Who do you talk with about financial planning, and what do those titles mean?

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Your financial planning needs may include, but not be limited to: Investments such as Educational IRA, Brokerage Accounts, Traditional IRA, Roth IRA, SEP IRA, Simple IRA, Variable Annuities, or Fixed Indexed Annuities. You may need to consider retirement plans, 401 (k) Planning, 403 (b) Planning, College Plans, Estate Plans, Money Management, or Profit Sharing Plans. Perhaps you need to look at your insurance needs including Disability Income, Life Insurance, Long Term Care, Home & Auto Insurance or Health Insurance. Your considerations will depend where you are in your career, or life-stage. We’re here to help take the confusion and the anxiety out of the process so you can harvest the pollen, build the honeycomb -and don’t get stung!  Russ can offer a comprehensive financial plan for your long term financial success,  and point you to specific options working with colleagues who have additional financial investment designations, with an eye to impact on your taxes and bottom line both. So what are some of the financial designations you might want to consider in looking for additional financial planning help?  It is wise to keep in mind, each professional has a different point of view and is compensated differently.

 The Investopedia site reports on these specific designations:

Certified Financial Planner® (CFP®) “Those with the CFP® designation have demonstrated competency in all areas of financial planning. Candidates complete studies on over 100 topics, including stocks, bonds, taxes, insurance, retirement planning and estate planning. The program is administered by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. In addition to passing the CFP certification exam, candidates must also complete qualifying work experience and agree to adhere to the CFP Board’s code of ethics and professional responsibility and financial planning standards.” IR discovered that ‘there is a difference between independent objective analysis of one’s personal financial situation and all the implications, versus a focus and affiliation representing specific products or companies’.  Just because one earns a CFP, it’s not a one-time thing- there are ongoing CE requirements. Russ earned his CFP in 1987  and completes 30 hours of CE every 2 years plus ethics coursework. Read more here:  http://www.moneymanagement.com.au/news/financial-planning/2014/cfp-demand-surges-fpa

Certified Public Accountant and Personal Financial Specialist (CPA and PFS) “Those holding the CPA designation have passed examinations on accounting and tax preparation, but their title does not indicate training in other areas of finance. The PFS designation is awarded by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants to those who have taken additional training and already have a CFP designation.” For instance, DS, an IT executive, was dismayed to learn there would be a significant tax effect to his enhanced income and earnings, but his CPA was able to advise he make adjustments prior to year-end. It’s good to know the tax effect of your investments and plan wisely up front. Once a CPA designation is earned, there are additional CE requirements which must be met to maintain the designation. Russ earned his CPA in 1989 and completes 120 hours of CE every 3 years including ethics.

Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA®) “This designation is offered by the CFA Institute (formerly the Association for Investment Management and Research [AIMR]). To obtain the CFA charter, candidates must successfully complete three difficult exams and gain at least three years of qualifying work experience, among other requirements. . . . CFA charter holders tend to be analysts who work in the field of institutional money management and stock analysis, not financial planning.”

Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU) “This designation is issued by the American College, and those who hold it work mostly as insurance agents. The CLU designation is awarded to persons who complete a 10-course program of study and 20 hours of exams.” There are also Certified Fund Specialist (CFS)– with expertise in mutual funds, who buy and sell funds for clients, Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) with knowledge of financial planning, mutual funds and insurance. This program is administered by the American College.  Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC) through the Investment Counsel Association-is a designation that CFA charter holders who are currently registered investment advisors pursue. Their primary focus is portfolio management. Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA) designation focuses on asset allocation, risk measurement, policy and performance.” Chartered Market Technician (CMT) involves passing three exams offered by the Market Technicians Association (MTA) and adherence to the MTA code of ethics. The CMT designation provides expertise in technical analysis.” (RIA)– is a registered investment advisor, which requires passage of specific content exams.  For more information, read: http://www.investopedia.com/articles/01/101001.asp

David Fisher, contributor to About.com writes, For starters, it’s important to realize that no single entity has a lock on conferring the seal of quality on financial advice. In fact, as of January 2005, the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants counted at least 89 designations, certifications and degrees that were available in the financial industry, provided by 87 different financial services organizations and institutions.” It’s important that whomever you trust to advise you, know what they’re talking about and can provide you with tailored scenarios. Fisher says, “At the very least, most financial designations indicate that an adviser has practiced their professional trade for a minimum number of years, and that they have attained some measure of education beyond the level they needed to pass the National Association of Securities Dealers’ Series 7 exam, which is the minimum baseline requirement for licensing in the securities industry.” Read more: http://financialplan.about.com/lw/Business-Finance/Personal-finance/Financial-Designations.htm

Kent Thune writes, “A Registered Investment Adviser (RIA) is a firm that is registered with a State regulatory body, such as the Securities division of the state’s Attorney General’s office, or the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC). RIAs register with the SEC if they have at least $100 million in assets under management (AUM) and firms managing less will register with their respective state.” He explains that “RIAs are regulated by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), which is a non-government oversight entity given authority by Congress to protect America’s investors by making sure the securities industry operates fairly and honestly.” Thune explains the importance of regulation. Read more at http://mutualfunds.about.com/od/investmentadvice/fl/RIA-What-is-a-Registered-Investment-Adviser.htm He continues, “RIAs and the representatives working for them cannot have competing interests and can only be compensated by the client (and not other sources, such as commissions or incentives that may not be in the best interest of the clients). This can be advantage for investors because they have some assurance that the advisor is not giving advice or making trades for any reason other than advice to serve the client’s needs.” Thune has more to say on stock brokers, CFP’s and other types of financial planning at: http://mutualfunds.about.com/od/investmentadvice/fl/Types-of-Investment-Advisors.htm

This is a big topic with a lot of angles. Whether you’re considering 401K, annuities, stocks, bonds, or insurance, ask Russ about it, objectively and pressure-free. He’ll listen and help you understand what’s best for your needs. Russ can offer a comprehensive financial plan for your long term financial success.  You might consider an LUTCF, MDRT which is a Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow (LUTCF). This designation is for successfully completing financial solutions, product education and ethics courses. The National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) protects and promotes the critical role of insurance in sound financial solutions. The MDRT designation stands for Million Dollar Round Table, the Premier Association of Financial Professionals.  This is an indication the individual manages/has sold over a million in assets, but is not necessarily a guarantee an individual is right for you.  Know how you’re paying for each service professional and how much up front.  A lot of  money can be lost in making moves without all the facts.  There is no better time than the present to begin the planning process. Build your honeycomb today!

 

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