By Richelle Heinauer

Most Important Professional Certifications to Look for in a Financial Advisor

By Simon Sumner, CFA – Chief Investment Officer, Private Client Group

I’m often asked what the most important professional certifications are for financial advisors. In regards to certifications, there are several ones that financial advisors can obtain including: Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Personal Financial Specialist (PFS), and Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). Of these, the one that stands out to me is the CFA.

Understanding the significance of the CFA can be useful information when choosing a financial advisor. Here are the top reasons to choose a financial advisor that is a CFA:

  • Knowledge is Power: To become a CFA, a candidate is required to pass a series of three, six-hour examinations, taken in sequential levels over at least three years. Candidates must also have at least four years of acceptable professional experience in the investment decision-making process to use the CFA designation.
  • Real-World Experience: Not only does a CFA have financial expertise, but also the real-world experience needed to help you on your financial endeavors. Whereas many financial advisors go straight from passing an exam to advising clients, most CFA spend time in larger institutions with hands on experience analyzing huge amounts of data on the markets and available products prior to advising clients.
  • Commitment to Learning: The CFA has demonstrated a larger commitment than some of the others credentials which can be earned over a weekend. CFAs are committed to furthering their knowledge, skills, and abilities. They typically undergo ongoing professional development and education through the CFA Institute to stay highly competitive in the ever-changing marketplace.
  • Analytical Tools and Capabilities: A CFA possess certain skills and tools that others do not have. Becoming a CFA requires certain analytical abilities that investors should require in a financial advisor. Unfortunately, many advisors possess only sales abilities and fall short of the necessary skill set required to help you achieve your financial goals. They have evolved into being salesman and leave the analytical work to the back office. With a CFA, you are getting a real advisor and not just a salesperson.
  • Credibility – You can trust the financial choices your CFA offers to you. The CFA holds all chartholders to strict code of ethics and professional standards that requires chartholders to act with integrity and practice in an ethical manner. The CFA charter is one of the most recognized professional qualifications in finance in the world, with more than 120,000 chartholders in over 135 countries worldwide.

Bottom line, a CFA can help you meet your specific financial goals. By combining years of industry knowledge and experience, with a commitment to the highest ethical standards, a CFA ensures you will receive the most comprehensive support around.

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