Sunday, 1 May 2011

Alphabet Soup of Financial Planners

Our assumptions are that no one cares more about your financial future than you. So if you need and/or want help in making wise financial decisions, who can you trust with your money and your financial welfare? Most of us pick a financial advisor by asking a friend or relative. We might also stop in our bank, talk to our insurance agent, or hear about financial advisors that advertise in print, radio, television, or social networks. Many financial advisors will have letters behind their name to signify a specialty or that they have passed specific test and accreditation. Here is just a sample of the most common certifications you will see associated with financial advisors:
AEP - Accredited Estate Planner
CDFA - Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
CFA - Chartered Financial Analyst
CFP - Certified Financial Planner
ChFC - Chartered Financial Consultant
CLU - Chartered Life Underwriter
CMFC - Certified Mutual Fund Counselor
CPA - Certified Public Accountant
CRC - Certified Retirement Counselor
CRPS - Chartered Retirement Plans Specialist
NAPFA – National Association of Personal Financial Advisor
PFS - Personal Financial Specialist
RIA - Registered Investment Advisor

Just because a financial advisor has letters behind their name does not make them an honest person. The April 29th edition of the USA Today stated that in 2010 there were 87,222 Securities and Exchange (SEC) complaints/questions and 1,310 Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FIRA) new disciplinary actions filed. To help you find a financial advisor that you can trust, research their certifications and accreditations and check out BrightScope Advisor Pages.  BrightScope post information on advisors such as their employment history, qualifications, amount of assets under management and complaints filed. Do your homework when selecting a financial advisor. You do not want to trust your financial well-being to the next Bernie Madoff.

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