Financial Planning: Everything You Need to Know About Your Money (Almost)
The guide to managing your finances, in good economies and bad.
(In a word, be patient.)
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WHAT’S IN A NAME
When it comes to titles, most pros will answer to financial planner. Partly that’s because the Certified Financial Planner designation, awarded by the Financial Planning Association, has become a gold standard. Yet some professionals prefer financial and investment consultants, financial advisors or wealth managers. The latter most often refers to planners whose clients are individuals of high net worth, but that’s not always the case.
“Wealth is any discretionary money that can be invested,” says Cynthia Hewitt, first vice president, investments and wealth advisor with Merrill Lynch in Wilmington. “They help create wealth and preserve wealth.”
Estate managers, which are highly specialized, are often lawyers or they work with lawyers. An accountant may also get involved with financial planning.
Credentials, especially those held in high esteem in the industry, indicate not only that the planner is serious about the profession but that he or she is also continuing an education with specialized designations. Here are a few of the most common letters you’ll see after a name.
AEP accredited estate planner, given by the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils
CFP certified financial planner from the Financial Planning
CLU chartered life underwriter from American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania
CHFC chartered financial consultant from American College
CIMA certified investment analyst, offered by the Association
of Certified International Investment Analysts
CRPC chartered retirement
counselor from the College of Financial Planning
CDFA certified divorce financial analyst, offered by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts
Beware of designations that refer to planning for seniors. The industry has cracked down on planners boasting senior planning credentials to such an extent that some broker-dealers won’t allow planners to use designations with the word “senior” in them.