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Sep 27, 2008 11:41 pm

What are the thoughts on these credentials?  I have guys who have both in my office and the only one that seems to really apply it differently with his practice is the CIMA.  I think the CFPs have it more just to have it.

Sep 27, 2008 11:52 pm

The way I see it going forward is that the CFP will be the most widely recognized standard of excellence for financial planning.  Not saying it’s there now, but with the work in D.C. going on, and the changing of standards and education, anyone under 30 will have to have this if they’re starting out. 

The CIMA is an excellent education though for those who are more concerned about the investment side of things. 

Sep 27, 2008 11:59 pm

I’m inclined to agree with GVF. Even though I’m less than impressed with the CFP Board. They seem to be all about the money they are making, more so than about the CFP’s who I always thought they served, along with the public of course.

Also, isnt the CIMA more investment oriented? I’m of the opinion that Financial Planning is going to take center stage in our industryfrom here on in (once the dust settles). Which will make the CFP more valuable. I can tell you honestly, when i went for the designation, i was thinking that it will help me with my marketing, which validates Bondo’s comment above about guys taking it just to get the designation. But i do find myself talking to clients differently, now that i have the additional knowledge.
Just my take.

Sep 28, 2008 7:18 am

CFP is a beginner’s designation.  Nothing wrong with the EDUCATION of the CFP cirriculum, but it’s not the “be all and end all”.

  It IS the most recognized by the public.  Why?  Suze, NAPFA are "in bed" with the media and the government.  Yes, the government.  Check this out: and tell me who's toothy smile you see.   I believe that you need to differentiate yourself above the media, TV spokes-holes and government bureucracy because the client needs a better advocate than these people/entities.   Also, if you plan to be affiliated with a B/D, you have additional compliance requirements for having a CFP designation.  There's also additional liability for holding yourself out to the public as a CFP as you must ALWAYS put your client's needs ahead of your own.  (Hey, I'm a business owner.  I work for myself while making my client's lives better for them.)  Some firms have already chosen to not reimburse courses towards the CFP designation.   As far as CIMA, I'm all for it.  I've read that 20% of all CIMA designees manage more than $500 million.  (Not that the letters themselves did anything, but I'm sure that the knowledge helped a great deal.)   I'm leaning more towards ChFC instead of CFP.
Sep 28, 2008 1:40 pm

No dis meant, but go thru the CFP  program and pass the test, then tell us that its a beginners designation. Thats a belittling label to me, which doesn’t seem appropriate for such a rigourous program.  You can say what you want about the CFP Board, i’m no fan of them either, but the program equips you very well to engage in the Finanical Planning process. If you believe that clients come to you for investment advice only, then by all means the CIMA is for you. But if you want to be the guy that clients come to for a plan, then CFP prepares you better.
I went to the website, see ugly suzie;s smile but didnt see anything about promoting the CFP . If i did tho i would say, so what? Even a brokern clock is right twice a day So Suzie was right for once.
At the end of the day, marketing wins the game in our business. So i dont see anything wrong with a designation just because the media tells the public to look for it. As far as putting the clients interests first, i do. I think its not hard to do that and still make a good living. And thats certainly not a factor that would render the CFP designation undesirable to me.

Sep 28, 2008 2:16 pm

That Suze Orman must have been paid the big bucks by FDIC. She was on the Oprah show and was just terrifying. She basically said put your money in T-bills or FDIC insured CD's and then told the audience that you can find her on or the site that was mentioned on the post.

Just to keep this post educational: I would actually use her site to get clients. Basically, it is endorsed by the FDIC, because it allows clients to enter in all the names of their deposits to make sure that they are FDIC insured.   Most clients do not understand if they have IRA's or 401k's that they have $250k of insurance or if they have 2 TOD's on their account that are family members that they actually get another $100k in coverage.   I don't quite understand why the public trusts Suze, BUT you could move a bunch of large assets over into brokered CD's and give your client a print out showing that they are covered.
Sep 28, 2008 4:25 pm

I'm going to agree with Ominous on this one about the CFP being a "beginner's" designation.  Sportsfreak, this has nothing to do with its level of difficulty.  It may be very difficult, but so what?  The CFP allows an advisor to do absolutely nothing. 

There was a period of time, about 5 years ago, when I thought that I was going to need to get the CFP.  On a fairly regular basis, people were asking me if was a CFP.   I don't know if I've been asked once in the past year.

Education is a great thing.  I'll take all that I can get.  The problem is that not only does having the letters CFP allow one to do absolutely nothing at all, I think that they (the CFP BOG) are doing things that are hurting advisors and making it much harder for advisors to profitably work with small clients.   Why would anyone voluntarily join an organization that is doing things that make it harder to do business?  Why join an organization that doesn't have your best interest at heart?  The goal of the CFP BOG is to gain power for themselves.  It's not about helping CFP's.  
Sep 28, 2008 6:13 pm

Have to agree with Ominous and Anon.

Once upon a time the CFP Board had a clear mission.  Over the years, either the CFP Board’s mission has changed or their they have lost sight of that mission, as the Board’s actions have increasingly diverged from their stated mission and alienated their members.  It’s the Board that is adrift, not their members.

There’s nothing wrong with the CFP designation per se, nor the success in raising awareness of the designation, but if you haven’t been following the actual developments in the organization in the past few years you may want to spend some time looking into it.  Even the majority of the early CFP pioneers/leading names have become so disillusioned over the dramatic change of direction by the Board.  Reminds me of the failings at Fannie over the past decade - appalling, yet gradual enough and with enough political backing that the CFP frogs hardly realize they are being boiled to death.

Too bad.  Another sad tale of a good idea gone bad.

Sep 28, 2008 10:20 pm

I’m inclined to agree with GVF. Even though I’m less than impressed
with the CFP Board. They seem to be all about the money they are
making, more so than about the CFP’s who I always thought they served,
along with the public of course

Morph, Anon -
The above quote is from my first post in this thread. I clearly agree with what you are saying about the CFP Board.
I dont see what that has to do with which is more valuable to an FA in executing the Financial Planning process. I think that the boards assenine antics dont take away from the value of the knowledge gained from the designation - they only take away from the value of membership in the organization - while one is sort of “hooked into” the other, they are two separate issues.
Like i said, if you are interested in bringing the FP process to clients as your value, then CFP is the way to go. If you are more interested in Investment Management process, then probably CIMA is better.
Despite the boards errant ways, i also think the CFP is more recognized by the public.
Its not necessary to have the designation to succeed in our business, by any means, that i agree with.

Sep 29, 2008 1:41 am
Sportsfreakbob,   I think we are more in agreement than your posting really shows.   Yes, if you want a more holistic planning approach and knowledge, the CFP educational curiculum will help you with that - MORE than CIMA.   Here's the way I look at it:  The CFP/ChFC courses are ALL "fundamental" courses in the following categories:  - Insurance  - Income Tax  - Retirement Planning  - Investments  - Estate Planning   Now, take a look at the course titles from any course of study and you'll notice that they are all "fundamental" courses.  They don't go deeper into different strategies at all - just enough of an overview.  So, use these courses as a foundation for your future education and go deeper.  For example:  - Insurance:  get the CLU or FLMI  - Income Taxation:  get your CPA or EA  - Retirement Planning:  get CASL or CRPS or CRPC  - Investments:  get CIMA or CFA  - Estate Planning:  AEP or CEP   So, get your broad education (CFP/ChFC) and then get specialized training in the different disciplines (CIMA for investments for example) to build up your specialty focus.   The educational curriculum compliments and enhances each other, rather than detracts from each other.   Here's an article about the idea of getting both CFA and CFP:
Sep 29, 2008 2:08 am

Ominous, great post.

Sportsfreak, I like the knowledge that one gets from the CFP.  I'm just not a fan of the letters.  I agree that a CFP is more valuable in the financial planning process than CIMA.

Knowledge is good.  Wasn't an old Savage saying something along the lines of, "Get all of the knowledge that you can and then keep it to yourself."  Too often, I see CFPs who are completely incapable of selling because they are so busy educating their clients instead of simply getting them to take action.

Sep 29, 2008 2:22 am

Ominous - thats a great way of putting it in perspective and i agree completely

Anon -
I understand your points, i think that your comment regarding the letters is probably more a comment on the CFP Board, which as i said, i agree with.
As a wirehouse FA, i will admit that i dont sit with clients and engage in the entire FP process in many or even most of my relationships. But thats part of walking the fine line you mention, between educating and selling.

Maybe what you are saying is that the letters CFP and RR just are not a great combo. Which i guess i have to admit, I wouldnt necessarily disagree with.

Sep 29, 2008 2:39 am

Right now, RR and CFP are a terrible combination.  I don't think that any B/Ds are too anxious for their reps to become CFPs.

Sep 29, 2008 2:49 am

And yet my wire continues with a program to encourage and pay for those getting the CFP
Thats probably one of the first things they will cut

Sep 29, 2008 3:24 am

Thanks for all of the discussion regarding the credentials. It’s great for newbie like me.

  Not that we all know where you stand. If you would like can you post which credentials you have and why you chose to pursue it.    
Sep 29, 2008 4:32 am

You don’t need OUR designations and reasons for YOU to make up your own mind about them.

  Being new, I would advise that you find a mentor that you respect.  Do what they do.  Study what they studied.   What I found was that the people I wanted to emulate had the CLU and ChFC designations.  They usually knew how to sell.  Selling isn't a part of those designation courses, but it was a common trend.   They typically knew how to deal with multiple cash flow strategies and come up with different ways to help clients other than to just invest in XYZ fund.  I found them to be much more creative than those without designations or those who had the CFP.   Designations in general have come under fire lately - CSA, CRFA, CSFP and other retirement designations are all but banned by most companies and some STATES for the ease of attaining the designation.  The CFP may no longer be supported by some B/D's by being TOO restrictive of their designees.   So, what does this leave?  Where do you go to get high quality education that doesn't tell you how to do the job you're supposed to do, but you can proudly display your accomplishments?  The remaining "big ones" are:  ChFC, CLU, CFA, and to a lesser extent:  CIMA.  Another growing designation is the RFC.   Here's my tip for comparing designations:  Take a look at the insurance CE that you can get for each module of the designation.  Then compare to other designations.  This becomes my "yardstick".  The ChFC will give me 30 hours of CE for each unit.  8 courses = 240 hours of CE.  If a different designation only gave me 20 hours before it's awarded to me, it gives me an indication as to how much "meat" it has.  It may be a good "supplemental" designation, but not a primary financial planning designation that can stand on its own.   The truth is that no one outside of our industry CARES about what letters you have after your name.  It's only a select few of the population that will even bother to research on how to find a financial advisor.  (Besides, when was the last time you got a call because you had XYZ after your name?  You'll lose them to the next advisor who has XYZ, ABC, DEF, BINGO & EIEIO.)   If you decide to get more than two designations, keep them to yourself.  Nobody cares.  It also means that if you're going to "advertise and promote" two main designations, that they should be of high quality, not junk.  So invest wisely in yourself.   If you want to learn about other designations, check here for some detailed information:
Nov 5, 2011 2:20 pm

In the new Merrill Lynch PMD program, they want us to start with the CFP course work unless we have another designatoin like CIMA. I have two questions. Which on should I do? Is there a course provider that's better than another?