Although you may already have one of the key bread and butter designations, you can benefit from adding a little something extra to your credentials nowadays.
As the financial planning industry grows, clients’ needs become more specific; so, picking up a designation in a specified area can help increase your credibility and generate business.
Here’s a quick peak at some designations from which you can benefit:
Certified Divorce Financial Analyst
The certified divorce financial analyst designation, provided by Southfield, Mich.-based Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts, gives you the ability to answer questions for clients who are in the process of divorce and to provide litigation support for their lawyers.
“I see this designation as being a perfect complement for financial planners,” says Diana Shepherd, marketing director with the IDFA. “It is great for someone who creates a future for families. Most advisors will have someone in their books who will be going through a divorce, and this designation will give them the knowledge they need to continue to offer that client valuable advice.”
Although the IDFA is U.S.-based, it offers a Canadian course that is written and maintained by Canadians. The program is ideal if you wish to maintain or develop businesses on both sides of the border, as you can take both the U.S. and Canadian course at the same time.
Financial Divorce Specialist
The financial divorce specialist designation, provided by Sudbury, Ont.-based Academy of Financial Divorce Specialists, is similarly to the CDFA in that it gives you the ability to guide a client through a divorce. The program addresses key issues, such as the division of assets, pensions, and children’s needs.
“The program is best suited to an advisor who likes interesting work and likes to help people during times of their lives at which they really need assistance to get their finances in order,” says Linda Cartier, president of the AFDS. “You get to show clients projections of the results of the choices that they are going to make.”
Cartier says the program is ideal for advisors whose business is based solely in Canada because it is made by Canadians for Canadians.
Elder Planning Counsellor
The elder planning counsellor designation, provided by Beamsville, Ont.-based Canadian Initiative for Elder Planning Studies, demonstrates the ability to deal with the specific financial needs of clients aged 55 and older. The program addresses key issues such as long-term care, end-of-life planning, and retirement income basics.
“Anyone who’s a financial advisor would be wise to take the program if they deal with the 50 and up demographic,” says Tom Miller, president of CIEPS. “It’s smart for a new, young advisor to take the program because they would be able to partake in that demographic and build their business in so doing.”
A word of caution
Although there are many other worthwhile designations not mentioned here, there are some that may not add as much value to your practice as you may be led to think.
“There are some organizations that put out accreditations around courses they have developed that have not been adequately judged in the market,” says George Hartman, CEO of Toronto-based Market Logics Inc.
To make sure you get a credible designation, Hartman suggests investigating the organization behind the designation: “If they have a long-standing history I would have more confidence that they would, in fact, deliver the appropriate amount of training, information, and education.”