The Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Ontario (FSRA) published the results of its review of credentialing bodies in the province, identifying three areas of improvement and 12 best practice categories where those being evaluated exceeded the required minimum standards.

FSRA reports that no violations of the Financial Professionals Title Protection Act, 2019 or the Financial Professionals Title Protection Rule (FPTP rule) were observed in their Fall 2023 review of the province’s four credentialing bodies.

“FSRA will continue to conduct risk-based supervision of approved credentialing bodies and publish annual supervision plans,” they write.

Consumer protection measure 

The Act was introduced as a consumer protection measure to increase professionalism for those using the financial advisor and financial planner titles in Ontario. “This is the first time minimum standards have been established for title users and organizations. The legislation came into force in March 2022,” the report, Financial Planners and Financial Advisors: 2023-2024 supervision publication, states. As of December 2023, there are four credentialing bodies in the province administering nine credentials. Approximately 17,000 credential holders in the province are permitted to use the regulated titles.

The regulator’s supervision plan for the period in question includes an examination of four areas: putting client’s interests first – how prioritising the client’s interest first principle is integrated at the core of the credentialing body’s program, resources stress testing including the effective administration and maintenance of a credential program, complaint handling and disciplinary processes.

Expected outcomes 

The report discusses outcomes it expects to achieve as a result of its supervision (these include transparency, professional conduct, consumer protection and company compliance). Three areas of improvement include improving credential holder continuing education compliance rates, improving the credential holder attestation process and the accessibility and content of webpages to handle consumer complaints.

Best practices discussed also include credential holder environment scanning, processes for investigating matches found and continuing education audits. “The best practices observed may inform the framework evaluation and potential future amendments to the FPTP rule and relevant guidance,” they conclude.