Clearing Up the Confusion on Credentials (The Truth About Financial Advisors)

The website of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) website lists close to 100 different designations that may be held by financial advisors and the Wall Street Journal has identified an additional 115. The credentials are not issued by government agencies. For example, the well regarded CFP designation is issued by The Certified Financial Board of Standards, Inc. which is in turn accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA).

A financial advisor’s credentials show a commitment to increasing knowledge base, at some level, in a particular financial realm. However, an investor should keep in mind that an advisor without a list of designations may produce excellent results, having learned through self-study and experience. Since certain designations in the financial world are relatively easy to obtain, independent research into the requirements may prove worthwhile. The designations can be easily confused since they are often referred to in common parlance by initialisms. FINRA’s website offers consumers the ability to “decode the letters that sometimes follow a financial professional’s name”, determine the continuing education requirements (if any) of the issuing organization, ascertain whether a mechanism is in place for registering complaints against credential holders and “confirm who holds the credential”.

What factors did you consider when choosing your Financial Advisor?

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