Professional Financial Advisor™ Designation Program

 

The Professional Financial Advisor (PFA) designation was created to meet the everyday demands of the professional advisor. With practice-based training in a real-world environment, the PFA focuses on practice development, technical knowledge and compliance & ethics to help newer advisors get a successful head start while also empowering existing advisors to fine-tune the primary building blocks of their business.

The PFA designation is conferred in Canada exclusively by The Institute for Advanced Financial Education (“The Institute™”).

PLEASE NOTE: If you have successfully completed the PFA Designation Program and Final Comprehensive Exam, you must apply to receive the designation via The Institute for Advanced Financial Education. Click here for more information.


PFA Eligibility

  • Upon successful completion of the program and the Final Comprehensive Exam, you must apply to receive the designation

 

Who Should Enrol?

  • Newer financial advisors looking to develop the fundamental knowledge and practical experience necessary to build a successful practice
  • Experienced financial advisors looking to brush up on key skills and revisit essential topics related to regulation, practice management and creating client value

Program Prerequisite

  • Initial industry licensing, such as MFDA, IIROC, A&S or Life Licence Qualification Program (LLQP)

 

Requirements for PFA Designation

  • Successful completion of the Advocis PFA Program
  • Successful completion of the Final Comprehensive Exam

Continuing Education Requirements

  • A minimum of 20 CE credits each calendar year. One credit must be from a recognized Ethics program
  • A minimum of 10 CE credits must be accredited by The Institute
  • A maximum of 10 CE credits can be approved by The Institute

 

Choice of Program Formats: Semester or Self-Study

  • Both formats utilize the same curriculum but allow for different learning style preferences
  • The following descriptions will help you choose the approach that best matches your preferred learning style

Semester Program

  • This four-course program sets a prescribed pace designed to provide candidates with enough time to absorb the material from each of the four disciplines (Practice Development, Financial Planning Fundamentals, Compliance and Professional Standards), test their skills with relevant activities, and prepare for the course exams
  • Each course is six months in duration over a two-year term and includes online discussion groups with fellow candidates, live and recorded webinars, and access to the Corporate Trainer

 

Self-Study Program

  • This four-course program study schedule is customizable, allowing candidates who prefer to set their own pace rather than follow a prescribed schedule through courses
  • There is flexibility to adjust within the program’s two-year term to accelerate or to take more time to absorb the material from each of the four disciplines (Practice Development, Financial Planning Fundamentals, Compliance and Professional Standards), test their skills with relevant activities, and prepare for the course exams
  • Self-Study candidates are supported with a full suite of support resources including review tools, recorded and access to the Corporate Trainer
Semester Program Self-Study Program
  • Prescribed study pace to absorb the material in each course
  • Full suite of support resources for study success
  • Community through discussion participation 
  • Access to Corporate Trainer & live or recorded webinars
  • Set your own pace to accelerate or slow down with customizable study schedules
  • Full suite of support resources for study success
  • Independent study
  • Access to Corporate Trainer & recorded webinars

To learn more about the program, please review the PFA Program Outline below.

 


PFA Program Outline

To download the complete Advocis PFA Program Outline, please click here.

Program Preview – Building Client Value

For a preview of PFA course material, an excerpt from Building Client Value (Course 3) is provided above.


PFA Program Testimonials

Advocis PFA Program


PFA Program Pricing (Semester and Self-Study)

Member Price

Program Registration Fee: $900 (add GST/HST)*
Final Comprehensive Examination Registration Fee: $150 (add GST/HST)

Non-Member Price

Program Registration Fee: $1,360 (add GST/HST)*
Final Comprehensive Examination Registration Fee: $350 (add GST/HST)

* Registration includes all four (4) PFA Program Courses

FAQ Policies


REGISTRATION INFORMATION: PFA SEMESTER PROGRAM

The four-course Semester program sets a prescribed pace designed to provide candidates with enough time to absorb the material from each of the four disciplines (Practice Development, Financial Planning Fundamentals, Compliance and Professional Standards), test their skills with relevant activities, and prepare for the course exams. Each course is six months in duration over a two-year term and includes online discussion groups with fellow candidates and webinars scheduled throughout.

Semester Program Spring 2021 Session Fall 2021 Session
Course 1 April 2021 October 2021
Course 2 October 2021 April 2022
Course 3 April 2022 October 2022
Course 4 October 2022 April 2023
Final Comprehensive Exam November 2022 May 2023

Spring 2021 Session: Online Registration Opening in 2021 (details to follow)

Fall 2021 Session: Online Registration Opening in 2021 (details to follow)


REGISTRATION INFORMATION: PFA SELF-STUDY PROGRAM

The four-course Self-Study program allows candidates to set their own pace rather than follow a prescribed schedule. Candidates have the flexibility to adjust their study schedule – to accelerate or to take more time as they progress through the four-course program within the two-year program term. Advocis supports Self-Study candidates in a number of ways: customizable study schedule tools for each course, as well as recorded webinars which cover a variety of topics including: the content from each of the four disciplines, how to approach the Practice Development activities, and a final review of each of the courses as well as orientation and navigation information.

Register Now for Self-Study


PFA Program Course 1 – Business Elements

Professional Development Modules & Activities:

  • Develop a business plan
  • Prepare a value proposition, elevator speech, and a personal biography
  • Prepare a marketing plan (as part of your business plan)
  • Determine who your target client is and how to market to them
  • How to prospect for new clients, how to network, and how to develop Centres of Influence
  • Assess business opportunities and develop an Activity Action Plan
  • Define your value proposition and elevator speech
  • Develop a plan for asking for referrals
  • Develop strategies for networking and building Centres of Influence
  • How to prospect, how to network, and how to develop Centres of Influence

Compliance & Regulatory Modules:

  • Understand the rules that guide you in how to communicate with clients and prospective clients
  • The importance of accurate and transparent marketing and communications content
  • Be aware of how to market yourself honestly and accurately
  • The rules that guide you in managing business relationships, including how to avoid conflicts of interest

Financial Planning Modules:

  • Identify and explain the role of relevant regulatory and oversight bodies in securities and insurance
  • Explain the framework and regulations that are in place to protect Canadians from such threats as the insolvency of a financial institution, unwanted communications and financial abuse and scams
  • Explain time value of money
  • Make financial projections to determine the achievability of goals
  • Evaluate how a client’s current and projected cash flow—including that from their business—may impact their ability to meet their goals
  • Understand how the brain works and makes decisions, including the values, heuristics, emotions and disorders related to money that a client brings to the decision-making process
  • Understand the stages of individual change and what may motivate or inhibit a client in changing their behaviour
  • Understand how a financial advisor’s actions and communications may garner or hinder trust

Overview:

This course is estimated at 159 study hours. 

Features:

  • Downloadable PDF of program content
  • Financial Planning module practice quizzes
  • Grades tool to keep track of your progression through the program
  • Study schedules
  • ReadSpeaker text-to-speech tool
  • Robust webinar program to support learning

CE Credits:

  • Alberta Insurance Council: 15 Life
  • Chambre de la sécurité financière: Pending
  • CECAP: Pending
  • FP Canada: Pending
  • Candidates seeking CE or PDU credits for professional designations or organizations (including The Institute™) should contact the governing body for confirmation of CE/PDU qualification

PFA Program Course 2 – Enhancing Client Connections

Professional Development Modules & Activities:

  • Details about the Client Relationship Cycle, specifically client engagement and discovery
  • Integrate the Client Relationship Cycle with the 6 step Financial Planning Process
  • Interview preparation and questioning techniques for prospective client & client meetings
  • Describe your client process in a way that is aligned with your value proposition & elevator speech
  • How to conduct engagement and discovery client meetings
  • PD Activities complement the modular content and provide practical hands-on learning experience.
  • Prepare for an initial interview with prospective client / client summaries
  • Prepare for prospective client and client questions
  • Develop a description of your client process
  • Evaluate your active listening skills

Compliance & Regulatory Modules:

  • Understand the relevance of rules that guide you in fact finding & discovery
  • The importance of the Know Your Client form
  • The importance of collecting client information beyond the Know Your Client form
  • Understand the appropriate handling of confidential client documents

Financial Planning Modules:

  • Assess a client’s credit worthiness and determine suitable credit facilities
  • Determine optimal debt repayment strategies, including the impact that changes to strategies may have on a client’s debt level, amortization, cash flow and ability to achieve their goals
  • Identify appropriate options and professionals who can help delinquent and insolvent debtors
  • Understand the mechanics of registered retirement savings and income plans
  • Evaluate and recommend tax-efficient wealth accumulation and decumulation strategies that will aid clients in reaching their retirement goals
  • Understand the eligibility for, benefits available, and factors to consider in evaluating decisions to apply for and commence benefits available to clients through Canada’s government benefit programs (including the Canada Pension Plan, Old Age Security, Employment Insurance and the Canada Child Benefit)
  • Understand the eligibility requirements and benefits available to clients through workers’ compensation and income assistance programs
  • Competently advise clients of their government benefit eligibility when they experience life events such as the birth of a child, unemployment, illness, disability and retirement
  • Understand the intricacies of Registered Education Savings Plans (RESP) and Registered Disability Savings Plans (RDSP)
  • Evaluate and recommend optimal strategies to achieve education-related goals and goals for clients with a disability

Overview:

This course is estimated at 196 study hours.

Features:

  • Downloadable PDF of program content
  • Financial Planning module practice quizzes
  • Grades tool to keep track of your progression through the program
  • Study schedules
  • ReadSpeaker text-to-speech tool
  • Robust webinar program to support learning

CE Credits:

  • Alberta Insurance Council: 15 Life and A&S
  • Chambre de la sécurité financière: Pending
  • CECAP: Pending
  • FP Canada: Pending
  • Candidates seeking CE or PDU credits for professional designations or organizations (including The Institute™) should contact the governing body for confirmation of CE/PDU qualification

PFA Program Course 3 – Building Client Value

Professional Development Modules & Activities:

  • Analyze a client’s financial situation and identify gaps between a client’s current situation and their goals
  • Identify opportunities to improve a client’s financial situation and help them progress towards their goals
  • Prepare recommendations and collaborate with a client on solutions to address their needs.
  • Provide full and adequate disclosure of all assumptions made in the analysis
  • Present the financial plan & analysis and make recommendations to the client
  • Acquire communications strategies that will help move the client toward accepting recommendations
  • Using an understanding of how the brain works and makes decisions, deal with client objections and additional questions
  • Prepare a personal financial plan for a client
  • Identify planning opportunities and gaps to assist your client in achieving their financial goals
  • Prepare recommendations for a client based on an action plan and address objections and concerns

Compliance & Regulatory Modules:

  • Recognize your obligation to fully understand a client’s situation and the gaps in their financial plan
  • Assess a client’s tolerance and capacity for investment risk
  • Discern the implications of investment risk profile and client situation for portfolio asset allocation
  • Perform a proper due diligence to fully understand all attributes of a particular product in order to understand product suitability

Financial Planning Modules:

  • Create an appropriate asset allocation for a client given their investment objectives and constraints (including return expectations and willingness, capacity and need for risk)
  • Evaluate investments that are suitable for the client
  • Interpret the return and risk of a client’s investment portfolio
  • Help clients make sense of their investment statements, including the impact that changing investment values may have on achieving their goals
  • Identify and explain the income tax assessment rules for a client
  • Explain the tax implications of how different types of income received by a client may be taxed
  • Identify the tax deductions and credits for which a client may be eligible
  • Identify and estimate the benefit of engaging in foundational income splitting strategies
  • Gain a working knowledge of the Canadian economy
  • Identify and explain the indicators that may signal the past, current or future phase of the economic cycle
  • Utilize a foundational knowledge of demand and supply to trace the expected (or explain the past) impact of world events and fiscal and monetary policy on economic variables, including an individual’s investment

 

Overview:

This course is estimated at 213 study hours.

Features:

  • Downloadable PDF of program content
  • Financial Planning module practice quizzes
  • Grades tool to keep track of your progression through the program
  • Study schedules
  • ReadSpeaker text-to-speech tool
  • Robust webinar program to support learning

CE Credits:

  • Alberta Insurance Council: Pending
  • Chambre de la sécurité financière: Pending
  • CECAP: Pending
  • FP Canada: Pending
  • Candidates seeking CE or PDU credits for professional designations or organizations (including The Institute™) should contact the governing body for confirmation of CE/PDU qualification

PFA Program Course 4 – Fine Tuning Your Practice and The Value of Advice

Professional Development Modules & Activities:

  • Review your existing work habits and explore more effective ones
  • Review your personal and business goals and targets
  • Review your marketing plan and results
  • Understand the importance of liability (E&O) insurance, ensure you are in compliance with minimum coverage amounts and secure appropriate coverage for your practice
  • Learn how to manage client expectations and avoid complaints related to confusion, ambiguity or misunderstanding
  • Follow privacy standards and procedures to ensure your clients’ private data is protected
  • Adhere to proper file management and maintenance best practices
  • Meet mandatory disclosure requirements and understand the consequences of non-compliance
  • Take advantage of educational and mentorship opportunities to complement and enrich mandatory Continuing Education (CE) programs
  • The benefits of focusing your financial advisory practice on preparing holistic financial planning for clients
  • How a strong understanding of yourself, your clients, the financial services industry, and regulators will contribute to your ability to communicate effectively and appropriately with your clients and your prospective client
  • Evaluate a typical workday or week to determine how much time is spent in each of the quadrants in the Urgent-Important Matrix for Financial Advisors
  • Review your business and marketing results, establishing a detailed plan to improve results
  • Self-assessment of financial services industry knowledge and creation of a personal development plan for future Continuing Education courses.

Professional Standards & Ethics Modules:

  • Recognize the value of a code of professional conduct
  • Apply the principles in real-life client situations
  • Understand industry best practices to aid in adherence to the code

Overview:

This course is estimated at 100 study hours.

Features:

  • Downloadable PDF of program content
  • Financial Planning module practice quizzes
  • Grades tool to keep track of your progression through the program
  • Study schedules
  • ReadSpeaker text-to-speech tool
  • 6-month course duration
  • Robust webinar program to support learning

CE Credits:

  • Alberta Insurance Council: Pending
  • Chambre de la sécurité financière: Pending
  • CECAP: Pending
  • FP Canada: Pending
  • Candidates seeking CE or PDU credits for professional designations or organizations (including The Institute™) should contact the governing body for confirmation of CE/PDU qualification

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