Creative commentary plus crafty composition

An article in the April issue of The Insurance & Investment Journal tackles the issue of forthcoming restrictions on the use of financial planning titles in Ontario.

Some forks in the road needing consolidation are at the heart of this thorny issue.

The article identifies a marketplace where, until now, a consistent application of titles has been missing for those directly servicing clients. There has been a protocol for those registered with official organizations, such as The Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC), those with CFP (Certified Financial Planner) or RFP (Registered Financial Planner), and similar groups.

For someone like myself, part of the business in Ontario from 1989 to 2013, adherence to ever-growing corporate and regulatory guidelines, as with the above, meant essentially three stages of my designation, as indicated on business cards: REPRESENTATIVE / ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE / FINANCIAL CONSULTANT. Important to maintaining the latter was being a CFP.

As one will easily appreciate, the main focus of proposed government action is “to reduce confusion and to allow Ontario consumers to better identify qualified individuals who can help them meet their financial goals”. The FPSC would like to limit the title of ‘financial planner’ to “only those who are qualified and overseen by a professional body”.

There have been unsuccessful attempts to reel in those who have been assessed fines as result of their behaviour with ‘the investing public’, to the tune of nearly $32 million unpaid to IIROC, the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization (just since 2008!). Almost $20 million of that figure is from Ontario. Not a great category to be leading the country, disproportionately.

Perhaps the issue of misleading titles could be assuaged by service providers being required to display more individualized monikers:

  • The FAF (Frequently Added Fees) designation for certain ‘me-first’ financial advisors
  • The TIN (Time Is Now) accreditation to an auto salesman who becomes your best friend, at least until delivery
  • The DOA (Delay of Arrival) appendage to certain institutions which make it difficult to resolve delivery issues
  • The DCS (Don’t Call me a Solicitor) armband should be worn by those who don’t abide by residence signs discouraging such an uninvited party
  • The PLA (Percentage Likelihood of Accuracy) logo should flash any official who declares the dimensions of end goals are now set

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