New PFA credential benefits Canadian financial advisors and their clients


By: Greg Pollock, March 4, 2020 – There’s never been a more important time for financial advisors to be able to demonstrate they have the essential knowledge and skills to help Canadians achieve their financial goals. An important way to do that – which soon will be a legal requirement in Ontario – is for financial advisors to hold an approved professional credential from a recognized granting body. Yet, fully three-quarters of licensed or registered advisors in Canada currently hold no professional designation of any kind.

Recognizing the changing requirements and expectations of the marketplace, Advocis recently launched the Professional Financial Advisor (PFA) designation, which is conferred in Canada exclusively by The Institute for Advanced Financial Education. This new benchmark credential for Canadian financial advisors will ensure the quality of advice available and help close the credentials gap in our profession.

The PFA curriculum covers the essentials for financial advisors, equipping them with the fundamental technical knowledge to assess the best solutions for their clients, including financial planning foundations, taxation and investment planning, and retirement income planning. Candidates will also get a deep understanding of compliance and ethical practices ranging from the legal and regulatory framework to professional standards and conduct.

The four-semester online curriculum enables candidates to complete the program in 24 months while balancing the responsibilities of full-time work. After completing the program, PFA candidates will have the essential skills they need to build and grow a successful financial advisory practice. They’ll also acquire the foundation to progress to more advanced and specialized qualifications, such as the CFP® Certification, and CLU® designations.

As the largest voluntary professional membership association of financial advisors in Canada, Advocis has been serving Canadian financial advisors and their clients for more than a century, including the delivery of high-quality designation and continuing education programs. The launch of the PFA program by Advocis follows a successful pilot program last year that attracted significant interest from the advisor community.

Our association has led the way for the professionalization of financial advisors, promoting its benefits and advocating for the introduction of title protection and professional standards in the public interest. As part of this unwavering commitment to professionalism, all Advocis members have been required since January 1, 2019 to hold a recognized financial designation.

Last May, Ontario passed the Financial Professionals Title Protection Act, which will restrict the use of the “financial advisor” and “financial planner” titles in the province to those with approved credentials from recognized professional bodies. The implementation of regulations to define specific credential requirements and identify approved credential granting organizations is expected by the end of this year.

A recent survey conducted for Advocis found that, while most Ontarians were unaware of the new law, nearly three-quarters (72%) believe the requirement for professional designations will help protect them and should be adopted by other provinces. That is indeed happening, with other provinces beginning to follow Ontario’s lead – including Saskatchewan, which tabled similar legislation in December.

Canadians understand the value of sound financial advice. Academic research has proven that households working with a financial advisor achieve almost four times more value in their investment assets over a 15-year period than comparable households without financial advice.

Canadians also want to be confident in the quality of the financial advice they receive. The new Professional Financial Advisor designation is an important part of ensuring more Canadians will have access to the advice that can help them meet their financial needs today and secure their financial wellbeing for the future.

For more information about the PFA designation and to apply online, visit: