If someone tells you they’re a lawyer, you may not know the specifics of their practice, but you will know right away that they went to law school. You will know that they spent years in higher education becoming qualified for their profession.
In the world of financial services, things are a little more sticky. In fact, the term “financial services” doesn’t really mean anything specific. For that matter, neither do the terms that are used by people in the industry: investment advisor, financial advisor, financial consultant, wealth manager, even financial planner. Anyone can give themselves any of those titles. There are no requirements whatsoever. That’s right – none.
Even those with dubious credentials can also give themselves important-looking sets of initials after their names. Navigating all of the sets of initials can be confusing. Initials can also be very helpful, but only if you know what they mean.
Here are the top four designations to look for when choosing a financial service provider:
- CPA (Certified Public Account) for an accountant
- CFP® (Certified Financial Planner) for a financial planner
- CLU® (Chartered Life Underwriter) for an insurance professional
- CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) for an investment analyst
These initials (along with a few others not mentioned) tell you something. The education, time, and experience requirements involved generally weed out most of the people who aren’t serious about their work.
If you don’t recognize the initials you see after a financial services provider’s name, look it up or ask. The FINRA website has a helpful tool called Understanding Professional Designations that you can check. Never assume that designations tell you anything. They may not.
We here at McNamara Financial Services hold ourselves and our associates to the highest of professional and educational standards. We love providing you with the best of financial services. Contact us at any time with any questions and to schedule an appointment.