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A Financial Advisor’s Credentials and Your Portfolio

By WealthTrust Arizona

When you are exercising due diligence in choosing someone to handle your finances, you will encounter a veritable alphabet soup of acronyms. With more than 100 credentials and professional designations out there, it can be easy to become confused about which ones are important and can have a positive impact on your portfolio.

Here are just a few of the acronyms you have probably come across in your research, and why they should be important to you:

CFP – Certified Financial Planner. This designation is given by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. It is given to individuals who successfully complete the CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements. What it means to you: Individuals who become a CFP professional are well-rounded financial advisors who must take extensive exams in the areas of financial planning, taxes, insurance, estate planning and retirement.

CCPS – Certified College Planning Specialist. The National Institute of Certified College Planners offers this designation, which is earned by those who already have a professional financial designation, such as CPA, a professional financial license or an acceptable combination of experience and education. You must also complete three self-study modules of coursework and pass an examination on each module. What it means for you: If one of your financial goals is to help a child or other family member pay for college, it is important to have a CCPS on your financial team.

CFS – Certified Fund Specialist. As the name implies, an individual with this certification has demonstrated his or her expertise in the mutual funds industry. These individuals often advise clients on which funds to invest in and, depending on whether or not they have their license, they will buy and sell funds for clients. What it means for you: Someone who is a CFS can advise clients about which mutual fund to invest in given their particular need.

CEP – Certified Estate Planner. This designation, given by the National Institute of Certified Estate Planners (NICEP), means the holder has a basic knowledge of estate planning. To become a CEP, one must complete classroom or online coursework and then pass two examinations. To keep the designation, a person must complete eight hours of continued education every two years. What it means for you: If estate planning is part of your portfolio having a CEP as part of your financial team can prove invaluable.

CMFC – Chartered Mutual Fund Counselor. The College for Financial Planning awards this professional designation to financial services professionals who complete a study program and pass an exam covering mutual fund topics. Successful applicants earn the right to use the CMFC designation with their names for two years. To keep the designation, a person must complete 16 hours of continued education every two years. What it means for you: This financial advisor will be well-versed in mutual funds.

ChFC – Chartered Financial Consultant. The American College grants this professional designation upon completion of seven required courses and two elective courses. People who earn the ChFC designation are understood to be knowledgeable in financial matters and to have the ability to provide sound advice. To be considered for the program, an applicant must already have a minimum of three years’ experience in the financial industry. What it means for you: If you hope to leave your heirs a sizable estate, including a ChFC on your financial team can be a big plus.

MSFS – Master of Science in Financial Services. This degree provides an advisor with the tools necessary to plan, analyze and implement complex financial strategies. What it means for you: Earning this designation demonstrates a high level of commitment to keeping abreast of trends in the financial services industry. More often than not, that will translate to another commitment – growing client portfolios.

The Bottom Line: While professional designations are important, an investor should not automatically discount an advisor who does not have a slew of acronyms after his or her name. The knowledge an advisor possesses, and how that knowledge shapes his or her decision-making process, is a more important consideration.


DISCLOSURE: WealthTrust Arizona is a fee based investment advisory firm that specializes in integrating portfolio management with estate planning for high net worth individuals and families. Services include portfolio management, estate planning, asset and lifestyle preservation, taxation concerns, access to trust and estate documentation preparation, business succession planning and more. The professionals at WealthTrust -Arizona are frequently sought out by the national media such as The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, New York Times, CNBC, BloombergRadio, and others to share their thoughts on matters that impact our clients.

Given the recent events impacting investors and their financial security, we would welcome the opportunity to provide a second opinion for anyone who would like to have a check-up on their investments, financial plan or estate plan. If you know of anyone who may have a concern with their current advisor or current investment portfolio, we encourage you to share our contact information with those that could benefit from a complimentary review.

Advisory services offered through WealthTrust Arizona, a registered investment advisor. WealthTrust Arizona does not engage in the trust business in the state of Arizona or in any other jurisdiction. Not FDIC insured. Not bank guaranteed. May lose value, including loss of principal. Not insured by any state or federal agency.



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