Financial Adviser Designations Are Not All the Same

Just because a financial adviser has credentials after their name doesn’t mean they meet the same rigorous standards as others do. How to figure out who you can trust.

A financial adviser smiles as she works with a client in her office.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

In professions like medicine, law and accounting, you will commonly see professional credentials — MD, JD, CPA — after a practitioner’s name. It’s no different with financial advisers, who use certifications like CFP, PFS and so on.

These certifications should signal that advisers are qualified to provide financial advice. Instead, rapid growth has caused a blizzard of designations in the marketplace, leaving investors confused when looking for a financial adviser.

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This article was written by and presents the views of our contributing adviser, not the Kiplinger editorial staff. You can check adviser records with the SEC or with FINRA.

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Kevin R. Keller, CAE
Chief Executive Officer, Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. (CFP Board)

Kevin R. Keller, CAE, is CEO of the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. CFP Board sets standards for financial planning and administers the prestigious CFP® certification – one of the most respected certifications in financial services and one of the few accredited financial services designations. He leads CFP Board to benefit the public by granting CFP® certification and upholding it as the standard of excellence for competent and ethical personal financial planning.