August 16, 2010
Next to a person's physical health, most will agree that one's financial health would come next in the order of importance. It's frustrating to understand how the barriers to entry in the "financial services" industry are so low. Almost anybody can get hired by an insurance company or brokerage firm and attain a series 6 or 7 license is 2 months or less with no prior background or experience in the investment industry and this will enable them to take a person's life savings and wreck it in the markets or through an insurance product they shouldn't own. How does this make sense? Do we let doctors whom don't have a medical degree work on patients? No. Would you want a doctor making decisions about your health when he doesn't have a medical degree or any experience? No. Thousands of people in this country call themselves financial planners, but only a small percentage of them are Certified Financial Planners. I have a bachelor's degree in financial management and investments. I've completed the CFP program which is very rigorous and difficult, if it wasn't everybody would be doing it. You must have a college degree, you must complete the program, you must pass a background check, you must have a certain number of years experience, you must do a certain number of hours of continuing education each year, and you must continue to be overseen by the CFP board without violations to maintain your status. The general public doesn't understand the difference between my qualifications and a guy whom just passed the series 7 and calls himself a financial planner. He may be a good guy, but does he have the proper qualifications to manage your life savings? The general public knows what a CPA is and his qualifications, but why do they not know what a CFP is? This brings me to all the bogus designations that have been created over the past 10 years. Some of these can be attained in very little time, sometimes online with payment of a fee and no background check. The public cannot decipher what any of these mean. Financial Planning needs to be recognized as a legitimate profession with standards that must be upheld and recognized. If you have a complex tax situation, would you want a bookkeeper with some tax planning software doing your taxes or would like a CPA? If a person's financial health is so important then why aren't they dealing with a professional who is certified and has the experience and qualifications to manage their finances.