As it stands if a person thinks they’re good with money, fancies doling out the advice yet doesn’t have all the fancy letters after their name, it’s not a problem. They can still call themselves a financial planner and no one will call them out on it.
This can be frustrating for planners who actually did study and obtained their certification. It could be that someone unqualified, using the term ‘planner,’ is snapping up clients that qualified planners could otherwise have had.
Stephen Rotstein, vice president, policy and regulatory affairs and general counsel of the Financial Planning Standards Council, says the situation is causing confusion for those seeking financial help and is putting them at risk.
“The status quo basically is that anyone can call themselves a financial planner, with the exception of Quebec, and Canadians have an expectation that the people that they’re able trust with their financial planning actually have met a minimum level of qualifications, have a level of competency and that they’re ethical and accountable to somebody if they fall below that standard. That is not the case for those just calling themselves a planner.”
Rotstein says this needs to change but after years of planners dealing with this system, why now?
“I think the financial crisis was a wake-up call for a lot of people because, prior to that, I think Canadians didn’t necessarily have a sense of what their financial futures were like because things had been going well. When things are going well it’s easy to get a sense that they’ll continue to go well.”
“When things began to change in 2008, I think Canadians really got a sense that they needed to take better control of their financial futures. In the end they went out there and they sought financial professionals and what they were finding is that they were holding themselves as planners but when they got deeper they realized that there wasn’t necessarily a universal standard for financial planners.”