Financial advisor or financial planner: Which one to choose?

Feb 21, 2024
4 min
picture of a female financial planner smiling, working on planning documents

Navigating finance can be complex; however, identifying the right professional, whether a financial advisor or a financial planner, can clear your path to wealth

Finding the right financial assistance can be intricate. A financial advisor and a financial planner provide distinct services for the stability of your finances. Let's clarify their roles to guide your financial decisions.

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What is a financial advisor?

A financial advisor in Quebec advises you on the best financial tools for your investments and develops growth strategies for your assets.

The mission of the financial advisor

Dedicated to the health of your finances, the financial advisor examines investment opportunities, analyzes your risk tolerance, and advises on the best financial products, whether they be stocks, bonds, or diversified investments.

The various titles and certifications of financial advisors

In Quebec, a financial advisor can hold several titles based on their career path and specializations. Here are a few:

  • Financial Security Advisor
  • Financial Planner (F.Pl.) 
  • Advisor in Group Insurance and Annuities
  • Investment Counselor

These titles imply meeting rigorous educational criteria and holding practice licenses issued by regulatory bodies such as the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF).

Thus, each advisor brings specific expertise, whether it be for retirement planning, risk management, or building an investment portfolio.

When to call on a financial advisor?

It's when you're looking to grow your savings or plan your retirement that a financial advisor comes into play.

Their knowledge of the markets and their ability to personalize advice make them a valuable asset in securing and increasing your financial holdings.

What is a financial planner?

The financial planner creates a personalized financial plan that includes retirement, taxation, and debt management, for a long-term view of your finances.

The role of the financial planner

This professional adopts a holistic approach to:

  • Financial analysis: studying your income sources, financial obligations, and investments.
  • Retirement preparation: developing an approach to maintain an adequate standard of living in retirement.
  • Investment guidance: providing advice tailored to your risk appetite and financial growth ambitions.
  • Tax planning: finding ways to reduce your tax burden.
  • Wealth management: ensuring the preservation and growth of your fortune over time.

Titles and certification paths for financial planners

To practice competently, financial planners in Quebec must be accredited and undertake education recognized by the Institut québécois de planification financière (IQPF) to obtain the title of Financial Planner.

The title of Financial Planner not only confirms a thorough knowledge of various financial spheres but also a commitment to ethical and responsible practice.

The added value of a financial planner

The added value of a financial planner lies in their comprehensive vision and ability to foresee your financial health over decades.

They anticipate and prepare with you for the milestone moments of your life, ensuring complete peace of mind for your financial well-being. Their expertise is thus essential for a comprehensive and reassuring personal finance strategy.

Also read: Equip your financial toolkit—dive into our article Financial Health at 30 and bolster your financial knowledge.

The key differences between the two professions

At first glance, financial advisors and financial planners appear to fulfill the same role. However, upon closer inspection, notable differences emerge between these two financial specialists.

Distinct responsibilities and skills

The financial advisor specializes in recommending financial products such as stocks and funds, tailored to your short-term goals and your relationship with risk.

In contrast, the financial planner establishes a comprehensive approach dedicated to planning your financial future, from your retirement to your tax strategy, with a long-term vision.

Investment choices and long-term planning

The financial advisor focuses on savings recommendations and immediate investment opportunities.

Meanwhile, the financial planner develops a holistic plan that incorporates key life events such as inheritance or the birth of a child, for optimized long-term financial management.

To choose between a financial advisor and a financial planner, it's important to consider your current and future needs.

  • If your questions are specifically about which investments to make right now, a financial advisor might be just what you need.
  • If, on the other hand, your vision is focused on preparing for your entire financial life, and not just your current investments, then a financial planner is the one you need.

How to choose between a financial advisor and a financial planner?

This decision can be crucial for the direction of your finances. Here's how to untangle the threads and make the choice that's right for your needs.

Identify your specific financial needs

To start, assess the nature of your current financial situation and your long-term goals. If you need specific advice for investment or savings products, a financial advisor may suffice.

On the other hand, if you want an integrated approach that takes into account all aspects of your financial life, then a financial planner will be more appropriate.

The importance of certifications and professional experience

To make the right choice, it is important to consider the qualifications and experience of your financial advisor or planner.

Certifications issued by recognized organizations, like the Autorité des marchés financiers for advisors or the Institut Québécois de Planification Financière for planners, are indicators of their expertise.

These elements ensure that they are well-equipped to meet your specific needs and provide advice tailored to your financial situation.

Your choice between an advisor and a financial planner depends on your goals: an advisor for immediate investment advice, and a planner for a comprehensive strategy.


Frequently asked questions about choosing between a financial advisor and a financial planner.

What are the average fees associated with hiring a financial advisor and a financial planner?

The fees related to hiring a financial advisor or planner can vary widely. Some may be salaried and compensated with a fixed income, others might charge fees based on a percentage of the value of managed assets, or opt for commission-based payments for introducing new clients. Some structures also offer an annual package that includes various services. 

How can you check the history and reputation of a financial advisor or planner before deciding to work with them?

To check the history and reputation of a financial professional, it is recommended to ask for references, read online reviews, and verify their status with professional associations or financial regulatory bodies like the AMF. 

Is it possible to use the services of both a financial advisor and a financial planner, and if so, how can these services complement each other?

It is entirely possible to benefit from the services of both a financial advisor and a financial planner simultaneously. Their services can complement each other, with the advisor focusing on financial products while the planner develops a long-term financial strategy.

Are there regional or legal differences in the practice of these professions in Canada that should be considered when choosing?

 In Quebec, the practice of financial advisors and planners is regulated by the Autorité des marchés financiers (AMF), ensuring that professionals meet high standards. Regional or legal differences, such as certification requirements, are important to check to ensure the professional is authorized to practice in your region or province. 

How does the relationship with a financial advisor or planner typically evolve over the years?

The relationship with a financial advisor or planner can evolve over time to accommodate your changing financial needs. Initially, it might focus on establishing long-term financial goals, then gradually include more complex and personalized strategies as you progress financially.

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