Looking for an Advisor? …Seek Quality

Excerpt Adapted From: The Financial Shepherd®
Why Dollars + Change = Sense by Glen Wright and Sy Pugh

The person needs to know more than you about a particular area of expertise, otherwise, you could do it on your own. The individual should have more than just training from a company, but also should have some type of designation. There are many designations that advisors can simply pay a fee for and have it on paper to make them look more credible. You want to make sure that they have accreditation and designations where extensive training and continuing education are involved. Within the financial realm, the most creditable designation is the CFP, or Certified Financial Planner. In addition, if someone is going to manage your money, they should also be a registered investment advisor. Another designation is the RFC which stands for Registered Financial Consultant and requires more continuing education than most others. Regarding finances, the point is not just about getting a designation, it’s about continuing to learn and evolve as the financial world around us evolves. If you want to hire an accountant, then they need to be a signed fiduciary, or a Certified Public Accountant (CPA).  If you need an attorney, make sure that individual specializes in the area of law that you need. For instance, you should not use a personal injury attorney to complete your estate planning or a defense attorney to close your real estate transactions.

Most people think that all financial planners are “certified,” but this isn’t true. Anyone can call himself or herself a “financial planner.” Only those who have fulfilled the certification and renewal requirements of the CFP Board can display the CFP® certification marks. When selecting a financial planner, you need to feel confident that the person you choose to help you plan for your future is competent and ethical. The CFP® certification provides that sense of security by allowing only those who meet the following requirements the right to use the CFP® certification marks.

Here is some helpful information to know: CFP® professionals must develop their theoretical and practical financial planning knowledge by completing a comprehensive course of study at a college or university offering a financial planning curriculum approved by the CFP Board. CFP® practitioners must pass a comprehensive two-day, 10-hour CFP® Certification Examination that tests their ability to apply financial planning knowledge in an integrated format. Based on regular research of what planners do, the exam covers the financial planning process, tax planning, employee benefits and retirement planning, estate planning, investment management, and insurance. Finally, CFP® professionals must have three years minimum experience in the financial planning process prior to earning the right to use the CFP® certification marks. As a result, CFP® practitioners possess financial counseling skills in addition to financial planning knowledge. As a final step to certification, CFP® practitioners agree to abide by a strict code of professional conduct, known as CFP Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility, that sets forth their ethical responsibilities to the public, clients and employers. The CFP Board also performs a background check during this process, and each individual must disclose any investigations or legal proceedings related to their professional or business conduct. (Certified Financial Planner – Board of Standards, Inc. website. www.cfp.net)