CFP Advice

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Apr 14, 2008 9:05 pm

Hey Everyone, <?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


I am hoping to get some advice from you regarding my situation and what my best course of action would be for my career.  I have read through all of the previous questions about the CFP exam but my situation is different than most and would greatly appreciate any advice I can get from you.


I have had a love for the stock market since I was a little kid and was fortunate enough to be introduced to a financial planner in my town through my connections as my colleges AS President.  He is an independent advisor and is trying to retire someday so he brought me in with the hopes of selling me his practice in the next ten years or so.


I have talked with an many advisors as I could about their thoughts on the CFP program and the majority tell me I am probably better off without it because that will allow me more time to build my practice (Gain the trust of his clients) as well as have time for the family I would like to start someday.


I am really torn because I feel you can never go wrong with more education but everyone needs a healthy balance between work and their personal life.


I am hoping I can get your insight on whether or not I should peruse the CFP credential because it is truly worth the sacrifice of my time or if I my time might be implemented focusing on other aspects of my practice.  Thank you in advance for any insight you can provide.

Apr 14, 2008 9:11 pm

You’d be better off getting clients, not the CFP in the beginning.  Nobody pays you just because of those three letters after your name.  If you don’t get clients, then you won’t have a job. 

  Wait until you've established yourself to go for the CFP if that's what you want to do.  Even then, it will very rarely, if ever, come up with anyone why you don't have a CFP.   Besides, if you just graduated college, you don't even qualify to take the CFP test.  You need 3 years of real experience.    
Apr 14, 2008 9:22 pm

DP - these can be VERY sweet deals. What are the expectations that you bring in new business vs. helping him work his book?

Will you spend most of your time calling his clients & setting appt’s or most of your time doing admin & talking to new prospects? If you’re doing more of the 1st then getting advanced education would be beneficial(snaggletooth’s right, you have to wait to sit for the test, but you can start studying now). If you’re doing more of the second, forget the CFP for a while because you’ll be too busy juggling.

PS - There’s a search button in the top right-hand corner. Lots of info on your question(s) can be found there. Once you have the basics in, feel free to come back and fill in the blanks.

Apr 14, 2008 10:04 pm

Thank you for the replies.<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


I am aware of the three year requirement and the college of financial planning requires you to complete the coursework in three years. They have six courses so I figure I can do one a semester and I already have the 6 and 63 (Currently working on the 7 & 65) but I am registered as an admin. Assistant.


Ashland- His book has a couple of large company 401(k) plans in it that he desperately needs help managing the overflow of their employees wanting an advisor. He has an admin Assistant (other than me) to handle the paper work so I will be mostly meeting with the spillover from the 401(k) plans in the beginning.


When we started this discussion he told me he really wanted me to get it because when he goes to our B/D's top producer awards conference he is one of the few that doesn't have the CFP and that's why he feels I should get it. However, one of the other partners told me I shouldn't get it because of the additional level of liability that comes along with having "planner" in your title and the time I will spend on continuing education can be spent taking care of my clients.


I will make sure to search some more but appreciate you taking the time to share your opinion.

Apr 14, 2008 10:27 pm

DP - Tell us a little more about the kind of people you’ll be sitting across the desk from? Are they blue collar, engineers, doctors, middle to high income…

Your partner wants you to get it so he doesn’t feel out of place at top producer’s conferences? It sounds like he’s won a lot of medals(being a top producer), but now he wants a college diploma on the wall so he can say that he deserves the medals.

The one thing a CFP won’t do is increase your liability. Yes, you’ll be held to a higher standard by the board, but you’ll hold yourself to higher standard because the more you know the less bs you’re willing to push. The time you spend on CE will help you deepen your relationship w/ clients…

Apr 14, 2008 10:29 pm

I would get it in writing.  Those 401(k) plans can be golden with tons of rollover business if they are as big as you make them out to be.  If I had it in writing that those employees of the 401(k) were for me to go after, and we shared the business while he was still working, then I was the successor to it, do what he says.  Get the CFP, make him happy, just get it in a contract.  If there is some doubt as to the situation actually falling through, then don’t waste your time in the beginning.  Just my opinion. 

Apr 15, 2008 12:43 am

Whoa pony! Overflow from 401k’s? Are these your clients or his? Will you be paid for the business that you do, or will it be salary? Will the people you help be transferred into your number? There are a bunch of companies out there who are looking for reps to do the individual consultation on 401k’s & they pay these people about $40K per year. What actually is the contract?

Apr 15, 2008 12:53 am

Ashland- He is a college grad. I just think when he goes to these conferences that he feels uneducated in comparison to his peers and doesn't want me to feel that way. <?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />


The 401(k)'s mainly are made up of blue collar workers, he also has two foundations.  I will throughout the years work my way up from his C-B to A clients.  We will share the trailing I get from the clients I bring in on my own with a 35/65 split. The first few years he will pay for everything then we will begin to share my expenses.  He will get 35% of the book for six years after our transition is finally over. We have it mapped out but I have been working very hard and so we have been talking about speeding my integration into his practice up once I am done with school.


Snaggletooth- You brings up some VERY good points.  We do not have our contract drawn up yet because he wants to test me for the first couple of years to make sure I am going to take care of his clients and to be sure that our personalities are able to work well together.  I will definitely keep that in mind for down the road. It makes me a little more comfortable knowing he isn’t forcing papers on me so I can be sure this is the career for me and also have more time to do the due diligence as far as buying a business.


I definitely want to respect the wishes of my boss and his partners which clearly share the belief in attaining higher education to help protect the image we project onto the community.  I think this is another one of those cases where my boss feels uneducated in comparison to his peers.  One of the partners is in the same process as us but he has his MBA. I wonder in your opinion the public is more receptive of an MBA (I assume the general public has a better idea of the work that goes into an MBA more than the CFP) over the CFP.


 Does anyone have any experience with doing both of these things?

Apr 15, 2008 1:00 am


Wait until you’ve established yourself to go for the CFP if that’s what you want to do.  Even then, it will very rarely, if ever, come up with anyone why you don’t have a CFP.   [/quote]

I both agree and disagree with the above. 

I agree that the CFP rarely, if ever, will come up with anyone.

I disagree with the comment that you should wait.  I personally feel that what is taught in the CFP program should be minimum required knowledge for financial advisors.  That does not mean that having a CFP will make you succeed in this business or not having a CFP will make you will just give you the tools to know what you are talking about.  Unfortunately for the clients, sales ability is more of a factor for success than knowledge of financial planning.

If you go for the CFP, I highly recommend that you take the Ken Zahn classes through Brett Danko .  His classes are by far the beast way to go for the CFP.


Apr 15, 2008 1:28 am

[quote=WealthManager] [quote=snaggletooth]

Wait until you've established yourself to go for the CFP if that's what you want to do.  Even then, it will very rarely, if ever, come up with anyone why you don't have a CFP.  [/quote]

I personally feel that what is taught in the CFP program should be minimum required knowledge for financial advisors.  [/quote]   I also agree with that opinion.   You can take the comprehensive exam at anytime, but you will not be authorized to use the CFP marks until you've completed 3 years of experience.   CE is a non-issue.  It's basically your insurance CE as long as it's been filed with the CFP board.   Get designations for your OWN reasons, not to impress anyone else - including your peers.   Skippy (RFC & ChFC)
Apr 15, 2008 2:50 am

Thank you everyone for the response.  It is pretty cool that you have taken the time to give your opinion and help someone out that is trying to start their career. 

Apr 15, 2008 6:49 am

I just hit my 20-year anniversary of being a CFP.  As a woman in this industry, way-back-when, I knew the CFP would help set me apart from most of my competition.

  Now, I'm not recommending anyone consider it until they are well into their fifth year in the business.  It will distract from the business at hand.  I still think it is valuable, but not that important.  The knowlege should make you a better advisor to your clients, which over time should translate to more in your pocket.  But, right now, it is just an excuse not to find to clients.  Being an out-of-work advisor is not a good thing.
Apr 15, 2008 9:58 am

I wonder in your opinion the public is more receptive of an MBA (I assume the general public has a better idea of the work that goes into an MBA more than the CFP) over the CFP.

<?: PREFIX = O />   You are getting some good advice on this thread.  The public won't care.  You don't get these for the public.  You get them for you.  You have no idea where the career will take you.  The CFP has very little relevance for doing anything other than being a finanical planner.  The MBA has lots of relevance for lots of things.    If you can get your MBA, I would suggest that you do it.  The CFP should definitely wait. 
Apr 16, 2008 4:49 pm

I would normally agree with OldLady and tell you to wait 5 years.  However, you have a very important client you need to impress (your new boss) who wants you to get it. 

  You also mentioned that you want a family someday.  I would assume that means you don't have one now.  I worked 80+ hours a week before I had kids.  I'm not saying it doesn't suck (it does), but there is no reason you can't work 50+ hours a week at your job and then have ample time to study on the side.  This job is one where if you work your a$$ off for 5-10 years, you hardly need to work for the next 30.  By the time you have kids, they won't even remember that you worked more than 9-3, M-Th.
Apr 17, 2008 10:53 am

I recently raised the issue of the importance of a CFP designation as I had never heard of it! That speaks volumes.%&&#$&(((&^

  I have a MBA from one of the top universities and in my estimation that is way more important. I majored in Finance and Economics and achieved a distinction ...   So if I was you put your effort into an MBA, preferrably with a top university, it is a more recognised designation and will take you more places than a CFP.... Recognition, IMO is everything.     
Apr 17, 2008 12:44 pm

An MBA is just as unrecognized in my market as a CFP, if not more and it’s not even relevant to what you’ll be doing. Feel free to try and make yourself feel better about the effort spent to obtain it, but I’m not buying into any value assertion related to getting an MBA in preparation for this field. My guess is that the only possible benefit in having it is MBA prospects identifying with you. I have been asked probably half a dozen times in my career if I was a CFP. That’s half a dozen times more than I’ve been asked about an MBA (not even my MBA clients care-they recognize that it’s irrelevant to what I do for them). The only remotely relevant designation that is really recognized by the public is CPA. While I think a CPA is a waste of time for this field, I’d recommend it before I’d recommend an MBA, as it is much more recognized, even if it isn’t all that relevant.

If you want relevant education for this field, the CFP is a fine path to take. The education you get will help you land and service better accounts, even if many clients and prospects don’t yet recognize it. Once it’s been around longer, like the CPA, that will probably change.

Apr 17, 2008 12:48 pm

Indyone, the value of the MBA is that we have no idea what direction life will take us.  An MBA makes one more hireable for doing doing things other than being a financial advisor. 

Apr 17, 2008 1:00 pm

Apr 17, 2008 3:10 pm

Thank you Joe for your valuable opinion.

I will bear it in mind.
Apr 17, 2008 4:07 pm

Indyone, the value of the MBA is that we have no idea what direction life will take us.  An MBA makes one more hireable for doing doing things other than being a financial advisor. 

  I can't argue with that angle and I wanted to rephrase a few of the points I made earlier, but in the interim, there was money to be made.  Of course, an MBA in finance and economics has knowledge value in this business, but for the most part, I stand by what I said earlier.  Although an MBA is a solid credential if you decide for whatever reason that this business is not for you and you need to move on, I can't see it providing much benefit in this business aside from some theory knowledge and the ability to identify with an MBA client or prospect.  Beyond that, the CFP is much more closely tied to this line of business.  I've yet to read a Jane Bryant Quinn column that says "make sure your advisor is an MBA", but I have seen the old bag encourage people to seek out a CFP.   95% of my clients (and probably the investment public in general) don't care about credentials and many that do are poor prospects anyway.  Get your CFP because you want to be a better advisor for your clients...not because you expect great windfalls as a result.  Every once in awhile, you'll get a client because of it, but if you expect it to put bread on your table, you're wasting your time.