As a public interest regulator that oversees close to 200 investment dealers and over 22,000 advisors across the country, and monitors their trading activity in Canada’s debt and equity markets, one area of focus for IIROC is helping investors improve their financial literacy skills and knowledge.

IIROC offers the following tips and resources to investors:

Check out your advisor
How much do you know about your advisor’s background and history? Investors who want to learn more about an advisor and their qualifications and background should take a look at the IIROC AdvisorReport.

This free, easy-to-use online tool quickly generates reports that list IIROC-regulated advisors’ relevant professional background and qualifications, including the courses they have completed to stay current and knowledgeable, their employment history and if they’ve ever been disciplined.

Checking an advisor’s registration status is one way you can also protect yourself as an investor, since regulators will only register individuals who are properly qualified, meet and fit the proper requirements, and complete mandatory continuing education criteria.

Understand your advisor’s credentials
How do you know if your advisor has the right skills to meet your investment needs? There are many financial certifications in use by the financial industry, and it can be difficult to know what an advisor’s certification means in terms of skills.

To help you sort through the various financial certifications held by financial advisors, IIROC has created a Glossary of Financial Certifications, containing information in one central location on approximately 65 certifications used by financial advisors in Canada.

In the glossary, you can find information on the organization granting the certificate, exams required to be certified, and if the issuing organization has a complaints process. You can also use the glossary to research and compare common financial certifications.

Test your basic knowledge about investing
How much do you really know about investing? Sometimes keeping track of your investments and fully understanding them might be a challenge, even for the most knowledgeable. Topics such as knowing your risk profile, which products are insured, and how changes in interest rates can impact your financial situation can be critical.

No matter what your level of financial knowledge, it’s always helpful to revisit the basics of investing. IIROC has developed an investor knowledge quiz that covers a range of topics, including interest rates, stocks, and bonds, and is designed to test how much you understand about the basics of investing.

Even if you score well on this or any other test, it is important to continue educating yourself and improving your financial and investment knowledge.

Take advantage of online resources and don’t be afraid to ask questions
Becoming comfortable with overseeing your finances requires life-long learning. There are many resources available online to help you learn as much as you can. For example, at www.iiroc.ca/investors, IIROC provides information such as a list of questions to ask an advisor, as well as a series of investor bulletins focused on topics such as borrowing to invest and understanding risk, so you can get the information you need to make informed financial decisions.