Article December 19, 2019

Protecting your finances when you're an expat

Whether it’s credit cards, mortgages, insurance, RRSPs or TFSAs, the world of financial services in Quebec is very different from the one that’s familiar to citizens of France. Understanding all the different savings, protection and investment products can be a bewildering task. To achieve their financial goals, expats need to familiarize themselves with their new environment as soon as they can.

Financial services professionals play an essential role in the adaptation process for newcomers. Their expertise helps expats invest, protect their assets, take out the right insurance policies, buy a home, plan for retirement, save for their kids’ education, avoid tax pitfalls and more.

Regulated professionals

The distribution of financial products in Quebec is strictly regulated. For example, financial professionals can only offer you advice on mutual funds if they are members of the Chambre de la sécurité financière (CSF) and comply with a code of ethics. They are also required to complete continuing education courses. In that respect, they are no different from other certified professionals like doctors or lawyers.

Additionally, if you run into difficulties with a certified advisor, you can contact the CSF to learn about their duties and obligations and, in the event of professional misconduct, file a complaint.

In summary, the CSF operates like any professional order and its mission is to regulate financial services professionals in order to protect consumers like you.

Titles of financial professionals in Quebec: a quick guide

There are around 32,000 certified financial professionals in Quebec. One third of them possess between two and five different licenses, meaning they’re authorized to offer you advice in multiple domains.

  • Mutual fund representatives

These professionals are authorized to recommend and sell mutual funds. Mutual funds are investment products that pool money from many different investors.

  • Life insurance advisors

These professionals deal with life and health insurance, also called personal insurance. They are authorized to offer advice and sell products related to these insurance categories.

  • Group insurance and group annuity plans advisors

These professionals offer employers products and advice connected to insurance and annuity plans designed specifically for businesses. They are called “group” products because they cover multiple individuals.

  • Scholarship plan representatives

As the name suggests, this type of professional offers investment products specifically designed for financing your children's education.

  • Financial planners

Financial planners can offer you advice in seven different areas: insurance, finance, taxation, legal matters, investment, retirement and estate planning. However, they may only sell financial products if they also possess the relevant license. For example, to sell life insurance, they must be licensed as a life insurance advisor.