The financial advisor (FA) and financial planner (FP) titles will have new meaning in Ontario soon — potentially as soon as this time next year.
Proposed title protection rules for FAs/FPs in the province could be in place in the first half of 2022, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) said on Tuesday during an informational webinar that formed part of its ongoing consultation on title regulation.
That timeline includes the current consultation running to June 21, a 90-day consultation on regime fees later this summer, and finalization and approval of the title protection rules in fall 2021.
“Due to all the approvals…we’re hoping to be able to launch the framework in the first half of 2022,” said Joel Gorlick, director of policy and market conduct with FSRA, during the webinar.
The new regime will require industry professionals to hold FSRA-approved credentials from FSRA-approved credentialing bodies in order to use the FA/FP titles, thereby creating minimum standards and helping protect consumers.
The Ontario regulator’s webinar included mention of unregulated titles that likely would and wouldn’t be confused with the FA/FP titles. Variations on the regulated titles, such as “financial wealth planner” would reasonably cause confusion, the regulator said, while those such as advisor/adviser, wealth advisor/wealth planner, senior advisor and advising coach likely wouldn’t.
The webinar audience asked why the scope of title restriction was so narrow.
“The idea is to give the financial planner and financial advisor titles, specifically, some cachet in the marketplace, so that there’s value to people wanting to have those titles,” Gorlick said. Instead of people changing their titles to avoid the regime, they’ll want one of the regulated titles so consumers know they have an approved, meaningful credential, he said.
FSRA will review complaints about misleading titles on a case-by-case basis, the regulator said in its current consultation.
In last year’s consultation, FSRA said the content for the LLQP (life license qualification program) falls short of the regulator’s baseline competency profile for advisors — a view that was reiterated at Tuesday’s webinar. The webinar audience asked why the LLQP doesn’t make the cut for FA title use.
“We don’t believe [the LLQP] matches up sufficiently with the standard we’re trying to achieve in terms of the full package that a financial advisor is intended to deliver,” said Huston Loke, executive vice-president of market conduct with FSRA.
The regulator may consider alternatives so licensed life agents can meet the standard.
“There may be credentialing bodies that can step into the discussion to bridge that [gap],” Loke said. “We will continue to engage with industry on the LLQP content as we finalize our position.”
All questions and answers from the webinar will be posted on FSRA’s website, the regulator said.