What is the difference between a Financial Advisor and a Financial Planner?

It can be really hard to know who to see when you are experiencing financial difficulties, or looking for advice on how to manage your money.  In this blog we are going to look at the differences between a Financial Planner and different Financial Advisor professions.  

A Financial Advisor is a blanket term to describe someone who helps people with money. They can be a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), an Insurance Advisors, Investment Advisors, An Accredited Financial Counsellor (AFCC), Certified Credit Counsellor, or a Financial Coach.  There are no regulations on who can call themselves a Financial Advisor.  

As you can see there are many professions who fall under the umbrella of Financial Advisor and within each profession are different avenues of education and experience.  Many of these profession have things in common, most will look at your current financial situation; income, assets, and liabilities. They will discuss your short term and long term goals and map out a plan for you to meet those goals.  

Trying to decide who to see can be overwhelming.  Where you fall in your financial journey will help you decide who to meet.    Think of these questions when trying to choose what professional advice you need.

  • Are you struggling with debt? If so a Certified Credit Counsellor is a great resource.  
  • Are you looking to supplement your income due to an illness, or want to protect your assets?  An Insurance Advisor would be a great person to contact.  
  • Are you over spending, does budgeting cause you to become overwhelmed, or are you and your partner arguing about money?  In this case a Financial Coach or an Accredited Financial Counsellor would be your ideal advisor.  
  • Do you want to learn about investments?  Contact an Investment Advisor
  • Are you wanting to plan for retirement, need tax advice, or estate planning?  If so a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) would be a great resource.  

As you can see each designation has their own strengths when it comes to helping you with your money management needs.   Let’s take a more detailed look at each Financial Advisor profession.  


Insurance Advisor

An Insurance Advisor will help you with all your insurance needs.  They will look at what your income needs are, what assets you have and provide advice on the best types of insurance to ensure you have adequate protection against loss of income, or damage to assets.  They will review your short and long term goals and provide you with the most suitable insurance products and the estimated costs.   


Investment Advisor

All Investment Advisors in Canada need to be registered with Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC).  An Investment Advisor will discuss your short and long term goals, your risk tolerance, and provide you with investment strategies to meet your financial goals.  They will monitor your investments, and stay up to date on the investment trends in the market.  They provide advice on mutual funds, securities, stocks and bonds. 


Accredited Financial Counsellor

An Accredited Financial Counsellor gets their certification through the Ontario Association of Credit Counselling Services (OACCS) this is a rigorous training of investments, estate planning, budgeting, debt repayment options, and counselling skills to ensure a holistic approach is used.  At Resolve Counselling Services of Canada our AFCC’s focus on the financial challenges people face, and educate clients on how to manage their debt and assets to meet their long term goals.  They will help clients create and stick with a budget, and provide tools to improve their credit.  Click here to lean more about becoming an Accredited Financial Counsellor Accredited Financial Counsellor Canada Designation Program – OACCS, Financial Literacy Empowerment, AFCC Certification and Accreditation : OACCS, Financial Literacy Empowerment, AFCC Certification and Accreditation (financialfitness.ca)


Financial Coach

A Financial Coach like the ones at Resolve Counselling Services of Canada, look at not only your income and expenses, but also your behaviours with money.  They empower you to make positive financial decisions, and help you create a financial plan that is tailored to your situation and work with your strengths.   At Resolve we will provide tools to help you reduce over shopping, improve your communication with loved ones, and help you set and achieve financial goals. 


Certified Credit Counsellor

A Certified Credit Counsellor receives their certification from the Ontario Association of Credit Counselling Services (OACCS) and are experts in all things to do with debt.  At Resolve our Certified Credit Counsellors will review your financial situation and provide you will information on how to become debt free.  There are several debt options such as a consolidation loan, debt management programs, consumer proposals, bankruptcy, and refinancing.   A good Certified Credit Counsellor will be able to review your financial situation and explain the pro’s and cons of each of these programs, what the payments would be, and how they would work within in your financial situation so you can make an informed decision.  Contact a certified credit counsellor at Resolve for a free assessment to learn your options.  


Certified Financial Planner

A Certified Financial Planner (CFP) is a well known designation.  A CFP received their designation from the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, and only people with this designation can call themselves a certified financial planner.  CFP’s come from various Financial Advisor roles such as insurance brokers, accountants, investment advisors and other professional designations.   CFP’s advise on investments, insurance needs, and retirement planning so you can meet your long term financial goals.  A CFP might sell financial products to help you meet your goals, and will monitor your progress and life changes to ensure that your needs are being met through each stage of your financial journey.  


Resolve Counselling Services of Canada has Certified Credit Counsellors, Accredited Financial Counsellors and Financial coaches in their Financial Wellness program.  We can help you 

  • Create and stick to a budget 
  • Reduce overspending 
  • Improve your mindset about money 
  • Set and achieve financial goals 
  • Become debt free 
  • Stop arguing about money

Contact us today for a free assessment to get on your way towards long term financial wellness. Contact us now!


Authored by: Jeri Bittorf – Financial Wellness Coordinator

AFCC, Certified Credit Counsellor, Bankruptcy Insolvency Counsellor

Resolve Counselling Services of Canada

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