Advisors using business cards must fulfill obligations stated in applicable laws and their regulations, including those addressing authorized professional titles and the following special rules.
The Rules for business cards and other representations were designed and published in 2013 by the Autorité des marchés financiers (the Autorité). It applies to insurance advisors and financial planners, and aims to provide a framework for their representations and indicate the information that must be included on their business cards, in addition to information that can be added.
At a minimum, business cards must include the following information about the advisor:
The business card must only mention the name that the advisor uses in Quebec while conducting his business. This name must be declared to the Autorité in advance. Any changes to this name must also be declared as soon as possible.
- Address, phone number, and (if applicable) e-mail address of the primary establishment for which the advisor works
- Titles that the advisor is authorized to use, under which he conducts his business
- Name of the independent partnership or firm for which the advisor conducts his business, or the note “independent representative,” if applicable
An advisor working for multiple firms must clearly indicate the fields in which he works for each firm. To do so, it is recommended that he use the front side for one firm and the reverse for another. For example, if an advisor works in personal insurance for firm A and group personal insurance for firm B, the card could mention the title “financial security adviser” and the name of firm A on one side, and the title “group insurance and annuity adviser” and the name of firm B on the other side.
Information in addition to the mandatory content may appear on the advisor’s business card. However, it must be relevant, related to the business conducted by the advisor, and not cause confusion.
Further, the advisor cannot add any qualifier of himself, such as “emeritus,” “senior,” “expert,” or “specialist” on his business card. A qualifier is an addition, a note, or an adjective that is not based purely on objective concepts.
The function may be included on the business card. It is related to the advisor’s position in the company where he conducts his business.
Products and services offered
An advisor may mention products and services that he is authorized to offer with his certification. The advisor must also comply with general obligations applicable to representations when indicating the products and services he offers on his business card, including avoiding providing inaccurate or incomplete information as well as representations that are false, misleading, or liable to be misleading.
An independent advisor, or the independent partnership or firm for which an advisor works, may have entered into a partnership with another independent representative, independent partnership, firm, or insurer. This partner must also be registered with the Autorité. If the partnership is linked to financial products and services, it may be indicated on the advisor’s business card. It is necessary, however, to distinguish firms or independent partnerships clearly with a note that must not suggest that the advisor works for the partner or that both partners are the same person. Therefore, it is recommended that he mention “partner firm of…,” “partner company of…,” or “partner independent representative of…” However, the areas in which this partner is authorized to work cannot be indicated.
Relationship with an insurer
If the advisor works with one insurer in particular, he may include the name or logo of this insurer on his card when this insurer authorizes him to do so, but it must be clear that the advisor does not work for and on behalf of the insurer. In this case, the note “Authorized distributor of…” should be added before the name of the insurer.
An insurance advisor or financial planner who also works in securities, including group savings and scholarships, may indicate this on his business card. To avoid confusion, he could use both sides of the card to separate the information about each sector. Information on business in one discipline should not prevail over those for the other discipline.
An advisor may include training completed and degrees received as well as the accompanying titles on his business card. These indications are permitted only if they are relevant, do not cause confusion, are related to the business conducted by the advisor, and are not incompatible with this business.
Advisors may use the CSF logo on their business card if the logo includes the note “Chambre member” and if they comply with the conditions listed in the CSF logo section.
However, the Autorité’s logo cannot be added to an advisor’s business card.
Giving business cards to clients
Advisors are required to provide a written introductory document, such as a business card, upon their first meeting with a client. This document must comply with the rules given above. If the first communication with the client occurs remotely, the advisor must send him this information the first time he sends other documents, such as in his electronic signature in an e-mail.
Regulations for group savings and scholarships do not have specific rules for advisors regarding their business cards or other types of representation. However, general concepts on securities ethics can and should guide them.
For honesty’s sake, the advisor will not make representations that could deceive, mislead, or confuse clients, both in terms of the services he offers and in his business connections with another entity.
The professional title used by the advisor must indicate the discipline in which he conducts his business.
Finally, if the brokerage for which the advisor works has its own rules for business cards, the advisor must comply with them.