MoneySense Approved is Canada's only directory of financial advisors who surpass the standards of MoneySense, Canada's leading personal finance media brand. Start your search here .

How MoneySense Approved evaluates financial advisors

Our methodology for finding better financial advisors

by MoneySense staff
November 1st, 2015
Online only.

To receive the MoneySense Approved designation, applicants must pass our proprietary test of their knowledge, service, fees and transparency

MoneySense Approved provides the credible third-party endorsement that Canadians seek when searching for a new financial advisor or evaluating their existing one.

To be MoneySense Approved, applicants must complete a rigorous accreditation process and exceed high standards of performance and service set by the editors of MoneySense. The MoneySense Approved designation is granted for a one-year term, and must be renewed annually through re-application.


What we look for

  • Transparency and reasonable fees: MoneySense Approved Financial Advisors charge reasonable fees and disclose them.
  • A high level of service: Applicants are evaluated for their responsiveness, quality of communication and other factors associated with good customer service and investor education.
  • Knowledge: MoneySense Approved advisors must hold industry-standard certification demonstrating they have met the knowledge and training expectations of leading certification bodies.
  • A good reputation and experience: All MoneySense Approved advisors have at least three years’ experience and no violations or pending complaints on their record.

The accreditation process

Advisors must apply for MoneySense Approved accreditation. Our evaluation consists of these five steps:

  1. Confirming the applicant meets our minimum eligibility criteria (see below)
  2. Scoring the responses on the advisor’s application questionnaire, which explores the advisor’s services, fees and service-delivery model. To determine a final score, MoneySense awards or subtracts points for most answers; other answers result in immediate disqualification.
  3. Checking with the appropriate oversight bodies to ensure the applicant holds the required certification, has never been subject to any disciplinary action and is not the subject of any outstanding complaints.
  4. Completion and scoring of an anonymous client-satisfaction survey (performed every other year) that may include a telephone audit of the respondents. This survey must be completed by at least 40 active clients or 40% of the advisor's active clients, whichever is less.
  5. Telephone interview with the advisor.

In order to receive the designation, applicants must achieve a high score in the proprietary evaluation and receive top marks in the client survey.

Advisors pay an initial application fee to MoneySense and, if they pass all five steps of our evaluation, must pay an additional fee entitling them to the MoneySense Approved designation for one year.

Minimum eligibility requirements

Before entering the evaluation stages described above, applying financial advisor must:

  • Be a practicing financial advisor with at least three years' experience.
  • Have at least 20 active clients (i.e., clients to whom the advisor has provided paid financial advisory services in the past 24 months).
  • If performing planning services or selling mutual funds, hold one or more of the following designations:
    • Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
    • Registered Financial Planner (RFP)
    • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
    • Chartered Investment Manager (CIM)
    • Planificateur Financier (Pl. Fin)
  • If performing wealth management (e.g., buying/selling stocks on behalf of clients), hold at least one of the following designations:
    • Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
    • Chartered Investment Manager (CIM)
    • Planificateur Financier (Pl. Fin)
  • Be the subject of no outstanding complaints registered with and no disciplinary actions taken by a financial regulator, professional association or other recognized industry oversight body.
  • Be located in Canada with a majority of clients located in Canada.