(July 31, 2003) In the alphabet soup world of financial industry designations, advisor consultant Jim Ruta hopes to find a niche for the new Elder Planning Counselor (EPC) program, an initiative aimed at professionals who work with Canadians 55 years and older.

The EPC designation, created by the Canadian Initiative for Elder Planning Studies (CIEPS) and spearheaded by Pro-Seminars International, will be offered for the first time this fall in Toronto and Vancouver.

“The concept behind EPC is that seniors have a complete set of issues, concerns and values that need to be properly understood if they are to be effectively advised,” says Ruta, chair of the CIEPS advisory council.

In researching the idea for the program, Ruta says it became clear that as the population ages, professionals need to understand the unique needs of seniors. He notes that by 2012, it’s estimated that one in three Canadians will be classified as a senior.

“This came from the grassroots because seniors aren’t the same as everybody else,” Ruta told Advisor.ca. “If you try to deal with people who were brought up in the Depression as if they were brought up in the 1960s, you’re going to be right off target.”

The curriculum includes basics such as financial planning and estate planning for seniors as well as specific issues more directly related to the elderly, such as gerontology, nutrition, fitness, long-term care and funeral planning. “There are a lot of things that are relevant to seniors that just don’t come up when you’re talking to a younger client,” Ruta says.

When working with seniors, little things make a difference, Ruta says, such as the size of the font on written presentations and office accessibility. “You don’t want to give them things they can’t read or force them to climb 12 steps to visit your office,” he says.

Ruta says as well as advisors, the EPC program will appeal to a number of other professionals, including accountants, lawyers, real estate agents, medical professionals and funeral directors.

The EPC is not an attempt to compete with other more established financial designation, such as CLU or CFP, Ruta insists. “It’s a practical tool that will help make those designations more effective. This is not so much about being smarter, it’s about being more effective in helping out.”

To obtain the EPC designation, students must do pre-course study and attend three days of classes, including study groups. The course concludes with a three-hour exam on the fourth day.

The first courses are scheduled for September 22-25 in Toronto and October 1-4 in Vancouver. More cities will be added based on demand, says Ruta, who expects as many as 500 people to hold the EPC designation by the end of 2004.

For more information on the EPC, check the CIEPS Web site.


Is this a designation you’d be interested in or just another addition to the alphabet soup? Share your thoughts with your fellow advisors in the Talvest Town Hall on Advisor.ca.



Filed by Doug Watt, Advisor.ca, dwatt@advisor.ca

(07/31/03)