Wednesday, December 12, 2007

When Is It Time to Give Up a Designation?

People who have read my blog and other articles are aware that at times I have argued against all the designations and acronyms that are available to planners. Many of them are fluff. The definition of fluff may be difficult to express in words because one man’s fluff is another man’s raison d’ĂȘtre, or corporate entity designed to collect membership dues and seminar fees. However, the holder knows when a designation is no longer valid in their practice and maybe it’s time to be put to bed.

Sometimes unrelated events will give one pause and have them review all the acronyms that they have. Such was my fate! I had to order some new business cards because I am moving my office and was looking at the credentials on my card and decided that it was time to do a housekeeping chore.

The CFP ® designation is one that I will keep, at least for a while. It is a basic designation to demonstrate that I have a core competency in planning, passed a grueling 10 hour exam and have at least three years experience. I hope that they do not damage the designation by making the public think that CFP designees have a legal obligation to act as fiduciaries when the obligation is enforceable in a non legal setting by the CFP Board of Standards and cannot result in restitution.

The ChFC is an almost CFP designation issued by the American College. I earned it by taking the courses that would satisfy the educational requirement necessary to earn my CFP designation and then two more courses. I don’t mind having it because there is no renewal fee and the CE requirements are met when I meet the CE requirements of my CFP designation. It is innocuous and shows the world that I studied at The American College.

The CDFA is the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst which used to be the Certified Divorce Planner designation. In 2001 I studied for a few days and passed four modules which had an emphasis on divorce issues. One was devoted to cautioning us not to breach the line and practice law, one was devoted to taxation, and if I recall one was marketing. About two years after I had the designation the joint partners of the organization had some disagreements and split apart. The new organization seems to have membership comprised of people affiliated with broker dealers, charges an annual fee and seems to put on the same seminar every year with few modifications. When I obtained the designation it showed that I was interested in divorce work however I knew that the education was on the light side and that experience and knowledge would come though networking, reading materials dealing with divorce and actually doing the work.

This is the designation that I am going to drop when I order my new cards and simply donate the renewal fee to the Children’s Law Center which is a charity that helps provide legal support in family matters for indigent children.

The AIF which is the Accredited Investment Fiduciary demonstrates that I have been trained in the fiduciary process and if I am smart, utilize the process in my work. I enjoy having it and all the organization does is promote the idea of what a fiduciary is and advocates that a fiduciary standard be in place. It does not put forth to the public that any of its designees necessarily are fiduciaries in the legal sense. For now it is a keeper.

The last designation, my Enrolled Agent (EA) is granted by the Internal Revenue Service and allows me to represent clients before the IRS. How can I possibly think of giving up anything issued by the kind and gentler IRS? Besides, they know where I live!


Anonymous said...

Nice touch with the charity

Rich Lynch said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jeff Hunter said...

I hope your new office is by a Wendy's. That was always the second best part of going to see you.

Morris Armstrong CFP, ChFC, CDFA, AIF, EA said...

Same office building, same Wendy's :-)