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  • Writer's pictureHilary M.K. Poff | CFA

What Is a Chartered Financial Analyst?

Whether you want to grow your savings or invest for retirement, the goal is to make that money grow. That may sound easy, but with thousands of equities to invest in, economic indicators to consider, and numerous investment strategies to think about, it can quickly become overwhelming.

This might explain why more than half of Canadians who don’t invest say it’s because they lack the knowledge and confidence to do so. On top of that, 60% do not know what options are available for them to get investment information and advice. 65% do not know what investment products and services are out there.

Chartered Financial Analyst

What’s preventing them? Nearly half (41%) of aspiring investors do not believe they have enough money to get advice from an advisor while more than a quarter (28%) do not think they can afford to get advice.

With their own finances and retirement at stake, it’s imperative that Canadians are able to access advice and understand what services are available to them. But even here, the financial services industry can be equally confusing, with a wide variety of professional designations and acronyms attached to the end of their names.

What Does My Advisor’s Designation Mean?

From chartered accountants to investment advisors to certified financial planners, titles convey a level of professionalism, expertise, and education. That said, not all financial advisors or designations are the same. With hundreds of different types of designations, some financial certifications require rigorous amounts of study, oversight, and expertise while others are less stringent.

In fact, terms like “financial advisor” and “financial planner” are used quite liberally. They don’t necessarily mean a person has specific qualifications, expertise, or certifications. Except for the Province of Quebec, anyone in Canada can call themselves a “financial advisor” or “financial planner.”

That’s why it’s so important for Canadians to understand what their advisor’s qualifications are. Understanding the different designations will help you know which advisor is best for you. Some advisors offer planning and advice, while others can sell products. Moreover, some financial certifications are not registered or licensed with a regulator or other authority either.

Here are some of the top financial certifications and designations in Canada.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)

The CFA charter is the most prestigious designation for investment analysis around the world. To even qualify to become a CFA, candidates must have a bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution. It doesn’t need to be in finance, but it must include courses in economics, accounting, and statistics.

Work experience is also important. To become a CFA in Canada, candidates must also have at least 48 months (4 years) of relevant work experience in the investment industry.

Once admitted into the CFA program, candidates must successfully complete three levels of the CFA program, each with its own exam.

The curriculum covers:

  • Ethical and Professional Standards

  • Quantitative Methods

  • Economics

  • Financial Statement Analysis

  • Corporate Finance

  • Analysis of Equity Investments

  • Analysis of Debt Investments

  • Analysis of Derivatives

  • Analysis of Alternative Investments

  • Portfolio Management

It typically takes an average of four years to complete the three levels. Fewer than one in five candidates successfully complete all three levels of the CFA Program.

Certified Financial Planner (CFP)

The CFP designation is internationally recognized as one of the best standards for financial planning. Granted by the Financial Planning Standards Council, an advisor with CFP designation can help with your personal financial planning and provide advice on investment products and strategies.

To obtain the CFP designation, applicants must complete an FP Canada-approved Core Curriculum program, pass a national exam, and have three years of qualifying work experience.

To maintain certification, CFP professionals must keep up to date with their knowledge and skills by completing 25 hours of continuing education each year.

Chartered Investment Manager (CIM)

Charter Investment Managers are trained to provide portfolio management services and investment strategies to high-net-worth and institutional clients. Advisors with a CIM designation can register as a portfolio manager, advising representative, or associated advising representative.

To become a CIM, advisors must complete a recognized program in an investment management or related field (finance, accounting, or economics) and have three years of relevant experience, including two years in a supervisory role.

CIMs generally base their fees on a percentage of a client’s assets under management, which can make it a very lucrative designation.

Registered Financial Planner (RFP)

A Registered Financial Planner is one of the most well known designations in Canada and is for those who have worked in financial planning and want to demonstrate their desire to advance their understanding with ongoing education.

Many people who pursue their RFP designation are already CFPs and want to enhance their education to further support their clients. To be an RFP, professionals must have at least three years of experience in the industry and be actively practicing.

Sharp Asset Management for Your Retirement Planning

If you live in Toronto or the Greater Toronto Area and are looking for an experienced team of CFAs to help with your asset and investing management, contact the private wealth management professionals at Sharp Asset Management.

Sharp Asset Management Inc. is an independent portfolio management firm that is 100% owner operated. We are not affiliated with any financial institution, securities firm, or mutual fund company. As a result, our investment decisions are unbiased.

We also do not earn any commissions or fees on investments we choose on behalf of our clients. Instead, our efforts are completely focused on achieving the investment objectives for each client.

All of our investment counsellors are chartered financial analysts, the highest level of achievement, and have over 10 years of experience managing portfolios. To learn more about investing with Sharp Asset Management, contact us today.

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