The financial planning industry has gotten better. Or at least cleaner, as more practitioners and regulators have bumped up the bar on who can claim to be an advisor.
Most recently, the board which governs CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER[™ professionals] (CFP[® professionals]) has raised their standards. As of July 1, 2008, anyone calling themselves a CFP[® professional] 'shall at all times place the interest of the client ahead of his or her own,' the new rules state. When CFP[® professionals] are actually offering planning services including recommending investment products, they must offer the same 'duty of care of a fiduciary' which holds them to act in the best interest of the client. 'We think the CFP[® mark] is the gold standard,' says Kevin Keller, head of the CFP Board of Standards. CFP[® professionals] must also undergo rigorous education, continuous education and testing requirements.
Competence counts, too. It's not all about the fees. There are plenty of honest, unconflicted, and not very talented advisors out there. Looking for a good certification, such as the CFP[®] designation (CFP.net), insures that the person you hire has carefully studied the subjects.
September 10, 2008