New education programs reflect evolution of financial planning

FP Canada on why changes were necessary and smart advisors must embrace a holistic client approach

New education programs reflect evolution of financial planning

Clients’ need for holistic, human-driven financial planning inspired and guided FP Canada’s latest certification and education program changes.

As detailed by WP in yesterday’s breaking news story, the professional body is introducing new courses that will become mandatory for certification candidates in 2020. These will focus on areas such as holistic financial planning, interpersonal and communications skills, behavioural economics, client psychology and ethics.

The new offerings are the Introduction to Professional Ethics, a two-hour online program that equips students with an understanding of the ethical obligations of a financial planner, and the CFP Professional Education Program, which covers the principles of human behaviour, professional skills and critical thinking professionals regularly encounter in their practice. The latter is designed to be the equivalent standard of difficulty and duration as a full semester university course.

FP Canada is also launching a new designation in January, the Qualified Associate Financial Planner (QAFP) certification, which will replace the FPSC Level 1 certification. As a result, this November marks the final sitting of the FPSC Level 1 exam.

There will also be a new direct path to CFP certification available next year, which means candidates will no longer be required to earn an initial certification (FPSC Level 1 certification or QAFP certification) to be eligible for CFP certification.

The changes come on the back of the recent Bill presented by the Ontario government, which sets out a plan to prohibit any individual from using “Financial Planner” and “Financial Advisor” unless they have obtained and maintained in good standing an approved credential from an approved credentialing body.

Movement on that issue is not expected for up to a year but, in the meantime, FP Canada has sought to evolve and anticipate where the industry is heading.

For president and CEO Cary List, this centres around offering value beyond robo advice platforms and utilizing a personal, holistic approach as a key differentiator.

He told WP: “With the advent of technology, with the commoditization of product, with the democratization of information and with knowledge being available at the push of a button with Google, we really needed to make a significant step forward in identifying what the true value add is that a human advisor brings.

“It’s financial planning but it's that human touch; it's the ability to really understand your client as a whole being and the ability to see all the component pieces of a client's financial needs.

“But then beyond that, it’s the ability to understand behavioural economics, client psychology and client behaviour, so that you can connect in a better way, build better relationships, communicate more effectively, and become that trusted go-to person.”

List believes there are more dilemmas facing advisors than ever before when it comes to clients, including aging parents, wealth transfer and cognitive decline. The planner, therefore, needs to know how to deal with these scenarios and make sure they are acting ethically and in the client’s best interest.

It was FP Canada’s duty to address this with its new educational programs, he added, and said that many advisors, through no fault of their own are ill-prepared.

“It's not a knock against advisors at all,” said List. “It’s that they’ve never been trained or taught to identify these things, or to deal with them. Our new professional education programs really delve into that in great depth.”

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