Do professional credentials really make a difference, any difference? For me, becoming a certified financial planner™ has made a significant difference. I’ll suggest it may do so for others, as well. The differences fall into two general categories: impact on self and impact on others.
Impact on Self
My professional credentials have given me a set of skills and knowledge essential to my professional success. To this day I understand how and when to use a QTIP (no, not that product, a Qualified Terminal Interest Property trust). I first learned about his tool in my CFP® exam prep classes and still refer to it many years later.
My CFP® certification also gives me access to trusted information on our changing world. Recently, the Department of Labor issued rules about client relationships with financial professionals, known as the fiduciary rule. My best resource to understand how this rule impacts my life? The Certified Financial Board of Standards.
Impact on Others
I think one of the important benefits of the CFP® mark is the definition it provides to others. In today’s financial world, there are financial advisors, financial counselors, financial professionals, insurance advisors, credit advisors, credit counselors, and the list goes on. There is no common regulated protocol for what financial providers want to call themselves. Those who have earned the CFP® certification send a clear signal to others as to what they are doing. Plus, they send a clear signal as to their commitment to their profession and their customers. You see becoming a CFP® professional is not easy — it takes significant time and effort just to earn the right to sit for a rigorous exam. In my day, it was 10 hours filling in circles with a number two pencil. Such a professional’s willingness to extend the necessary resources to become a CFP tells others how important it is to the CFP professional to improve themselves for their client’s benefit.
Finally, professional designations open doors. Some advisors suggest folks only hire CFP’s when seeking financial advice. Does the credential guarantee you will succeed? No, but it may get you in the door. I met a gentleman several years ago at a conference. I had just concluded a presentation on what clients seek in their advisors. This gentleman introduced himself after my discussion and stated he had two PhDs and several other designations. He went on to say his credentials never helped him land a client, but they did get him in the door. His point was simply that without the credentials he would have found himself on the other side of the door.
I understand that some of you do not agree with me — heck I was there myself. Consider the impact on yourself and on others of you making yourself a better professional.
And for those who may not agree on the value of credentials, there is always teaching: “The truth is, I have absolutely no professional credentials — literally — which is why I'm teaching at MIT.” — Noam Chomsky
Johnson & Wales University is a board-registered CFP® certification program through the MS — Finance degree program.* For more information, contact Online Admissions at 855-JWU-1881 or [email protected]
*See www.cfp.net/ for information pertaining to CFP certification requirements.