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By Cary List, CA, CPA, CFP®
President and CEO
Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC)

With new technological tools and more information than ever at our disposal, many of us are tempted to take the do-it-yourself route in various areas of our lives, guided by a world of Internet research, YouTube tutorials and the latest app. But just how far should you extend this DIY attitude with your finances? 

The undeniable fact is this: while many investment product and portfolio selection tools offered through digital platforms and robo-advisers are excellent options for many investors, they are focused primarily on selecting and rebalancing your investments, not financial planning. Technology should play an important role in how your financial plan is executed, and in fact your financial planner may use digital platforms for asset allocation, selection and rebalancing of your investment portfolio to help you reach your goals, but it’s only one piece of a much larger puzzle.

Financial planning undertaken by a professional financial planner takes a broad view of all relevant aspects of your entire financial situation – including day-to-day financial management needs, your investments, insurance and risk management, income tax planning, retirement and insurance needs and expectations, and any related legal aspects – analyzing how emphasis or adjustment on one aspect impacts the others while at the same time interpreting your own unique goals, needs and wants, today and in the future. 

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Comprehensive financial planning requires an interactive, personal relationship. Your financial planner uses their professional judgment and expertise to help guide you on the path to address the needs and goals you have discussed together. As your life situation changes and evolves, you talk through those shifting needs with your planner, and with them you adjust your plan accordingly.

It all adds up to a financial future that’s based on much more than an investment portfolio algorithm.

The true value of the human planner lies in a holistic view of you as a complete person, an unwavering ethical commitment that places your interests above all others, and the non-technical interpersonal skills – often called professional skills – that the planner brings. In financial planning, portfolio selection and other products are used as a means to an end, not the end themselves.

The professional financial planner demonstrates empathy, inspires trust, and has the behavioural and relationship management skills to guide you through confusion and uncertainty to better long-term financial health. They provide expert advice that goes far beyond investment management, while applying technology efficiently and understanding what digital solutions might work best to meet your needs. 

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Beyond technical expertise, a professional financial planner communicates in a way that you can understand, helping you turn advice into appropriate action to ultimately make the right decisions for your own financial health.

As you assess your retirement security, help your adult child buy their first home, or seek a way to take that trip of a lifetime, you deserve a financial planner with a thorough, holistic understanding of your overall financial life and how the decisions you make today will affect it – now and for many years to come.

How do you find a professional financial planner who possesses both the necessary technical and professional skills, who understands you as a whole person with complex and multi-faceted needs? How can you be sure you’re working with someone who will take a big-picture view of every area of your finances, and how each area affects the others? 

Financial Planning Standards Council (FPSC) is a professional standards-setting and certification body that works in the public interest on behalf of all Canadians to drive value and instill confidence in financial planning – because we know that without sound financial planning from a qualified and trusted professional, the well-being of Canadians is at risk.

FPSC ensures that those it certifies–Certified Financial Planner® professionals and FPSC Level 1® Certificants in Financial Planning–meet the highest standards of knowledge, skills, abilities and ethics through rigorous education, examinations and experience requirements, as well as ongoing accountability to FPSC for a Code of Ethics, Practice Standards, and the rules and regulations of a professional body.


To find a CFP professional in your area, or to check the certification status of an individual you’re currently working with, use our Find Your Planner tool.

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For more information about working with a professional financial planner, read The financial planning process: what to expect and Choosing a financial planner and watch 10 questions to ask your financial planner.