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Financial planning designations

Sifting through the alphabet soup.

Financial planning designations protect clients by requiring financial professionals to demonstrate competency in related areas of finance. But if you have trouble telling the difference between a CFP, PFP, FMA or any of the other financial certifications, you're not alone. How do you sift through this alphabet soup to find the best financial professional for you?

Learn more about the most common designations held by our advisory team members, the education and expertise each designation signifies and the kind of work done by the professionals holding them.

CFDS – Chartered Financial Divorce Specialist

A Chartered, or certified financial divorce specialist (CFDS) is a financial planning professional with a recognized designation, who has been specially trained in financial projections and the analysis of financial matters involving separation and divorce. There are only a few select professionals in Canada who have this designation. The designation is provided by the Academy of Financial Divorce Specialists, the role of a CFDS is to help individuals with the often complex financial issues in separation and divorce situations. This includes assessment of various asset divisions based on clients’ specific circumstances, along with present and future taxation considerations.

CFP® - Certified Financial Planner®

The internationally recognized credential awarded in Canada by Financial Planners Standards Council (FPSC). CFP professionals must meet the FPSC's standards in education, experience, examination and ethics. CFP professionals must also have 30 hours of continuing education every year and agree to abide by the CFP Code of Ethics to renew their right to use the credential annually.

CHFC – Chartered Financial Consultant

Someone who has passed advanced courses in financial planning and wealth accumulation granted by The Financial Advisors Association of Canada (Advocis).

CIM – Chartered Investment Manager

Someone who deals in portfolio and wealth management. It is a title granted by the Canadian Securities Institute.

CIWM – Certified International Wealth Manager

The CIWM designation, offered by the Canadian Securities Institute, addresses the strategic wealth management needs of higher net worth clients, focusing on investments, risk management, taxation, retirement strategies, estate and trust planning and client relationship management.

CLU – Chartered Life Underwriter

One who has passed exams given by The Financial Advisors Association of Canada and who has been determined to be a financial planner with advanced knowledge in life and health insurance and employee benefits.

CPCA – Certified Professional Consultant on Aging

One who has earned this designation through the requisite courses and exams has been proven to demonstrate a solid understanding of the health, social and financial aspects of aging.

EPC – Elder Planning Counselor

The Elder Planning Counselor designation program was designed by Canadians specifically for Canadian professionals who work with elders, people aged 55 and older. The EPC plays a very important part in dealing with elders in a financial, social, community or health field.

FCSI – Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute

A designation awarded by the Canadian Securities Institute (CSI). To obtain the FCSI designation, students need a minimum of five years’ experience in the financial services industry and complete CSI's FMA™, CIM®, or DMS™ designations, Conduct & Practices Handbook Course, the Partners, Directors and Seniors Officers Exam or the Branch Managers Course, one additional course and an ethics case study or seminar.

FMA – Financial Management Advisor

A designation awarded by the Canadian Securities Institute. The FMA educational stream delivers advanced financial planning skills to service high net worth clients who demand sophisticated strategies and the acumen to direct a team of wealth management professionals. The designation is achieved by successful completion of the Canadian Securities Course®, the Professional Financial Planning Course™ and Wealth Management Techniques™.

IA – Credential Securities Investment Advisor

One who is licensed to sell securities by one of the provincial securities, provided he or she passed the Canadian Securities Course and completed the CPH & 90 day training. They must also complete continuing education requirements to maintain their registration.

PFP – Personal Financial Planner

The PFP designation, granted by the Canadian Securities Institute, ensures those who have successfully completed the qualification process possess the knowledge, skills and attributes to evaluate and manage their clients' most challenging and complex financial situations. The PFP is the comprehensive financial advice designation for banks, trusts and credit unions.

QAFP™ – Qualified Associate Financial Planner™

The QAFP™ certification, awarded by the Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC), demonstrates a financial planner’s competence and commitment to the highest ethical standards of responsibility. QAFP professionals have demonstrated the knowledge, skills and ethics to provide holistic financial planning strategies and solutions for Canadians with typical financial planning needs. They must also meet the FPSC’s rigorous standards in education, experience and required ongoing training to maintain their certification.

RFP – Registered Financial Planner

Designation awarded annually by the Institute of Advanced Financial Planners (IAFP) to its members who have met and maintained the professional standards as established by the Institute.

RRC – Registered Retirement Consultant

A course provides a detailed look at how clients plan for retirement, how they use their financial assets during retirement and how they make financial decisions related to retirement. Course participants also take a detailed look at the estate planning process and the many considerations and strategies involved in developing an estate plan.

WMC – Wealth Management Consultant

A designation awarded by Aviso Wealth Inc., the Wealth Management Consultant program is a comprehensive service delivery model that distinguishes credit unions and their advisors as experts in wealth management. Participants are awarded the Wealth Consultant designation upon successful completion of the coursework, exam and assignments for either the Core or Family accredited Training Courses.

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† Insurance services provided by BlueShore Wealth.

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