Understand Titles & Designations

The list below provides job titles found in the Canadian financial services sector and some commonly held designations associated with them. These designations – or the use of “advisor” in a person’s title – do not mean a person is registered to sell or advise on specific securities. They indicate what kind of education or experience a person has.

The BCSC does not endorse any designation or profession. You should always verify the person’s qualifications before seeking investment advice. Furthermore, it is critical that you check an individual’s registration status and the types of investments they are licensed to sell before investing.

Common Titles & Designations

Investment & Wealth Advisors (FCSI, CSWP)

You will find these people working at investment firms managing individual client portfolios. The designation Fellow of the Canadian Securities Institute (FCSI) is reserved for leaders in financial services. The Chartered Strategic Wealth Professional (CSWP) program trains people to manage the portfolios of high net worth individuals. Both designation holders work for all types of clients.

Investment & Portfolio Managers (CFA, CIM)

People in these positions may hold a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) or Chartered Investment Management (CIM) designation. The CFA and CIM programs focus on portfolio management (making the investment decisions for clients) and investment analysis. People holding these designations may manage the portfolios of individual clients, investment funds, or businesses.

Financial Planners (ChFC, CFP, PFP, RFP)

Financial planners help you create a financial plan, advising on things like tax, estate, and retirement planning. Chartered Financial Consultants (ChFC), Certified Financial Planners (CFP), Personal Financial Planners (PFP), and Registered Financial Planners (RFP) take courses and write exams to gain their designation. As with all other advisors, planners need to be registered if they sell or advise on specific investment products.

Insurance, Health, & Estate Advisors (CIP, FCIP, CLU, MTI, CHS)

These types of advisors may hold a Chartered Insurance Professional (CIP), Fellow Chartered Insurance Professional (FCIP), Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU), MTI Estate and Trust Professional (MTI) designation, or Certified Health Insurance Specialist (CHS). People with these designations have different specializations – CIPs and FCIPs focus on insurance. CLUs and MTIs focus on estate planning and wealth transfer. CHS holders focus on health insurance.

Discontinued Financial Services Designations

You may see other designations on your advisor’s card.

Acronym Title New Designation
FICB Fellow, Institute of Canadian Bankers FCSI
FMA Financial Management Advisor CSWP

Other Designations Held by People Working in Finance

Accountants (CPA; CPA, CA; CPA, CGA; and CPA, CMA)

Accountants provide a variety of services to clients and business owners, including tax advice, financial management, and business planning to name a few. The current accounting designation in Canada for new graduates is Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA). Accountants who have a legacy designation of Chartered Accountant (CA), Certified General Accountant (CGA), or Certified Management Accountant (CMA) must combine it with CPA (e.g. CPA, CA).

Lawyers (LLB/JD)

You will find lawyers specializing in corporate finance or securities working for firms, public companies, or regulators. They may have an undergraduate degree in business, or an advanced degree or designation. Lawyers working with individual clients help with estate planning, taxes, and business law among other things.

University Finance & Business Degrees (BCom/BComm, BBA, MBA)

Individuals whose university education focused on finance and business often work in the financial industry in a variety of roles. They may hold a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom/BComm), Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA), or Masters of Business Administration (MBA). Often, these degree holders will hold other finance-specific or accounting designations.