Alphabet Soup

Posted by: Lauren Young on February 5, 2007

If you’ve ever looked at the business card of a financial adviser, it might be hard to deciper the alphabet soup of acronyms that follow their name. Some of the most common are CFP (certified financial planner) or CLU (certified life underwriter), but I’m told there are at least 100 financial designations out there. Wow!

When you are hiring a financial adviser, which designations really matter? Why?

Also, some new designations have been introduced in recent years, such as AIF (accredited investment fidiciary) and CSA (certfied senior adviser).

If you know of other new ones, let me know.

Reader Comments

Rick Kahler, MS, CFP, ChFc

February 7, 2007 4:57 PM


Having been in the financial planning profession for over 20 years, I've seen designations come and go. I have a slew of them myself that comprise several financial fields: CCIM, CRS, GAA, ChFC, CFP, etc.

Personally, I feel the CFP is the premier designation in the financial planning profession. Granted, a consumer is not guaranteed that the CFP is actually doing financial planning. Many holding the CFP designation are product sales people. However, at least they have been exposed to the education.

One of my employees, who held an MBA, took the CFP approved course and told me it was more difficult than her MBA course work. So, I am pleased that the designation is difficult to obtain and has substance.

I believe that 10 years from now, the CFP will have the same status in the financial planning profession as the CPA does in accounting.

Rick Kahler

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