Certified Financial Advisor
Several hundred thousand times, users have searched Google looking for this phrase – Certified Financial Advisor. I learned this as part of my website strategy development, and it speaks to something very interesting. People who are looking for financial advice are looking for someone they can trust to advise them well.
What’s ironic about this search phrase is that there is technically no such thing as a Certified Financial Advisor. Here’s a better way to identify quality financial advice: experience. If someone just got out of college with an MBA, would you hire him to manage your finances? Probably not – he doesn’t have any experience. If instead of hiring him, you could hire someone with a decade of experience in the industry but no MBA, which would you choose? A lot of MBAs I know tell me that the experience they have is much more valuable to their customers than the fact that they have an MBA.
So what about being a Certified Financial Advisor? Well, there are actually over 100 different designations for financial advisors, each with their own fancy set of initials to put after your name. Some are easy to get; some need you to attend a one-day class. Others charge you a fee, verify that you have any other designation, sign you up for their magazine, and presto! – you’ve got another designation. That’s a little crazy. CFP, Certified Financial Planner is a pretty rigorous certification. More rigorous still is the CFA – Certified Financial Analyst. But those (crazy smart) people usually become money managers, not financial advisors. They deserve it, after the three day long test (!) that they take after all the classroom training they go through.
My emphasis has not to become a certified financial advisor, but to develop my education in ways that allows me to improve my clients’ financial lives. I’ve been targeting tax planning classes lately. Ed Slott’s tax planning courses have been important. I’ve been through Phil Cavish’s IRA college; I’ve studied Robert Keebler’s work in the CPA field. I’ve spent tens of thousands of dollars and lots of time out of my schedule to develop my education to help my clients. None of those programs came with cool initials to put after my name. I could get a bunch of initials too, if only I were willing to waste thousands of dollars of my company’s money to put me through classes that teach ideas that I already have experience in implementing. No thanks.
That said, I am actually pursuing becoming a certified financial advisor. Within the year, I too will have cool initials after my name. I found a program that I can actually benefit from, taught by people with real-world experience who can help me help my clientele.
Does the certified financial advisor you are considering have lots of impressive looking initials after his name? Ask yourself this: how much real-world experience did he have before he got those initials?