Decoding advisor titles

How to find someone whose expertise is the right fit for your needs.

Gail Bebee 4 September, 2015 | 5:00PM

What is the job title of the individual who provides you with personal financial advice? Perhaps it is financial advisor, financial services representative, investment specialist or financial planner. Investment counsellor, money coach, wealth manager and financial consultant are other possibilities. In fact, there are dozens of different job titles used in the financial advice business in Canada.

Many are unregulated. Even someone with very little relevant education, training or experience could hold such titles. Some are little more than a marketing tactic designed to give the impression that the advisor is experienced and trustworthy. A job title is not a reliable indicator of the expertise you are buying. For a better measure of competence, Canadians should consider the financial certifications held by advisors.

A financial certification indicates the attainment of a certain level of education and/or training and, in some cases, relevant work experience. To qualify, candidates may need to pass standardized exams. Continuing education could be required to maintain active status. The organization that issues the certification may have a complaint process to address concerns from the public regarding anyone who holds the certification. Some of these organizations have a process to discipline members who do not meet the ethical and professional standards embodied in the certification.

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About Author

Gail Bebee

Gail Bebee  Gail Bebee is an independent personal finance speaker, teacher and the author of No Hype--The Straight Goods on Investing Your Money. She can be reached at gbebee@gailbebee.com; her website is www.gailbebee.com.

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