Understanding Registration Categories

An individual’s or firm’s registration category tells you what products and services they can offer. Being registered, however, doesn't mean that all firms and individuals have the same skills, provide the same services or charge the same fees. Make sure you understand their qualifications and the products or services that they can provide. Some firms may be registered in more than one category. For example, some CIRO Members are registered as both mutual dealers and exempt market dealers.

Ask your investment advisor about their background, what products they offer and how they are paid. In most cases, your investment advisor can only buy or sell investment products for you with your permission and based on your specific instructions. If you have a managed account, your portfolio manager may make investment decisions and trades on your behalf.

Firm Registration Type1 :What They Do:
Investment Dealer

A firm that sells a broad selection of investment products, such as: 

  • shares and bonds
  • mutual funds and exchange-traded funds
  • exempt securities (such as shares in a private company or limited partnerships)

Some investment dealers offer advice and a full range of services such as market analysis, securities research and portfolio management. Others act more like brokers, selling or buying investment products based on your instructions.

Investment Dealers must be a member and follow the rules of the Canadian Investment Regulatory Organization (CIRO) (formerly the Investment Industry Regulatory Organization of Canada (IIROC)). CIRO approves what products and customer types the Investment Dealer and its representatives can deal in.

Mutual Fund DealerA firm that only sells mutual funds, unless the firm is also registered in another category such as investment dealer or exempt market dealer. Mutual funds may also include exchange-traded funds (ETFs). Mutual Fund Dealers must be a member and follow the rules of CIRO (formerly the Mutual Fund Dealers Association of Canada (MFDA)).
Scholarship Plan DealerA firm that pools your contributions in a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP) to invest in scholarship plan units.
Exempt Market DealerA firm that sells exempt securities. Exempt securities can be sold without a prospectus. A prospectus is a legal document that gives investors important information about the investment (such as risk, fees, suitability, etc.). Without this disclosure, exempt securities offer less protection to investors.
Restricted DealerA special kind of dealing registration used for firms that do not quite fit under any other category. Securities regulators will tailor each restricted dealer registration with specific requirements or conditions.
Portfolio ManagerA firm that provides advice, manages your investment portfolio, and buys and sells on your behalf according to the instructions or discretionary authority you have given.
Restricted Portfolio ManagerA firm that provides advice about a particular sector or industry (such as real estate, oil and gas, biotech, etc.). Securities regulators will assign restrictions tailored to the firm’s expertise.
Investment Fund ManagerA firm that manages an investment fund.