Merrick says accountants are the obvious pick to be the advisor of choice for
a great many clients but most of them,
especially public accountants, aren’t focused on individuals and spend the majority of their time handling corporate
“The real opportunity in the next decade is going to be the transfer of wealth,
primarily business owners who will be relinquishing control (of their enterprises)
and divesting hard assets into investing
assets,” he says.
CARY LIST, president and CEO
of the Financial Planning Standards Council, which develops and enforces professional
standards for CFP professionals in Canada, says getting the CFP designation makes
a lot of sense for many accountants.
“They’re already working in the same
area, working with individuals on their
accounting side and tax needs. It’s absolutely a strong fit for them,” he says.
List says he speaks from personal experience. As a chartered accountant back in
the early 1990s, a colleague asked him if
he could help develop some financial planning workshops geared towards people who
were being offered retirement packages.
“I thought I was more than equipped
to do it. As I started developing the programs and looking at what these people
were facing, it became rapidly obvious
to me how many gaps there were in my
knowledge and skill set and how natural it
was that I should have them as a natural
extension of my training as an accountant,” he says.
In fact, List says accountants who keep
their head in the sand about the benefits
of a CFP may do so at their own peril.
“Absolutely there are threats (to their
livelihoods). I don’t think a CFP is necessarily the right thing for people in insurance or in corporate tax in the Big Four.
We’re talking about the broader community, people in the smaller-sized client
marketplace. This is where the greatest
opportunities exist,” he says.
List says the FPSC has been working for
years to get CGAs and CAs to recognize
the importance of pursuing a CFP to make
themselves even more valuable to clients.
“It’s not for everybody but there’s absolutely a very good synergy there,” he says.
Of course, there’s no education like
the school of life. Grant Skinner, CEO
of Wellington West Pro Ice, a Winnipeg-based firm that provides “chief financial
officer” services to more than 30 National Hockey League players and their
families, says he believes the CFP is a
worthwhile designation for people getting started in the business.
“I haven’t pursued it myself but I have
30 years of experience in a very niche
market. At age 53, I didn’t need the CFP
to add to my business card to say, ‘look
what I’ve got.’ It’s more, ‘look at who I
am.’ As a CA, I felt very comfortable with
my training in financial planning. But if
you want to get into wealth management
(today), it’s a worthwhile designation to
get,” he says.
Skinner says there are so many designations and initials that people can get
these days, it all becomes a bit muddy
after a while.
“It’s like the Wild, Wild West,” he says.
“That’s part of the dilemma in the financial