Choose the Best Consultant for You
The fluctuating financial market, the complexity of investment vehicles, a variety of new retirement needs, low interest rates, and a longer and longer life expectancy have all made it more important than ever to consult a full range of expert consultants. Who should you talk to and why?
Consulting experts can help you...
- Understand the tax impact of your financial decisions
- Take full advantage of investment opportunities to help you be financially well-disciplined
- Draw up your investor profile—an essential tool in developing a good long term financial strategy
- Know where your money is going
- Reach retirement without financial worries and get access to a wide range of financial literature
- Keep your expectations realistic in terms of investment performance
- Learn how to best diversify your assets
- Understand the relationship between risk and return in order to rework and strengthen your long term strategy for financial independence
A Specialist for Every Need!
Financial planning as a whole involves specialists in the following fields:
- Legal aspects
- Estate planning
- Insurance and risk management
Who Should You Consult?
The financial planner's role is to help you work out a financial plan according to your needs, restrictions, and personal objectives. They will then suggest strategies and coherent, realistic steps you can take to reach your goals. These are valuable ways to keep your property under control and make the right decisions at the right time.
Financial planners must graduate from the
Institut québécois de planification financière (IQPF) and obtain permits from the
Autorité des marchés financiers.
Financial planners have a general role as organizers who call on the following other specialists as needed.
Securities Representatives or Investment Consultants
These professionals specialize in securities—shares, mutual funds, bonds, buying and selling on the stock market, listed options, and promissory notes. They are governed by the Autorité des marchés financiers and must be registered with it.
Securities representatives and investment consultants can work for unrestricted practice brokers offering a full range of investment, research, management, and consulting services. They can also work for discount brokers, where their role is limited to making requested transactions without providing advice in any way. If the client authorizes them to take investment initiatives and negotiate in the client's name, they are called
Financial Security Advisors
These financial specialists are certified by the Autorité des marchés financiers. They sell life insurance products including segregated funds (with a capital guarantee).
Group Savings Representatives
Their role is to sell shares of pooled investment funds. To practice, they must be licensed by the Autorité des marchés financiers.
Investment Contract Representatives
They are licensed by the Autorité des marchés financiers and specialize in private contracts such as investments in scientific research or real estate projects.
Most specialists who are duly certified by a competent authority can sell registered education savings plans (RESPs). However,
scholarship plan representatives certified by the Autorité des marchés financiers can sell group or pooled (RESPs). For self-managed RESPs, you may not need help from an expert. It all depends on the type of investment you choose within your registered plan.
In addition to these professionals, there are also legal consultants (lawyers, notaries), tax experts, accountants, and credit consultants.
Make Sure the Expert You Choose is Fully Qualified
Affaires Plus magazine, June 2003, page 42)
- Whether the firm specializes in certain types of investments
- What products the firm is authorized to sell
- How many years the representatives have been working in the field
- What training they have
- If they're in good standing as members of a professional association
- If they're registered with the Autorité des marchés financiers
- If any complaints have been filed against them
- If they have strong preferences for certain investment vehicles
- If they have access only to their firm's products or also to other products
- If they can put you in contact with other clients as references
- The scale of their other clients' portfolios
- If they work in cooperation with other specialists, such as tax experts, legal advisors, or others, and how they are paid
- What products they're authorized to sell
- How often they meet with their clients
- If they review their clients' portfolios regularly
- What type of clients they serve
- If they explain the advantages and disadvantages of the strategies they suggest
10 Signs of Good Consultants
- They don't claim their strategies are "miraculous".
- They ask about you: your age, your annual income, and your net assets.
- They ask about your risk tolerance and your knowledge of the financial markets.
- They ask about your objectives—how much you want to invest, how you hope your investments to perform, when you plan to use your savings.
- They inform you in writing of how they are paid, their professional qualifications, and any possible conflict of interest.
- They give you a financial plan in writing that describes your investment objectives and the steps toward them in a clear and easy-to-understand way.
- They listen to you.
- They don't try to impress you with a just the tax advantage of a strategy.
- They're not afraid to tell it like it is and bring you back to the facts if necessary.
- They don't base their client services on flattery.