File a Complaint Against Your Financial Advisor/Planner

The CIFP Retirement Institute will investigate legitimate complaints related to a licensee holding a CIFP credential who provides you with financial planning/financial advisory services. The basis of your complaint must involve alleged breaches of the Code of Conduct and/or Practice Standards to which the licensee voluntarily attests to abide or, any other allegations of professional misconduct that reflect negatively on the certification marks or, on the practise of financial planning/financial advising.

You can access a copy of the Code of Conduct and Practice Standards for each designation by clicking below:

Common causes of grievances against Financial Advisors/Financial Planners are listed below to provide the public with guidance as to whether or not filing a complaint should be considered. This list is not meant to be exhaustive. Similarly, if the basis for a complaint is not included in this list but, as the complainant, you feel it has merit, it should not deter you from proceeding with your complaint.

A complaint may be warranted if you have experienced any of these situations with the CIFP licensee from whom you receive financial planning or financial advisory services:

  • I feel my Financial Advisor/Financial Planner is pressuring me to follow a recommendation with which I do not understand fully and with which I am not comfortable.
  • I feel my Financial Advisor/Financial Planner is pressuring me to invest in a financial product with which I do not understand fully and with which I am not comfortable.
  • I feel my Financial Advisor/Financial Planner is not being objective in the advice and recommendations they are providing me.
  • I followed the recommendation of my Financial Advisor/Financial Planner and now my investments have decreased in value (NOTE: the decline in value of your investment portfolio is not, in itself, an indication of misconduct on the part of your Financial Advisor/Financial Planner).
  • I told my Financial Advisor/Financial Planner I was only comfortable with a conservative investment portfolio but, they keep recommending higher risk investments.
  • My Financial Advisor/Financial Planner claims to hold an approved designation through the Canadian Institute of Financial Planning [i.e. Registered Retirement Consultant (RRC®)/Conseillers en Retraite and Conseillères en Retraite (CR®), Registered Financial and Retirement Advisor (RFRA/CR®) or, Registered Retirement Analyst (RRA®) credentials] but, I cannot find confirmation of their status regarding the designation.
  • My Financial Advisor/Financial Planner says they are acting in my best interests but, their actions suggest otherwise.
  • My Financial Advisor/Financial Planner has asked me to give them authority to conduct trades and transactions in my account without me being involved.
  • My Financial Advisor/Financial Planner has asked me to make them the executor of my estate in my will.
  • My Financial Advisor/Financial Planner has prepared a financial plan with guaranteed rates of return for my mutual fund portfolio.
  • My Financial Advisor/Financial Planner will not answer me clearly when I ask how they will be compensated if I agree to let them manage my financial affairs.
  • Before I transferred my investment portfolio to my Financial Advisor/Financial Planner, I was able to contact him or her with ease; since that time I can never get a hold of them and they do not return my calls.

If you wish to file a complaint against an RRC/CR, RFRA/CR or RRA licensee, you must do so in writing. You must provide accompanying documentation and facts to substantiate your complaint. The events leading to your complaint must have transpired no more than six years prior to the date your complaint is officially filed with CIFP. For a multitude of reasons including accuracy, fairness to you, the complainant, as well as to the licensee, access and recollection of information and proper adjudication, you are encouraged to file your grievance as soon as reasonably possible.

The first step is for you to complete the CIFP Licensee Complaint Form. The Form asks for basic information about you, the complainant, information about the licensee with whom you deal, the circumstances prompting your complaint and supporting documentation to substantiate your claim of misconduct.

Complaints must be formally submitted to the CIFP Retirement Institute using this form either electronically or by mail. The events leading to your complaint must have transpired no more than six years prior to the date you are officially filing the complaint with CIFP.

It is important to complete the entire complaint form and to provide as much information as possible. Please ensure all representations are made in good faith and are accurate to the best of your knowledge.

CIFP will not pursue complaints that are filed anonymously unless warranted by extenuating circumstances. You will need to provide CIFP with details in writing as to why your complaint should be adjudicated on an anonymous basis.

If you require assistance filing your complaint, please send an e-mail to

Within 10 business days of receiving your official complaint, CIFP will notify you that a file has been opened and will provide you with details and timelines of its complaint handling process.

To be transparent and fair to the licensee you are filing a complaint about and to ensure due process, the Retirement Institute will share the official complaint form you file with CIFP as well as any relevant and material supplemental information you provide as part of your formal complaint with the licensee. The licensee will be given 30 days to provide a written response to your complaint which will be factored into the investigation conducted by the CIFP Retirement Institute.

Use this form to file a complaint against an RRA, RFRA or RRC Licensee.

CIFP will first verify that you, the complainant, have raised your concerns directly with your Financial Advisor/Planner who is a CIFP licensee. More often than not, the matter can be resolved from this simple step particularly where the root of the issue is a misunderstanding or miscommunication between you and the licensee. If this has not yielded a satisfactory outcome, you will be directed to speak to the supervisor of the licensee and/or explore other options available through the licensee’s firm (e.g. use of an ombudsman or mediator).

Once CIFP has confirmation that you have exhausted these avenues, CIFP can become involved in the complaint process at your discression.

Before CIFP delves into an investigation, in the event the CIFP credential holder is also a registrant/licensee with a regulatory body and/or holds an approved credential with another approved credentialing body, CIFP will inform you, the complainant, that you have the option to pursue your complaint with an entity other than CIFP. CIFP will also let you know that doing so may provide you with more favourable outcomes and a less onerous process than continuing on with CIFP:

  • a shorter and less onerous route for you to achieve a resolution relative to the CIFP process
  • access to neutral, third-party mediators or ombudsman
  • access to Whistleblower programs especially if preserving the anonymity of the complainant is a going concern
  • if the complaint is proven to be valid, an award that may be greater than can be gained through the CIFP process
  • if the complaint is proven to be valid, a different range of sanctions that may be imposed against the credential holder relative to the CIFP process

As applicable, CIFP will provide you with information about how to contact the relevant approved credentialing body, regulatory body and/or law enforcement agencies.

If you, the complainant, indicate you would like to continue the process with CIFP, the CIFP Retirement Institute will conduct a preliminary investigation of the complaint to determine if it has merit. This may take up to 90 days although it is typically completed in relatively short order.

As part of this initial review, you may be contacted by CIFP and asked for further details, to clarify certain facts and to provide additional supporting documentation to supplement what was submitted when your original complaint form was filed. You will also be informed that in the interests of fairness and due process, the licensee will be made aware of your complaint and will be given 30 days to respond in writing to the accusations.

The CIFP Retirement Institute will make a determination as to whether it can rule on your case or, if the allegations against the licensee are more serious in nature, the matter needs to be escalated. If the Institute does in fact preside over the case, it will render a decision in as timely a manner as is reasonably feasible. The decision will be delivered in writing to both you, the complainant, as well as to the licensee and where the Institute sides with you, the complainant, the sanctions, if any, to be imposed against the licensee will be made clear.

On the other hand, if the CIFP Retirement Institute deems the nature and the complexity of your complaint to be beyond its scope, it will refer the matter to the Conduct Committee.

The Conduct Committee is an independent, peer-based body that has a mandate to work with the CIFP credential holder in question and resolve any items of concern during the disciplinary process. It acts as a counter balance against arbitrary decisions by the CIFP Retirement Institute.

If the Conduct Committee does in fact become involved, both you, the complainant, and the licensee will be advised of the change in status of the file and the next steps in the process. The Committee may contact you and/or the licensee if it has additional questions and/or requires further clarification on a particular aspect of the complaint and/or the response previously received from either party. The licensee has 30 days to respond to questions from the Committee.

Based on the facts of the case, the Conduct Committee can:

  • dismiss the matter if the Committee does not see grounds for further action
  • dismiss the matter with a letter of guidance to the licensee
  • impose a plan of action to remedy the misconduct with a view towards pre-empting a repetition of the misconduct
  • place the licensee ‘on watch’ for a stipulated period of time
  • advise the licensee that he or she must appear before the Hearing Panel for a formal disciplinary hearing

If a disciplinary hearing is set, a three-person Hearing Panel will be selected from among individuals that comprise the Conduct Committee. The Chair will be one of the members and will also serve as the Chair of the Hearing Panel. Individuals cannot be a member of the Hearing Panel if he or she has a conflict of interest be it real or perceived. The hearing can be an in-person or virtual meeting with the licensee or, can be administered by way of written submissions.

You, the complainant, will not directly be involved in this phase of the process.

The Hearing Panel will render a judgement to either dismiss the case or, will side with you, the complainant, by ruling that the CIFP credential holder is in fact guilty of misconduct. The decision of the Hearing Panel is communicated to you as well as the CIFP licensee. A finding of misconduct may result in sanctions against the licensee.

The range of potential outcomes following an investigation by the Hearing Panel into the alleged misconduct of a licensee include:

  • dismissing the matter outright if the Hearing Panel does not see grounds for further action
  • dismissing the matter with a letter of guidance to the licensee
  • imposing a plan of action to remedy the misconduct with a view towards pre-empting a repetition of the misconduct
  • a temporary suspension of the licensee’s right to use the RRC/CR, RFRA/CR or RRA marks
  • a temporary or permanent suspension of the licensee’s certification
  • a permanent ban on the right of the licensee to seek certification and the use of RRC/CR, RFRA/CR or RRA marks

Either party—the subject of the complaint or, you, the complainant—can appeal a decision made by the Hearing Panel. Appeals must be formally lodged in writing within 30 days of a decision issued by the CIFP Retirement Institute or the Conduct Committee. Appeals are granted only on the basis of a material error having been made in the interpretation of the facts of the case or, in the interpretation and/or application of the Code of Conduct or the Practice Standards.