A collection of financial planning groups known as the Financial Planning Coalition (FPC) is calling on provincial policy-makers to allow the industry to self regulate by legislating their existing proficiency standards as licensing standards for the profession and creating restrictions on the use of titles.
The FPC — which includes the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC), the Canadian Institute of Financial Planners (CIFPs), the Institute of Advanced Financial Planners (IAFP) and the Institut québécois de planification financière (IQPF) — released a proposal on Monday that suggests provinces should “codify in law the professional certification structure, governance and oversight mechanisms that already exist … and make them a requirement for all who wish to claim financial planning as their own.”
Specifically, the FPC proposal says provincial governments should adopt the standards that the FPSC and the IQPF have developed as requirements for individuals seeking to hold themselves out as financial planners. This would exclude Quebec, which already regulates financial planners. Currently, there are no restrictions in other provinces on the use of the financial planner title — and previous regulatory efforts in this area have all failed.
The FPC proposal recommends that provincial governments introduce title and holding out restrictions that would limit the use of certain titles to those who have met the proficiency requirements and commit to ethics and continuous education requirements. In addition, the proposal recommends that these financial planners should also be subject to the oversight of a self-regulatory organization.
The FPC argues that this approach would enhance consumer protection, reduce uncertainty in the financial planning industry and allow governments to enhance oversight without adding new costs, among other benefits.
The proposal comes amid an ongoing effort on the part of Ontario’s government to review the lack of regulation and oversight of financial planners, with a view to introducing tailored rules for the segment. On April 27, the provincial government appointed a four-member expert panel, chaired by lawyer Malcolm Heins, to lead the review. It’s expected to deliver a final report and recommendations to the government in early 2016.
Although the FPC would like to see the government opt for self-regulation in the financial planning business, the Canadian Foundation for Advancement of Investor Rights (a.k.a. FAIR Canada) has cautioned against it.
FAIR Canada stated on a submission to the Ontario’s Ministry of Finance during the initial stages of the government’s inquiry into financial planning regulation that it “does not support a model where financial service provider associations would be deemed self-regulatory organizations and given the authority to regulate financial planning or financial advice more broadly.”
Instead, FAIR Canada argues that the provincial securities commissions should regulate the provision of financial advice, including financial planning advice, properly. It also argued that the imposition of “best interests” standards of care and reform to industry compensation models would be more effective ways to enhance consumer protection in the financial planning business.