February 13, 2003
For Immediate Release

Finding Mr. or Ms. Right (Financial Adviser)

Winnipeg - With Valentine's Day at hand, Canadians may be more preoccupied with roses and chocolates than mulling over their financial future and planning their investment goals. But with the RRSP contribution deadline looming, many people will turn to a financial adviser to help them plan to achieve their goals and securities regulators are cautioning people to be careful in picking a suitable adviser.

Finding an adviser who understands your needs can go a long way towards helping you achieve your goals, said Doug Hyndman, Chair of the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), the umbrella organization representing the 13 provincial and territorial securities commissions. As with any other important decision in your life, having the right information and knowing what questions to ask can help you find the right adviser for your needs.

There are no laws on who can call themselves a financial planner, so before you choose one, start by getting the information you need to make an informed decision, say regulators.

Here are some basic guidelines to help you find the right adviser for your needs:

  1. Your relationship with your financial adviser will probably last a number of years, so it is important to find the right one at the start. Consider interviewing several advisers before making your decision. You should feel comfortable with your financial adviser, feel that they understand your needs, and be able to understand the advice they are giving you. Remember that you are not only going to them for their expertise, but to get their advice in plain and easy to understand language. If you cannot understand the advice, it will not help you.

  2. Your adviser has a duty to deal with you fairly and with your best interests in mind. Your adviser should provide you with information about themselves and their relationship with you in writing. This should include: how they will be paid by you, their business relationships (for example, being a mutual fund salesperson for a certain fund company) and any potential conflicts of interest they might have, and their professional qualifications.

  3. They should provide you with a written plan describing your current financial situation, your goals, your level of risk tolerance, and an outline of how you can achieve your goals within your budget.

  4. Because our lives are always changing, financial plans are not set in stone. As your life circumstances will change over the years, you should meet with your adviser at least once a year, if not more often, to review your progress and your financial plan, making adjustments to the plan to meet your current needs.

These are very general guidelines. There are many good books, magazines and web-based materials that can help explain the financial planning process and picking the right adviser. Check the CSA website (www.csa-acvm.ca) for more information.

The following is a handy checklist that investors may wish to use in evaluating their financial adviser.

Is Your Adviser Making the Grade?

Your relationship with your financial adviser will be one of the longest standing relationships you have with a professional. The quality of the relationship is important - after all, this is your financial future. Like any relationship, it never hurts to take a step back and take a second look to make sure it is working out for you. The answers to these questions can help you know if your adviser is making the grade:




Don't Know

Did your adviser give you a written financial plan setting out your current financial status, you goals, risk tolerance and a series of reasonable steps to meet your goals?




Has your adviser given you, in writing, how they will be paid by you, their business relationships (for example, being a mutual fund salesperson for a certain fund company) and any potential conflicts of interest they might have, and their professional qualifications?




Does your adviser provide you with regular updates on how your investments are performing?




Can you reach your adviser when you have questions or concerns?




Can your adviser answer all your questions or concerns using plain language that you can understand?




Has your adviser set up one or more meetings with you each year to review your plan and update it with new information affecting your financial goals?




Does your adviser provide you with an updated financial plan when new information results in changes?




If you answered YES to all of these questions, you and your adviser seem to be on the right track. If you answered NO or Don't Know to one or more questions, talk to your adviser about what they aren't doing for you. Never be shy to talk about any of these questions with your adviser. This is your financial future and you deserve the best service from your adviser to help meet your goals.

Media relations contacts:

B.C. Securities Commission
Andrew Poon
1-800-373-6393 (B.C. & Alberta only)

Alberta Securities Commission
Joni Delaurier

Manitoba Securities Commission
Ainsley Cunningham
1-800-655-5244 (Manitoba only)

Ontario Securities Commission
Eric Pelletier
1-877-785-1555 (toll free in Canada)

Commission des valeurs mobilires du Qubec
Barbara Timmins
514-940-2199, ext. 4434
1-800-361-5072 (Qubec only)

N.B. Securities Administration Branch
Christina Taylor
1-866-933-2222 (New Brunswick only)

Nova Scotia Securities Commission
Nick Pittas

Securities Commission of Newfoundland and Labrador
Susan W. Powell

Registrar of Securities
Department of Justice/Government of the Northwest Territories
Tony Wong