I get it. You’ve had a conversation with one of our financial advisors and you’re enthused about the possibilities. Whether you’re a new client or an existing one with a new action plan, you can’t wait to get started. Neither can we!

But first – there’s just a teensy bit of paperwork to complete. Okay, I confess, it may be quite a lot of paperwork, with a lot of pretty personal questions.

Why do we do that to you?

We think it’s fun … NOT.

Honestly, we don’t want to smother your fresh financial plans in piles of paperwork any more than you do. It’d be a lot easier for both of us if your name and maybe a signature were all it took. But in today’s troublesome world, we must seriously safeguard your security, so here are some seriously good reasons we must ask so many questions before we get to the good stuff.


It’s personal (if we’re doing it right).

As “Simple Money” author Tim Maurer has observed, “personal finance is more personal than it is finance.” Maurer’s words are more approachable, but IIROC, our primary regulatory body, thinks so too. They just express it in a lot denser and more legally binding language.

IIROC’s name is a mouthful: Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada. Their “Know-Your-Client” and “Suitability” rules are even lengthier. Still, they’re there for good reason. Just as you deserve a thorough exam before a physician prescribes any complex treatment plan, your advisor really should get to know you quite well before recommending suitable investments for your lifetime wealth.


He said, she said? Get it in writing.

In complying with those “Know-Your-Client” and Suitability requirements, we must ask a lot of probing questions: your age, income, net worth, marital status, occupation, employer, risk tolerance, investment objectives, financial literacy level and more. Ditto all that for your spouse if you’ve got one. With so much information to gather, it makes sense for us to document the answers, have you review them for accuracy, and sign off that we’ve gotten it all correct.


Are you who you say you are?

Once we’re set up to offer best-interest advice to you and your family, IIROC still isn’t done with us. To ensure that neither we nor our clients are up to any monkey business, they want us to confirm that account holders really are who they say they are. For that (while we generally caution against offering this sort of personal information to just anyone), we are required to collect gory details such as your legal name; date of birth; Social Insurance Number; and citizenship status. And we’ve got to see original IDs in a face-to-face exchange – at least in the majority of cases. Photocopies or anonymous emails won’t do.


Extra-special circumstances? Brace for extra-special paperwork.

And to think, all this is if you’re a “normal” investor. If we’re talking about corporate or certain trust accounts, you work for a securities dealer, or you’re a “Politically Exposed Person” (such as a government official), expect additional scrutiny over the controlling interests in your accounts. IIROC wants to know more about you, plus another government agency gets in on the action: FINTRAC, or the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre, Canada’s financial intelligence unit. FINTRAC’s mandate is to detect and prevent money laundering and terrorist activities by enforcing the Canadian government’s Bill C-31.


Following the PIPEDA Piper.

Before we’re through with this post, I want to reemphasize that we normally advise against sharing the kinds of personal information we must collect from you. I’ve covered the subject in a couple of posts, here and here, as well as in this “Protection Against Fraud” handout. This rule of thumb is as relevant today as ever, even if we must make an exception in this case.

So your personal identity remains personal when it’s in our care, know that we have a bounty of processes and procedures we revisit regularly to ensure that our firm and each of our employees remain adherent to Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents (PIPEDA) Act on data privacy. While I suppose no system is impregnable, there’s little we take more seriously here than preventing any breach from ever occurring. I could easily write another post on that subject alone … maybe someday I will.


We do it all for you.

Are we having fun yet? We know how frustrating it can be when you’re ready to get going with a brand new financial plan, only to hit a wall of paperwork. Believe me, we feel the same way. That said, it sure beats having someone posing as you running roughshod over your personal identity. It also ensures that, when we offer you advice about your wealth interests, it’s offered in the context of knowing what those interests really are. What’s the saying – the devil is in the details? In this case, so is your best financial future. Thanks in advance for being patient with our process.