Selection Methodology and Criteria
Before inviting Financial Advisors, Portfolio Managers and Fee Only Financial Planners into the SeekAdvisor community each of our profiled members are screened according to a rigorous selection methodology. Our discovery process is intended to identify advisors who always act in their client's best interests - the foundation of any trusting professional relationship.
All SeekAdvisor members must - at minimum - meet all the criteria described below.
SeekAdvisor members have at minimum 5 years of continuous experience in the financial services industry. Long tenure suggests an advisor is established in the industry and has the necessary experience to address the broadest range of client circumstances.
We perform a background check to ensure our members do not have any history of regulatory infractions. A pristine regulatory record is a mandatory condition of admission to SeekAdvisor. Each member's regulatory record is reviewed annually to confirm this integrity has been maintained.
We ensure our members are registered with a recognized regulatory organization. SeekAdvisor members are registered with either the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC), a Provincial Securities Commission (Ontario Securities Commission, British Columbia Securities Commission, etc), or the Mutual Fund Dealers Association (MFDA). Some of our members may be ‘dually’ licenced to offer insurance. SeekAdvisor does not offer membership to advisors who are licensed to sell insurance products only.
Fee Only Financial Planners who do not offer investment management services are not required to be registered with a regulator (except in Québec) but must at minimum hold the Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®) designation or an equivalent designation to qualify for membership.
We ensure our members carry at least one professional financial designations. These qualifications may include, but are not limited to; the Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) charter, the Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®), Chartered Investment Manager® (CIM®), or an Professional Accounting designation. We verify these qualifications as part of our background check.
Standard of Care
Each SeekAdvisor member is examined and selected on the strength of their independence and objectivity when making investment recommendations. Our members are required to demonstrate a Standard of Care that is objective, free of conflict and always in their client’s best interests. This is an uncommon quality. Financial advisors in Canada are not required to act in your best interest. Regulators only require the majority of advisors to make recommendations that are ‘suitable’. SeekAdvisor members demonstrate a higher Standard of Care - a commitment to acting in your best interest through a combination of their qualifications, licencing, dealer affiliation, compensation structure and their product and services offering. For clarity on advisor obligations to their clients across Canada please refer to CSA Consultation Paper 33-403.
Efforts have been made to identify qualified members in communities large and small across Canada. However, many of our members have client relationships in multiple provinces, separated by hundreds or even thousands of kilometers. Technology and advanced forms of communication open the possibility of identifying a great advisor who may not reside in either your community or even in your own province of residence.
Most SeekAdvisor members charge a fee based as a percentage of the amount of assets they administer (Assets Under Administration) on your behalf. This compensation model is typical of most sophisticated professional advisors. A fee-based compensation structure lends itself to a relationship that is less conflicted and more transparent than a transactional compensation model or one where fees are 'embedded' in financial products. No matter how they are paid, all SeekAdvisor members make this disclosure on their profile page.
Diversity of Services and Offering
Advisors have different strengths in the services they offer their clients. Many of the advisors that we feature on SeekAdvisor offer what is referred to as a holistic service. This is where the advisor offers a range of services intended to meet most of the wealth management needs of their clients. Other advisors may offer more specialized services focused on specific aspects of wealth management. We endeavor to find a diversity of service offerings and confirm our members expertise in these realms.