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FPSC Releases 2017 Enforcement and Disciplinary Review Report

TORONTO, ON – April 19, 2018 – Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) has released its 2017 Enforcement and Disciplinary Review Report. The report details FPSC's professional oversight role and ongoing work in the public interest by setting, maintaining and enforcing professional standards for all CFP® professionals and FPSC Level 1® Certificants in Financial Planning.

FPSC maintains a transparent complaint intake, review and disciplinary process that reflects fairness to both the certificants whose conduct comes under review and the complainants impacted by the alleged conduct, while ensuring that the process upholds public trust in the financial planning profession.

“FPSC is committed to ensuring Canadians have access to and receive financial planning services from highly qualified professionals who are held to rigorous professional standards―including an obligation to place their clients’ interests above all others, to disclose potential conflicts of interest and to act with integrity,” said Damienne Lebrun-Reid, Managing Director, Standards at FPSC. “Setting and overseeing adherence to these standards helps elevate the financial planning profession, ensuring that it is held in the highest regard by Canadians.” 

Independent Oversight of the Standards 

The high professional and ethical standards of the financial planning profession are set and enforced by the profession. Three independent panels, composed of CFP professionals and members of the public, work to set standards, review complaints and consider the appropriate disciplinary action where there has been misconduct. Public protection and public confidence in the financial planning profession are key considerations for these panels. 

The Standards Panel oversees the standards of the profession to ensure that they fulfill FPSC’s mandate. The Conduct Review Panel (CRP) is an arm’s-length panel that reviews FPSC staff reports and directs the appropriate outcome of complaints. The Discipline Hearing Panel Roster, whose members serve as adjudicators on FPSC Discipline Hearing and Appeal Panels as required, ensures the integrity of the profession by enforcing the standards embodied in the Standards of Professional Responsibility for CFP® Professionals and FPSC Level 1® Certificants in Financial Planning

2017 Highlights 

FPSC vigilantly guards the trust Canadians have placed in CFP professionals and FPSC Level 1 certificants and continually strives to ensure consumers are well-served by the financial planning profession. As a result of FPSC’s ongoing efforts to ensure that the public is aware of the process for submitting a concern about the actions of an FPSC certificant, 2017 saw a threefold increase over 2016 in the number of public complaints FPSC received. 

All complaints are subject to an initial assessment to determine if the allegations, if shown to be true, demonstrate a potential violation of the Standards of Professional Responsibility.

In 2017, 56% of the complaints reviewed were escalated to an investigation into the certificant’s conduct, following the initial review process; 35% of complaints received were closed; and 8% were escalated directly by the CRP from initial review, for decision and direction. As a matter of process, all matters escalated to investigations are ultimately reviewed by the CRP. 

When the CRP has concerns about a certificant’s conduct but determines that a remedial approach rather than escalation to a Discipline Hearing Panel is appropriate, the CRP may issue a Letter of Guidance and Advice to the certificant. Guidance and Advice serves to notify the profession and the public of the type of conduct that is concerning to the CRP. Guidance and Advice is published by FPSC on an anonymous basis. In 2017, the CRP issued Guidance and Advice on a variety of conduct, including failure to disclose potential conflicts of interest, failure to perform appropriate due diligence, failure to make adequate inquiries of a power of attorney for property, inaccurate and misleading product recommendations or advice, and failure to comply with regulatory rules.

If the CRP determines that a possible breach of the Standards of Professional Responsibility exists, it may refer the complaint to a Disciplinary Hearing Panel. Of those complaints that went before a Hearing Panel in 2016 and 2017, 54% resulted in suspension of an individual’s FPSC certification and 28% led to FPSC certification being revoked, while in 18% of the cases the individual was banned from seeking renewal or reinstatement of their certification.

FPSC’s 2017 Enforcement and Disciplinary Review Report is available here. All policies and procedures relevant to FPSC’s complaint, review and discipline process are published on FPSC’s website and accessible to members of the public and FPSC certificants.

About Financial Planning Standards Council

A professional standards-setting and certification body working in the public interest, FPSC’s purpose is to drive value and instill confidence in financial planning. FPSC ensures those it certifies―CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professionals and FPSC Level 1® Certificants in Financial Planning―meet appropriate standards of competence and professionalism through rigorous requirements of education, examination, experience and ethics. With FPSC’s formal partnership with the Institut québécois de planification financière (IQPF), which is the only organization authorized to certify Financial Planners in Québec, there are more than 23,500 Financial Planners in Canada who have met, and continue to meet, FPSC’s standards. More information is available at FPSC.ca and FinancialPlanningForCanadians.ca.

For more information and to arrange an interview, please contact:

Caroline Horcher
Manager, Public Affairs
Financial Planning Standards Council
chorcher@fpsc.ca
(416) 593-8587, ext. 232 or 1-800-305-9886