The media calls them “alphabet soup”. Investor Watchdog’s record is reviewing the credentials of an advisor who had 28 letters after his name. The soup I am referring to is the letters that represent certifications, designations, and accreditations that appear after advisors’ names.
We are all familiar with the well-known CPA® (Certified Public Accountant™) designation. Less well known is CFP® (Certified Financial Planner™) designation. And, even lesser known is CFA® (Chartered Financial Analyst™), a very highly regarded designation that can take three years to obtain. Continue reading →
Having suffered devastating losses, witnessed the Bernie Madoff scandal, and been forced to revise retirement plans for the worse, the greatest question for weary investors today is: Whom can you trust? Consider one of the most trusted groups of professionals, doctors; they must go through rigorous schooling and training and take the Hippocratic Oath in order to practice medicine. There are no parallel standards or code of ethics for financial advisers.
One of the most serious concerns for investors is the large number of ordinary people holding themselves out as financial advisers without having met any rigorous competency standards or embraced a code of ethics; in other words, providing no proof that they are qualified practitioners devoted to a standard of professional conduct. High quality investment advisers hold certifications that prove they are experts in their profession.
Selecting an adviser lacking legitimate credentials based on salesmanship or personality alone can be a major financial risk. This is tantamount to letting a used-car salesman perform your open-heart surgery because you like his personality. It is incumbent upon the consumer to ensure the person handling their money is properly accredited and has the necessary experience to deliver and perform high-quality services.
Remember, not all investment certifications are close to being equal. Beware of phony certifications that claim to represent specialized knowledge. Questionable certifications can be attained through the redemption of a few cereal box-tops and a small fee. Brokers who buy these fictitious designations are ethically challenged and disreputable. The CFA, CPA, and CFP are highly respected credentials for investment professionals held in high esteem. Perhaps the most rigorous to attain is the CFA designation. The CFA is respected by regulators and demanded by private investors.