Discerning The Truth About Financial Designations

by | Aug 20, 2018




– – What’s going on everybody? It’s Justin Harvey at APM Wealth. Hope you’re doing well today.

I wanted to shoot a quick video in order to help equip my physician friends to be able to select the appropriate financial advisor to meet their needs, and to help you learn the truth about financial designations. And in order to do that, I want to tell a quick story to illustrate this principle.

So a few months back, I was traveling on business flying down to Austin, Texas. And as I was boarding a plane, I took my seat between a young woman and an older gentleman. And we were sitting there making small talk pre-flight and the lady asked the gentleman to my left, “What do you do for a living?” And he said, “Oh, I’m a university professor.” And at this point I turned to him, tongue-and-cheek and said, “That’s interesting, I too am a university professor.” And so we started chatting, the lady puts in her ear buds.

At this point, in the eyes of this woman to my right, we’re both university professors and at first glance we may be in a similar academic strata. But upon further conversation I was sharing with him, “Yeah, you know, it’s great. I just started as an adjunct faculty member at Villanova University, I’m really excited about that. I’m primarily a financial planner and do financial advice and investments, but I just started teaching at my alma mater. It’s my first semester. I am teaching a portfolio management class to rising seniors and that’s really great.” And he said, “Oh, that’s really great. I am a tenured professor of computational linguistics and artificial intelligence at University of Pennsylvania, and I’ve been there for a couple decades.” Now obviously, you don’t need to get any further than that to quickly discern that this gentleman is a real powerhouse in the academic world.

And we proceeded to have amazing conversation for the next four hours. It was very interesting. And he was an incredibly brilliant man. But what I  realized upon further reflection was, in the eyes of this woman to my right, we’re both university professors. And if she didn’t investigate further, we may appear in some way to be in a similar strata. But obviously, upon further investigation, this gentleman was in a league of his own, quite literally. And so, this applies quite nicely into the financial realm with regards to financial advice, because anyone can call themselves a financial advisor. Literally, you can go online, you can take a course that is unproctored and have a designation that is from a governing body of questionable existence in some case. Some of them are defunct. And you can get some letters after your name, and you can hold yourself out as a financial advisor.

Now, if you don’t know what to look for, if you don’t know the signs, you may take this at face value and say oh, so-and-so says they’re a financial advisor. They must be qualified to be able to give me good financial advice. However, it’s important for you as an investor, as someone who’s going to be putting your financial well-being into the hands of a financial professional to make sure you do due diligence to ensure that the financial credentials, the letters after somebody’s name, are legitimate and meaningful and that they have some rigor attached to them.

So here I have a list of, just off the top of my head, some of the rigorous legitimate financial designations that exist out there. And these designations indicate a financial professional who’s really serious about pursuing career growth and intellectual and academic development. There’s ongoing education requirements. There’s career requirements. Each of these has a governing body that can censure or revoke the designations on this list. And they are, in many ways, in a class of their own when compared to many other financial designations. So if you are hiring a financial advisor or someone who calls themselves a financial advisor, I’ll put that in air quotes, make sure that you do some due diligence on their background and on their credentials to make sure that they’re really qualified to give you advice. In the link below this video, I’ll put a link to finra.org designation checker, which is a website that’s a financial watchdog group for consumers. And they have a database of all the different financial designations that are known in the financial realm. And attached to each designation they give the academic requirements, the experience requirements, et cetera, so the consumers can quickly have transparency to different designations and what they entail. So that if the designation isn’t one of these, you can go in and find out what exactly does this advisor have to do in order to get this credential. And does it really mean anything or is it pretty much not even worth the paper that it’s printed on.

So, remember no one is gonna advocate for your good and for your well-being more than you are. You need to, as a consumer, educate yourself. Take advantage of the resources at your disposal to discern is this financial advisor really qualified to give me good advice. So hopefully you find that helpful, and I hope that everybody out there has a great day.


Herein contains my one-take thoughts on financial concepts, behavioral investing, money management strategies, financial media, and letting you “behind the curtain” on my efforts to help move my physician clients toward financial independence.  Nothing on this site should ever be considered to be advice, research or an invitation to buy or sell any securities, please see my Website Disclaimer page for a full disclaimer.

Contact Justin

Drop me a line via the below form, or schedule a call for a time that is convenient for you.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

If you prefer to set up an introductory call, click here.

© 2020 APM Wealth, LLC   |   Disclaimer   |   ADV II   |   FINRA BrokerCheck   |   Site by Grace at Work