For advisors to succeed in the financial services industry, not only do they need the required licensing, they also need the appropriate credentials. In fact, many financial firms encourage their financial advisors (FAs) to have as many credentials as possible to broaden their expertise as advisors and to become more valuable to their clients. This can be especially beneficial if they gain credibility in diversified areas.
The key for a financial firm is to create a system that can helps its advisors gain more expertise and then to market it effectively.
Why Credentials Matter
Credentials are an important part of the educational system, but can be even more essential in the workplace. After developing the credentials and skills necessary to provide top-of-the-line services, advisors can be on the path to long and successful careers.
The foundation of a financial advisor’s skills and knowledge often derive from a bachelor’s degree. However, in order to compete with other financial advisors, additional credentials can be crucial. These credentials serve to build on the advisor’s foundation of knowledge and give this person different specialties that can attract clients.
Different Credentials for Financial Advisors to Pursue
- The Securities Industry Essentials (SIE) Exam
- FINRA Representative-Level Exams (e.g., Series 6, 7, 57, 79, 86/87, and 99)
- FINRA Principal-Level Exams (e.g., Series 4, 9/10, 24, 26, and 27)
- Municipal Securities Rulemaking Body (MSRB) Exams (e.g., Series 50, 51, 52, 53, and 54)
- National Futures Association (NFA) Exams (e.g., Series 3, 30, 31, 32, and 34).
- North American Securities Administrators Association (NASAA) Exams (e.g., Series 63, 65, and 66)
For credentials to pursue, the top three are:
- Certified Financial Planner (CFP)
- Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
- Personal Financial Specialist (PFS)
Some other credentials to consider are:
- Certified Public Accountant (CPA)
- Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)
- Relationship Management Application (RMA)
- Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP)
- Certified Fund Specialist (CFS)
- Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA)
- Chartered Investment Counselor (CIC)
- Certified Management Accountant (CMA)
- Certified Treasury Professional (CTP)
- Certified Government Financial Manager (CGFM)
- Certified Healthcare Financial Professional (CHFP)
- Certified International Investment Analyst (CIIA)
- Chartered Market Technician (CMT)
How to Obtain Credentials That Boost Business
Clients are often searching for a financial advisor who’s able to suit their specific needs. This means they consider relative credentials and expertise, such as taxes, retirement planning, financial planning, and more. Therefore, it’s best for FAs to decide on the type of clients with whom they want to work and the specific services they want to offer. By specializing in those specific categories, they will increase their chances of attracting more related clients.
Once FAs select the appropriate credentials, they should research the necessary requirements. Some of these requirements may include enrolling in specific courses, taking exams, completing a certain number of professional experience hours, and adhering to certain codes, ethics, and regulations.
Do more skills equal more opportunities?
According to Mitch Pisik, CEO of Breckwell Products, financial advisors need more skills than just financial and accounting skills to make it in the industry. Having additional and well-rounded talents helps financial advisors provide excellent services. Furthermore, the financial services industry is quite competitive and, the more skills FAs possess, the higher chance they have of getting more business traffic.
When specializing and obtaining credentials, financial advisors improve their reputation and are able to offer better and more accurate advice compared to a person with general knowledge. They can also have a higher authority in the industry and charge more for their expertise.
Credentials may even make it easier for clients to find them. For example, if a person is planning for retirement, she will likely research the keywords “retirement planner,” rather than “financial planner” or “financial analyst.” Therefore, an advisor who achieves these credentials will be able to bring in more business by standing out in the large group of financial advisors that are available online.
Tips for managing credentials
As your financial advisors obtain their designations and credentials, it’s important that they make note of the specific requirements to maintain them. For example, for a PFS credential, the FA needs to participate in ongoing continuing education.
For a CFP credential, the FA needs to keep up with fitness standards. Additionally, many credentials require the upkeep of ethical standards and practices.
It’s also important for FAs to know the renewal requirements and, therefore, they need to stay organized. FAs should take note of renewal requirements once they receive their designations and credentials and then create reminders on their computers, phones, or calendars in order to manage all of the details.
You can help your financial advisors succeed in the financial services industry by enabling them to obtain and manage their credentials. To help your FAs get on the fast track to success, contact Securities Training Corporation. STC is happy to help FAs study for and pass their exams so they can expand their services and achieve greater success.