How to get a Fellow of CSI (FCSI) designation

Becoming a Fellow of CSI (FCSI) is no easy task. Is it worth the effort of obtaining this designation? Find out more here

How to get a Fellow of CSI (FCSI) designation

As a financial advisor, there are many career options open to you. You can choose to put up your own practice, or work for a large financial institution like a bank or investment firm. Apart from multiple career choices, you can also acquire certifications that will expand your knowledge and increase your credibility.

Among the many certifications in finance, one in Canada stands out and can be particularly helpful: the Fellow of CSI, or Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute (FCSI). It’s the highest honour one can get in the Canadian financial services industry.

How do you get FCSI designation? What are the FCSI requirements? InvestmentNews answers these and more of your questions about becoming an FCSI in Canada.

Introduction to the Fellow of CSI (FCSI) designation

Offered by the Canadian Securities Institute, the Fellow of CSI (FCSI) status is the highest honour for a finance professional. It is at the very top of the financial services credentials you can have in Canada.

By earning this designation, a finance professional is part of an exclusive club of finance experts dedicated to excellence, commitment, and integrity to their clients and the financial industry. Having this designation makes you one of the most enviable and sought-after finance professionals among potential employers and clients alike.

FCSI requirements

To obtain the FCSI status, the journey is not a quick nor easy one. There are several steps to obtaining FCSI status:

1. Have relevant financial industry experience

To pursue a Fellow of CSI (FSCI) designation, you must have at least 7 years of work experience in the financial services industry. You must have this experience at least 10 years before you apply for and obtain FCSI status.

If you don’t have the relevant industry experience yet, browse your course and career options, then pursue the job that appeals to you most. The Canadian Securities Institute will assess all applicants for compliance with this requirement.

When applying for FCSI status, this is how the audit process will be conducted:

  • a request for confirmation will be sent to the verifier via mail or phone, as provided by the applicant on their application form
  • a copy of the request will be sent to the applicant, notifying them of their assessment
  • contacts will be asked to provide confirmation within 30 days of the request
  • if no confirmation is received, CSI will notify the applicant and a copy of the notification will also be sent to the work experience contact
  • if a response is not received within another 30 days, the verifier will contact the applicant and their work contact again
  • any misstated or deceiving information about the applicant’s work experience will be reported to the Designation Ethics Committee as a violation of the FCSI® Code of Ethics. This will then be considered according to the Ethical Misconduct Process

2. Earn a relevant designation

To become an FCSI, a finance professional must have one of the following designations:

If you’d like to have any external designations recognized by the CSI, you’ll need to complete a form and pay the corresponding fees.


3. Take the Business Drivers and Challenges (FSDC) course

Aspiring finance professionals must take the Financial Services Industry: Business Drivers and Challenges (FSDC) course. It is an essential requirement for acquiring a Fellow of CSI (FCSI) designation.

4. Complete at least 2 designated courses

Complete at least two courses from this list:

Advanced Derivatives Market Strategies (ADMS)


Derivatives Fundamentals Course (DFC®)


LLQP Insurance Course (LLQP)


Advanced Investment Strategies (AIS)


Derivatives Fundamentals and Options Licensing Course (DFOL)


Options Supervisors Course (OPSC)


Branch Compliance Officer’s Course (BCO)


Estate and Trust Administration (ETA)


Partners, Directors and Senior Officers Course (PDO)


Chief Compliance Officers Qualifying Examination (CCO)


Financial Planning II (FPII)


Portfolio Management Techniques (PMT®)


Dealing with High-Net-Worth Clients program


Investment Management Techniques (IMT®)


Technical Analysis Course (TAC)


Trader Training Course (TTC)


Wealth Management Essentials (WME®)




5. Abide by the FCSI Code of Ethics

This is an important aspect of becoming an FCSI. You are expected to be experts in the financial field and upstanding members of the community.

6. Sign the FCSI® Trademark License Agreement

Agree to the FCSI Trademark License Agreement, which gives you the right to use the FCSI trademarks in your own marketing efforts.

7. Pay the required application and licensing fees

The initial application fee is $325 and includes:

  • the licence fee for the year of your application
  • your commitment to the maintenance requirement
  • your Fit and Proper Declaration

8. Get an endorsement from your supervisor

Get an endorsement from your supervisor in your current employment. You'll need to give contact information for your direct supervisor or a sponsor in your company. They must be a practicing fellow of the CSI who is willing to sponsor your application.

How do I apply for the FCSI?

It’s possible to apply for the FCSI designation online, but only once you’ve fulfilled all the requirements. The Canadian Securities Institute will determine whether you have met these requirements. The CSI now offers exams online with remote proctoring.

The CSI will then ask you to:

  • sign the Code of Ethics and the work experience requirements (your work experience will be verified automatically by sending an email to the verifier you have mentioned on your application)
  • certify that you have read, understood, and agree to abide by the rules stated in the FCSI Certification Mark Licence Agreement
  • pay the application/licence fee of $325

Is getting a Fellow of CSI (FCSI) designation worth it?

Becoming a Fellow of CSI (FCSI) is well worth the effort. There are several benefits to becoming an FCSI:

  • getting listed in the FCSI directory, where clients can find you and verify your credentials and qualifications
  • earning the exclusive right to use the FCSI® trademark designation letters in your marketing efforts to promote your skills and qualifications
  • having access to online resources and marketing materials which are customizable via the FCSI member portal, which you can use to promote you and your practice
  • getting free access to webinars on industry trends and topics
  • getting free access to the CSI Podium, where you can build on your leadership skills and profile by conducting webinars, writing industry articles, and writing or reviewing exams
  • having access to the FCSI LinkedIn network
  • getting access to the Industry Contribution (IC) Tracker tool, which monitors your industry contribution requirements to keep FCSI status
  • having the chance to be featured in FCSI marketing and advertising promotions nationwide

Here’s what some financial advisors have to say about having a Fellow of CSI (FCSI) designation:

For a big picture view on starting a career in financial services, read our guide on certified financial planning courses in Canada.

How do I maintain my FCSI credentials?

The Canadian Securities Institute requires its fellows to make contributions to the public and to the financial services industry via:

  • conducting speaking engagements, like webinars
  • making written academic contributions
  • involving themselves in relevant committees
  • doing charitable work for their local community
  • becoming mentors to other financial professionals

In addition, FCSI holders must render at least 12 hours of community service outside their primary job functions. FCSIs should keep supporting records and documents to confirm their completion of these industry contribution credits and undergo an annual audit to confirm their claims.

Many FCSIs in Canada accomplish part of their industry contribution requirements by participating in the Junior Achievement financial literacy programs, like “Economics for Success” and “Dollars with Sense”.

In 2013, for example, 76 FCSIs across Canada volunteered to deliver programs to 2,040 Junior Achievement students in 68 classrooms.

What is the Honorary FCSI Program?

These are rare instances where the CSI may confer honorary FCSI status upon individuals who have demonstrated ordinary leadership and expertise in financial services.

Every year, the FCSI Council chooses at most two individuals who deserve to be awarded an honorary FCSI. Each candidate must of course meet certain eligibility criteria to receive such honours.

Why should I consider pursuing the FCSI Program?

There are many advantages to taking the FCSI course and earning the Fellow of CSI (FCSI) designation. Apart from the notable advantages, you can become an extremely knowledgeable finance professional with massive credibility and command great respect among your peers in the financial space.   

It’s a rare and distinct honour to earn the FCSI designation. In Canada, this represents the highest achievement in financial services one can attain. It’s limited to a small group of experts who have shown (and continue to show) unmatched expertise, ethics, and leadership in the field.

FCSI holders are also among the most upright individuals, committed to “giving back” to the industry and their community. As finance professionals with a high ethical standard and commitment to excellence, they are also required to continually better themselves and seek continuing education outside of their core discipline to round out their knowledge and skills. Being an FCSI is not only a hard-earned privilege, but also membership to an exclusive club – at present, there are only 3,500 FCSIs in Canada.

A Fellow of CSI (FCSI) designation can elevate your career

A good career path for financial services professionals like wealth managers, investment managers, or portfolio managers is to obtain other certifications like financial planner PFP designation, then pursue FCSI designation. While you can certainly do well without this designation, you could be missing out on a multitude of career advantages, apart from becoming highly sought after by clients and employers alike.

The path to FCSI status is certainly not an easy or simple one, but the benefits like more advanced education, advanced knowledge, and an expanded network of clients and potential employers outweigh the costs. Finance is an ever-evolving, dynamic industry and FCSI status can only increase your chances of success.

For the top names in the industry – some of whom have Fellow of CSI (FCSI) designations – visit our Best in Wealth section. Here you’ll find the best financial advisors in different categories across Canada.