coalition is proposing form the basis of a professional model for financial planning, not only in Ontario, but for all of Canada.

"We are encouraged by the Ontario government's interest in the need for professionalization of financial planning," said List, "and are pleased to offer our expertise in the development of a solution that will protect consumers' financial well-being and help secure Canadians' financial futures."

About Financial Planning Standards Council

Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC®) is a not-for-profit organization that develops, promotes and enforces professional standards in financial planning through Certified Financial Planner® certification. FPSC's purpose is to instil confidence in the financial planning profession. As a standards-setting and certification body, FPSC ensures CFP® professionals and Registered Candidates meet appropriate standards of competence and professionalism through rigorous requirements of education, examination, experience and ethics. For more information, visit www.fpsc.ca.

CFP®, Certified Financial Planner® and are certification trademarks owned outside the U.S. by Financial Planning Standards Board Ltd. (FPSB). Financial Planning Standards Council is the marks licensing authority for the CFP marks in Canada, through agreement with FPSB. All other ® are registered trademarks of FPSC, unless indicated. © 2013 Financial Planning Standards Council. All rights reserved.

Contact Information

  • MEDIA CONTACT:
    Financial Planning Standards Council
    Caroline Horcher
    416.593.8587, ext. 232 or 1.800.305.9886
    chorcher@fpsc.ca
    www.fpsc.ca