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The ultimate financial adviser designation is...

The general consensus was that the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designation was leaps and bounds harder to achieve than any other, but readers were a bit divided on its usefulness for retail financial advice

In my last column we asked readers to weigh in on financial adviser designations. Which ones were useful? Which ones were not?

The response was overwhelming, click here to read the entertaining thread as more than 100 readers battled back and forth on the issue.

But one of the most important questions was not widely addressed, perhaps because the answer is apparent: Have all the possible financial adviser designations diluted the value of any single one of them? Clearly the answer to that one is "yes."

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The general consensus was that the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) designation was leaps and bounds harder to achieve than any other, but readers were a bit divided on its usefulness for retail financial advice. If you spoke CFA to a retail client, they would have no idea what you were talking about. But many advisers benefit from that same knowledge due to the prominence of mutual funds in Canadians' portfolios, which are primarily run by CFA charter holders. Many investment dealers also have in-house portfolio strategists working with advisers to create and analyze portfolios, and they tend to also hold the designation.

The CIM (Chartered Investment Management) designation was touted by some as a better fit for retail financial advisers with respect to portfolio management.

But as a few commenters pointed out, there is a difference between portfolio management and financial planning.

On the planning side, the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) designation had tremendous support. That's not surprising considering how effectively the designation is marketed and how many advisers have one. The CLU (Chartered Life Underwriter) and RFP (Registered Financial Planner) designations were considered harder to attain and more prestigious than the CFP.

Aside from all the designations mentioned above, everything else seems to be a waste of time.

So what's the ultimate? A CFA, RFP combo? Perhaps. But I don't recall seeing many of those who deal with $10,000 portfolios. As your assets grow, you can expect the higher levels of designations from an adviser, but when you're just starting out, it looks like our readers believe an adviser with a CIM, CFP combination would be considered a win.

READERS: Round two! Did we get it right? Do you agree with a CIM and CFP combo for newish investors?

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About the Author
Personal Finance columnist

Preet Banerjee is a consultant to the financial services industry. You can follow him on twitter at  @PreetBanerjee. You can find his conflict of interest disclosure on his website. More

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