Entrance to Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario
Courtesy Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario

Re: New credential a death knell for Ontario’s title reform, Investment Executive October 2022 editorial

For the first time in Ontario, there are now regulatory standards in place for the use of the titles “financial advisor” and “financial planner.” This is long overdue and addresses a long-standing gap in regulatory oversight.

The title protection framework is intentionally designed so that any professional designation granting or licensing body with a credential, and the right capabilities that meet minimum requirements, can apply to be approved by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA).

To permit continued use of financial advisor and financial planner titles after the transition period, and for those who are just beginning to use these titles, it’s important that FSRA follow the standards created by the rules and other laws that govern the title protection framework. This is an obligation FSRA takes seriously.

The minimum standards for credentialing bodies, and the robust process for approving credentialing bodies, were determined after extensive consultations and are objectively applied by FSRA when reviewing applications.

In order to be approved, credentialing bodies must clearly demonstrate that they provide a minimum standard of education, require credential holders to complete continuing education, abide by a code of conduct which includes putting clients’ interests first, and are subject to a complaints and disciplinary process.

All approved credentialing bodies meet these requirements, and where they have unproven processes necessary to meet these standards, will be subject to ongoing focused review.

FSRA has also established and implemented, after public consultations, a process for reviewing all aspects of the performance of credentialing bodies. We are confident this will enable FSRA to identify where credentialing bodies, or their title holders, are not meeting minimum standards or applying inconsistent practices, and allow us to take corrective action quickly.

FSRA will be working with all credentialing bodies to ensure not only consistent approaches, but that credentialing bodies with common title users share information related to education, conduct, complaints and discipline, and align their processes to ensure optimal consumer outcomes and minimal duplication for title users. We are also very interested in hearing stakeholder views on the strengths and weaknesses of credentialing bodies to help inform our supervision. [Editor’s note: you may contact FSRA at 1-800-668-0128 or by emailing contactcentre@fsrao.ca.]

FSRA remains open to hearing from other potential credentialing bodies about their interest and ability to provide other routes to title use. We believe this will benefit both consumers and financial services professionals by offering more choice and more certainty around the financial advisor and financial planner titles.

Huston Loke is executive vice-president, market conduct, with the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario.