First off, I have to say that there are many fully capable financial advisors out there who spend countless hours studying, learning and otherwise educating themselves to be competent and knowledgeable professionals. However, given the 60,000+ 100,000+ financial advisors in Canada, not all are created equal and I think many investor advocates would argue that most advisors are just salespeople as opposed to fiduciaries.
Perhaps part of the problem is that while professionals in other lines of work require a significant investment not only of their time, but also of their money in the pursuit of the credentials required for their particular vocation, to become a mutual fund salesperson in Canada requires little of either.
As a comparison, if you want to become a lawyer or a doctor requires undergraduate schooling and graduate studies. It can take perhaps 8 to 10 years of education and tuition and ancillary expenses of $100,000 and more are not unheard of. On the other end of the spectrum, if you would like to sell mutual funds for a living requires:
- $375 for taking the online Canadian Investment Funds Course
- $50 for 1 textbook (optional)
- That’s it
As for the admissions requirements, quoting directly from IFSE’s website: “Admission into any of www.IFSE.ca’s programs is open to all individuals. There are no academic requirements for entering the Investment Funds Program.” Last time I heard, the pass mark was 60%.
To be clear, there are many advisors who got their start with this course who are fantastically professional advisors, and have since gone on to further financial education and credentials. There are even fantastic advisors who have this and only this course under their belt. However, with such minimal requirements for financial advisors in general it is plain to see why it seems so hard to find a good one.