Understanding Investment Professional Designations
Some financial professionals use a professional designation that implies that they are experts regarding certain financial issues.
The Truth About Investment Professional Designations
The education, experience, and other requirements for receiving and maintaining financial and investment professional designations vary greatly. In some cases, a financial professional may need to work in a designated field for several years and pass rigorous exams to earn a particular designation. In other cases, it may be a simple process for a financial professional to earn a designation, which may not even require specific knowledge or relevant experience in that designation’s field.
Searching Investment Professional Designations
The various financial and investment professional designations can be searched on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) Professional Designations page here. This tool can be used to understand what the letters that follow a financial professional’s name denote. This FINRA page also provides information on the issuing organization of the professional designation, accrediting organizations, the requirements of earning the designation, any continuing education requirements, if there is an investor complaint process, if professional status can be verified, and if a list of disciplined designees is published.
The FINRA nor the SEC endorse any professional designation for financial professionals.
Examples of Investment Professional Designations
For example, a financial professional may be an Accredited Financial Counselor (AFC), a designation from the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education, which requires 1,000 hours of financial counseling experience, reference letters, and other requirements.
Or, a financial professional may be a Certified Elder Planning Specialist (CEPS), a designation from Plan4Life, LLC that does not have prerequisite educational requirements, continuing education requirements, does not offer an investor complaint process or the ability to check the professional designation status online. The only requirement is completing a ten-module course and taking an open-book, multiple choice exam.
Or, a financial professional may be a Certified Senior Advisor (CSA), a designation issued by the Society of Certified Senior Advisors and accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA). Candidates must complete a candidate information profile, complete a disclosure questionnaire, pass a criminal background check, pass the Roles, Rules and Responsibilities Ethics Exam, and submit a signed Certified Senior Advisors Applications for Certification, which includes agreeing to the CSA Terms of awarding and maintaining certification. To maintain this designation, CSA’s are required to complete 30 continuing education credits every three years.
Investigations into Alleged Investment Fraud
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