Financial Planner Designations

The Qualifications of the Spring Team

Financial Planner Designations on the Spring Team

What are all those letters about?

The finance industry has so many designations that they’re practically a cottage industry. How are you supposed to know whether or not the designation is useful to you?

Rather than provide you with a robust list of all possible designations (something we’ve considered, and started several times), we’ve decided to provide you with a breakdown of the designations that exist within our firm. It’s a smaller list, and less exhausting.

Spring Plans’ Current Designations

(In Alphabetical Order, updated September 2019)

BA – Bachelor of Arts

An undergraduate degree in liberal arts, sciences, or both. These programs generally take three to four years, and have specific specializations, majors or minors.

BBA – Bachelor of Business Administration

An undergraduate degree in business administration, designed to give a broad knowledge of the functional aspects of a company and their interconnections, while allowing for specialization in particular areas.

BComm – Bachelor of Commerce

An undergraduate degree in commerce or business. These programs generally take three to four years, and have specific specializations, majors or minors.

CFDS™ – Chartered Financial Divorce Specialist

Certifying Body: Academy of Financial Divorce Specialists
A CFDS™ certified professional can provide expertise related to the financial issues of divorce, including analyzing the financial effect of any given divorce settlement, identifying the short- and long-term effects of dividing property, and understanding tax, pension, insurance, and retirement plan issues.

CFP & QAFP™ – Certified Financial Planner

Governing Body: Financial Planning Standards Board
This program is designed to ensure financial planners are able to meet their clients’ needs and the evolving requirements of the financial services industry. There are 6 steps to certification, including curriculum, examinations, experience, and a capstone course. The QAFP™ certification is bestowed at step 3, and the CFP designation at step 6. Certificants are required to maintain robust body of knowledge, minimum Standards of Competence, Standards of Professional Responsibility, and 25 hours of continuing education each year.

The Qualified Associate Financial Planner™ certification demonstrates a financial planner’s competence and commitment to the highest ethical standards of responsibility. QAFP™ professionals have demonstrated the knowledge, skills, experience and ethics to provide holistic financial planning strategies and solutions related to everyday financial planning needs. QAFP professionals play an important role in helping their clients begin the journey to living life with confidence. QAFP professionals must hold themselves accountable to FP Canada for their professional conduct.

CLU – Chartered Life Underwriter

Governing Body: The Institute for Advanced Financial Education
Surprisingly, this designation does not certify a charter holder to underwrite life insurance, but is instead is focused on advanced estate, tax, and business planning education. Certificants are required to complete a minimum of 30 hours of continuing education each year, and adhere to a Code of Professional Conduct.

FEA – Family Enterprise Advisor

Governing Body: The Family Enterprise Exchange
This unique program is (currently) the only one of its kind in the world, teaching business family advisors how to integrate their own discipline with those of other professionals in order to provide collaborative and complementary advice. Modules include family dynamics, strategy, governance, facilitation, communication, and much more. Designates are required to complete a minimum of 7 hours of continuing education each year and uphold the FEA Code of Ethics and Professional Standards.

FMA – Financial Management Advisor

Governing Body: The Canadian Securities Institute
The FMA is a personal financial planning designation that was awarded after completion of the Canadian Securities Course, the Professional Financial Planning course, and the Wealth Management Techniques course. The FMA is no longer granted, but remains a respected designation maintained by the institute.


Governing Body: Canadian Securities Institute
The Personal Financial Planner (PFP®) designation is a leading credential for comprehensive financial planning in Canada, recognized by Canada’s largest financial institutions. It ensures that financial professionals have the knowledge and skills to address all aspects of a client’s financial situation.

TEP – Registered Trust and Estate Practitioner

Governing Body: The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners
TEPs must have a combination of specialist qualifications and experience in inheritance and succession planning, including significant experience at an expert level. TEPs are subject to an extensive Code of Professional Conduct, and are required to adhere to a robust Continuing Professional Development policy.