Resistance has been the common theme from industry players in their response to the proposed title reform legislation that is working its way through the new Financial Services Authority of Ontario (FSRA) regulator. This important regulation to ensure that only financial professionals with appropriate credentials be able to call themselves “financial planners” or “financial advisors” will ensure that consumers are better served and protected.

If this self-centred push is successful, it will only benefit the least-qualified providers of financial services and be another setback for professionalization and transparency in the investment industry. Currently, financial professional’s titles (outside of Quebec) are meaningless and do nothing to inform consumers of financial services as to what the financial professional they deal with actually does. Possibly, these titles could mislead consumers into expecting a level of service and credibility that may be completely unwarranted.

Some of the industry submissions received are arguing that the rules are planning to set the bar too high and would exclude people who are using either title now from continuing to do so without achieving further designations or credentials. As well, the MFDA and IIROC organizations who are having their submission provided by the Investment Association of Canada (IIAC) who is arguing that any financial professional regulated by these two bodies should be exempt from any further educational requirements. The main issue with these arguments, is that most of the education provided to the financial services industry is focused around the licensing to sell products. However, financial planning and advice are not solely focused on products and in fact may result in no product sales at all. Financial planners and financial advisors synthesize information to make well-educated, informed recommendations; product selection and sales are only a small portion of the total value proposition provided.

Keeping the status quo, will simply be validating that the financial services industry is sufficient to meet consumers needs in today’s increasing complex economic environment. It could be argued that it would prove that this entire exercise was failed from the beginning due to regulatory capture by the industry.

Many people already are wary of financial services, and their ability to meet their specific needs and goals. Helping title reform fail will simply provide one more reason for people (especially Millennials and Gen Z) to move away from traditional financial provides altogether.


This month, the Ontario government continues to move forward with new standards for people using the financial planner and financial advisor titles in the province. The key takeaway from the latest report from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) is that those individuals currently using either title will not be “grandfathered” from the new rules that establish the minimum standards for their use.

Canada currently does not have any legislated national standard for those who offer financial planning or advice, thus anyone can call themselves a financial planner or advisor regardless of their designation, certification or educational background.

Last year, the Financial Professionals Title Protection Act was passed in Ontario to enhance oversight of qualifications and credential being used in the financial services sector. The government appointed FSRA to develop the specific rules and decide which designations would qualify. This rule is expected to be finalized by 2021.

Minimum standards will not require a credential that has an educational component related to financial planning, such as retirement planning, estate and tax planning, technical knowledge and ethics. FSRA’s recent report advised that individuals will have three years after rule implementation to acquire any credential or educational requirement needed to use the title of financial advisor; and five years for the “financial planner” designation. The complete list of designations that will be approved under the rule is still being finalized.

One of the most widely known credentials is the certified financial planner (CFP) designation administered by the professional body FP Canada (formerly the Financial Planning Standards Council). More than 16,900 people in Canada hold it, about 9,000 of them in Ontario. FP Canada believes that their designations will be approved under the new FSRA rule and will help to remove confusion around the use of these titles, especially the distinction between advisor and planner.

As the regulatory momentum continues to move in the direction of minimum standards, it is all the more important for new and existing practitioners in financial services to begin getting their QAFP and CFP designations.