Propelling Your Career Forward with the Proper Designations

 As the ranks of CFP certificants are on the rise, the CFP certification is increasingly transitioning from a "nice to have" designation to the minimum standard for financial planners. Yet as the popularity and adoption of CFP certification grows, simply having one is no longer the differentiator that it once was. Instead, advisors are increasingly faced with pressure to move beyond "just" the CFP marks, and explore "post-CFP" education to truly demonstrate expertise and differentiate.

Fortunately, the reality is that there is a growing range of post-CFP educational programs available. Ironically, though, trying to navigate the 'alphabet soup' of available programs can be as difficult for advisors choosing a credible program as it is for consumers choosing a credible advisor! Nonetheless, from designations designed to deepen subject matter expertise, to those built outright to support a standalone niche unto itself, there are a large number of choices available to those who have completed CFP certification and are now asking "what's next?"

In today's blog post, we look through the list of the more credible programs that are available, from advanced designations in financial planning, wealth management, investments, and retirement, to niche educational programs for working with doctors, divorcees, or the LGBT community, and more. Have you considered what your next step will be in your post-CFP studies?


Choosing What's Next After CFP?

As someone who has the proverbial "alphabet soup" of designations myself, I am often asked by advisors what they should do next after completing their CFP certification. Yet the reality is that once the CFP certification is obtained as an initial "minimum competency standard", the next step from there really depends increasingly on the advisor's own career and professional goals.

In carving up the landscape of available post-CFP certification programs, there are two general tracks of designations and educational programs that emerge: 1) subject matter expertise; 2) serving a niche clientele. In the former category include designations for everything from retirement planning to advanced financial planning and wealth management to various insurance subspecialties. In the latter include programs to work with doctors, divorcees, or the LGBT community. 

So the question of "what's next" really depends on what you want to pursue? Are you trying to deepen your subject matter expertise in a particular area? Is there a weak spot you want to strengthen, or alternatively a strength you want to develop further? Are you trying to steer your practice towards a particular niche to better differentiate yourself from the mass of other CFP certificants?

Whatever your path, hopefully this list below will help you navigate the wide array of professional designations out there, some of which are far more professional and credible than others (hopefully, as the CFP certification increasingly becomes a minimum standard and only quality "post-CFP" programs continue to have value, the landscape of specious designations will thin out a bit!). While I cannot say that I have taken every single one of these programs personally, these are all programs with which I have at least some familiarity, either through the curriculum, the teachers or sponsoring organization, or the community/association that supports those who have the certification.

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Apr 1