How Do Financial Advisors Make Money in Canada?

Canadian financial advisors play a pivotal role in guiding individuals and families toward prosperity and security.
How Do Financial Advisors Make Money in Canada
Article Overview

Canadian financial advisors play a pivotal role in guiding individuals and families toward prosperity and security. They are the unsung heroes who bridge the gap between dreams and reality, empowering their clients to navigate the complex world of investments, savings, and planning. Have you ever wondered how these dedicated professionals earn their livelihood while dedicating themselves to their clients’ financial well-being? In this article, we will lay out various ways financial advisors get compensated for their expertise.

How do Financial Advisors Make Money in Canada?

1. Commission-Based Compensation

One common way financial advisors make money is through a commission-based model. When clients purchase specific financial products such as mutual funds, insurance policies, or annuities, the advisor receives a commission from the financial institution that offers those products. This model aligns the advisor’s success with the clients’ financial growth, encouraging them to provide tailored solutions that meet individual needs.

2. Fee-Only Structures

Over the years, the financial advisory landscape has evolved to offer more transparent options. Many advisors now adopt a fee-only structure, charging clients for their time and expertise rather than earning commissions from product sales. Fee-only advisors charge a fixed fee for their services, regardless of the financial products recommended. This fee model emphasizes objectivity and unbiased advice, and is suitable for individual looking for advice only. This model is also popular among DIY investors who would like an expert’s advice to ensure they are on the right track.

3. Fee-Based Structure

For clients seeking investment focused financial planning and ongoing support, advisors often adopt the fee-based structure based on Assets Under Management (AUM). In this approach, advisors charge a percentage of the total value of the client’s investments they manage. The fees are typically 1%-1.5% of the total assets managed. This incentivizes advisors to grow their clients’ portfolios since their compensation is directly linked to the clients’ financial success.

4. Salary and Bonus Structure

Some financial advisory firms in Canada employ the traditional salary and bonus structure for their advisors. This method ensures a steady income for advisors and often includes performance-based bonuses tied to the growth of the firm or individual accomplishments. Typically this structure is offered to financial advisors working at a bank.


Commission percentages vary based on products and agreements with institutions. For insurance products, the commissions can be around 50% of the annual premium paid.

The value of a financial advisor extends beyond fees. Studies have shown that individuals working with financial advisors have 2.8 times more wealth than those who doesn’t work with an advisor.

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Written by:

Jim Pan, CFP, MFA-P

Jim is a dedicated, fee and advice only independent Certified Financial Planner with a focus on supporting healthcare business owners during their crucial growth phase. His expertise lies in offering comprehensive solutions to minimize taxes while embracing a holistic approach. With a career spanning back to 2010, Jim has established a strong presence in the financial industry. He proudly holds a range of designations, including Certified Financial Planner (CFP), and Master Financial Advisor - Philanthropy (MFA-P). He is currently pursuing additional designations and qualifications to better serve his clients and community. Beyond his qualifications, Jim is a member and an esteemed participant in the Million Dollar Round Table (MDRT), an exclusive global association comprising the top 1% of financial advisors. Jim's commitment extends to the community, where he spearheads numerous charitable fundraising events and plays an active role in enhancing the well-being of others. Additionally, he has contributed significantly by serving on the board of the Canadian Mental Health Association in Vancouver. Currently, he volunteers with Junior Achievement of British Columbia (JABC) to present personal finance topics to youths.

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