Legislation for a "healthy industry"

Some advisors support a proposed private member's bill that, if passed, would further regulate financial planners in Ontario.

Some Ontario advisors are welcoming a new private member’s bill that, if passed, would protect consumers from receiving shoddy financial advice and weed out the wheat from the chaff.

“Overall, I think it’s a good thing to streamline regulation, so that (eventually) every province is on the same page,” says Toronto advisor Charles Jiang of Queen Financial Group Inc. “...Especially to the protect the investors.”

Announced Tuesday by Liberal MPP Rick Bartolucci, the Financial Advisors Act, 2014 is the first legislation in Ontario that would govern the profession.

"Doctors, lawyers, engineers, accountants and many other groups are regulated as a profession,” said Greg Pollock, President and CEO of Advocis, in a release. "It’s time for those who are critical to the financial well-being of so many Ontarians to be regulated as well.”

The legislation – drafted with help from Advocis – intends to eliminate the ability for just anyone to claim they are a financial advisor and ensure they are meeting consistent proficiency standards, adhering to a code of conduct, satisfying continuing education requirements, and maintaining errors and omissions insurance.

Under the act, financial advisors would have to be registered and any advisor that breaches the act would face financial penalties or have their licenses revoked. An “office of the director” would administer the act – addressing complaints, inspecting registrants and completing investigations. (continued.)


“A far better way to protect consumers is to regulate all advisors,” said Pollock. “This will preserve choice, ensure that the millions of Ontarians now benefiting from financial advice will continue to have access, and it will establish industry-wide standards for all financial advisors.”

It will also bridge the gap between sectors; a common complaint with the current system, as an advisor found guilty of misconduct in one sector (for example, selling insurance) can continue to practice in another sector (for example, selling mutual funds).

A single system would deal with complaints and has the power to suspend or revoke an advisor’s registration.

“This will protect the advisors and protect the industry,” says Chiang. “It’s extra work and takes more time (for the advisor), but that is necessary for a healthy industry.”

Roundtable sessions held by the Ontario Ministry of Finance in January invited industry groups to debate the merits of specific regulation for financial planners in Ontario.

A polarizing debate across the industry, there are many advisors out there oppposed to increased regulation, which could be deemed being under the thumb of 'big brother.'