In the CFP Board’s “Ten Questions to Ask Your Financial Advisor” they suggest, “Before establishing a relationship with a financial planner you will want to interview several people to make sure they’re the right match for you and exhibit key traits of a good advisor. Here are 10 important questions to ask before selecting a financial planner.”
In this series we are both providing an answer for Marotta Wealth Management as well as giving a longer analysis about the question, why the CFP Board may have included it, and what other organizations might answer if they were being truthful.
The second question is about qualifications. The CFP board likely includes this question because their entire mission statement and existence centers around a confidence in credentials.
Credentials can be very valuable. They are a useful shorthand for consumers to denote who has demonstrated a level of mastery in the field. But credentials have their limits. Having an MD may show that you have enough medical knowledge to graduate medical school, but it does not make you a good doctor. And even if you have no medical credentials, it does not make you a bad doctor. That a credentialed professional is more likely to be a good professional is a shorthand that can help in the general case but may fail in specific cases.
In the same way, credentials don’t make someone a good investment professional, and not having credentials does not make someone a bad investment professional. Like any industry, some people are self-taught professionals, some have gotten their mastery by studying under a master, some are credentialed but never really taught, and others are both uneducated and without credentials.
Here’s what they say:
2. What are your qualifications?
Ask about the credentials your planner holds, and learn how they stay up to date with current changes and developments in the financial planning field. CFP® professionals expand their knowledge and stay informed through mandatory continuing education courses.
At Marotta Wealth Management, our investment philosophy is formed by our Investment Committee. Our Investment Committee is responsible for developing and reviewing our Asset Allocation design methodology, selecting and defining our asset classes, selecting and defining our sectors, determining the correct weight and dynamic tilt for each sector, selecting which specific securities are on our Buy List, and reviewing overall performance of client accounts on a quarterly basis to assess for any strategic changes.
We require each Investment Committee member to have, at a minimum, the Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) or Chartered Financial Analyst ® (CFA) designation.
The CFP® certification is the recognized standard of excellence for competent and ethical personal financial planning. The designation requires a higher education degree, at least three years of professional experience in the field, submission to the CFP Board’s Standards of Professional Conduct, passing a 6-hour examination on a comprehensive list of financial topics, and 30 hours of continuing education every two years. For more information about this designation, see the CFP Board website.
The CFA designation is the most respected and recognized investment management designation in the world. The designation requires passing in succession three levels of 6-hour exams covering economics, financial reporting, portfolio management, and wealth planning. For more information about this designation, see the CFA Institute website.
Marotta Wealth Management also encourages all our advisory team to join the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). NAPFA advisors sign an oath promising to put their clients’ best interests first, provide full disclosure to clients of any conflicts of interest, and never receive commissions.
In addition to our listed registered NAPFA advisors, we require each of the Advisory Representatives of our firm to subscribe to NAPFA’s Code of Ethics, among the highest standards in the financial services industry. For more information about this designation see the NAPFA website.
Internally, we also add to the Our Team page of each employee “Specialties” when they have apprenticed in, shown a mastery of, and taken ownership of the service in an area of financial planning from among our services. You can read more about each member’s area of expertise on Our Team page.
Finally, we demonstrate our expertise by publishing extensive articles about our strategies and analysis which push the boundaries of comprehensive financial planning.
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