The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) is
issuing this Investor Bulletin to help investors understand what
certain financial certifications mean, what it takes to achieve them
and to offer resources that provide important information about
advisors' certifications and registrations.
TORONTO, Nov. 28, 2013 /CNW/ -
Not all certifications are created equal
There is no shortage of financial certifications in use in the Canadian
financial services industry. The standards for achieving financial
certifications are equally diverse, ranging from rigorous and demanding
to less stringent. For example, the use of certain certifications may
require that a financial advisor meet strict criteria for relevant work
experience and ongoing education, and adhere to a code of ethics or
standards of professional conduct. Other certifications can be obtained
with less effort, training or experience.
A financial certification is not the same as a registration or a license
Educational achievements and professional experience are important
considerations, as are licensing and registration. The certificates used by financial advisors do not mean that they are
registered or licensed with a regulator or other authority. In general,
if you are a retail investor who is purchasing securities, such as
stocks, bonds, mutual funds and ETFs, the person selling and advising
you must be registered in the province and territory where you live.
Before purchasing an investment product or seeking investment advice
about such products, check to see if the person is registered. The fact
that registrations and licenses are granted by provincial and
territorial regulatory authorities can help protect you as an investor
since securities regulators will only register individuals who are
At the same time, being registered doesn't guarantee that an investment
is right for you. There is a wide range of firms and individuals
offering many different kinds of products and advice. Further, the
level of skills, areas of expertise, and even the fees they charge can
vary. Above all, the financial advisor you choose should understand
your financial situation and investment objectives, and be willing to
work with you to meet those goals.
What does being registered with IIROC mean?
A financial advisor advising retail clients and who is regulated by
IIROC is required to complete a rigorous curriculum that includes the
Canadian Securities Course (135-200 hours of study with two 2-hour
exams), the Conduct and Practices Handbook Course (40-55 hours of study
with one 3-hour exam), and a 90-day training program. In addition,
within 30 months of registration with IIROC, advisors must complete the
Wealth Management Essentials Course (110-160 hours of study with two
IIROC also expects advisors to stay current, so advisors must
participate in a Continuing Education program that requires 12 hours of
compliance courses and 30 hours of professional development courses
every three years.
IIROC not only sets proficiency standards for individuals who work at
IIROC firms, we also continually review these standards with input from
IIROC's Education and Proficiency Committee, to ensure that
opportunities to improve educational content are identified and
addressed in collaboration with Canadian Securities Institute (CSI)
Global Education Inc., and that course content reflects current
Marketing versus expertise
When choosing a financial advisor, look beyond the letters that follow
an individual's name or business title. No matter how impressive it
sounds, a business title or certificate alone doesn't tell you whether
a financial advisor has the skills you're looking for. A certification
may be given by a trade group, or an industry organization may certify
its members. So, the credentials associated with the certificate could
be subjective or specific to the group that awarded it. Affiliation of
a certification with a private group could also make it difficult for
you, the investor, to lodge a grievance because some organizations
simply do not take complaints against their members.
Learn what's behind the certification
You should never select a financial advisor based on his or her
certifications. Always do your homework! If a financial advisor uses a
certain certification or designation or otherwise represents
him/herself as having special expertise, ask questions and find out
what these credentials really mean.
To help you sort through the various certifications held out by
financial advisors, IIROC has created a Glossary of Financial Certifications - an easy-to-use online resource that contains information on over 40
certifications used by advisors in the Canadian financial services
industry. In one central searchable location, you can learn about and
compare what the various certifications mean and what an advisor did to
achieve them. The Glossary includes information on:
The issuing organization;
Whether the issuing organization will confirm the status of the
individual certificate holder;
The type(s) of exams required to be certified;
Other prerequisites such as education and experience;
Ongoing continuing education requirements; and
Investor complaint and public disciplinary processes of the issuing
organizations, where available.
What is not included in the Glossary
IIROC does not grant, approve, endorse or rank any financial
certifications or advisor business titles.
The Glossary is not inclusive of all financial certifications and
specifically does not include certifications related to business
degrees from accredited colleges and universities. In some cases, you
will have to contact the issuing organization directly for information,
To find out which products or services the certification allows the
advisor to provide or sell;
To confirm that an advisor is currently authorized to use a certain
To find out whether an advisor has been disciplined, when the issuing
organization has a public disciplinary process in place.
How to get more information about an advisor
Because investment industry regulators will only register properly
qualified individuals, the online services and tools from industry
regulators are great sources of background information about registered
IIROC AdvisorReport: Users can check the backgrounds and qualifications of more than 22,000
investment advisors working in over 200 firms regulated by IIROC. Each
report provides information about an advisor's educational
qualifications, employment history with IIROC-regulated firms, the
services and products that she or he is approved by IIROC to offer, and
a record of any disciplinary history.
National Registration Search: The Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA) maintains the National
Registration Search, a web-based database containing the names of all
registrants in Canada, with the exception of those registered solely
with the Ontario Securities Commission. Information on past and current
disciplinary action against individuals may be found on the CSA's Disciplined Persons List on its website at www.securities-administrators.ca.
OSC Registrant List: To obtain details on anyone selling securities, offering investment
advice or managing a mutual fund in Ontario (unless they have an
exemption), investors can use the Ontario Securities Commission's
Registrant Search on its website at www.osc.gov.on.ca. Here, investors can learn if a firm or individual is registered with
the OSC, what category they are registered in, and if there are any
terms and conditions on their registration. (Each category has
different requirements and permits different activities.)
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND RESOURCES
Investor education plays a key role in IIROC's goal of protecting
investors. IIROC maintains on its website at www.iiroc.ca a special section for investor education, featuring easy-to-use tools
and access to industry resources:
TAKE ACTION: Questions to ask a financial advisor about his or her
With so many certifications in use, these simple questions can help you
make sense of the broad range of financial certifications in the
What is the name of the organization that awarded your certification?
What training or courses were required to earn the certification?
Are there certain ethical or other requirements needed to receive the
Does the designation or certification require a certain level of work
experience or education?
Did you have to pass an exam? What kind of exam - in-class or online?
For how long is your certification valid?
Do you have to take ongoing refresher/continuing education courses to
maintain the certification?
How can I check that your designation or certification is current?
SOURCE: Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) - General News
For further information:
Senior Media & Public Affairs Specialist
Vice President, Public Affairs