Florida TSA Program

What Do All These Certifications Mean?

There are no legal restrictions limiting the use of generic titles such as "financial planner", "financial advisor", or "financial guru". Anyone, such as a coin or stamp collector, may use these titles to imply expertise.

There are over 200 financial certifications or designations. Most of them, in fact, a vast majority of them are worthless. They are obtained by paying a fee and taking a quiz over the Internet and a certification is issued, or they pay a fee to buy a textbook and take an open book test to pass that certification. The real certification means that the financial planner or advisor is taking the interest and the time to further their profession. The most common of the real designations, or meaningful designations (that also require continuing education) are:

PFS, Personal Financial Specialist.
ChFC®, Chartered Financial Consultant.
CFP®, Certified Financial Planner.
CIC, Chartered Investment Counsoler.

There are other designations which certainly are meaningful and helpful in the financial advisor profession. Those would include:

JD (Attorney)
CPA (Certified Public Accountant)
MBA (Master of Business Administration)

These are helpful in their specialized use with the other designations mentioned above. If someone has not continued their education to become professional in some of these fields, it means they are spending much of their education time attending sales classes or clinics.