Tellers are not advisors, big banks clarify

By Simon Doyle | March 15, 2017 | Last updated on March 15, 2017
2 min read

Some of the country’s biggest banks have clarified what they require for employees who use the word “advisor” in their titles.

TD Bank, for instance, says it does not use the term “front-line advisor” for bank tellers. CBC News, in stories last week about aggressive, unethical sales tactics, had reported TD tellers were using the title. The bank says it is reviewing all concerns raised by the reports, acknowledging that “TD is in the trust business. We know we must earn our customers’ trust before we earn their business.”

Read: Investor rights firm files class action against TD in wake of CBC reports

At the same time, the Canadian Securities Administrators is reviewing ways to curtail use of the advisor title as part of its proposal for a higher regulatory standard to act in the best interests of clients. reached out to Canada’s largest six banks for their minimum criteria under which employees can use “advisor” in their title. (RBC declined to comment and Scotiabank and BMO didn’t respond.)

Read: Only sell proprietary product? You’re a salesperson, argues CSA


Those at TD using the title “financial advisor” must have at least a mutual fund licence from MFDA, says bank spokesperson Jeff Meerman.

“Once in that job, an individual must also obtain a Certificate in Financial Services Advice, through CSI [Canadian Securities Institute], within the first six months,” he says. “To clarify, our tellers have the official title ‘Customer Service Representatives.’”

Investment advisors, Meerman adds, must be at minimum IIROC-registered.

“A typical career path for someone in a branch might be Customer Service Representative (CSR), Financial Services Representative (FSR) and then Financial Advisor (FA),” he says.


Customer service representatives “are not advisors,” CIBC spokesperson Susan Kirwin clarified.

These customer reps “help clients with their day-to-day banking transactions, and […] should a CSR recognize a better service for our client, they refer [the client] to a qualified representative,” Kirwin says.

All CIBC financial advisors are registered with IIROC, MFDA or Quebec’s AMF, she says.

Read: Banks under FCAC microscope after allegations of upselling

IIROC registrants must complete the Canadian Securities Course (CSC), the CSI’s Conduct and Practices Handbook and Wealth Management Essentials Course, plus a 90-day training program. MFDA registrants must also complete additional courses and training.

Financial and retirement planning experts who support advisors must at least hold the CFP designation, CIBC says.

CIBC also uses the advisor title for investment advisors at CIBC Wood Gundy.

National Bank

At National Bank Financial, bank reps can be called a “personal banking advisor” if they have a college diploma and three years’ experience, or a bachelor’s degree and six months’ experience, plus at least a mutual fund representative licence (they must become certified within three months of hiring), says Marie-Pierre Jodoin, bank spokesperson.

Simon Doyle