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Are you looking to hire a new financial advisor? If so, you'll likely have a lot of choices. There are many types of financial professionals who use the term "financial advisor," from insurance agents to stockbrokers to some bank employees.
However, if you want someone who will look at your entire financial picture, put your interests first, and give objective advice, you should look for someone who has experience working with dentists and who has a CFP certification. The CFP certification stands for CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERâ¢.
What is a CFP?
The CFP certification isn't just a few letters on a business card. Rather, it signifies a very real accomplishment on the part of the financial advisor.
A CFP certification requires significant time and resources. It requires years of education and experience and the highest levels of ethical standards. When you work with a CFP, you're working with someone who has made a commitment to be among the best in the industry.
Even better, you should consider a CFP who has experience working with dentists. He or she will not only have the training and experience required by the CFP board, but also specific knowledge and insight into the unique challenges you face.
Here are three reasons that you should work with a CFP that specializes in the unique needs of dentists.
The CFP has a rigorous education and exam requirement. Candidates for the CFP must have a bachelor's degree, but that's only the most basic requirement. In addition to having a college degree, they must take a series of classes that are accredited with the CFP board. These courses are extensive and cover some of the following, plus more:
General principles of financial planning
Ethics and conduct
Financial plan development
As you can see, this training doesn't just cover one aspect of financial planning; it's comprehensive. It takes many candidates more than a year to complete the coursework.
Once the training component is complete, candidates must sit for an exam that's given over the course of three days. According to the CFP board, only 68 percent of first-time takers pass the exam.
There are many designations out there for financial advisors but the majority do not have the education and testing standards of the CFP. It's simply one of the most rigorous programs available for financial professionals.
Even after CFP candidates pass the exam, they still have to comply with the CFP board's strict ethical and professional conduct standards. This starts with a thorough background check. The CFP board looks into every candidate's civil, criminal, and financial histories. The board has a strict set of rules about who can and cannot hold the designation.
Additionally, candidates must pledge to put their clients' interests first in any advice that they provide. This is actually an important point. Not every financial advisor is required to consider your best interests. Rather, many advisors only must make recommendations that are "suitable" for you. There's a significant difference between a suitable recommendation and one that's tailored specifically for you.
Not just anyone can apply for the CFP certification. There are a flood of new advisors who enter the business every year. Many don't stay in the business for more than a couple years. The CFP requires that all candidates either have three years of experience as an advisor or two years of experience as an advisor apprentice. This criteria is important because it helps you know that your advisor is experienced and committed to the business.
In addition, a CFP who specializes in working with dentists not only has the financial planning background, but understands the challenges specific to the dental industry.
As you consider an advisor, look for the CFP certification. That should be the first sign that you're talking to an experienced, educated, and ethical professional. If he or she also has experience working with dentists, that advisor could be a great match for you.
Editor's Note: Image in article is from Getty Images