Understanding Financial Advisor Titles

financial advisor titlesFinancial advisor titles and licenses are not the same. A “financial advisor” may use a plethora of titles whether he or she is registered or licensed to sell securities. Financial advisors that registered with a broker-dealer or an investment advisor have obtained registrations and licenses granted by regulatory authorities. Working with a financial advisor who is registered, affords investors various protections.

The same financial advisor may hold several licenses. Many financial advisors are dually registered as registered representatives with broker-dealers and with investment advisors. Investors should not rely solely on a financial advisor’s title to determine his or her expertise. Some titles are given by private organizations and trade groups. While some private groups take complaints and discipline members, others do not. Some titles are simply purchased by the advisor. As with any credential, you should research your financial advisor to confirm the benefits of the credential.

If a financial advisor tells you that he or she has a professional title, you should ask questions about the title such as:

  • How did you get the title?
  • Did you have to take a course or pass a test?
  • What training did you receive to get the title?
  • Do you have to take courses to maintain the designation?
  • How can I verify your standing in the organization?

Investors can learn about financial advisor titles online at Check a Credential which provides a quality rating for over 260 designations and certifications; and at FINRA’s (Financial Industry regulatory Authority) website which provides Information about the organizations that grant certain titles along with a description of the education and experience required for certain credentials.

However it is important to note that FINRA, the SEC, and state securities regulators (NASAA) do not endorse professional designations.

If you believe that your advisor has misled you about his or her credentials, contact us.  We have extensive experience trying cases against financial advisors who have misled their clients regarding their credentials.

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