The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada (FCAC) believes that financial literacy is vital to Canadians’ prosperity and economic well-being. Every November the FCAC, together with organizations across the country, invites Canadians to be part of Financial Literacy Month (FLM), a great opportunity to gain knowledge, skills and confidence in money matters.

For consumers, large-scale efforts aimed at improving financial literacy are relatively new (FLM began in 2011). Not so for advisors. Because you need to earn continuing education (CE) credits throughout your career, you have plenty of CE programs to choose from. But in an increasingly competitive and complex business (on the brink of CRM21), it’s what you learn from these programs that may count most of all.

The ABCs of CE
Continuing education can help you:
A. Gain market insights
B. Learn new ways to have conversations with clients
C. Strengthen your knowledge of products and solutions

Learning potential

According to Advocis and its education policy:

  • CE programs must provide competency-based learning for advisors.
  • CE helps advisors stay current and relevant with an evolving professional landscape.
  • Competency-based learning focuses on the achievement of specific learning objectives and outcomes linked to professional tasks.

Through the many financial organizations and associations that offer CE programs for advisors, specific courses cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • new products,
  • market insights,
  • industry rules and regulations,
  • legal and compliance issues, and
  • emerging trends.

Earning potential

The more you know about financial products, trends, rules and regulations, the more value you’ll add to conversations with clients. And the more value you add, the more likely you’ll be to earn their trust and ongoing business.

For many Canadians, advisors play a big part in investment decisions. For example, following an online survey in 2014, the Investor Education Fund (IEF)2 published a report — Insights on Canadians and online investor education — that confirmed:

  • one-third (32%) of respondents said their top source of investment advice is an advisor.
  • men (16%) were more likely than women (8%) to ‘go it alone’ without any investment advice.
  • of those who work with an advisor, nearly half (48%) said they rely completely on their advisor, or that their advisor has most of the ideas about how to invest.

And from Investor Insights on the Financial Advice Industry (a 2015 report released by Advocis), a national survey concluded that:

  • 49% of Canadians follow the investment advice provided by their advisor.
  • for a significant majority of consumers, professional advice is not only sought – but largely
    required — for more complex areas such as:

    • investment planning (95% of respondents received advice);
    • retirement planning (93% received advice);
    • wealth accumulation (88% received advice);
    • insurance (80% received advice).

Clearly, many Canadians value advice, relying on their advisor to be well informed and up-to-date.

Helpful resources

CE requirements vary depending on your licensing and province. Explore the current Insurance Council resources to learn more:

CE courses from Sun Life Financial — Sun Life Financial can support your continuing education. To earn CE credits, visit Sun Life’s Education Hub, where you can access:

  • the CE-accredited Money for Life advisor guide, providing a framework to have conversations about Money for Life with retirement-ready clients and help them transition into retirement their way.
  • 6 CE-accredited Money for Life courses that uncover Canadian sentiments, the benefits of having needs-based conversations and the solutions available to address your clients’ needs at each life stage.

To access these courses and more sign in to Sun Life’s advisor site using your advisor credentials and you’ll be automatically redirected to the Education Hub homepage

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1 Client Relationship Model Phase 2

2 IEF is a non-profit organization founded and supported by the Ontario Securities Commission that provides unbiased and independent financial tools to help Canadians make better money decisions. IEF offers research-based financial information to consumers via GetSmarterAboutMoney.ca.