The article understates the critical role professional bodies play in the competency assessment and oversight of personal services providers, in this case financial planners. As a professional body, FP Canada already oversees and holds accountable individual certificants, setting rigorous professional standards, holding members of the profession accountable and alerting the public when a certificant has been disciplined or poses a risk to public safety. Importantly, unlike regulators and self-regulatory organizations that are experts in overseeing activities related to specific investment advice or product recommendations, a professional body such as FP Canada oversees the professional conduct of the members of the profession, which is separate and distinct.
Once in effect, Ontario’s new framework will enhance the existing function of professional bodies (referred to in the legislation as credentialing bodies) by limiting the ability of individuals — licensed or otherwise — who are not appropriately certified by, and in good standing with, an approved body to continue holding out to the public as a financial planner. This is a significant step forward in providing less confusion and greater protection to consumers.
To prevent the kinds of “gaps” in consumer protection implied by the article, it will be critical that the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario: a) only approves those credentialing bodies with demonstrated capability in professional standards setting and enforcement; b) restricts the use of similar-sounding titles; c) takes swift action against individuals holding out as financial planners who do not hold an approved certification; and d) educates consumers on the importance of always verifying the planner’s or advisor’s credentials before engaging with them.
—Cary List, president and CEO, FP Canada