Chemistry is more important than credentials but credentials matter since anyone can call themselves a financial planner or financial advisor. Many do. Measures of training come from professional designations. Note also the continuing education requirements. You want to deal with an advisor who is committed to staying current with the latest developments. Anyone who says nothing is changing is not looking hard enough :)

Naturally, those without designations say that practical experience is worth more than 'book learning'. Those with designations say that education is essential in today's specialized world. What's ideal? Both!!!

Generally speaking, the minimum designation you'd like to see is a CFP (see below). Students can graduate from college (eg Fanshawe College in London, Ontario) at this level.

Here are key designations.

Common Designations

Here are designations you'd expect to see on the business card of someone you might want to use.

CFP (Certified Financial Planner)

  • requirements: standards in education, experience, examination and ethics.
  • subject to Code of Ethics: renewed annually
  • continuing education: 30 hours per year
  • issuer: Financial Planners Standards Council (FPSC)

CH.F.C. (Chartered Financial Consultant)

  • requirements: advanced courses in financial planning and wealth accumulation
  • issuer: The Financial Advisors Association of Canada (Advocis)

CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter)

  • requirements: advanced knowledge in life and health insurance, and employee benefits
  • issuer: The Financial Advisors Association of Canada (Advocis)

Less Common Designations

Sometimes experts in other areas switch to financial planning. This can be an asset because of the additional experience or a drawback because of fewer years of relevant experience.

CA (Chartered Accountant)

CGA (Certified General Accountant)

  • requirements: passing the educational and experience requirements
  • skills: accounting, tax and financial management
  • subject to code of conduct
  • mandatory continuing education: (how many hours?)
  • issuer: provincial association

CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst)

One who has passed exams administered by the U.S.-based Association for Investment Management and Research. Common holders of this credential are money managers and stock analysts.

CIM (Canadian Investment Manager)

  • skills: portfolio and wealth management
  • continuing education: ???
  • issuer: Canadian Securities Institute

CMA (Certified Management Accountants)

MBA (Master of Business Administration)

  • skills: ???
  • continuing education: ???
  • issuer: universities

RHU (Registered Health Underwriter)

Other Designations

You can find more designations here or conduct your own web search.

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