Regulators in Saskatchewan are considering tougher proficiency requirements for financial advisors, which could benefit clients but would also pull the regime further away from Ontario’s new rules.
The Financial and Consumer Affairs Authority of Saskatchewan (FCAA) is seeking fresh feedback on several aspects of its proposed rules governing the use of “financial planner” and “financial advisor” titles.
Following its initial consultation on these rules in July 2021, the FCAA is now considering whether to beef up its expectations for reps that want to call themselves “financial advisors” by introducing educational expectations in certain technical areas that would take them closer to the proposed standards for “financial planners.”
“The technical knowledge requirement will include knowledge and competency in all of the same core financial technical areas as the [planners] (i.e., estate planning, tax planning, retirement planning, investment planning, finance management, and insurance and risk management),” the regulator said in a notice outlining the latest version of its proposals.
Under that approach, the key difference between the two titling standards would be that planners will require competency in developing and presenting integrated financial plans, while advisors will be expected to be competent in providing suitable recommendations regarding “broad-based financial and investment strategies.”
The FCAA said this approach would provide “better alignment” between advisor proficiency standards and client expectations, and would also line up better with existing regulatory frameworks. However, this change would deviate from Ontario’s new title rules.
“This may result in different standards to meet and may mean that credentialing bodies would need to develop different education programs,” the FCAA said, adding that, under this approach, reps that meet the advisor standard in Ontario may need additional qualifications to also meet Saskatchewan’s requirements.
In turn, this could have other consequences, the consultation suggested: “This might lead to fewer approved [advisor] credentialing bodies in Saskatchewan and fewer options for consumers or investors to obtain financial advice.”
Alongside questions about its basic approach to proficiency standards, the consultation also seeks feedback on disclosure requirements for advisors, the regime’s fee model, and its implementation plan, among other issues.
The latest proposals are out for a 60-day comment period, ending Sept. 20.