Review process

The first reviews of the organizations that administer the credentials that qualify industry reps to use the financial advisor and planner titles in Ontario found room for improvement in certain aspects of their operations.

The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) released the results of its first round of oversight reviews of credentialing bodies. It found no violations of the regulations or legislation that established the titling regime, and no breaches of its approvals for specific organizations.

However, it did highlight three areas for improvement at the credentialing bodies — including the need to:

  • improve continuing education (CE) compliance by advisors and planners;
  • enhance the efficiency of the credential holder attestation process; and
  • enhance the accessibility and content of websites set up to deal with consumer complaints.

FSRA said that while the credentialing bodies it reviewed had processes in place to implement and monitor effective continuing education programs, it made a recommendation to one of them to improve CE compliance rates.

Specifically, it recommended the issuance of “frequent reminder communications to credential holders regarding the mandatory completion of continuing education requirements and issuing guidance that provides additional information on continuing education requirements.”

The report also said that FSRA provided recommendations to two credentialing bodies to enhance the accessibility and user-friendliness of their complaint-handling webpages.

Looking ahead, FSRA indicated reviews in the year ahead would focus on four areas: how the “client’s interest first” principle is integrated into credentialing programs; ensuring that credentialing bodies are adequately resourced; the transparency and accessibility of credentialing bodies’ complaint-handling processes; and processes for credentialing bodies to carry out disciplinary actions on credential holders that violate the terms of their designations.