There are two different kinds of investment advice. Most investors need both types. You may need help in deciding exactly which investments to buy. This is “specific investing advice.” But you often need to know more-general things first. This “general investing advice” includes:

  • when to invest
  • how much to invest
  • what general types of products to invest in
  • what registered accounts to use
  • when and how to take your money out (disinvest)

Specific investing advice is regulated by the Nova Scotia Securities Commission (NSSC).  Only people registered to sell you investments are allowed to help you decide which specific securities to buy. Someone can’t be registered to sell securities without being registered to advise on them. Someone can’t be registered to advise on securities without being registered to sell them. This can be helpful but can also be a problem.

General investing advice is part of what is known as “financial planning.” Sometimes it is called “retirement planning,” since almost everyone who invests is saving for retirement. But financial planning is about more than investments and retirement. It can include advice about budgeting, paying down debt and managing your money. Financial planning can include a plan for investing, but does not involve advising on which specific securities to buy. It makes sense for you to have a financial plan before you get advice on which securities to buy.

In Nova Scotia, anyone can give you financial planning advice. And anyone can call themselves a financial planner. Financial planning advice is not regulated in Nova Scotia. There is no government agency like the NSSC to regulate the people who do this. Only specific investing advice is regulated. Some provinces are looking into regulating financial planning. Nova Scotia might follow this path as well.