Most people think all financial planners are “certified,” but that is not the case. Just about anyone can use the title “financial planner,” but only those who have fulfilled the rigorous training and requirements can call themselves a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional (CFP®).
To earn CFP® certification, financial planners must meet education, examination, experience and ethics requirements. They must acquire several years of experience related to delivering financial planning services to clients and pass a comprehensive CFP® certification exam before they can earn their title. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.
The CFP® title certifies that your financial planner has completed rigorous education and experience requirements designed to ensure competence in financial planning. CFP® professionals have practical financial planning knowledge, so you can count on them to help you create a realistic financial plan that fits your individual needs and put your interests ahead of their own at all times.
Knowing what to expect from a financial planning relationship puts you in the driver’s seat—which is exactly where you belong. To get the most out of your experience with a financial planner, you shouldn’t settle for anything less than the qualities of a true CFP® professional.
CFP® Board Code of Ethics
The CFP® Board Code of Ethics ensures that CFP® certified financial planning experts measure up to the highest industry standards. The qualities of a true professional include:
- Fair Treatment
What is a Fiduciary?
The term "fiduciary" is used for a person who manages assets for another person, family, or company. A fiduciary is someone you delegate your personal, legal, or financial choices to. You can chooses anyone to be your fiduciary, but the most common fiduciaries are bankers, financial advisors, accountants, executors, trustees, or board members.
What is the Fiduciary Duty of an Advisor?
A fiduciary is legally responsible to put their clients’ best interests first, to avoid conflicts of interest, to disclose any potential conflicts of interest to clients, and to ensure the advice they provide is accurate and thorough.
Making excessive trades to earn more commissions, making unauthorized trades, or acting negligently are all examples of violations of fiduciary duty. When you allow someone to handle your finances, it is important to remember that a financial professional who isn’t a fiduciary who has been knowingly selling you low-performing, high-fee investments, is not bound by the law like a fiduciary is.
How Can I Identify a Fiduciary Advisor?
There are a number of ways to find out if an advisor is a fiduciary.
- National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) allows you to find certified financial planners in your area
- Certified Financial Planners Board's advisor search tool allows you to look up a particular planner and see their experience and history
In addition to research, once you find a potential fiduciary advisor, you should ask them some questions to make sure they are a good match for you.
- How do you earn money?
- What certifications and licenses do you hold?
- What services do you offer? Who is your typical client?
- How often do you typically communicate with clients?
- Can you provide a written guarantee of your fiduciary duty? We abide by the fiduciary duties laid out in the CFP board's Standards of Conduct
Honest, Objective, Ethical
With a fiduciary financial advisor, you can rest assured knowing that the person managing your money is ethically, and more importantly, legally bound to make decisions in your best interest. Our business model focuses on comprehensive financial planning services and unbiased investment advice through clearly outlined service options. We want you to feel confident in knowing that you are receiving the highest standard of financial planning services. We have the training, knowledge and fiduciary duty to act in your best interest. We are held to strict ethical standards to help ensure your financial planning recommendations are the right ones for you.