Advisor vs Adviser Silliness

August 16th, 2017 by Potato

In a widely seen CBC Marketplace report, the reporters spread the unhelpful tidbit that there’s a magical difference between the spelling of advisor and adviser. They say:

“Advisers” are regulated and have a legal responsibility to act in your best interest. “Advisors” are … not the same.

And since then I’ve seen that “tip” repeated many times when people are looking for advice: “go find an adviser” they may say, not having one themselves. However, it is missing the broader lesson and is unhelpful: job titles are misleading and unhelpful in the financial services industry. More importantly:

Advisor may not be regulated, but adviser is not used.

In what appears to be the original report kicking off the mini-controversy, of 121,932 registrants they looked at, only 17 across the country used the title of “Adviser”. Basically nobody uses that title, so when people repeat the “o” vs “e” issue and suggest that you go find an adviser — such a creature (effectively) does not exist! In an article at they did a check, and of 26 people who did use the term on their LinkedIn profiles, 24 did so in error; others may also use it under the aegis of another licensing body (such as insurance sales).

I’ve seen too many times people repeating the “o” vs “e” spelling difference as though it’s a helpful tip when looking for advice. It’s a distraction, nothing more. The real lesson is that most job titles (whether it’s advisor, vice president, or portfolio doctor) don’t actually tell you anything about whether the person you’re sitting across from is licensed to sell a particular product, experienced enough to provide you advice, or regulated to act only in your best interest. Indeed, some of the least regulated titles (like coach, planner, planning-farmboy, or instructor) may be the best people for you, who would put your needs ahead of any commission (’cause there isn’t one), even if there isn’t a regulatory framework and force of law to make it so.

2 Responses to “Advisor vs Adviser Silliness”

  1. Steveark Says:

    A piece of trivia on the subject. Some spell checkers don’t even recognize advisor as a word, only adviser. On my screen as I typed this it is underlined in red. Go figure.

  2. Robb Engen Says:

    This idea was started by Lethbridge’s own Larry Elford, a former investment adviser with RBC Dominion Securities. He was fired for not playing by their rules, and then sued RBC for $13M for wrongful dismissal. Now he is a relentless investor advocate with some borderline crazy ideas and conspiracy theories. Here’s the earliest reference I can find of his spreading the great “desception”.