To meet the needs of today’s consumers, the current financial regulatory framework doesn’t need to be completely thrown out and revamped, it simply needs to be updated to recognize financial planning as a profession.

That’s according to panelists at a Toronto Region Board of Trade event on Tuesday.

“We just need to modernize our regulation to reflect the fact that people just aren’t practicing in a narrow scope,” said John Wilkinson, president and CEO of Stratford, Ont.-based Wilkinson Insight Inc.

The way to modernize financial services regulation, according to panelists, is to create a self-regulatory profession. “The easy solution is to carve [financial planning] out,” said Cary List, president and CEO of the Toronto-based Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC). “Establish financial planning and planners as a profession to the extent that it’s simply codifying in law what already exists to a large extent in practice between the standard established by the FPSC in nine provinces and IQPF [Institut Québécois de Planification Financière] in Quebec.”

As such, because there is already a financial planning standard in place through the FPSC and its partners in the Coalition for Professional Standards for Financial Planners (including IQPF, the Canadian Institute for Financial Planners and the Institute for Advanced Financial Planners), there will be no need to create new requirements for each province or to change the role of existing regulators.

“Let’s not turn this into a big deal trying to wipe out what’s already out there in terms of standards and reinvent the wheel,” he said.

Quebec is currently the only province that regulates financial planners.

Short of statutory recognition, however, firms and SROs can do more to clarify for consumers exactly who qualifies as a financial planner. The Toronto-based Investment Industry Regulatory Organization’s (IIROC) recent release of guidance on titles and designations is helpful, according to List, but the FPSC would like to see SROs and individual firms become stricter with advisor’s regarding the title’s placed on their business cards.

“We’d love to see firms through the SRO regulations tighten up their own use of titles and designations in a more meaningful way,” said List. “We’d love to see IIROC actually get a little aggressive on that.”