Why We Support the CFP® DesignationSubmitted by AssetGrade, LLC. on April 25th, 2018
Submitted by Patrick Cote on April 25, 2018
Odds are that you have already heard the term CFP®, or CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, as the CFP Board has done a great job of building awareness of the designation.
It can be confusing to keep track of all of the different designations, as there are many out there. The three best-known designations are CFA® (Chartered Financial Analyst), CFP® and CPA (Certified Public Accountant).
These three designations require learning comprehensive study material, passing rigorous exams and having significant relevant experience. Some folks have multiple designations, which can make it even more confusing. Within our team at AssetGrade, Susan Powers has all three designations: CFA®, CFP® and CPA.
The CFA® is generally seen in the institutional investment area (the pension or retirement industry), which is where both Susan and I obtained the designation. The focus of the CFA® program is investment management, which is relevant for AssetGrade to build and maintain our overall investment approach.
The CFP® is generally seen in the wealth management space. The focus is on helping clients build and execute financial plans. This is an incredibly important aspect of what we do every day at AssetGrade. Much of what we do with both our new and existing clients at AssetGrade is about either setting up financial plans or helping keep our clients on track with their existing financial plans. This becomes critical as circumstances change with major life events (births, deaths, marriages, divorces, job changes, etc.) or personal financial goals evolve over time.
Because the link to financial planning is so critical to what we do, we made the conscious decision that all three AssetGrade partners, Susan Powers, Kate Hennessy and I, should have the CFP® designation. In addition, we also agree strongly with the CFP Board standard that financial advisors act as fiduciaries, working solely in the best interest of their clients. For both Kate and myself, this meant obtaining the CFP® designation recently. We all agree - it was well worth the effort!
This approach is a little different from a typical financial advisor firm, which may have a small number of people (or even just one person) with the CFP® designation. The financial advisors that interact with clients regularly may then schedule time with the firm’s CFP® for specific planning sessions. At AssetGrade, with each of us being a CFP®, we are able to better help our clients in two ways:
- We are able to save time for our clients because we do not have to schedule an additional follow-up meeting with the firm’s designated CFP® at a later date every time something comes along that may impact the financial plans. Since each of us is a CFP®, Susan, Kate and I are able to assess the impact to financial plans immediately when we chat with our clients.
- We are less likely to miss opportunities to help improve our clients’ financial situation if/when circumstances change. For example, if a client mentions something in passing, we can immediately flag those changes that are likely to have a major impact (e.g., receiving a stock award from employer, deciding to send kids to private school, etc.).
At AssetGrade, we are committed to excellent client service by having all of our investment advisors/partners go through the effort of obtaining the CFP® designation. With this designation our clients can be sure that their advisor meets the highest level of professional certification in service of their needs.