The letters behind the name
An October 16, 2010, Wall Street Journal article entitled "Is Your Adviser Pumping Up His Credentials?" reported that, “In recent years the number of financial credentials has soared. According to the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, which oversees how investments are marketed to the public, there are at least 95 different professional designations for financial advisers – nearly double the 48 listed in 2005.” What most buyers don’t know is that many credentials are achieved by simply attending a seminar.
The article then went on to identify only three designations as highly rigorous; Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®). At Blue Chip Partners, our advisors are proud to hold all three of these esteemed credentials.
Most people assume that all financial planners are “certified,” but this is not true. Anyone can call himself or herself a “financial planner.” CFP® professionals must develop theoretical and practical financial planning knowledge by completing a comprehensive course of study at a college or university offering a financial planning curriculum approved by the CFP® Board.
CFP® practitioners must pass a comprehensive two-day, 10-hour CFP® Certification Examination. The exam covers the financial planning process, tax planning, employee benefits and retirement planning, estate planning, investment management and insurance. CFP® professionals must have a minimum three years of experience in the financial planning process prior to earning the right to use the CFP® certification marks. As a final step to certification, CFP® practitioners agree to abide by a strict code of professional conduct, the CFP® Board’s Code of Ethics and Professional Responsibility.
The CFA Institute sets the benchmark with which to measure the knowledge, integrity and professionalism of the individual whom you trust to manage your financial assets. The CFA Program is a graduate-level, self-study curriculum and examination program for investment professionals – especially security analysts, money managers and investment advisors.
The curriculum of the CFA Program compels investment professionals to build a working knowledge of investment principles across core areas of the industry – from portfolio management and asset valuation to derivatives and quantitative analysis. To earn the right to use the CFA designation, candidates must pass three sequential, six-hour examinations, which are only given at specific times over the calendar year. At a very minimum, it takes 2 1/2 years and over 900 hours of study in accounting, economics, ethics, finance and mathematics. Fewer than one in five who start the program end up earning their CFA designation. In addition to passing the exam, investment professionals must have at least four years of acceptable professional experience in the investment decision-making process. Candidates must also commit to, abide by and annually affirm their adherence to the CFA Institute’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Professional Conduct.
Certified Public Accountant (CPA) is the title of qualified accountants in the United States and a symbol of trust and professionalism in the world of business. All candidates must pass a Uniform CPA Exam before receiving their certification. In addition, Michigan candidates generally must have a master’s degree in accounting or business from an accredited institution and one year and 2,000 hours of public accounting experience under the supervision of a licensed CPA.
The JD degree is a professional doctorate degree granted after three years of graduate study in law from an accredited university. After earning a Juris Doctor degree, prospective lawyers must pass a state-administered bar exam in addition to character and ethics evaluations.