Advisors looking beyond CE credits: survey

By Mark Brown | October 17, 2005 | Last updated on October 17, 2005
3 min read

(October 17, 2005) Advisors have embraced a culture of continuing education and not just because they have to, according to a new poll by Credo Consulting. But with the IDA’s three-year cycle, in which advisors must complete a set number of continuing education (CE) credit hours, little more than 10 weeks away, a number of advisors are still expected to be rushing to meet the year-end deadline.

Only 56% of advisors consider CE credits important or critical to when it comes to selecting an educational program. “There is no clear cut indication that you had to have CE credits if you offer a program,” says Cynthia Enns, a partner with Credo, “56% of advisors is not overwhelming.”

She continues, “Advisors do these programs for different reasons; CE credits is a major factor, but it is not the only factor.”

But this likely won’t hold true through the rest of the year, at least for those working in the IDA channel. Less than half of IDA advisors have filed their completed CE requirements so far, according to the brokerage industry association. Advisor firms face mounting penalties if they fail to comply.

After December 31, advisor’s firms have to pay $500 for each rep who hasn’t met his or her CE requirements. Each of those advisors would also be placed under mandatory supervision. Firm would be fined an additional $500 per person, per month for up to six months, or until the requirement are met. And after six months that advisor would be suspended.

Given these penalties, it’s not surprising that the survey found IDA advisors are more likely to consider CE credits as a main factor for evaluating a training and educational program. (Advisors belonging to an IDA firm accounted for about 17% of the sample size). Only about one-fifth of these advisors would take a program without CE credits. Since this is the first year Credo has conducted this particular survey, there’s no way to tell if advisors’ response were influenced by the impending CE deadline.

The survey found that 61% of advisors prefer to accumulate CE credits through attending talks by experts. Enns adds that advisors seem to get more out of courses when they have to leave their office. AIM Trimark’s Professional Development Days and Mackenzie University were tapped as offering the top value-added programs. Outside of the fund companies, Advocis’s training programs also fared well regionally.

Limited time available to attend these programs, however, has made online programs, like the one offered by Guardian Group of Funds, another one of the preferred methods of acquiring credits.

One of the few disparities that Enns noticed was between distributor firms, which think CE accreditation is a key attribute, and manufacturers, which felt this was less important. “There is a bit of a divide of feeling of whether this is critical or not,” she says.

The survey also found that manufactures find the sales practices code makes it challenging to offer programs appeal to advisors that can be CE credited. This is mainly due to a lack of clarity around the code, explains Enns.

“Distributors and advisors generally want to be doing programs that are in the topic of business consultancy and practice management programs, but those programs are technically outside what is deemed allowable content needed for fund company financial support because some of these programs may be viewed as having cash value and therefore contain a non-monetary benefit to advisors,” she adds.

Regardless of how well a program has been designed, the ones that succeed tend to be those where wholesalers — the front line contact with the advisor — help to encourage advisors to consider specific course. “A fund company can think of the most amazing program, but it doesn’t have any impact with the advisors unless it is delivered and followed up well,” Enns says. “If it is not supported by the wholesalers in the field in communicating it to advisors, the whole program falls on its face.”

Filed by Mark Brown,,


Mark Brown