The province of Ontario is moving closer toward a long-called-for regime that regulates financial advisors and planners in the province.
In 2016, the Small Investor Protection Association (SIPA) issued a report warning that Canadian investors were following recommendations from financial-product salespersons based on misleading titles. The report warned that such “financial advisors” weren’t regulated and had no obligation to put clients’ interests above their own firm.
Since then, there have been statements and proposals from industry stakeholders addressing the importance of title regulation. In September, the Investment Funds Institute of Canada (IFIC) submitted a letter to regulators with its own recommendations on title reforms for securities registrants.
More recently in October, Advocis released a survey report showing that less than a fourth of Ontarians are aware that there’s no legal regulation on who can call themselves a financial advisor, and the vast majority of Ontarians would support such a regulation.
“The time has come to legally recognize the provision of financial advice as a profession and to oversee financial advisors as we do all other professionals who provide essential advice and services,” said Advocis President and CEO Greg Pollock, urging Ontario to take action.
The province acknowledged the issue its Fall Economic Statement last week. Noting the lack of “consistent regulatory oversight of financial planners and advisors,” the Ontario government said it will review measures to make sure financial planners and advisors working with families have “received appropriate training and [are] subject to regulatory oversight.” The promise is in line with a consultation paper it released in March on the possible regulation of financial planners in the province.
The announcement was a welcome development for industry groups and investor advocates.
“FPSC has long advocated for regulatory standards to ensure anyone who calls themselves a ‘financial planner’ has demonstrated that they meet stringent proficiency and ethics requirements, and is accountable for their professional conduct,” said Cary List, president and CEO of the Financial Planning Standards Council. “We look forward to working with the Ontario government and other stakeholders on this initiative.”
“Kenmar agree that those providing personalized financial advice and planning should be qualified / registered with the necessary proficiency,” said Ken Kivenko, president of Kenmar Associates, an organization focused on investment-fund consumer education and protection. “The applicable standard underpinning such advice should be a fiduciary one.”
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