Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

So You Say You're A Financial Planner? Let Me See a License!

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

So You Say You're A Financial Planner? Let Me See a License!

Article excerpt

IN hiring a financial planner, the rule has always been simple: Choose carefully.

The reason, not well known, is that no state or federal laws require financial planners to be licensed. Just about any person who wants to can legally call himself a financial planner.

Regulations do exist requiring state and federal registration for individuals selling securities and other financial instruments.

Now, one of the most prominent national groups for financial planners, a professional regulatory body based in Denver, is taking new steps to help consumers distinguish licensees whom it has approved from noncertified planners.

Several weeks ago, this board changed its name - from the International Board of Standards and Practices for Certified Financial Planners Inc. - to the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. The name change was "designed to make more people aware" of the professionalism involved in being a financial planner, says John Blankinship, president of the CFP Board. The board also created a new certification trademark - a stylized flame and the initials CFP, which a certified planner can use on business cards and letters. The initials, Mr. Blankinship says, enable consumers to identify the 28,000 individuals who have met the tough regulatory standards of the CFP Board.

Financial experts say such steps by professional self-policing groups are essential. The world of financial planning is a maze of acronyms, professional groups, trade associations, and educational organizations. Professional membership groups include: International Association for Financial Planning (IAFP); Institute of Certified Financial Planners; College for Financial Planning; and National Association of Personal Financial Advisors.

While there is no national organization that oversees all financial planners in the US, most professionals estimate that there are at least 250,000 planners. …

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