Value of CFP?

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2wheeledbeemer's picture
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This is NOT a slam on those of us who have completed the amazingly arduous journey of attaining the CFP designation, as I am completely in awe of those who can do it and not lose their minds.  Very impressive, and I certainly appreciate the work and dedication that it takes to do that.  My question is this...other than impressing one another with that dedication to study and professional advancement, how much value does the CFP bring to your practice? 
 
In a market environment like we're currently experiencing, all the CFPs around me have gotten hammered just as hard as everyone else, so I don't know that there's any double-secret, CFP only asset allocation which may have performed any better.  Do those of you who are CFPs feel like you are any better equipped to construct portfolios?  If so, how so?
 
How about referrel sources?  Did those of you with the CFP see an immediate, measurable increase in referrels when you added CFP to your title?  I've never, NEVER had a client/prospect ask me, "Why don't you have CFP behind your name?"  I've got some of the internal AGE/RJ designations, so I've got a little alphabet on my business card, but to my knowledge, I've never NOT gotten a client because I didn't carry CFP designation.
 
My production has always been above any of the similarly tenured fc's in my office that were CFP, the exceptions being the increasingly irritating trend of female assistants getting their CFP while also inheriting their 78 y.o. retiring broker's 200mm book of C shares.  But that's another subject for another day....
 
So, to you guys that have earned the CFP, I salute you and appreciate the work and accomplishment.  My question is, how has it really helped?  And knowing what you know now, would you go through it all again?
 
 

Hank Moody's picture
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Well......nevermind. 

2wheeledbeemer's picture
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How 'bout some more info on referral activity.  Did you CFP holders see much change for the better with referrals from CPAs or estate planning attorneys?

Sportsfreakbob's picture
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Iceco1d said it right. I honestly havent spent time marketing the CFP proactively, but i can say that it has helped me speak to clients on a different level, and as a result, some of the referrals i've gotten since i started to speak to clients on that level, had to do with that. So I think it has helped me at least, indirectly.I would add that for me at least, my primary reason for going for the CFP designation was just to do it for myself. Whether it helped me in my business or not, i take pride in having been able to do it, especially while growing my business at the same time. Of course, as Ice alluded to, not everyone has the balls to try. No disrespect meant to anyone at all who does not have it, only as Ice said, to those who bash it.By the way, i dont intend to reply to, or even acknowledge the existence of,  extraneous comments on this thread.

Indyone's picture
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I don't know that it brings that many clients/prospects specifically because I have it, but I think it does help differentiate me in the minds of the general public.  I'm picking up an A client from Edward Jones (not quite a million, but substantial for me nevertheless), and comments he's made make me feel like it's helpful.  He views me as more of a professional than his Jones broker and feels like my practice is quite a bit more exclusive (which it is - I no longer take just anyone who walks in and I don't have a monthly bogey of new clients to hit any bonuses).  End result is, I'm taking fewer new clients these days, but the quality of those I'm getting is quite a bit higher.  Whether or not the CFP is at all responsible for this is open to debate, but I can't help but wonder if it's not helping, especially with how I'm viewed with the public.
 
As far as referrals go, I suspect my CPA designation is more valuable in that respect, although I know that most local CPAs refer to either me or the Edward Jones Broker who's been in town since Reagan was president, so obviously experience and staying power plays a major role also.  The longer you are in business and the better you take care of your clients and their CPA's and attorneys, the better your referral activity will be, IMO.
 
The CFP is great for the education component and I suspect it will be more recognized as time goes on, but for now, I wouldn't expect it to be the keys to the kingdom...more of a tool to take care of your clients and gain some respect in the eyes of those who recognize the designation.

Sportsfreakbob's picture
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Well said, Indy

Hank Moody's picture
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Sportsfreakbob wrote:Well said, Indy
Great post, Joe.

newnew's picture
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Hank Moody wrote:Well......nevermind. 
 
great post

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Hank Moody wrote:
Sportsfreakbob wrote:Well said, Indy
Great post, Joe.

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Kudos to those who have it. My manager told me he woulf fire me if I started CFP classes in my first 4 years. He's been around a long time and I greatly respect his advice and him as a manager and person. I guess it's great to go for once you have a nice book.

newnew's picture
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need 3 yrs exp anyway

gvf's picture
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newnew wrote:need 3 yrs exp anywaySo long as you can satisfy the 3 years exp during a 5 year window after passing the exam, you're all good.  So no need to fret doing the coursework/passing the exam before 3 years of experience.

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Gaddock wrote:Kudos to those who have it. My manager told me he woulf fire me if I started CFP classes in my first 4 years. He's been around a long time and I greatly respect his advice and him as a manager and person. I guess it's great to go for once you have a nice book. Gaddock,I agree with your manager. The first few years, it would take too much time away from prospecting. I was advised the same way, i didnt start the courses till my 7th year, afte i had built a base.

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It really depends what stage of life/career you're in. If you're in the first 5 years of prospecting and building your book of business, I think surviving in the industry would be more of a priority than getting any additional designations. The knowledge is definitely valuable, but the letters alone will not help you generate any additional revenue or bring in more clients.
 
However, the knowledge that comes with the designation does allow you to make better presentations, solve more complicated cases and take on full service financial planning. In my opinion, the CFP coursework is just ONE way of learning (and probably not even the most effective way) the information. All of this can be learned through self research and interacting with other professionals. But to say that the CFP designation is completely useless would not be a fair statement as ANY additional information/knowledge will in someway be useful to your book.

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Without stating it, some CPA's will only refer to CFP's. They respect the designation. How widespread that is, I don't know. But I know it's a fact to some degree.

whalehunter's picture
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10yrs+ 100million AUM had the question asked once and never lost a sale/client because of it. All the knowledge in the world is useless if yu can't break it down into a language people understand. CFP's tend to speak jargon more than an other set of advisors I know cause they want to "impress" their prospects with their credentials!

newnew's picture
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probably true

HymanRoth's picture
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Ferris Bueller wrote:Looked at a prospect statement today and the broker is a CFP, CLU. Client had 1.2M a year ago and now has 750K. Idiot CFP had him 100% in equities and the client is 1 year away from retirement.

I guess they are so busy teaching complicated things at CFP school that they forget the basics. I hope he sues this overeducated fool.One can be smart enough and work hard enough to pass the test, but still lack the common sense to apply the knowledge.....Or perhaps the prospect isn't giving you the whole story....maybe HE insisted on 100% equities....

Indyone's picture
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That would make a nice VA ticket.

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HymanRoth wrote:
Ferris Bueller wrote:Looked at a prospect statement today and the broker is a CFP, CLU. Client had 1.2M a year ago and now has 750K. Idiot CFP had him 100% in equities and the client is 1 year away from retirement.

I guess they are so busy teaching complicated things at CFP school that they forget the basics. I hope he sues this overeducated fool.One can be smart enough and work hard enough to pass the test, but still lack the common sense to apply the knowledge.....Or perhaps the prospect isn't giving you the whole story....maybe HE insisted on 100% equities....WHAT? A CLIENT INSISTING ON BEING MORE AGGRESSIVE THAN HE SHOULD BE, AND DISREGARDING THE BROKERS ADVICE? NEVER - I HAVE NEVER HEARD OF SUCH A THING! IMPOSSIBLE.

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Ferris Bueller wrote:Looked at a prospect statement today and the broker is a CFP, CLU. Client had 1.2M a year ago and now has 750K. Idiot CFP had him 100% in equities and the client is 1 year away from retirement.

I guess they are so busy teaching complicated things at CFP school that they forget the basics. I hope he sues this overeducated fool.Can you explain what the fact that the client was not allocated properly has to do with the fact that the broker is a CFP, CLU? Is it that no broker WITHOUT the designation would ever do such a thing?I think its safe to say that there are shmucks with the designation, and shmucks without the designation.

rockstar1's picture
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Take this with a grain of salt, but supposedly Smith Barney keeps statistics on this.
 
According to our management, in the first 12 months after earning the CFP designation the median new Smith Barney CFP's gross production goes up 40%.
 
That's a big number. 40%.
 
As to why, I can't say cuz I am not there yet. My guess is that the increased knowledge leads to more credibility, bigger tickets through planning (INSURANCE!!), and more referrals from CPAs and attorneys.
 
I will be sitting next July, so I will let you know once I get there.
 

anonymous's picture
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"Take this with a grain of salt, but supposedly Smith Barney keeps statistics on this.
 
According to our management, in the first 12 months after earning the CFP designation the median new Smith Barney CFP's gross production goes up 40%.
 
That's a big number. 40%.
 
As to why, I can't say cuz I am not there yet. My guess is that the increased knowledge leads to more credibility, bigger tickets through planning (INSURANCE!!), and more referrals from CPAs and attorneys."
 
That's one guess.  Here's another.  They have one year more experience in the business and they are actually working instead of studying for the CFP. 

Hank Moody's picture
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rockstar1 wrote:Take this with a grain of salt, but supposedly Smith Barney keeps statistics on this.
 
According to our management, in the first 12 months after earning the CFP designation the median new Smith Barney CFP's gross production goes up 40%.
 
That's a big number. 40%.
 
As to why, I can't say cuz I am not there yet. My guess is that the increased knowledge leads to more credibility, bigger tickets through planning (INSURANCE!!), and more referrals from CPAs and attorneys.
 
I will be sitting next July, so I will let you know once I get there.
 Going from $50,000 to $70,000 is not that big of a deal.

HymanRoth's picture
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anonymous wrote:"Take this with a grain of salt, but supposedly Smith Barney keeps statistics on this.
 
According to our management, in the first 12 months after earning the CFP designation the median new Smith Barney CFP's gross production goes up 40%.
 
That's a big number. 40%.
 
As to why, I can't say cuz I am not there yet. My guess is that the increased knowledge leads to more credibility, bigger tickets through planning (INSURANCE!!), and more referrals from CPAs and attorneys."
 
That's one guess.  Here's another.  They have one year more experience in the business and they are actually working instead of studying for the CFP.  A very commonsense observation...

rockstar1's picture
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Like I said, take it with a grain of salt. However...
The commoditization of the asset management business is well underway. Margins will continue to get squeezed. (Remember Touchdown Bonds?) How will you set yourself apart when everybody has basically the same platform? (with apologies to the Jones-ers, you guys have the best platform EVER!! I am an ex-greeny--I have a right to take shots)
 
It's easy to rip apart another broker's work right now becuase everybody's statements are down. But do you really want to take on a client that is firing his old advisor over performance? They will do the same to you at the first sign of trouble--take my word. 
 
Planning changes the whole relationship. You are viewed in a different light. You are not the guy calling them on the latest bond. Or the hottest stock tip. Or getting them the best deal hitting the biggest breakpoint in one fund family (Putnam anyone?).
 
You are the person who went with them to their attorney to make sure their assets are protected now and for future generations. You helped them avoid probate, estate taxes, and made sure the spendthrift kid with the drug habit doesn't blow his inheritance up his nose.
 
And yes Virginia there is a Santa Claus!
 
Didn't mean to get all worked up, but man I think if you are in this business and don't get the CFP and embrace a planning practice you are totally missing the boat.
 
IMHO.
 
  

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Rockstar1,  this thread isn't about embracing a planning practice.  It's about the value of having the CFP.   What does the CFP allow one to do?   Nothing.  What can one do without the CFP that they can do with the CFP?  Everything. 
 
The advantage of having a CFP is marketing and that's it.  How advantageous is this?  That can be argued all day.  The disadvantage of having a CFP is it makes one accountable to the CFP BOG.  That is something that I personally wouldn't want.
 
I'm strongly in favor of acquiring the knowledge that one gets when they study for their CFP.  Let's just not confuse the knowledge with the letters.   The knowledge is of huge importance.  The letters carry very questionable importance.

gregoron's picture
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My business partner/mentor is not a CFP and wants me to be designated as such in the next few years just so we'll have one in the firm.  He's been in the industry 19 years, has amassed 60 million AUM with around 50 household clients.  And yes, he has a life and likes it that way.  He has embraced the planning practice and has adopted his clients' lifestyle without the CFP.  So, IMHO, he has not missed the boat.  I, on the other hand, want to follow his footsteps later on and get the CFP.  But that's just for my personal and educational preference.

WealthManager's picture
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Knowledge is always valuable but knowledge alone is not enough to succeed.<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
 
I personally believe that the CFP education and exam should be minimum requirements to call oneself a financial advisor.
 
--WM

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gregoron wrote:My business partner/mentor is not a CFP and wants me to be designated as such in the next few years just so we'll have one in the firm.  He's been in the industry 19 years, has amassed 60 million AUM with around 50 household clients.  And yes, he has a life and likes it that way.  He has embraced the planning practice and has adopted his clients' lifestyle without the CFP.  So, IMHO, he has not missed the boat.  I, on the other hand, want to follow his footsteps later on and get the CFP.  But that's just for my personal and educational preference.
If he's not a cfp, how can you follow his footsteps and become one?

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"I personally believe that the CFP education and exam should be minimum requirements to call oneself a financial advisor."

 
Why?  Both FINRA and the SEC have basically taken the position that the term "financial advisor" doesn't have much meaning.  Do we want to give the CFP BOG that much (any) authority?   The title doesn't have meaning.  How one earns their living does have meaning.   The CFP is about financial planning.  Financial advising is simply a subset of this.  If one is going to earn their living 100% by telling people if an EIA is appropriate and which one to use is definitely engaging in financial advising, but is not engaged in comprehensive fiancial planning like the CFP BOG is after.
 
Also, even if a minimal education is required, why would it be the CFP?  The CLU/ChFC requires more classes. 
 
We also have to be aware of unintended consequences.   If a CFP is going to be needed to call oneself an advisor.  To avoid confusion, a CFP is going to probably have to engage in comprehensive planning in all instances.  This really makes working with the little guy not profitable or forces the little guy to pay too much.

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The CFP is definitely a marketing tool, i wont disagree with that. I think it can be a valuable one if marketed properly. But i also realize that point can be debated - valuable to some, but thats a point of view, not a fact. What is a fact, is that while one may have the knowledge without the designation, it is the designation that allows the public to make a judgement about the competency of the advisor.You may know you have the knowledge, and i may know you have the knowledge, but there is no way for the client to have the knowledge.I can call myself an accountant, without being a CPA, but how is the client to know whether i have an indepth knowledge of GAAP or auditing procedures, or tax code?I suppose there are CFP's (and CPA's) who learned it all and passed the exam, then forgot it. But the designation is, at the very least, a starting point for intelligent people to make judgements.Bash away

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Sportsfreakbob wrote:The CFP is definitely a marketing tool, i wont disagree with that. I think it can be a valuable one if marketed properly. But i also realize that point can be debated - valuable to some, but thats a point of view, not a fact. What is a fact, is that while one may have the knowledge without the designation, it is the designation that allows the public to make a judgement about the competency of the advisor.You may know you have the knowledge, and i may know you have the knowledge, but there is no way for the client to have the knowledge.I can call myself an accountant, without being a CPA, but how is the client to know whether i have an indepth knowledge of GAAP or auditing procedures, or tax code?I suppose there are CFP's (and CPA's) who learned it all and passed the exam, then forgot it. But the designation is, at the very least, a starting point for intelligent people to make judgements.Bash away
If you want to market yourself as one who is known for handing people thick notebooks that they don't understand, be my guest. It doesn't take much to explain to a prospect that planners write plans and that messing with investments is out of the scope of their expertise. Kind of like how auditors shouldn't be messing with doing tax returns. How's THAT for marketing?

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If you want to market yourself as one who is known for handing people thick notebooks that they don't understand, be my guest. It doesn't take much to explain to a prospect that planners write plans and that messing with investments is out of the scope of their expertise. Kind of like how auditors shouldn't be messing with doing tax returns. How's THAT for marketing?Do you speak English? Do you know how to read?  "the designation is, at the very least, a starting point for intelligent people to make judgements."You missed the whole point of my post!

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"What is a fact, is that while one may have the knowledge without the designation, it is the designation that allows the public to make a judgement about the competency of the advisor."

 
How is this a fact?  Most of the public don't have a clue as to the difference between a CFP and an ABC. 
 
I'm not sure about your "intelligent" comment.  My clients are primarily split between attorneys, CPAs, and business owners.  As a whole, they are prett intelligent.  I used to get asked about once a month if I was a CFP.  I thought that I'd have to become one.  Slowly, the questions slowed.  I'm not sure if I've even been asked once in the past year.  In my experience, it's simply been that intelligent people don't care.  They care about what I can do for them.
 
As an aside, there seems to be move against becoming CFPs.  Some Broker/dealers are starting to discourage their reps from getting the designation. 

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Sportsfreakbob wrote:

If you want to market yourself as one who is known for handing people thick notebooks that they don't understand, be my guest. It doesn't take much to explain to a prospect that planners write plans and that messing with investments is out of the scope of their expertise. Kind of like how auditors shouldn't be messing with doing tax returns. How's THAT for marketing?Do you speak English? Do you know how to read?  "the designation is, at the very least, a starting point for intelligent people to make judgements."You missed the whole point of my post!Mr. Prospect, why would you have a planner manage your money? Was it the planner's idea?

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Can someone lay out the process of becoming CFP? Honestly I've never known exactly what it was. Also, is there a way to learn the material over time without actually starting the process, therefore making the actual process that much easier?ETA: Is there any chance I could pass the test without studying? Just looked on Wikipedia at the basis criteria and I like to think I have a pretty good handle on all of the subjects discussed (except maybe employee benefits). How hard is it if you have almost 10 years of experience, and are slightly smarter than the average bear?

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LuvIndy wrote: Can someone lay out the process of becoming CFP? Honestly I've never known exactly what it was. Also, is there a way to learn the material over time without actually starting the process, therefore making the actual process that much easier?ETA: Is there any chance I could pass the test without studying? Just looked on Wikipedia at the basis criteria and I like to think I have a pretty good handle on all of the subjects discussed (except maybe employee benefits). How hard is it if you have almost 10 years of experience, and are slightly smarter than the average bear?
 
The complexity of the cases presented, and the breadth and scope of the informational recall required to fully address each and every issue present would, in my estimation, make it nigh unto impossible for anyone going in cold to come close to making it through.  After reviewing the material myself, that's my take on it.  You may have a pretty good handle on the day-to-day issues that we all face with clients/prospects, but the CFP curricula really require drilling down much, much further than most of us ever do.  Made my head hurt just reading through the stuff.

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LuvIndy, If you're sure that you do not wish to pursue the designation itself for whatever reason, I do believe you could receive value including sales ideas through reading through the texts suggested for the Boston University/Boston Institute of Finance courses. I'm sure there are others that would accomplish this goal although I'm not familiar with them.

My experience is that there are numerous areas of the CFP that many advisors would already know and find a bit tedious, although you're not there for that. One has to have a base line level to progress from. That being said, the areas that you may be less familiar with (estate planning, taxation, employee and executive benefits?) are really golden. You might be leaving an opportunity on the table you're unaware of. I have gotten SALES from my study of the program and am quite frankly indifferent to receiving the designation. It's more of an "I might as well since I've done the classes" thing.

Take a look at the material and get from it what YOU want. Don't worry about some piker who's way to analytical to do anything other than write up a War and Peace sized document only to have the prospect say, "thanks, that's good to know." Get the info and close with it.

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anonymous wrote:"What is a fact, is that while one may have the knowledge without the designation, it is the designation that allows the public to make a judgement about the competency of the advisor."

 
How is this a fact?  Most of the public don't have a clue as to the difference between a CFP and an ABC. 
 
I'm not sure about your "intelligent" comment.  My clients are primarily split between attorneys, CPAs, and business owners.  As a whole, they are prett intelligent.  I used to get asked about once a month if I was a CFP.  I thought that I'd have to become one.  Slowly, the questions slowed.  I'm not sure if I've even been asked once in the past year.  In my experience, it's simply been that intelligent people don't care.  They care about what I can do for them.
 
As an aside, there seems to be move against becoming CFPs.  Some Broker/dealers are starting to discourage their reps from getting the designation.  ANON - I am not saying that all intelligent people would choose one adviser over another, based on the CFP. But some would. And that gives someone with the designation an edge in some situations. Thats all I;m saying. As i think i said in my post, or at least i believe i implied,  there are some CFP's who are not as good investment advisoers as others who dont have the designation. But i have found, at least in my experience that there are enough people who do recognize the designation, that i run across, where it does make a difference. And as far as what i stated as a fact, ok, i'll call it my opinion. Its my opinion that having the designation is better than not having the designation, in motivating many of the people i meet to make a judgement. Does that make you feel better?I will agree by the way, with some of the comments on this board, that while the designation is something i find helpful, the knowledge gained from going thru the exercise is more helpful.

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Hank Moody wrote:Mr. Prospect, why would you have a planner manage your money? Was it the planner's idea?  duh....I think because a planner would recommend a VA in the appropriate situation, unlike say, a VA salesman, or an EIA salesman.

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Sportsfreakbob wrote:
Hank Moody wrote:Mr. Prospect, why would you have a planner manage your money? Was it the planner's idea?  duh....I think because a planner would recommend a VA in the appropriate situation, unlike say, a VA salesman, or an EIA salesman.I don't think a prospect would answer like that, "bob."

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Hank Moody wrote:
Sportsfreakbob wrote:
Hank Moody wrote:Mr. Prospect, why would you have a planner manage your money? Was it the planner's idea?  duh....I think because a planner would recommend a VA in the appropriate situation, unlike say, a VA salesman, or an EIA salesman.I don't think a prospect would answer like that, "bob." That was a very civil answer "Hank"You seem to have gotten religion!

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Sportsfreak, yes, your last post to me makes me feel better. 

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anonymous wrote:Sportsfreak, yes, your last post to me makes me feel better.  I'm gratified! (just kidding, dont get hot!

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Sportsfreakbob wrote:
Hank Moody wrote:
Sportsfreakbob wrote:
Hank Moody wrote:Mr. Prospect, why would you have a planner manage your money? Was it the planner's idea?  duh....I think because a planner would recommend a VA in the appropriate situation, unlike say, a VA salesman, or an EIA salesman.I don't think a prospect would answer like that, "bob." That was a very civil answer "Hank"You seem to have gotten religion!Yes. I've become a muslim.

Gaddock's picture
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I wish all my clients were muslim; Their 'religion' will not collect interest.
 
Not a lot of pressure from them LOL.

WealthManager's picture
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anonymous wrote:
Why?  Both FINRA and the SEC have basically taken the position that the term "financial advisor" doesn't have much meaning. 
 

Anonymous,<?: prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
 
            Your points are all valid and I agree with them.  I made a misstatement.  You are right, financial advising is only a subset of financial planning.  I am just upset with the lack of meaning that the title “financial advisor” has and I am sick sharing the title with one-trick-pony product pushers.
 
--WM

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WealthManager - to your point, ever notice how whenever someone asks you what you do and you say, i'm a Financial Advisor (well maybe not you, but whoever introduces themselves as one), the person on the receiving end usually rolls their eyes and you dont have to hear them say it, but they are saying to themselves "great, another freakin stockbroker"

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WealthManager wrote:anonymous wrote:
Why?  Both FINRA and the SEC have basically taken the position that the term "financial advisor" doesn't have much meaning. 
 

Anonymous,
 
            Your points are all valid and I agree with them.  I made a misstatement.  You are right, financial advising is only a subset of financial planning.  I am just upset with the lack of meaning that the title “financial advisor” has and I am sick sharing the title with one-trick-pony product pushers.
 
--WMThat's why i call myself a "safe money specialist." I don't want to get lumped in with baby ML brokers who can't survive on their own and have to rest on the reputation of a firm with a TARNISHED NAME.

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Hank Moody wrote: That's why i call myself a "safe money specialist." I don't want to get lumped in with baby ML brokers who can't survive on their own and have to rest on the reputation of a firm with a TARNISHED NAME.
 
I am a Retirement Income Specialist.

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