Article March 31, 2020

COVID-19 and your finances: talk to a certified advisor, not your brother-in-law

Many people across Quebec are currently facing financial difficulties. Many are worried about the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on their investments. Some panicked consumers are turning to any source that promises answers, whether it’s a friend or loved one, a co-worker or a YouTuber.

Such individuals may be well intentioned, even well informed, but that does not make them professional financial advisors. In other words, someone’s personal opinion should not be confused with professional advice. Furthermore, each situation is unique, and what works for your brother-in-law won’t necessarily also work for you!

Only licensed professionals are authorized to give financial advice

As a self-regulatory professional body with a mission to protect the public, the CSF reiterates that only those individuals who have the appropriate license are authorized to sell financial products and services and offer related advice.

It’s important to recall why these licensing requirements were created in the first place. Lawmakers concluded that there would be a danger for consumers if just about anyone were allowed to exercise certain professions that require very specific skills, knowledge and expertise. This is especially true today as we navigate this anxiety-provoking period.

In addition to being licensed professionals, CSF member advisors are required to comply with a code of ethics and complete mandatory continuing education. Consumers also have the option of filing a complaint with the CSF if they believe their advisor is not doing their job properly or has committed an ethical violation.

Always remember to check your advisor’s qualifications on the AMF’s Register of firms and individuals authorized to practice.

How do you recognize a good advisor? (in French)

Scams of all types are on the rise

The CSF urges everyone to be extra vigilant as the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre reports a rise in scams.

Some fraudulent messages invite unsuspecting victims to make a donation while others solicit personal information while promising “compensation”, “urgent financial aid from the government” or “free masks” that protect from Covid-19. Some even threaten lawsuits or jail if the victim doesn’t pay a given sum immediately!

Fraudsters never lack creativity but their goal is always the same: to extract money from your bank accounts.

If you receive a suspicious email, phone call or text message, contact the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre immediately. And if you notice an unusual payment request or if someone offers you an investment or a loan that seems too good to be true, it's also a good idea to speak to your advisor.

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