As you begin your life together, it helps to have a solid financial plan. If you want help with this, consider hiring a professional. Here's what you should know about finding, paying, and working with a financial planner.
All About the Acronyms
There are more than a dozen accreditations for the financial planning profession, and many planners have several acronyms after their names. Here are the ones you're most likely to encounter, as well as contact information for the organizations that issue them.
Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
This is one of the most recognized designations. It requires passing a ten-hour exam, having at least three years of relevant work experience, and participating in thirty hours of continuing education every two years. It is issued by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards.
Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
This is awarded by the American College in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, after candidates complete eight courses plus three years' work experience and agree to a code of ethics.
Certified Trust and Financial Adviser (CTFA)
It is awarded by the Institute of Certified Bankers to individuals who set up and manage personal trusts and pass a two-hundred-question multiple-choice exam on such topics as tax law, investment management, and personal finance.
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
Mutual-fund managers, stock analysts, and investment advisers who deal with high-net-worth clients often have this designation. It requires taking three rigorous tests over the course of three years on such topics as economics, financial accounting, portfolio management, and securities analysis. Contact the CFA Institute.
Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
This goes to certified public accountants who pass tests and have at least one thousand hours of planning experience. Check with the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.