Quick: What’s the difference between a financial advisor and a certified financial planner?
Sometimes there isn’t one.
“Financial advisor” is a broad term that is generally used to refer to most any professional advising you on your finances, up to and including certified financial planners (CFPs).
Certified financial planners, on the other hand, have to be certified by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc., which is why you’ll often see a registered mark after their designation (CFP®).
One of the hallmarks of a CFP is that they have fiduciary responsibility when working on financial planning, which means they have to act in their clients’ best interest.
To become certified, they have to complete what the board calls the four Es: education, examination, experience, and ethics. These planners are certified to advise on everything from taxes to insurance to estate planning, and are required to complete ongoing continued education requirements.
The CFP board keeps track of everyone certified through its program, which makes it simple to do a little homework on a professional before signing on the dotted line.
While not everyone in need of a financial advisor needs a CFP, there’s a certain security that comes with the designation. With a CFP, you can be sure that not only do they have a base level of expertise backed up by a larger organisation, but also that they don’t have conflicting interests: They, like you, want what’s best for your money.