Financial services industry has embraced fundamental principles and value of financial planning
TORONTO, Nov. 19, 2015 /CNW/ - More than 200 guests from all areas of the financial services industry, regulators and government representatives attended Financial Planning Standards Council's (FPSC) Financial Planning Week Celebration of the Profession Dinner, which took place November 17 in Toronto. Guests heard that, with the financial services industry having made significant progress in recognizing the fundamental principles and value of financial planning, the profession has a critical role to play in helping Canadians achieve financial well-being.
In the most challenging economic climate that Canadians have experienced in decades, it is crucial that consumers gain control of their financial futures, said FPSC President & CEO Cary List, emphasizing that trusted financial planners who are obliged to put their clients' interests first have a critical role to play in helping them do so.
"The vast majority of Canadians don't feel confident about their financial futures," List said. "They're confused and anxious, at risk of receiving the wrong advice from the wrong people—or of getting no help or advice at all—because they don't understand what help they really need and don't know where to turn to get it."
List cited recent research commissioned by FPSC's international sister organization, the Financial Planning Standards Board, in partnership with FPSC and a number of affiliates around the world, which showed that Canadians are in significant need of help in planning their financial futures.
"As in other countries, almost two-thirds of Canadians are unsure of whom to trust when choosing a financial advisor," he said. "It's even more problematic when you consider that trustworthiness ranked the number one obstacle to seeking financial advice—with almost three-quarters of Canadians ranking it as very important."
But List also said that "the right advice from the right people" can make the difference for Canadians who today face a multitude of financial challenges. "Canadians' level of confidence in reaching their financial goals goes up dramatically when they work with a financial planner," he said. "More than double the number of Canadians working with a financial planner strongly agree they'll meet their financial life goals than those not working with a financial professional."
As with any important undertaking, List emphasized that awareness must lead to action if Canadians are to achieve financial well-being. "More than consumer awareness, we need collectively to drive appropriate, positive action and consumer behaviours. It's sort of like ParticipACTION for financial planning."
"Clearly, Canadians need to know they can trust their financial planners to help them achieve financial well-being," List said. "But to overcome today's economic challenges, we need to help them take ownership of their own financial matters, and ensure they see value and importance in getting the right advice from the right people."
To help inspire consumers into action, FPSC recently launched FinancialPlanningforCanadians.ca, which is dedicated to helping Canadians through information, education and product-free advice. The site has received almost 22,000 visitors since its launch in October.
Charles Sousa, Ontario's Minister of Finance, was the keynote speaker at the Celebration of the Profession Dinner. "Protecting consumers and investors is a priority that the Ontario government shares with FPSC," he said. "Here in Ontario, there is no general oversight framework to regulate financial advice and financial planning services. I am aware this is an issue that is important to many people in this profession."
In April 2015, the Ontario government appointed an expert committee to review the regulatory framework relating to financial advisory and financial planning services. Sousa noted that the expert committee is committed to a transparent review which takes into account a variety of stakeholder perspectives.
"Consumers looking for financial advice know they need vigilant regulations to ensure that the best advice is being passed to them," Sousa said. "And as professionals in this field, you need consumers to feel that they can trust you."
List noted that he was encouraged by the progress the industry has made in embracing the fundamental principles of financial planning, highlighting the Ontario government's leadership in understanding the importance of a strong, trusted financial services industry.
"In Canada, ahead of most other countries around the world I might add, we're no longer debating what financial planning means," he said. "We're no longer debating whether financial planning is necessary or whether there's value in having advisors step up to become Certified Financial Planner® professionals. And most stakeholders now agree that the standards, competencies and qualification processes for financial planners should be consistent and uniform across the country and across all licensure jurisdictions."
List described widespread uptake and acceptance of the first-ever unified Canadian Financial Planning Definitions, Standards & Competencies, developed jointly by Financial Planning Standards Council and Institut québécois de planification financière, in consultation with senior financial planners, industry representatives, educators and other expert advisers and published in January 2015. "These definitions and standards are quickly becoming the norms for all financial planners, regardless of regulatory sector, licensing regime or province in which they work," he said.
FPSC's work on behalf of Canadian consumers will continue in the months and years ahead, List said. "We're going to continue to reach out to governments across the country and encourage them to create laws that make it easier for consumers to know where to get the help they need, from the right people."
"CFP® professionals, who are obliged to always put their clients' interests ahead of their own, know that what's in their clients' best interest is ultimately in their own best interest, and they're not afraid to be held accountable by their professional body for their actions."
"Ultimately, that's what makes a profession, and ultimately that's where the financial services industry is headed."
The Celebration of the Profession Dinner also honoured individuals who have made outstanding contributions to the financial planning profession over the past year, including Fellow of FPSC™ recipients, who have helped advance FPSC's purpose of instilling confidence in the financial planning profession, and President's List recipients, who achieved the top scores in the country in the last two sittings of the CFP® examination.
Now in its seventh year, Financial Planning Week was created by Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) and the the Institut québécois de planification financière (IQPF) as part of an ongoing effort to promote financial well-being for all Canadians. Financial Planning Week wraps up on November 21.
About Financial Planning Standards Council
As a standards-setting and certification body working in the public interest, FPSC's purpose is to instill confidence in the financial planning profession. FPSC ensures those it certifies (Certified Financial Planner® professionals and FPSC Level 1® Certificants in Financial Planning) meet appropriate standards of competence and professionalism through rigorous requirements of education, examination, experience and ethics. More information is available at www.fpsc.ca
SOURCE Financial Planning Standards Council
For further information: please contact: Caroline Horcher, Financial Planning Standards Council, [email protected], 416-593-8587, ext. 232 or 1-800-305-9886