Some audits by State Securities Commissioners have found advisors who use RIA (Registered Investment Advisor) after their name. This deceptive sales practice confuses investors who believe RIA is a designation like CPA(r) or CFP(r).
This is the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Thousands of advisors have strings of initials after their names. The initials denote specialized expertise that increases the competence and quality of advisors. What many investors don’t know is less ethical advisors purchase the initials to impress them.
High quality designations have prerequisites, substantial study time, examinations, and continuing education requirements. Low quality designations have none of the above. In fact, they are purchased by less ethical advisors to trick investors into giving them control of their assets – “you can trust me, I am an expert. Look at all of my designations”.
Unfortunately most investors do not know good designations from bad ones.
The best designations are CFA(r), CFP(r), CIMA(r), and CPA/PFS(r).