Alphabet Soup: What Your Financial Advisor’s Credentials Tell You
Chances are, there is at least one acronym that follows your financial advisor’s name on his or her name plate. This may look impressive, but what do those letters really mean?
At Scarborough Capital Management, our financial advisors hold many credentials – and we want you to know what those letters represent! These acronyms can tell you a lot about a financial advisor, from their education (and their commitment to keeping that education current) to their specialty.
When searching for a financial advisor to work with, make sure you understand what the abbreviations after their name means. If you’re not sure, ask! If you don’t get a clear answer, do your research!
The Scarborough Capital Management team breaks down 6 credentials that our financial advisors hold.
CFP®: Certified Financial Planner™
A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) has at least a bachelor’s degree, plus three years of qualifying full-time work experience. CFP® practitioners have also completed rigorous financial planning coursework and have passed a two-part, six-hour exam. To maintain CFP® marks, they are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years.
At Scarborough Capital Management, our CFP® professionals take a holistic approach to helping clients manage their finances. They can help with:
- Financial planning
- Retirement planning
- Life insurance
- Tax planning
- Estate planning
ChFEBC℠: Chartered Federal Employee Benefits Consultant℠
If you’re a government worker who’s worried about your retirement benefits, a Chartered Federal Employee Benefits Consultant℠ (ChFEBC℠) is a highly specialized financial professional who can help you sort through those concerns.
At Scarborough Capital Management, advisors who hold the ChFEBC designation work specifically with government employees to help them optimize their benefits and plan for a secure retirement. They’re well-versed in specific federal benefits, including:
- Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS)
- Federal Employees’ Retirement System (FERS)
- Thrift Savings Plans (TSPs)
- Social Security benefits
- Special Provisions (LEO, FF, ATC, CBPO, MRT)
Because this is a technical designation, ChFEBCs are required to have at least three years of financial services experience, professional financial licenses, and either an advanced degree or other financial designations before they can complete the coursework and sit for the exam. (There are other ways to qualify, but this is most common.) They’re also required to complete 10 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain this designation.
For more on financial planning for federal employees, check out our financial planning guide: TSP Wealth Management.
CRPC®: Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠
If the mere thought of retirement has you overwhelmed, a Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor℠ (CRPC®) can help.
Unlike some financial advisors who may have a general knowledge of retirement planning, CRPCs specialize in retirement planning. CRPCs are well-versed in things like:
- Pre- and post-retirement needs
- The financial transition into retirement
- Asset management in retirement
- Estate planning
- Investments during retirement
- Social Security benefits
- Healthcare options
A financial advisor with a CRPC® designation has completed courses through the College for Financial Planning and passed a proctored exam. CRPCs are required to renew their CRPC® designation every two years by completing at least 16 hours of continuing education.
CCPS®: Certified College Planning Specialist™
If you have children and want help preparing for the steep cost of college, a Certified College Planning Specialist™ (CCPS®) can help. A CCPS can help you fill out financial aid forms, set up 529 savings plans, sort through student loan options, and more. At Scarborough Capital Management, advisors who hold the CCPS designation work with both students and their parents in helping them plan for college costs.
The prerequisites for CCPS® certification are a professional financial certification/designation or a professional financial license (securities, insurance, accounting, etc.), or a combination of education and experience deemed satisfactory by the NICCP Advisory Council. Recipients have completed a self-study course consisting of three modules and an exam to become a Certified College Planning Specialist. To maintain this certification, they must complete 24 hours of continuing education each year.
BFA™: Behavioral Financial Advisor
Humans are hard-wired to make emotional decisions with their money. This is where a Behavioral Financial Advisor (BFA™) can be beneficial. BFAs help their clients stay focused on their goals and try to help them avoid making emotional decisions that could derail their future financial security.
Other financial advisors may practice this type of behavioral coaching to an extent, but BFAs have taken extra courses and pass a course exam to better understand the psychology and neuroscience behind money-related decisions.
They’re also required to complete 20 hours of continuing education every two years to maintain this designation.
RICP®: Retirement Income Certified Professional®
A Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP®) specializes in retirement income planning. This type of professional helps pre-retirees and retirees strategize how to use their assets to create a sustainable income in retirement.
An advisor may become a RICP® as a way to gain a more in-depth understanding of how to build comprehensive retirement plans for older clients.
The RICP® designation requires the completion of three courses through the American College of Financial Services and three years of professional experience as well as an exam to earn the certification.
During these courses, advisors learn best practices for how to:
- Claim Social Security
- Address retirement planning risks
- Choose distributions from a 401(k) or other retirement plans
- Select Medicare, Medicaid and other health insurance options
- Plan for retirement income tax
- Plan for long-term care and legacy needs
RICPs are required to renew their RICP® designation every two years by completing at least 15 hours of continuing education.
Choosing a financial advisor to work with can be confusing, even overwhelming, especially when first getting started. Taking time to understand the credentials a financial advisor holds will help you evaluate whether they’re qualified to help you with your unique situation.
Often times the hardest part is getting started. Don’t put this important decision off due to fear or uncertainty. Schedule a no-obligation conversation with Scarborough Capital Management and take the first step. See how we can help – and ask about our qualifications! We’re more than happy to share.