questions to ask when finding a financial advisor

Various industry associations such as The Financial Advisor’s Association of Canada, The Financial Planners Standards Council and the Canadian Securities Administrators recommend that you ask questions when choosing a financial advisor including:

What about your background, qualifications, designations, experience, and ongoing education?

Answers to these questions are outlined in our advisor profiles.

Are you a member of an industry association that enforces standards of ethics, practice and codes of conduct?  If so, which association?

All of the Four Points advisors are voluntary dues paying members of Advocis (The Financial Advisor’s Association of Canada) and subscribe to the Advocis code of ethics which can be found on the Advocis website.  Some advisors have additional affiliations that are described in their advisor profile.

Have there been any complaints filed against you?

Insurance licensed advisors are regulated by provincial regulators such as the Insurance Council of Manitoba and the Financial Services Commission of Ontario.  Securities licensed advisors are registered with the Canadian Securities Administrator in each province such as the Manitoba Securities Commission.  Each of these entities maintains a website where consumers can research an advisor’s history and registration status.

How am I protected if there is a problem, like an error or omission on your part?

Regulations require all licensed financial advisors to carry liability insurance to protect their clients from errors and omissions.  All Four Points advisors are licensed and insured for your protection.

How are you paid?

Compensation embedded in the cost of the product

When you deal directly with a financial institution, employee salaries are built into the cost of the products you purchase.  Similarly, when you deal with an independent advisor like Four Points our compensation is built into the cost of the product but paid as a commission and/or referral fee rather than a salary.  However, these revenues will be only be received if our services result in the placement of investment, insurance, and other financial products as part of the implementation of the action plan.  This is the most common option where a client chooses to fully engage for both planning and implementation.

Fee only (no anticipated commission)

Fees are estimated based on the time and complexity of the planning needs and billed based on actual time consumed.  Additional compensation is not anticipated, but may be generated through commissions and/or referral fees if the client subsequently chooses to transact investment, insurance, and other financial products through us.  This appeals to consumers who choose to engage for planning but implement on their own.

Fee offset (by anticipated commission)

Where the fees are determined based on the time and complexity of the planning needs but intended to be reduced to reflect any commissions or referral fees received for transactions on investments and other financial products that are expected to be undertaken as a part of the implementation of the action plan.  To comply with insurance regulations, the fee-offset calculation only includes fees earned on investment assets outside the realm of the Insurance Act.  This is used when the client chooses to engage for planning but is unsure about how they wish to implement.

How will you work with me to ensure that the advice, planning, products and services you recommend or provide are suitable for my unique needs and goals?

Our advice is based on The Four Points Process which is designed to ensure that your plan is built on a clear understanding of your situation and objectives.  As independent financial services brokers representing Canada’s largest banks, insurance companies and investment firms, we do the shopping for you to find the best product to fit your unique needs and goals.

Will you be the only one working with me?

Many clients have told us that they are reluctant to entrust their financial planning to a single advisor.  At the same time, they don’t want to just be a number at a large institution with ever changing faces behind the counter.   Our structure allows our team to provide timely and continuous service of your account, engage experts from the largest financial institutions, and work with your other professional advisors where required to effectively coordinate your tax, legal and financial affairs.

Can I have it in writing?