Understanding Financial Certifications

Financial certification is not the same as a registration or a license. 

When choosing an advisor, educational achievements and professional experience are important considerations, in addition to licensing and registration. But did you know the financial certificates used by advisors does not necessarily mean they are registered or licensed with a regulator or other authority?

Marketing Versus Expertise

When choosing a financial advisor, look beyond the letters that follow an individual’s name or business title. If a financial advisor uses a specific certification or designation or otherwise represents him/herself as having special expertise, ask questions and find out what these credentials really mean. Always do your homework and verify the financial advisor has the skills, professional qualifications and registration that you are looking for.

There is a wide range of firms and individuals offering many different kinds of products and advice, and the level of skills, areas of expertise, and even the fees charged will vary. Above all, choose a financial advisor who understands your financial situation and investment objectives and is willing to work with you to meet those goals. 

Not all Certifications are Created Equal

There are many financial certifications in use in the Canadian financial services industry, so never select a financial advisor based solely on his or her certifications. 

Standards for achieving financial certifications range from rigorous and demanding to less stringent. Use IIROC’s Glossary of Financial Certifications to review certification requirements.

Glossary of Financial Certifications

IIROC’s Glossary of Financial Certifications provides information about certificates and designations used by advisors in the Canadian financial services industry. Use this tool to learn about and compare what the various certifications mean and how they are achieved.

To search for a specific financial certification, input the certification name or acronym in the search field. To view the entire list of certifications, leave the search field blank. Click the “Search” button to view results.

Input Glossary items to search

Important information about the Glossary of Financial Certifications

  • IIROC created the Glossary to assist investors in evaluating the professional certifications and designations an investment professional may hold. It is important to note:
  • IIROC does NOT approve or endorse any financial designation or certification.
  • Inclusion in IIROC’s Glossary of Financial Certifications does NOT imply that IIROC considers the certificate or designation to be acceptable for use by an advisor.
  • IIROC is NOT responsible for and cannot verify information from sources other than IIROC and does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy or completeness of the information.

The Glossary of Financial Certifications is by no means inclusive of all financial designations and specifically does not include certifications and designations related to business degrees from accredited colleges and universities. Representatives of organizations issuing financial designations may submit their securities or investment designation for possible inclusion in IIROC’s Glossary of Financial Certifications by emailing [email protected]. IIROC reserves the right to determine which certifications and designations are appropriate for inclusion in its Glossary of Financial Certifications.

IIROC’s Glossary of Financial Certifications may include links or references to other Internet sites or resources operated by other persons (collectively, "Other Sites"). Other Sites are independent from IIROC, and IIROC has no responsibility or liability for or control over Other Sites or their content. IIROC does not sponsor or endorse Other Sites. Your use of Other Sites and your dealings with the owners or operators of Other Sites are at your own risk, and you will not make any claim against IIROC arising from, in connecting with, or relating to your use of Other Sites or your dealings with the owners or operators of Other Sites.

Additional Information and Resources

Questions you should ask when choosing a financial advisor

Unpaid Fines Report: Report listing individuals with outstanding fines owed to IIROC

Making a Complaint: IIROC’s glossary includes information about whether the issuing organization has an investor complaint process. If you are dealing with an IIROC-licensed advisor, we encourage you to contact IIROC.

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