It worries me that anyone in Canada, outside of Quebec, can call themselves a financial planner without any demonstrated knowledge, skills or abilities.

Just imagine if anyone was allowed to call themselves a medical doctor and treat patients. Granted, financial planning is not life and death like medicine, but substandard or unethical planning can have a devastating effect on your emotional and financial health.

That’s why, when someone asks me “What is a financial planner?”, I’m very reluctant to respond, “Someone who plans your finances.” Because the definition should be so much more.

The Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) and the Institut québécois de planification financière (IQPF), the two groups that established and maintain standards for the financial planning profession in Canada, created a definition for what a financial planner should be. This means that when you use a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER® professional, you’re getting a qualified professional who’s skilled and experienced. The CFP® designation is recognized internationally for excellence in financial planning.

I not only believe that having a qualified financial planner is an absolute must for most people, I think that your choice of planner is one of the most important decisions that you’ll ever make.

Please watch 10 questions to ask your financial planner, where I offer questions to help you interview and evaluate financial planners to find a qualified one who’s a good fit for you, and who has the skills and knowledge required to help you realize your financial goals.

To find a CFP professional in your area, use our Find Your Planner tool.

For more on finding a qualified financial planner who’s right for you, read Finding your financial planner, Choosing a financial planner and 8 key traits of an ethical financial planner.