Working with a financial adviser

November 4, 2013

PDF Version

PDF Version

Working with an adviser

The Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) is committed to investor education and we have a number of resources for investors. The Investor Education Fund (IEF), an initiative of the OSC, also has resources to help educate investors so they can make a more informed investment decision.

With our colleagues at the Canadian Securities Administrators (CSA), we have developed a brochure on Working with a Financial Adviser that will help you understand what an adviser can do for you, what to look for in an adviser and how to make the most of the relationship.

As well, the IEF on its website has a number of videos to help you decide if you should hire a financial adviser and tips on finding the right one for you.

Should I hire an adviser?

Whether or not you need a financial adviser is a question only you can answer. You may decide that you are comfortable investing on your own and choose not to work with an adviser. If you don’t have the time, interest or knowledge to build a portfolio that fits your investment goals and risk tolerance, then working with an adviser may be the right decision for you. An adviser can help you:

  • set investment goals,
  • understand your risk tolerance,
  • choose suitable investments,
  • monitor your investments and
  • stay on track to achieve your goals.

Goshka Folda and Rob Carrick discuss trends among investors for seeking advisers and doing it themselves. Are more people seeking advisers and planners? People are interested in doing some investing on their own investment knowledge, ease-of-access, convenience and cost are driving factors in making this decision.

How do I find an adviser?


One of the first places you can start your search for an adviser is by talking to your family, friends and co-workers about their advisers: do they like them, would they recommend them and why? You can talk to your financial institution or you can also search on-line to find advisers in your area. Most advisers belong to an industry group or association and the IEF has a list of on-line sources you can search to help you find potential advisers.  

Finding an investment adviser
Betty Tomsett and Rob Carrick discuss how to find an investment adviser. Where do you start? What research should you do? Location should not be the main factor in choosing an adviser.

Check registration

Once you have a few names of advisers you think might be good, you can’t stop there. You need to do some research on them. In general, any person or company selling securities or offering investment advice in Ontario must register with the OSC. Registration helps protect you by telling you that the person is licensed to do business in Ontario and is regulated by the OSC. Before dealing with an adviser, make sure they are registered with the OSC and complete a background check. If the person is not registered please report it to us by calling our Inquiries and Contact Centre at 1-877-785-1555. With our colleagues at the CSA, we have developed a check before you invest workbook that you can use to record the results of your background check. 

Things to consider when hiring an adviser

Registration cannot guarantee that the person will always give you good advice or act ethically. You still need to carefully choose who you invest with. Make sure you understand their qualifications and the products and services they can provide you. Understanding the qualifications and experience of potential advisers is an important step in selecting the adviser who is right for you. There are few restrictions or rules governing the titles that advisers can use, so you should not rely on the title of the adviser to determine their qualifications or experience. The Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC) has developed a new tool to help investors understand the wide range of certifications in use. Investors can use IIROC’s Glossary of Financial Certifications to make sense of commonly used financial certifications and understand what it takes to achieve them.

Selecting an adviser is an important decision and worth the time and effort it takes to shop around. You can find useful questions to ask potential advisers in the CSA brochure: Questions to ask when choosing a financial adviser. Even a good adviser may not be the ‘right’ adviser for you. Make sure you are comfortable discussing your personal financial information and goals with the person you select. You need to feel that they are listening to you and will take the time to answer your questions. If you don’t feel comfortable asking your questions or the adviser does not want to answer them or does not give you satisfactory answers, they are not the right adviser for you.

How to interview an investment adviser
Betty Tomsett and Rob Carrick give an insider’s guide on how to interview an investment adviser. What should you be asking? What should you look for when discussing costs? What credentials should they have? Make sure they are registered, understand the credentials behind their job title, and ensure their qualifications match your needs.

We want to hear from you

We want to hear from investors to better understand their key concerns and find out if we are focused on the right issues to protect investor interests. Please email us at: and give your views.

You can also call 1-877-785-1555 or email our Contact Centre. The Contact Centre staff can answer your questions, help you check registration and do other important background checks. They can also provide assistance if you have a complaint or suspect investment fraud.

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