Professional Conduct & Governance

CSI is the most experienced and trusted financial educator endorsed by regulatory authorities across Canada. When investors choose to work with a Designated Financial Services Advisor (DFSA), they can feel confident knowing these advisors are held to high standards enforced through CSI.

DFSA Code of Ethics

All DFSA designation holders agree to abide by the DFSA Code of Ethics, both when applying for the designation and when renewing it annually. Abiding by the Code means a DFSA commits to maintaining a high level of professionalism when dealing with the public. CSI is committed to overseeing the ethical standards required of its designation holders. We monitor adherence to the DFSA Code of Ethics through reviews, periodic audits of the designation holder’s annual commitment and declaration requirements, handling public complaints and tracking news and regulatory reports.

All candidates are required to declare any legal action, allegations or complaints prior to being granted a designation and also each year upon renewal of that designation. A “Fit and Proper Requirement” is also a component of the application. The requirement sets out the following situations for self-declaration:

  • Any accusations of professional misconduct, disciplinary or reprimands or license suspensions or revocations by an employer, professional association or administrative or regulatory authority, including consumer protection legislation
  • Currently bankrupt or in the past 5 years been adjudged bankrupt
  • Convicted of a criminal offence in any jurisdiction for which a record suspension or a pardon has not been granted

Any information provided will be collected, stored and used in accordance with applicable law and our privacy policy and will be shared with the Designation Ethics Committee to determine your suitability for the designation. Declaring these situations will not necessarily impact certification or renewal. The Ethics Committee will review each situation individually.

Review the DFSA™ Code of Ethics

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1.0 General Responsibilities

DFSA™ designates will comply with legal and regulatory principles that govern the financial services industry. You will be professional, compliant, and recognize your limitations, exercise due diligence and practice with sound judgment. To be compliant with this code of ethics you must respect all of the requirements set out below.

As a DFSA™you will:

1.1 Make yourself aware of the legal and regulatory requirements to operate in your jurisdiction. Maintain knowledge of and comply with all applicable laws, rules, and regulations of any government, regulatory organization, or professional association governing your professional activities. However, this Code of Ethics may set out different standards of behaviour than does the law. Where there is a conflict between the Code of Ethics and the law, you must abide by the law.

1.2 Act with dignity, integrity, professional competence and in an ethical manner when dealing with the public, clients, prospects, employers, and colleagues. You must use reasonable care and exercise independent, professional judgment.

1.3 Recognize your own limitations. When appropriate, seek additional opinions and services.

1.4 Abide by the annual license renewal and continuing education requirements as required to maintain the DFSA™ designation.

2.0 Responsibilities to the Client

All DFSA™ designates will strive to maintain the highest level of personal integrity when dealing with clients. By demonstrating respect, honesty, due diligence and practicing sound compliance, you will honour the trust of clients, while providing an environment of confidentiality, free from discrimination.

As a DFSA™ you will:

2.1 Treat each client with respect, put the client’s interests ahead of your own, and not exploit a client for personal advantage.

2.2 Not discriminate against any client on such grounds as age, gender, marital status, national or ethnic origin, physical or mental disability, political affiliation, race, religion, sexual orientation, or socioeconomic status. You only have the right to refuse to accept a client for legitimate business reasons.

2.3 Constantly exercise due diligence in making recommendations for financial products..

2.4 Use particular care in executing your duty of care when working with clients.

2.5 Preserve the confidentiality of information communicated by clients, prospects and employers.

2.6 Not make any oral or written statements that misrepresent the services that you or your employer are capable of performing, your qualifications or the qualifications of your firm. Do not make or imply any assurances regarding any financial product except to communicate accurate information regarding the product.

3.0 Responsibilities to the Profession

DFSA™ designates will operate in accordance with financial services regulation governing the activity you are conducting and licensed to provide, and in accordance with the law. DFSA™s have a responsibility to conduct themselves with honesty, trust, competence and abide by the terms of the DFSA™ Certification Mark License Agreement.

As a DFSA™ you will:

3.1 Enter into associations only if you can maintain your professional integrity.

3.2 Only use the DFSA™ designation in a dignified and judicious manner and in compliance with the DFSA™ Certification Mark License Agreement.

3.3 Not engage in any professional conduct involving dishonesty, fraud, deceit or misrepresentation, or commit any act that reflects adversely on your honesty, trustworthiness, or professional competence.

3.4 Abide by the Ethical Misconduct Review Process, cooperate with an investigation request and comply with decisions of the Designation Ethics Committee and/or Appeal Panel.

4.0 Responsibilities to the Employer (If not Self-Employed)

In addition to the General Responsibilities, Client Responsibilities, and Responsibilities to your Profession within this code; you also have responsibilities in dealing with your employer.

As a DFSA™ you will:

4.1 Place your employer’s interests ahead of your own and not exploit your position for personal advantage.

4.2 Disclose to your employer all matters that reasonably could be expected to interfere with your duty to your employer.

4.3 Comply with any prohibitions on activities imposed by your employer if a conflict of interest exists.

What is the CSI Designation Ethics Committee?

The CSI Ethics Committee was established to ensure any complaints against CSI designation holders are heard promptly and fairly. The Committee considers any alleged violation of the Code of Ethics and determines whether there has been a breach.

  • A CSI Case Co-ordinator (normally a CSI employee) provides each member of the Committee with a copy of the case file.
  • At the Committee meeting, the CSI Case Co-ordinator presents the case and answers any questions.
  • If the Committee determines that the case qualifies as a breach, the Committee determines the appropriate penalty.

Allegations of violation of the DFSA™ Code of Ethics are dealt with by the Designation Ethics Committee according to the CSI Ethical Misconduct Process. If the Committee determines a violation occurred, a disciplinary sanction is recommended. The DFSA™ holder may accept the recommended sanction or request a hearing. Disciplinary sanctions could include:

  • A written reprimand from CSI
  • Notifying the appropriate regulatory body for possible further investigation
  • Publicizing the violation on the DFSA™ public website and/or newsletter
  • Recording the violation in the DFSA™ designation holder’s record
  • Requiring the DFSA™ to complete a supplementary ethics course(s)
  • Requiring the DFSA™ to complete an additional professional development course(s)
  • Suspending the DFSA™ holder’s licence and use of the DFSA™ Certification Mark (for a specific period, indefinitely with conditions for reinstatement, or permanently)
  • Notify the holder’s employer and/or professional or designation granting organization of the violation
  • Imposing other measures deemed appropriate by the CSI Designation Ethics Committee

Composition of the Ethics Committee

The Committee will comprise of 3-8 members selected by the CSI Advisory Councils.