High demand for financial planners ensures long-term job security
For years now, businesses and policymakers have warned of the so-called skills shortage in Canada. Most Canadians have heard about the urgent need for more employees with science and technology training and, thanks in large part to the pandemic, for workers in the hospitality, construction and manufacturing sectors. Yet there is another occupation that is in very high demand, though it might not get as much attention: financial planning. In fact, the job prospects for those who choose this career are excellent. Financial planners develop strategies to help people achieve their financial goals, and the need for more highly trained, certified professionals in the field is driven by a number of factors. There’s demo-graphics, industry trends and changes in legislation, not to mention Canadians’ high levels of financial stress.
Aging population, longer retirements, immigration
By 2030, seniors will make up almost a quarter of Canada’s population, so we can expect a flood of retirements in the next few years. That includes the financial industry itself: one recent survey found that more than half of financial advisors are over 55, meaning that they themselves will soon retire. “Some senior advisors in particular are concerned that there won’t be enough properly educated people to manage all the large books of business that will need to be transitioned,” says Christine Van Cauwenberghe, who as head of financial planning at IG Wealth works with more than 3,300 financial planners and advisors. Those with highly regarded credentials, such as FP Canada’s Certified Financial Planner® certification and Qualified Associate Financial Planner™ certification, will have a strong competitive advantage, she adds. Meanwhile, life expectancies are longer than ever. So, where retirees once needed to save for 15 years of life after work, they now have to plan for 25 or more. All those aging workers will be looking for the kind of retirement advice only professional financial planners can provide. Then there’s the 300,000 or more new Canadians who arrive each year, many of whom are unfamiliar with the financial services industry here and their options for education savings, investing, insurance and other methods to boost financial well-being. “Back in the Philippines, we didn’t have tax-free savings accounts or registered retirement savings plans,” says Jay Mallari, a QAFP™ professional who immigrated to Canada in 2011 and is now president of Cambria Financial Solutions in Burnaby, B.C. “When I work with new immigrants, 95 per cent of the time it begins with educating them about strategies that can benefit them in the long run.”
Industry efforts to ensure access for all Canadians
The financial advice industry is also working to increase access to its services, after an extensive 2021 FP Canada survey that found many Canadians worry they may face discrimination from financial experts, lack the confidence to seek help or simply feel it isn’t available to them. “Not all Canadians experience the same level of confidence or well-being when it comes to their finances,” wrote Tashia Batstone, president and CEO of FP Canada. “For example, Indigenous peoples, the 2SLGBTQI community, women and people living with disabilities all under-index on these key measures of financial wellness.” More planners will be needed to ensure wider access, and FP Canada has called on the industry to work together to expand the diversity of those entering the profession, so more Canadians see themselves reflected in it.
For those considering financial planning as a career, recognized designations such as the ones FP Canada provides might well become a must-have. That’s because provincial governments are increasingly turning their attention to ensuring that financial planners adhere to high professional standards and serve their clients ethically and competently. Ontario, for instance, recently enacted standards that require anyone using the “financial planner” title to hold an approved credential such as CFP® certification or QAFP certification, and industry watchers expect other provinces to follow suit. Meanwhile, major employers increasingly expect their financial planners to have an FP Canada designation. At IG, “we strongly encourage our financial planners to get one,” says Van Cauwenberghe.
Financial stress-release valve
An FP Canada survey released in June found that half of Canadians worry about money, and Gen Zs in particular report anxiety, depression and mental health challenges as a result. But those who work with a CFP professional or QAFP professional say they sleep better and have lower levels of money-related stress. It’s another factor that feeds demand for financial planners. So, if you want to help people and contribute to their overall well-being, a career in financial planning might be for you, Van Cauwenberghe says. “There are a lot of very dedicated, caring young people out there who could really make a positive impact in the lives of many Canadians.”