Q: Can anyone in Canada call him or herself a financial advisor?
A: Yes. With the exception of Quebec, anyone can call him or herself a financial advisor — regardless of experience and education, or level of financial acumen or sophistication. This leaves consumers exposed.

Q: But aren't financial advisors regulated?
A: At present, the sales activities of advisors who sell products such as life and health insurance, mutual funds and securities are regulated. Advisors who sell these products must be licensed by their provincial insurance, mutual fund, or securities regulator. The title of "financial advisor," however, is not regulated. Advisors are currently not required to meet an established proficiency standard or subscribe to a code of professional ethics and conduct.

Q: How will Advocis's solution benefit consumers?
A. Our solution will require the title "financial advisor" to be regulated, and require all titleholders to belong to a recognized professional association. The solution will greatly enhance consumer protection by raising the professional bar for all advisors. By requiring advisors to maintain membership in a recognized association such as Advocis, consumers could easily review the advisor's credentials and complaints history. In addition, advisors would be required to:

Q: What would happen to an advisor who doesn't meet those requirements?
A: Professional associations would offer consumers an accessible complaints mechanism and would have the power, when necessary, to discipline a financial advisor who does not meet the association's highest standards. Professional associations would be empowered to suspend or revoke membership, or impose various conditions on membership for unprofessional conduct, which could impact a member's ability to sell financial products as a provincial licensee or registrant.

Q: If an advisor was banned from selling financial or insurance products in one province, couldn't he or she sell them in another province?
A: A regulatory requirement that advisors must be in good standing with a professional association would prevent unscrupulous individuals from simply moving to a different financial sector and seeking licensing or registration. It would ensure individuals who violate industry requirements in any one sector would not be allowed to continue activity in the industry without proper review. In addition, associations would publish disciplinary proceedings and would follow a process of natural justice regarding procedural rights.

Q: How could I find out if my advisor is a member of a professional association?
A: Professional advisors would be required to make information about their member advisors conveniently accessible in a single public database. This would enable the public to determine if a prospective advisor is a member of a professional association, and to review their credentials before entering into an advisory relationship.

Answers to your questions about Bill 157, the Financial Advisors Act, 2014.

What they're saying

I fully support this initiative by Advocis. It's about time financial advice was treated as a profession.  
D. Keith Pike
London, Ontario
I wholeheartedly support the aims and objectives of Advocis's proposal.  
Louis Eb Bang
Ottawa, Ontario
I support a higher standard for financial advisors and creating greater public confidence in our
Kristopher A. Cameron
Calgary, Alberta
This is long overdue. Kudos to Advocis for taking the initiative on this matter.
Richard Bradford
Red Deer, Alberta
I support all the work Advocis is doing to help us. Keep up the good work and let's continue to give professional advice to our clients in an unbiased
Reg Hart
Miramichi, New Brunswick


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