We’ve all heard the saying “there’s strength in numbers.” It suggests that, when many individuals work toward a common goal, they can achieve more. This is certainly true in the rapidly evolving financial planning profession.
Canada’s financial planning profession is part of a global ecosystem. The certified financial planner (CFP) certification is a global brand with over 213,000 individuals currently certified in 27 countries — with that number growing each year. This worldwide network offers incredible opportunities for collaboration.
From practising CFP professionals to high-level decision-makers, we must work with our counterparts around the world to continuously improve the profession. That means having collaborative discussions, sharing best practices, and establishing international standards for certification, ethics and professional practice.
Standards setting, for example, is an area where it pays to embrace a big-picture perspective. Professional standards are at the heart of any profession. By establishing them at the global level, consumers around the world can benefit from the expectation of a consistent experience when sitting down with a professional financial planner.
There are also opportunities to share best practices in areas such as regulation, training and recruitment. Ultimately, combining perspectives can lead to new ways of approaching existing problems. For example, the rest of the world is watching as Canada leads the way on important issues such as title protection. When professionals see positive changes implemented in other jurisdictions, it enables them to advocate for and enact change at home.
This type of sharing can also provide insight into emerging issues that are already impacting the profession elsewhere. The benefits are clear, given the extent to which global markets are interconnected.
In addition, there are mobility-related benefits to cross-border partnerships. By working together, professional financial planning organizations in different jurisdictions can create accelerated certification pathways. This will allow professionals with relevant education and experience to start working soon after they immigrate to a new country — a win-win for planners and the people they serve.
Let’s not forget the impact that international collaboration can have on leadership. The process can create a worldwide talent pool, helping to ensure that the most skilled, experienced and forward-thinking professionals are in global leadership positions.
When I think of global financial planning leadership, the first organization that comes to mind is the Financial Planning Standards Board (FPSB). The FPSB’s work with affiliates around the world strengthens and promotes excellence in financial planning for the benefit of the public and our global community by facilitating collaboration, advocacy and setting standards.
Globally, the FPSB works to develop and maintain a robust framework of financial planning standards focused on knowing (required competencies for professional financial planners), doing (practice standards) and being (ethical standards). The organization recently released its updated global financial planning standards and competency profile for CFP professionals. Changes ranged from new technical content on crypto finance to greater emphasis on the human skills associated with financial planning. They highlighted the importance of continually ensuring that financial planning practice is meeting client needs and informed by emerging global trends. By 2025, members of the FPSB’s affiliate network around the world — including FP Canada — must each ensure their standards meet or exceed those set out by the FPSB.
One of the critical elements regarding the FPSB’s standards and competency profile is the fact that they’re informed by input from around the world. At FP Canada, we were honoured to be included in the development process for their most recent iterations. Of course, we have our own standards and competency profiles, which are relevant in the Canadian context. That said, it’s important to ensure a certain level of consistency across the entire global profession.
Equally impressive is the FPSB’s global regulatory engagement strategy. One key goal includes encouraging legislators and regulators to recognize financial planning as a distinct and evolving professional practice — something we in Canada have been working towards for many years. Another is encouraging inclusion of financial planning in financial literacy programs. This is an ambitious strategy, and it requires the FPSB’s thoughtful approach.
The FPSB also recently surveyed CFP professionals from around the world. The landmark study provided perspectives from over 23 countries, and there were over 500 Canadian respondents. Responses uncovered insights into the factors that CFP professionals value most about the profession, and about the certification specifically. The top two factors were demonstrating their commitment to rigorous ethical practices and the ability to better serve their clients. This type of research gives the FPSB and financial planning–focused organizations everywhere valuable insights that result in more informed decision-making.
As a member of the FPSB’s Chief Executives Committee, I feel incredibly fortunate to be a part of the organization’s ongoing work. It also makes me proud to see the recent appointment of two Canadians, Brett Millard (former FP Canada board chair) and Caroline Dabu (head of wealth distribution and advisory services with BMO Private Wealth), to the FPSB board. It’s exciting that Canada has this opportunity to sit at the forefront of advancing financial planning at the global level.
The bottom line is, citizens of the world deserve access to financial confidence and well-being. While helping Canadians achieve this goal is crucial, it’s important to remember that there are also benefits to thinking globally. Doing so can help us strengthen the financial planning profession in our country and beyond our borders.
Tashia Batstone is president and CEO of FP Canada.