Who knew that saying, “I read a lot of books and periodicals about financial stuff… seriously, here’s an Instagram shot of my bookshelf,” wouldn’t be enough to establish my bonafides in the eyes of certain readers?
Apparently, I need a little more gravitas, and as we all know, the best way to prove your brain is really good at thinking is to add as many letters behind your name as possible. I’ve already got a bunch of letters from ivory towers (and working on three more that will come with my Master’s of Education degree), but that doesn’t really do a whole lot for convincing you guys that I know what I’m talking about when it comes to stuff like buying ETFs using a discount brokerage, mutual funds, robo advisors, stock valuations, or pretty much anything else that might be relevant to most people. Consequently, I’m thinking about trying on the Canadian Securities Course (CSC) for size.
Back to School
I was talking to Dan Bortolotti of Canadian Couch Potato and Moneysense fame a couple of weeks ago and he mentioned that as part of the new fee-only service he’s a part of, he was taking the CSC course. From what he was saying, and from what I’ve read online, it sounds like that course is the main obstacle to being able to recommend specific securities to specific people.
In other words (and again, this is only from what I could grasp online today – they don’t make it easy to understand btw!) as of right now it is actually against the law for me to answer an email and say, “I think this specific security is right for your portfolio.”
Passing the CSC and then possibly one or two other short courses that depend on my province of residence would allow me to answer this question BUT NOT trade on their behalf or anything like that. It also isn’t nearly as prestigious as the CFP and/or CFA designations, but I’m not looking to challenge MBA students for jobs at Investors Group here, so I think this course might actually fit my goals.
Why Would I Take the CSC if I’m Not in the Financial Services Industry?
If you’re asking yourself, “Why does this guy want to burn another $1,000 on the altar of more letters behind his name?” then you certainly wouldn’t be the only one. Beyond giving our blogs a little bit of credibility – something I thought publishing a book with a beer on the cover might do – the CSC might be a nice feather in my cap going forward for a few reasons.
First and foremost, it’s never a bad thing to get smarter – especially when you’re writing a blog where you purport to try and help other people. The course might be a cool way to come up with some post ideas I hadn’t thought of before.
It would also serve as a nice tool to help me on my quest for a personal finance curriculum in Manitoba – and possibly across the prairie provinces. Having someone that could credibly say they understand the investing world and that can speak both of the incredibly ridiculous and weird sets of terminology associated with finance and education, should be a real asset. More and more I’m coming around to the idea that this might be my real calling in the world of education… or it might be writing books about beer consumption, I could go either way.
Finally, it might also help me if I decide to do some small-scale investment advice on the side. While I would obviously have to get a CFP designation and give up teaching if I were to pursue that idea full time (something I can’t see at the moment), I believe – and please correct me if I’m wrong in the comments – that the CSC designation and then a couple of subsequent licensing exams would allow me to recommend certain securities and the essential basics of financial advice.
I would never pretend to believe that I should give some advice about estate planning/will writing, accounting, small business tax strategies, or any of the more complicated stuff that CFPs are charged with knowing – but I think I could provide a substantial value in a rural environment where financial professionals are thin on the ground, and not cost-effective for many people. That’s a little down the road though.
What is the Canadian Securities Course Anyway?
Here is how the Canadian Securities Institute (CSI) describes that course:
The Canadian securities industry and the regulatory environment
Market and economic events impacting investment performance
Understanding and analyzing corporate financial statements
Financial instruments: fixed income, equities, managed products, structured products, fee-based accounts and derivatives
Company, industry and market performance/analysis
The portfolio management process and asset allocation
Setting financial goals, the financial planning process and taxation
Industry standards of conduct and the code of ethics
The institutional marketplace
The CSC encompasses some 150 hours of learning providing a comprehensive understanding of the structure and players in the financial services industry, the features, benefits and risks of a vast array of investment products, the two main approaches to analyzing investment securities and techniques and approaches to understanding client needs and setting financial goals. In addition to all that, the CSC will help you to understand industry jargon (top-down and bottom-up analysis) astounding your friends and family.
On one forum, a writer named “Money Gal” might have put it best when she said, “Think about the CSC as your “union card” for selling investment products.” It seems to be a relatively low bar/entry point and essentially three letters that tell people you are not a moron when it comes to this money stuff.
From what I was able to read of the course it looks pretty basic. A fair amount of reading (some of it dry) about topics I’ve been reading about for quite a while. Other people in the blog world have said they didn’t find it particularly challenging, but then again, maybe they are just much smarter than me.
Actually, now that I think about it, there are really only two outcomes of taking the course – both positive.
1) I learn a few new things, get some new writing ideas, and answer people’s emails a little more in-depth without getting a criminal record.
2) I get lost in a sea of information that proves I’m not nearly as smart as I like to think and get my ego pounded down closer to the size most people would consider “healthy”.
I’m not sure which you guys should be hoping for more…
Anyway, I’m not at all certain that a few conversations and a couple of hours of web surfing have provided me with an accurate look at what it takes to pass the Canada Securities Course, or even if I have the exact idea about what it would allow me to legally do with Canada (really the only thing that was readily apparent was that everyone with a CFP or CFA designation loved to look down on it and talk about how much better their letters were than someone else’s letters). So if anyone out there (letters behind the name – optional) would like to provide some clarity that would be great.
In a perfect world, I’m hoping that eventually my background in education and communication can come together with a little financial knowledge and lead to something where I can help bridge the gap that currently exists between basic PF information and the public at large.
Am I biting off more than I can chew and wasting $1,000 in the process?