From June to September 2012, Canadian Securities Institute (CSI) conducted a series of focus groups and personal interviews with a cross-section of financial services professionals and recognized opinion leaders. The objective was to gauge industry perceptions around the current role of the financial advisor and the relevance of financial education and credentialing in today’s uncertain economic environment.
The dominant theme that arose out of CSI’s research was one of evolution and adaptation. The financial services industry, traditionally dominated by a sales culture, is undergoing dramatic changes. Rising expectations and a lower tolerance for risk among investors and employers alike have created a strong impetus for change in the way financial advice is delivered. Advisors who are quick to adopt new best practices geared to an uncertain economy will gain a strategic advantage with their clients and advance their careers with financial services employers. A key factor in establishing credibility is having up-to-date designations.
According to Simon Parmar, Managing Director of CSI, the company’s recent research shows that the increasing expectations placed on advisors by both employers and investors span “everything from their quality of service, expertise, soft skills and credentials. In fact, 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, their employers who face a heightened compliance environment.”
Investors see credentials as evidence of value for money
Canadian investors are increasingly savvy. With access to much of the same information on the internet as their advisor, they expect more than the basics. They want more value and better service. Recognized financial designations, beyond basic licensing requirements, indicate the advisor understands and can address today’s investor’s more complex and wide-ranging needs.
Financial institutions see designations as a risk management tool
A higher focus on credentials across financial services roles reflects the greater premium employers place not just on serving clients well, but also on their own risk management process. Companies view financial designations as part of their internal system of “checks and balances” in volatile markets. They provide assurance that the advisor can deliver on increasingly complex and diverse investor expectations in a professional and ethical manner.
A strategic approach to education is critical to success
Specialized designations and credentials provide financial services professionals in different stages of their careers with the right education and professional development tools to meet both employer and client needs. Financial education programs also address the training objectives of financial services employers who build specialty practices to serve emerging markets and client niches. With more than 270 courses, including the well-known Canadian Securities Course (CSC®), nine certificate programs, and popular specialized designations, such as PFP®, CIM®, CSWP® and MTI®, and the Fellow of CSI (FCSI) ®, CSI delivers a comprehensive suite of financial education programs covering multiple areas of expertise.
Join the conversation on CSI’s LinkedIn group, Credentials for Financial Professionals.
Other LinkedIn groups for CSI designation holders include:
- Chartered Investment Manager (CIM®) group
- Chartered Strategic Wealth Professional (CSWP™) group
- Personal Financial Planner (PFP®) group
Author: E. MacNeill