Hamilton Finance: Choosing a Financial Planner

A financial planner can help you manage and grow you financial resources and helps with tax planning. Most provinces have no laws or rules governing financial planners. Anyone can call themselves as a financial advisor. Select your financial advisor with care: pick the wrong one and you can watch your life savings disappear.

Each province has different rules and regulations, though only Quebec requires licensing of financial planners. Saskatchewan is planning standards for minimum education, full disclosure of sales commissions, requiring client approval on all transactions, and $1 million of compulsory liability insurance. The other provinces are watching to see if the Saskatchewan standards become law.
For those not in Saskatchewan or Quebec, here are some recommendations:

  • Ask questions. Don't feel embarrassed, and have the answers explained so YOU understand. The only dumb questions are the ones you don't ask.
  • You're dealing with your money, and you worked hard to save it up. If the money disappears through bad investments, excessive fees, etcetera YOU suffer.
  • Watch out for unrealistic promises of rates of return. Anything over 15 percent annual return should be viewed with careful skepticism.
  • Have all the risks fully explained. A financial advisor shouldn't ignore your own goal of protecting your money.
  • Take the time to think things over. Don't make snap decisions.
  • Ask your financial planner if he/she is bonded or carries liability insurance for professional errors.
  • Expect a financial check-up before investing your money. A planner should prepare a statement of net worth, look at your cash flow, discuss your personal goals, provide tax suggestions, review your will, and help plan insurance for disability or death.

You can also visit the web site for the Financial Advisors Association of Canada: http://www.advocis.ca/.

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