Professional Financial Advisor Program – Frequently Asked Questions

Program Policies



Who is the PFA for?

The Professional Financial Advisor program is designed for newer advisors as well as those who are established practitioners. Designed to meet the everyday demands of an advisor’s practice, the program is focused on the disciplines of financial planning, practice development, compliance & regulatory topics, ethics and professional standards.


What does the program structure look like?

The PFA is an integrated, 4-course program that will engage candidates in actively strengthening practice development skills; deepening technical financial planning and regulatory knowledge; incorporating ethical practices into a sustainable financial advisory business; as well as developing sales, business and marketing skills. Candidates will be assessed via a series of exams and a final comprehensive exam.


Are the courses delivered via classroom or online?

All courses, including assessments, are delivered online.


Will there be course equivalencies?

Course equivalencies will be considered for the Professional Financial Advisor Designation program. Information will be posted regarding equivalencies as final decisions are made.


How does the PFA differ from the CLU®, CFP® or CHS?

This designation is unique and distinct from the CLU®, CFP® and CHS. It is designed to bridge the theory provided in licensing to real-world practices, within a regulatory and ethical framework.


Are there prerequisites to the PFA designation program?

There are no required prerequisites, other than initial industry licensing, such as MFDA, IIROC, A&S or Life License Qualification Program (LLQP).


Is there a deadline to complete all four PFA courses?

Yes. Whether you register for the semester program or self-study program, you must complete all four courses within a 2-year term.


How much time can I expect to devote to each of the four PFA courses?

Estimated study time for each of the courses are listed below:

  • Business Elements (159 study hours)
  • Enhancing Client Connections (196 study hours)
  • Building Client Value (213 hours)
  • Fine Tuning Your Practice and the Value of Advice (100 hours)


Will I be able to cancel my registration?

Yes. Please click here for cancellation policy.


Will I receive any CE credits after completing the PFA courses?

Yes. CE credits will be issued via your CE Tracker upon successful completion of each PFA course (semester or self-study). Please refer to each course description for CE credit details.


What are the benefits of the semester program and the self-study?

The choice of semester or self-study is based on your learning preference.

  • Semester: Semester format is catered to candidates that require a strong structure and timelines to stay on track. Another benefit is that the semester format means you will move with a cohort of candidates through the program. Many candidates value connecting to a community while going through a study program.
  • Self-Study: Self-study format is catered to candidates that are self-directed. Candidates can take advantage of registering at any time and learning at their own pace.


When will I receive my PFA designation?

Once you have completed the PFA Designation Program and Final Comprehensive Exam, you will be provided with the PFA Designation Holder’s Agreement which you must complete, sign and return. Once the agreement has been processed and approved, you will be notified when you can begin using the designation.


What are the CE requirements for maintaining my PFA designation?

The PFA designation is conferred in Canada exclusively by The Institute for Advanced Financial Education. Click here for CE requirements.


Final Comprehensive Exam


Do I have to register to write the Final Comprehensive Exam?

Yes. Once you have completed all four PFA courses (semester program or self-study program), you have to purchase and register to write the Final Comprehensive Exam.


When do I have to take the Final Comprehensive Exam?

The Final Comprehensive Exam is scheduled four times a year (February, May, August and November). You are required to select the exam that is scheduled closest to your successful completion of Course 4: Fine Tuning your Practice and The Value of Advice.


What if I am not successful in passing the Final Comprehensive Exam?

Please click here for Final Comprehensive Exam Rewrite policy.


Semester Program


Do I have to complete each course by a specific date?

Yes. Depending on the semester that you register for (spring or fall sessions), each course within a semester has specific start and end date (6-month duration for each course).


Can I finish the program ahead of schedule?

You may complete modules within the courses ahead of the course schedule but you are required to participate in the group discussion, write the course exam and the final comprehensive exam according to the prescribed semester schedule.


If I do not successfully complete a course within a semester, what are my options?

Option 1:  You can apply for a course extension. Click here for course extension policy and fee.

Option 2:  You can defer to the next semester the course is offered. Click here for deferral policy and fee.

Option 3:  You can transfer to the self-study program. Click here for transfer policy.


Can I transfer from the semester to the self-study program?

Yes. You may request a transfer from the semester program to the self-study program. Click here for transfer policy.


Self-Study Program


Do I have to complete all four PFA courses by a specific date?

When you register for the self-study program, you can go at your own pace and complete the course exams when ready. However, keep in mind that you must successfully complete all four courses within the 2-year term.


Can I complete the four PFA courses in any order?

You must complete each course in the prescribed order.


Can I transfer from the self-study to the semester program?

Yes. You can request a transfer from the self-study to the semester program. Click here for transfer policy.

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