confusing array of advisor titles
Gil Martinez

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) has approved the first credentialing bodies for “financial planner” and “financial advisor” titles, the regulator said in a release on Monday.

FSRA approved FP Canada as a credentialing body, based on its certified financial planner (CFP) and qualified associate financial planner (QAFP) designations. Industry professionals with one of those designations are permitted to use “financial planner.”

FSRA also approved the Institute for Advanced Financial Education (a subsidiary of Advocis) as a credentialing body. Professionals with the chartered life underwriter (CLU) designation are permitted to use “financial planner,” and those with the professional financial advisor (PFA) designation can use “financial advisor.”

“Existing holders of these FSRA-approved credentials, who are in good standing with their respective credentialing body, may continue to use the financial planner and/or financial advisor titles in Ontario without interruption,” the regulator said in a background document.

The regulator will focus this year on approving credentialing bodies and helping them implement the title protection framework. To that end, the regulator is “actively” reviewing other applications, the release said, and will announce additional credentialing bodies and designations on its website as they’re  approved.

Those using “financial planner” or “financial advisor” on or before Jan. 1, 2020, can continue to use the titles during a transition period of four years for “financial planner” and two years for “financial advisor” from the date the legislation came into force (March 28, 2022).

During this period, such individuals must determine whether their existing designation or licence is approved by a FSRA-approved credentialing body. If it isn’t, they must get an approved designation or license from an approved credentialing body before the transition period ends (or stop using the title).

Those who started using one of the titles after Jan. 1, 2020, can no longer do so until they get an approved designation or licence.

FSRA has authority to issue compliance orders against individuals who use the titles without approved credentials. However, the regulator said non-compliant title use may be unintentional throughout 2022. As such, enforcement will focus on “responding to consumer complaints and protecting consumers from harm by requesting non-compliant title users to voluntarily cease title use within 30 days,” the backgrounder said.

The regulator will also host a webinar on April 21 about the province’s title protection regime, with webinar details to be posted online.