Quick, which of the following is not a real financial designation?
They are actually all real! And trust me, I use the term “real” very generously.
So what does this mean?
It means there are a whole lot of “professional designations” available to financial advisors to make them sound like they know what they are talking about, but there are really only a handful with any real meaning. And this brings me to . . .
Criteria 3 – Hire a Certified Financial Planner Practitioner
This message brought to you by the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) organization. No, not really! But this is a great way to narrow your search. A financial planner who has their CFP® designation has earned it by passing a comprehensive exam, completing a series of courses, agreeing to a code of ethics, and having three years’ worth of professional experience in financial planning.
I’m sure I’ll take heat from the Personal Retirement Planning Specialist group (yes, this is yet another designation), but the CFP® mark is arguably the most recognized comprehensive financial planning designation available. Are there other designations? Yes, literally hundreds. Some are good and some, as you’ve seen in the quiz, are bordering on the ridiculous.
At a minimum, your financial planner should have the CFP®. Are there bad financial advisors with the CFP®? Yes. Are there good financial advisors without the CFP®? Yes. But as a rule of thumb, get yourself a CFP®.
And here’s a bit of a bonus for you. The CFP® represents the minimum. It’s like thinking you’re qualified to race in the Indy 500 because you have a driver’s license. It’s a good starting point, but with your financial life on the line, don’t settle for the minimum.
Look for your advisor to have advanced designations or degrees, including a JD (law degree); CPA/EA (tax); CFA/CIMA (portfolio design and investment analysis); master’s degree in tax, financial planning, economics, or finance; an MBA with an emphasis in finance/investments; or the PFS/CPWA (financial planning).
Okay, got it?
At a minimum, make sure that if you are looking for a comprehensive financial advisor, he or she has a CFP® designation.
Excellent. Find an advisory with the CFP®. Done? Almost. In the next lesson, we’ll go over four more key things you need to know to get the best advisor for you.
The proceeding blog post is an excerpt from Get Money Smart: Simple Lessons to Kickstart Your Financial Confidence & Grow Your Wealth, available now on Amazon.
About the Independent Financial Advisor
Robert Pagliarini, PhD, CFP®, EA has helped clients across the United States manage, grow, and preserve their wealth for the past 25 years. His goal is to provide comprehensive financial, investment, and tax advice in a way that was honest and ethical. In addition, he is a CFP® Board Ambassador, one of only 50 in the country, and a real fiduciary. In his spare time, he writes personal finance books, finance articles for Forbes and develops email and video financial courses to help educate others. With decades of experience as a financial advisor, the media often calls on him for his expertise. Contact Robert today to learn more about his financial planning services.