CFP®s are licensed by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards. They must complete an advanced college-level course that focuses on financial planning, including insurance planning and risk management, employee benefits planning, investment planning, income tax planning, retirement planning, and estate planning. In addition, they must pass the comprehensive CFP® certification examination and obtain at least three years of full-time financial planning-related experience. To retain the designation, CFP®s must complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years.
Advisors with an Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®) designation have successfully completed a specialized program on investment fiduciary standards and subsequently passed a comprehensive examination demonstrating their knowledge and competency in the area of fiduciary responsibility. AIF® designees are committed to standards of investment fiduciary excellence.
A fee-only planner is someone who, in all circumstances, is compensated solely by the client, with neither the advisor nor any related party receiving compensation that is contingent on the purchase or sale of a financial product. Fee-only planners do not receive commissions, rebates, awards, finder’s fees, bonuses, or any form of compensation from others as a result of a client’s implementation of his or her planning recommendations.
Under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), a fiduciary is any person, company, or association that renders investment advice for a fee or other compensation with respect to the funds or property of a plan, or who has the authority to do so. A fiduciary exercises discretionary authority or control over the management of a plan or the management of the disposition of its assets, or has the discretionary authority or responsibility in administering a plan. Most importantly, a fiduciary is bound to always act in the best interests of the client.