Canadian financial services firms raising the bar for financial advisor job-seekers

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Thinking about working for a Canadian wealth management firm? You better have all of your licenses, a proper degree, the right credentials and be able to understand your client's financial big picture because the bar to entry is being raised.

Moreover, financial advisors are going to have to interact with clients "in a more meaningful way and to add real value with their advice," says Marc Flynn, Senior Director, Regulatory Relations and Credentialing, Canadian Securities Institute (CSI).

"In this environment, recognized financial designations - above and beyond basic licensing requirements - are no longer a 'nice-to-have' for advisors who want to stay relevant to the needs of their clients. They are a 'must have'," adds Flynn.

In this environment of lower risk tolerance to risk and rising expectations, CSI research shows the industry is evolving and that financial advisors who adopt holistic, goal-oriented advice models focused on creating an increased value proposition for clients will gain a strategic advantage.

CSI's research also suggests this strong impetus for raising the bar of advisors' professional standards comes from banks, securities firms and other financial services institutions. They expect the professionals they hire and promote to have the right credentials relevant to their roles, as well as the specific needs of their clients, which are becoming increasingly diverse due to greater differences in culture, lifestyle, family structure, levels of wealth and life goals of Canadian investors.

"We are hearing over and over again that not only do advisors need to know more, but they also need to work harder to prove their credibility with more empowered clients and, even more so, with their employers who face a heightened compliance environment," said Simon Parmar, Managing Director, Canadian Securities Institute.

Credentials are a must

"Credentials are a 'must' in a sense that they are a necessary prerequisite essentially expected of anyone trying to get their foot in the door," says Thane Stenner, CIM, FCSI, founder of Stenner Investment Partners within Richardson GMP Ltd., Portfolio Manager and Director, Wealth Management. "However, they only help you to do just that - get your foot in the door. Then you have to work hard on developing your expertise, experience and the relationships."

Stenner Investment Partners is a Multi-Family Office that deals with some of Canada's most successful entrepreneurs and business families.

A strategic approach to education is critical to success

Specialized designations and credentials help financial services professionals in different stages of their careers with the educational and professional development opportunities they need to meet both employer and client needs.

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