The Importance of Accreditation
Why you should work with an accredited financial advisor when making key financial decisions.
Everyone has opinions about money, investing, saving and where the market is going. But opinions don’t add up to financial security, and too many can lead to confusion. Instead of opinions, seek out advice. Expert advice.
Your financial advisor should provide you with extensive experience, insight, education, skill and a patient, judicious perspective — on the market, taxes, estate planning and more. Your advisor will also help keep you on track, and when your plans change, will be there to revisit where you’re going and how to get you there.
How do you know who’s “expert”?
When you’re sick, you look for a doctor – an MD. If you want the best legal advice, you want a lawyer, an LL.B. An accountant? You look for a CPA. So what should you look for in selecting a financial advisor? Fortunately, they, too, have designations you should be aware of.
Understanding the alphabet soup of designations
Financial planning designations exist to ensure you are able to distinguish which financial professionals have the training, experience and competency to manage your finances. There are three main designations for financial planners: Certified Financial Planner® (CFP), Personal Financial Planner (PFP) and Certified International Wealth Manager (CIWM). The right to use these designations must be renewed each year by satisfying ongoing educational requirements and adhering to each association’s code of conduct.
Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
One of the most highly respected designations is the CFP, Certified Financial Planner. In Canada, the CFP is awarded by the Financial Planners Standards Council, a non-profit organization that has a mandate to ensure Canadians are well served by financial advice.
A CFP must complete and pass a series of six comprehensive and complex financial planning courses. Once an individual has completed the courses, he or she must pass the CFP Certification Exam. The exam covers taxes, financial planning, benefits, retirement, estate planning, investments and insurance. He or she must also have at least three years of practical, hands-on experience. In addition, those with a CFP Certification are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education annually and follow a code of ethics, which includes integrity, objectivity, confidentiality and competence.
Personal Financial Planner (PFP)
The PFP designation is granted by the Canadian Securities Institute, and is a comprehensive financial advice designation for banks, trusts and credit unions. This designation ensures those who have successfully completed the qualification process possess the knowledge, skills and attributes to evaluate and manage their clients’ financial situations.
To earn a PFP designation, one must have at least three years of relevant work experience, and complete one of the designated learning paths before writing the Applied Financial Planning Certification Examination.
Certified International Wealth Manager (CIWM)
Offered by the Canadian Securities Institute, the CIWM designation addresses the strategic wealth management needs of higher net-worth clients. Holders of the CIWM accreditation must also hold another financial planning designation such as the PFP or CFP. Those enrolling in the program’s final course must have at least three years of experience working directly with, or in support of, the wealth management needs of clients. Holders of this designation focus on investments, risk management, insurance, taxation, retirement strategies, estate and trust planning and succession planning.
What an accredited financial planner does for you
Choosing a trusted and accredited financial advisor is one of the most important investment decisions you can make, setting you on the right path and keeping you moving towards your goals. A good financial planner, one who’s accredited, will take a 360-degree view of your finances. Only by fully understanding how you earn your money, spend your money and what you hope to do with your money, can they develop a relevant and accurate strategy for you and your family that reflects your investment goals, risk tolerance, retirement plans and more.
At BlueShore Financial, all our financial advisors are accredited and can help you:
- define your investment goals
- build an investment plan
- develop a balanced investment portfolio
- identify the right investments
- track your progress, and refine your plan where necessary
One of the benefits of working with an accredited advisor at BlueShore is the team they have behind them, providing access to a range of experts for a specific investment, insurance product, credit option or wealth management. With this team, they develop a clear plan to get you from where you are to where you want to be, financially. And by meeting with you regularly, through the year, and listening, they can adjust your plan where necessary, to ensure it is meeting your needs.
Many of the associated advisors have specialty designations to assist in meeting additional client needs. These include the Chartered Investment Manager (CIM), Elder Planning Counselor (EPC), Financial Management Advisor (FMA), Wealth Management Consultant (WMC), and Registered Retirement Consultant (RRC).
The best way to work with an accredited planner
Like any professional relationship, you get from it what you put in. Here are some things you can do to make the relationship with your advisor a productive one:
- Be prepared for each meeting. Treat each meeting with your advisor like any other business meeting. Take some time before the meeting to prepare, by reviewing your investments and what you want to discuss. Also, be sure to bring any relevant documentation with you, to make the most of your time.
- Ask questions and take notes. Some people find financial planning discussions to be daunting, so they don’t listen as effectively as they could, or they don’t ask all the questions they should. Your accredited advisor is there to help you understand the process and feel empowered by your progress. Make sure you ask the questions you need to understand the recommendations your advisor is making, or ask for clarification. It’s only when you fully comprehend the plan that you can contribute to it and work with it to achieve your goals.
- Stay informed. Read the information you receive about the options you’re considering. This way, you’ll be able to ask the questions that are relevant for you and provide the insight your advisor needs to make the best recommendations. In addition, stay up-to-date on current events. A solid world and national perspective will help you to understand your plan in relation to the inevitable shifts in the economy. And keep up to date with your investments, so you’re aware of their performance.
- Keep your financial advisor informed as well. Talk to your advisor about changes to your personal or financial situation, or goals. A career change, marriage, birth of a child, divorce or other shifts in life can have large impacts on your plan.
Start strong, stay strong
Your accredited financial advisor will develop a blueprint for building and maintaining a strong financial foundation for you. But it doesn’t stop there. Your financial advisor will continue to work with you on a regular basis to ensure your goals are met. Whether you’re saving for retirement or to buy a new home, pay for your child’s university education, or take that trip of a lifetime, you deserve to have someone by your side that’s trained to help you succeed and get the most from your hard-earned money.
Talk to us today to book an appointment with our accredited advisors.